Why We Shouldn’t Fear

Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 

Isaiah 40:21-31

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.

You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.

Isaiah 41:8-13

A Useless Message?

Isaiah wouldn’t be considered a successful minister. Despite his prophecies, kings did what they wanted, repented only when it seemed they had to, then returned to their selfish, prideful ways.

Isaiah is remarkable because his prophecies pointed down the vast corridors of time to Jesus Christ, our Lord. He reminds us of God’s sovereignty over all matters of life. He reminds us that we don’t even have a frame of reference to interpret God’s ways.

That could be frightening. Imagining God looking down on humanity, regarding the lofty princes and powerful nations as “less than nothing,” and the people as grasshoppers, dust on the scales. We make no impact at all to God.

We don’t like that idea. We like to think that we have a purpose and make our mark on history. We want to be somebody. We want to make a name for ourselves. We believe we can reach the stars or build a tower to heaven. We prefer to think that we can know the deep things of knowledge both of good and evil, and that in that pursuit, we’ll become like God.

It’s all absurd. It would be like the comedy sketch Jim Gaffigan did about the toddlers who try to run away. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Only, with God, it’s even more absurd.

Who Is Like God?

There is nothing to which we can compare God. He is intimately involved in his creation, including all the stars in the galaxy, which he calls by name, not missing a single one.

Think about that when you think you’ve been forgotten by God. He doesn’t regard people the way we do. Pomp and status in our society means nothing to Him. When Jesus stood before Pilate, it was actually Pilate who stood before Jesus, his soul on trial.

With all our striving, we grow tired. Even when we are young, we do not possess the strength to go on forever. There comes a time when we are exhausted, hemmed in on every side.

True Hope of Deliverance

But if we look to the Lord, He renews our strength. He gives power to the faint. Though we be as lame, weak people, we’ll be more than conquerors by His might.

The promise that continues in chapter 41 is to God’s people, not to people in general. It is only the repentant who have put their faith in the absolute justice and holiness of God’s nature, have renounced all claim of control on their life that can then rest in the declarations that follow.

Our enemies will be as nothing at all. We’ll look for them and not find them.

The Lord holds us in His right hand. We need not fear. He is our Lord.

Watch “There are Many Deceived Church Goers – Paul Washer” on YouTube

I’d note that all “church goers” are deceived. The true church, the ekklesia of Christ, is not deceived. They hear His voice and follow. 

I’d like to point out, too that any so-called pastor who doesn’t obey the Lord in declaring the gospel is to be accursed (Paul’s words in Galatians, not mine). In other words, they are wolves, not undershepherds. 

Is Negativity Actually Good?

Don’t judge! Don’t be so negative! If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

We’ve all heard those statements. I’ve cautioned myself and my kids with those words. There’s truth in them.

Truth, however, is only true when applied correctly. So, if someone is only looking on possible problems that don’t exist and are not very likely, they might be responding negatively, or judging for no good reason.

Other times, people will turn up their nose because of pride, thinking they are better than someone else.

Sometimes, negativity is good. In fact, in certain cases, it’s desperately needed.

I heard about a woman that was extracted from her home by a team of rescue workers after a friend called to inform them that she was no longer able to get out of her chair.

Oh, and that had been the case for months!

This woman put the morbid in morbidly obese. It was incredibly sad. She sat in the same place, relieving her bodily functions where she sat, relying on her friend to bring her food. I’m guessing the food probably didn’t include fresh vegetables, either.

At this point, I think we’d all agree that some intervention was long overdue. I mean, how many visits to a friend who is urinating and defecating in her chair would it take to say, “Suzie, I’m going to get you some help!”?

This friend had to make a judgment, for sure. He was judging the fact that ‘Suzie’ was incapable of taking care of herself on a basic, human level. In fact, they found her bones had suffered from lack of calcium and the overbearing weight of her flesh to the point that, even if she wanted to, she could not get up or walk.

Someone needed to tell her that she was in a very dire condition. She needed to be confronted with the reality that she was trapped by her gluttony and sloth, literally sitting in a cesspool of filth.

Her friend needed to judge the situation rightly and bring the negative news of truth.

The same is true if we go to the doctor. How would we react if we found that our doctor didn’t want to be negative, so he/she didn’t tell us that we had cancer? What if, instead, the doctor just encouraged us to try to eat a few pieces of broccoli or add a healthy smoothy to our diet?

Then, a few months later we end up in the hospital with untreatable cancer. It’s too late. there’s nothing medicine can do.

I think that doctor would have a law suit on his/her hands!

People might think true Christians are negative because we proclaim that no one is good. No one can stand before the measure of God’s Righteousness and not be found wanting. We all deserve eternal punishment for our rebellion and spite against our loving Creator God.

That negativity, that judgment, comes with a treatment. Jesus died to pay the debt we could not pay. He bore the wrath that we deserved. He was buried. Then, after completing that work, He picked up His life and was resurrected, giving us hope of eternal life through the same power of resurrection.

Why does this work? Well, death couldn’t keep Jesus because He died without sin. The “wages” of sin is death. Remember from Genesis where God told Adam that in the day that he ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, he would die. Sure enough, Adam died. As did all of his descendants (except, perhaps Enoch, but that’s another blog to discuss that).

When Jesus died, He had remained spotless. He didn’t owe those wages, so death couldn’t hold Him. He resurrected.

He is referred to as the “first-born of the dead.” Meaning He is the first of a “new race,” just like Adam was the first of the human race.

Because Jesus defeated death, all who call on His name, or nature, who call out to Him as Lord and Savior, will be given righteousness.

Abraham believed God, believed His nature, and righteousness was credited to him.

This is how it works. We don’t have the righteousness. We can’t work up to enough righteousness. We can’t get out of our chair because we’re stuck with decaying bones and sitting in our own filth! Or, to use the Biblical example, we’re dead! Dead men and women don’t get up.

But, by faith, calling out to Jesus after recognizing the horrible truth of our condition, God clothes us with something we could never earn or deserve: His Righteousness.

Because we’re then clothed with His Righteousness, death will not be able to hold us any more than it held Jesus. We will be resurrected to eternal life.

That is the hope. But true hope doesn’t come from warm fuzzies that ignore the truth, or mask it with silly fantasies about dancing in the sky as a spirit or experiencing some ecstatic revelation.

I’ll leave off with this. Daniel in the lion’s den. Did he see the angel standing guard next to him? Was it bright, like in the pictures we’ve all seen? Or was it dark? Was he alone in a smelly cave, no light to see, and growling beasts all around?

I think it was the latter. Daniel states that the Lord sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. But he never said he saw the angel. It’s possible he did see the angel. But the Bible doesn’t say that.

Similarly, his three friends never said they saw the fourth person walking in the flames. It was the king who saw the fourth person.

We are never promised to see signs and wonders. We are called to walk by faith, obeying when it seems that to do so would be the worst possible thing for our future. That’s real faith. And it will make us seem negative, or judgmental. It won’t win popularity contests in the world. But we’re not here to please the world.

We’re called to glorify the Lord.

Is The Shack Even A Christian Movie?

I applaud anyone who sets out to write a book. Particularly fiction. It’s hard work. When someone takes on the task of self-publishing, it’s an even bigger job, and my hat tips to them.

William P. Young did this with The Shack and, a year after publication, it started selling faster than lifeboat seats on the Titanic.

The book garnered support from Evangelical pop stars such as Michael W. Smith, and more. It grew to be a phenomenon selling 30 million copies. I’m not sure if that’s on par with 50 Shades, but it’s the same type of hype.

My wife tried to read it (The Shack, not 50 Shades) and couldn’t get far before laughing out loud and pitching the piece of crap (in fairness, her reaction to 50 Shades would probably be identical).

It’s a unique privilege for a book to get that response. She never does that. She will usually slog through it. One other book got that treatment, The Harbinger. But that will be for another blog post.

It’s clear, however, that The Shack has captured the “Christian” market. But here’s the question: Does it even deserve to be called Christian?

Continue reading →

What Does The Bible Mean By ‘Speaking in Tongues?’

Chances are you know someone who ‘speaks in tongues.’ If you run in a church crowd or have friends who do, you most certainly know someone. This practice is linked to the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, described in the Acts of the Apostles and by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.

Though the first instance of speaking in tongues is without a doubt related to known languages … that fact has been lost. In fact, some believe it was lost at the time Paul was writing to the Corinthians.

I came across this YouTube teaching that summarizes the issue very well.

 

This vlogger is not what folks would call a “cessationist,” or one who believes the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament were only for that short period. But he also isn’t one who believes the babbling “spiritual language” of the charismatic movement is genuine.

I don’t believe any of God’s gifts have ceased any more than they had stopped between Elijah and Moses. God decides when and how His power will be shown.

In every instance, God’s power is dispensed according to His will and for His glory.

To illustrate this, look at the healing ministry of Peter in Acts 5:14-15: “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.”

Some will argue that the Bible doesn’t say the shadow healed anyone. But, that appears to be the obvious intention of the passage, since there’s a comma after the multitude that is being added to the Lord. And the very next verse says that all who came to him were healed.

But, this power didn’t continue. Paul couldn’t send a hankerchief to his friends to heal them. He couldn’ be healed himself of his “thorn in the flesh.” None of the other Apostles could heal Paul.

It’s obvious from the context that, in contrast to Jesus’ ministry, which healed people apart from the Gospel, the Apostles healing came after the people believed and were added to the Lord.

Does this mean that everyone who repents of their sin and believes on the Lord Jesus as their Savior will have their sickness healed? No.

The point of the healing appears to be a sign, like Elijah’s signs, like Moses, like Jesus. If it became a celebrity status for Peter or Paul, it would no longer be glory for God.

The Almighty doesn’t share His glory. His people give it to Him without holding on to a single bit. And without remorse.

So, think about that when someone talks about the “gifts of the spirit” or of speaking in tongues. Who is being honored? How is God being glorified?

For my part, I believe God can and does perform miracles. He may choose to do so in the presence of a particular person to authenticate their message (as with Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, etc.). Or He may do it apart from any human agency. But there is only one who gets the glory.

Amen?

Can Anyone Enter The Narrow Gate?

19, 10, 18, 24, 25, 25. No, that’s not my high-school locker combination. Those are the chapters and verses in Matthew, Mark and Luke that record one of the more popular illustrations that Jesus gave:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

I’ve heard that the “eye of the needle” referred to a gate in the city that wouldn’t allow a camel to pass when it had all its baggage on it. Allegedly, the camel would have to be unloaded, get on its knees and then crawl through.

I’m thinking the illustration is more imagination than fact. The meaning is actually worse than the fanciful explanation: No one can enter the kingdom of God through their riches, either moral or monetary. Let’s look at the context.

Continue reading →

Where Do You Stand For Christ?

I was recently told that “We should focus our Spiritual energy … on the right battles.” This was in response to my blog questioning whether Christians should find sorcery entertaining, as in the Doctor Strange movie. The question I have is, what is our “spiritual energy” and what are the “right battles?”

Continue reading →