Friday, August 23, 2019

Directional Devo - Lord, Liar, or Lunatic

The Bible says in 1 John 2:24, "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." In the context of this verse, the truth has to do with who Jesus Christ was and claimed to be. The Gnostics were already gaining a foothold in the church with a false teaching that Jesus did not really come in the literal flesh, but was actually a phantom. This teaching was propagated best by one named Arius and it eventually became known as the Arian Heresy. He eventually came to the conclusion that Jesus was not God, but a creation of God just like us. Sadly, this same teaching is the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah's Witnesses today. The Mormons say that Jesus is actually the brother of Lucifer (the Devil) and the Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus is actually Michael the Archangel. Either way, they both deny the deity of Jesus Christ and have left the truth.

Sadly, so many do the same thing today in the church. They come in long enough to hear the truth and then get lured away into error. They start out well, but then they take a detour. It is a big deal who you believe Jesus is. Was He just a great man or God Incarnate? It's no small issue. As a matter of fact, it is the none other than the difference between Heaven and Hell. Jesus said in John 8:24, I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. In this verse, Jesus is invoking the name of God, "I am" (the word "he" is not in the original text). He is claiming to be the same God that said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 after he asked him His name, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

The choice is ours to make. Jesus asks the same question of us today that He asked of Peter almost two thousand years ago in Luke 9:20, But whom say ye that I am? Josh McDowell says that each of us has to answer that question one way or the other. He is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic to each of us. Who is He to you?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Directional Devo - Misplaced Priorities

Revelation 1:3 says of the book, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

Can you imagine the day that we all stand before God?  According to the Bible, the very first thing that we will see in Heaven, after the throne of God (Rev. 4:2), is our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.  Revelation 5:6 says, And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain...  What will go through our minds at that moment?  Sorrow?  Pity?  Regret?  Maybe that is why Revelation 21:4 says, And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes…  What are these tears for?  They may be because for the first time, we are going to realize just how much Jesus suffered so that we could have eternal life.  Maybe, they will be because we are going to wish that we would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve, done so much more with our lives? Sadly, there are going to be many Christians with tears in their eyes on that day because they are simply going to be overwhelmed with the unfortunate reality of misplaced priorities.  How about you?  Where are your priorities right now?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Directional Devo - Worldview

We all have a worldview. The question is which one. Well, it depends upon the lens through which we are looking. If the lens is secular in nature, then we will tend see things from a point of view that does not lend itself to the supernatural or the things of God. On the other hand, if the lens through which we see the world is sacred, we will tend to see things from a point of view that does lend itself to the supernatural and the things of God. Some have also referred to this lens as the filter, funnel, or theological sieve through which we take in our surroundings.

That being said even with a sacred worldview, there are still internal struggles that happen within each of us that cause conflict when it comes to our individual desires. Much of that, I have found, is dependent upon where we are in our walks with the Lord. If we are walking close to Him, in His world, obeying His truth, we do not tend to struggle as much, and things tend to be more black and white. However, if we are not where we need to be with the Lord, not in His word, not being obedient, that is when things tend to get complicated and conflict arises in regards to our desires.

The Apostle John described it very well when he said in 1 John 2:15-16 that we are not to love the world, nor the things that are in it. He goes on to say that if any man does love the world that the love of the Father is not in him, and as a result, he will desire for the things of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life. None of which is of the Father. Again, the struggle tends to boil down to where we are in our relationships with the Lord. As believers, we are called to a standard that is above the world’s standard. You might say that it is a heavenly standard, and the holy way to reach that standard, or to at least make an honest attempt, is with a worldview that is firmly grounded in the Word of God.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Directional Devo - Conviction vs. Guilt

John said in 1 John 2:1, "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."

We were told in the first chapter that the first reason why John wrote this letter was, that your joy may be full.  Now here in v.1 we see the second reason that John wrote this letter is that ye sin not.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. God requires perfection. Why? – Because He is perfect. Is it possible for us to be perfect? – Yes, but only through the finished work of Christ and not ourselves. 

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: That means that the Lord Jesus is our advocate (intercessor) and one day he will present us spotless to the Father (Ephesians 5:25-27).

I’ve found that even though I know this, I still allow Satan to step in and accuse me. I've found that he usually attacks me the strongest after I've sinned. His attacks come in the form of feelings of shame and unworthiness. Why? - So that he can drive a wedge between me and God. He wants me to run away from God just like Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3) did.

I've also found that I can always tell when I am being attacked by Satan or being convicted by the Holy Spirit by my reaction to the situation. When I'm being tempted to run from God, the church, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, I know it's the devil that is behind it because he is trying to drive a wedge between me and God. However, it is the opposite with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, because He uses conviction to draw us to Himself, the church and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Directional Devo - Verbal Plenary Inspiration

Conservatives believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. That implies not only inspiration but also that it was verbal and plenary. What does that mean?

Verbal inspiration means that not only was the message of the Bible inspired but the very words that are contained in that message. Actually, the word verbal means “by means of words” or “word for word.” Now you know why I shy away from thought-for-thought translations in favor of word-for-word translations. Our said in Matthew 5:18, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” The NKJV translates it “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” A “jot” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a “tittle” is a small appendage that differentiates two similar letters. The best way that I could compare it to our English language would be the equivalent of a dotting of the “i ” and the crossing of a “t”. The dot and the crossing make a big difference. As such, verbal inspiration requires dictation which is the “act or manner of transcribing words uttered by another.” In other words, God gave the words, and the writers wrote what they heard.

Finally, the word plenary means “full” or “all”. So, we believe, or at least I believe, in plenary verbal inspiration which means “All Words God-Breathed”. Pretty simple in my opinion, but a very divisive issue in the church today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Dispensationalism, Part 1

With so much confusion in the church today about Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology, I wanted to just take a moment to define them both briefly and to present the latter as the one that I embrace and why. Yes, I am a dispensationalist. Just for clarification, neither of them are really a theology as much as they are a framework for interpreting the Scriptures. In other words, they are a lens through which the Scripture is viewed.
 
Covenant Theology is favored more so by those of a Reformed or Calvinistic persuasion. However, in the United States, especially among Evangelicals, Dispensationalism is far more popular and has been since the latter half of the 19th century. Please also understand that even among each, there are disagreements, but they are basically the same in their overall approach. I am only scratching the surface in this blog post.

At the risk of oversimplifying both, the difference between the two is that one interprets the Scriptures through the lens of covenants, i.e., Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant, while the other interprets the Scriptures through the lens of dispensations. A dispensation by this definition is the particular means by which God deals with man and creation during a given period in redemptive history. In the most popular view, there are seven dispensations which which include: Innocence (Genesis 1 -3) - Adam and Eve before they sinned, Conscience (Genesis 3-8) - First sin to the flood, Civil Government (Genesis 9-11) - After the flood, government, Promise (Genesis 12-Ex. 19) - Abraham to Moses, the Law is given, Law (Exodus 20 - Acts 2:4) - Moses to the cross, Grace (Acts 2:4 - Revelation 20:3) - Cross to the millennial kingdom Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6) – The rule of Christ on earth in the millennial kingdom.

As I stated earlier, I am convinced that the dispensational view is the correct one because it requires a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture while the other does not. Covenant Theology uses a lot of allegorization. The earliest proponent was Augustine, the father of amillennialism, who used what is called a "dual hermeneutic" by bouncing between literal interpretation and allegorical interpretation to arrive at such doctrines as amillennialism. This approach must be utilized in order to arrive at many things that are embraced by those on that side of the aisle and is the main reason that I reject it. It is also how they arrive at such teachings as the Church is spiritual Israel (Replacement Theology), therefore, God has no special purpose for the people of Israel. I could go further, but time does not permit. Suffice it to say they do not interpret the Scriptures literally. For straightforward compare and contrast, I would recommend an article by Dr. Richard P. Belcher, Jr., Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary. Click HERE.

In regards to Dispensational Theology, there are basically six things that are essential and this is where I will spend the bulk of my time. In the meantime, I would encourage you to compare and contrast the two on your own to be able to determine where you stand on the issue because the bottom line is that one of them is wrong and the other is right. There is no way for them both to work in harmony with each other. You will lean to the one or to the other in your approach to the interpretation of the Bible or you will be terribly confused. Just make sure that you are informed and not just regurgitating something you heard someplace which is the norm in our society today. It is just laziness. Our faith is worth more than that.

The first essential belief to Dispensationalism is that the primary meaning of any passage in the Bible is found in that passage of the Bible. The New Testament does not reinterpret or transcend the passages in the Old Testament in any way that would override or cancel the original intent of the author. This is called a high view of Scripture and it simply means that the author said what he meant and meant what he said when he said it and who he said it to. That does not mean that other passages can not shed new light on what the author meant, but that they simply can not altar what the author originally meant. This approach is at total odds with Covenant Theology.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 3

Another problem that I see in the church today is that we do not seem to acknowledge that the gospel that Christ and the Apostles taught is not the same gospel that we teach today. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the mystery of the church was not revealed to the Apostle Paul until sometime after Acts 9 and his conversion (Galatians 1:6-12). The bottom line is that those in the Gospels, Christ and the Apostles, and those in the first several chapters of Acts, where teaching a Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism, while the Apostle Paul only taught belief as the sole requirement for salvation.

When I speak to people about this issue, they are pretty quick in acknowledging that there are some differences between the two gospels I just mentioned, but when it comes to the book of Acts, this is where they normally start resisting and digging their heels in because they have been incorrectly taught for so long. That is when I challenge them to show me how the message of the Apostles changed after the death and resurrection of Christ in the first several chapters of the book. It is obvious that it did not. They were still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is also obvious that there is some type of transition taking place in this book. For example, after Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, the people asked him, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37), and his response was repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:28). Did you see that? He didn’t say anything about just believing in the death, burial, and resurrection at all. Instead, he said repent and be baptized: still the Kingdom Gospel. Later on in the same book, after the conversion of Paul, he was asked the same question when the keeper of the prison asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30), and Paul simply said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). Their responses were totally different. Why? – The Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace are different. You and I do not teach the Gospel of the Kingdom, but it will be preached again during the Tribulation or what is also called Daniels’ Seventieth Week by the 144,000 (Daniel 9:27; Matt 24:14; Revelation 7). There is no way to harmonize the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Grace. One did not just "become" the other.

The book of Acts should be seen for what it is; a book of transition. There is no doctrine for the church in it. You can’t take the things that happened during that period in which the Kingdom offer was still on the table, preceded by signs and wonders according to Joel 2:28-29, and apply it to the church. If you do, and most of the church tries to, it will only lead to confusion at best and heresy at worst.

In conclusion, notice the transition throughout the book. In Acts 2:45 it says that they sold all of their possessions, and in Acts 11:29, a collection has to be taken from the church at Antioch, where they were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), (by the way, the church today has far more to do with Antioch than Jerusalem) for the Jews in Jerusalem’s very survival. In Acts 12:11, we see Peter being delivered by an angel, and in Acts 26:32, we see Paul still under arrest and being sent to Caesar. Obviously, something had changed. In Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:26, 4:24, and 5:12, they were all in accord, and yet when we reach Acts 28:25, they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word. There is no way around it. A transition had taken place.