Daily Archives: June 5, 2013

No-Lordship Folk Still Misunderstand What “Grace Alone” Means

QUESTION from person who embraces a no-Lordship/easy believism position: Do you believe you are saved by faith alone or must you also turn from sin and commit some or all of your life to serving, BEFORE Christ will save you. Can we stay on the subject of salvation and how to receive it,and not jump to how we are going to live if we are truly saved.

RESPONSE: Neither … Both faith AND a self-renouncing commitment to Christ are the result of the saving grace of Christ, not the cause of grace. So the answer to your second question is a resounding “No” you don’t need to turn from sin and commit your life BEFORE Christ will save you. This is impossible supposition for an unregenerate man who will not believe or obey … but we still command him to do so for in seeing his utter failure in the face of God’s perfect law, he despairs of all hope in himself. God shows him his spiritual bankruptcy and then, by grace, saves him UNTO faith and obedience to the law. Therefore the Bible repudiates both easy belivism and any other semi-pelagian ideas such as these. The confusion comes, I believe, when one fails to differentiate regeneration and justification. Both are aspects of the work of Christ in salvation and he regenerates believers (i.e. saves them) i.e gives them a new new heart (regeneration) that believes (unto justification) and desires to obey Christ. Faith and obedience to the law are equally impossible to the unregenerate sinner apart from regenerating grace.

The no lordship position is a perfect example of evangelicals who, while they fully embrace justification by faith alone yet have jettisoned the sola gratia (grace alone) that under girds it.

http://www.reformationtheology.com/2013/06/nolordship_folk_still_misunder.php

GodLife: You are a Full-Time Minister of God

Scripture: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the Church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the Church, the Body of Christ.” ( Ephesians 4:11-12)

What work do you do to provide food, clothing, and shelter for yourself (and your family)? The Apostle Paul did work as a tentmaker (some translations say “leatherworker”); however, he tirelessly preached Christ’s message, evangelizing to everyone he could and teaching new Christians. Today, sometimes, people say they are employed “full time” or “part time” in this or that job or career; as Christians, we could consider that earthly work as how we make our living. But because we are “living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are His holy priests” ( 1 Peter 2:5), we can consider ministering for God our full-time work!

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Just for You

Praising God, serving others, and learning more about Christian life are just some of the neat things that happen within a body of Believers (or a church group). Click the link to learn more about being involved in our New Believer’s Guide.

Personal Help

Do you need help learning how to God has called you to minister to or serve others? We have trained followers of Jesus who can help you figure it out! Click here to share your story with us. You will hear from someone shortly.

Prayer Points

Will you pray this week:
• You will thank God for providing Church leaders
• God will bless our Church leaders with His wisdom so they can help fellow Christians do God’s work
• God will help us understand how He has called us to love, minister to, and serve others
• We will keep our focus on the Lord, even during the distractions of life
• God will use us to serve others and build up the Body of Christ

GodLife Family

Where can you go online to talk about friendship in Christ and pray for friends who need His salvation? Visit the GodLife Facebook Page where we can gather daily to share our stories, to express ourselves, and to pray for one another!

 

Topical Bible Questions: What does the Bible say about beauty?

To define what is beautiful is difficult because beauty is, as the old saying goes, in the eyes of the beholder. What is beautiful to us may be ugly to another. To regard something as beautiful it must meet our own definition and concept of beauty. The fact that beauty is an individual concept is understood clearly by all. However, many don’t realize that God’s concept of beauty also is His own. No one defines for God His concept of beauty. If a person is beautiful to God, he fits God’s concept of beauty.

For example, God never uses one’s outward physical appearance to determine beauty. When the prophet Samuel examined Jesse’s sons in search of the next king of Israel, he was impressed with Eliab’s appearance. God told Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Nothing in a person’s outward appearance impresses God. God looks upon the inner beauty, the beauty of one’s heart.

God never uses the origin or culture of a person as the criteria of beauty. People of one culture seldom see beauty in people of a different culture. Only a divine revelation could convince Peter to enter a Gentile’s house and preach the gospel to him (Acts 10). It took an angel to get Peter the Jew and Cornelius the Gentile together. Only a divine sign convinced the Jewish witnesses that Gentiles unquestionably had the right to be God’s children. When Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34), he was saying, “At last, I understand.” Peter realized that God is unconcerned about a person’s origin or culture. God gladly accepts those who revere and obey Him. His concept of beauty is uniquely different because He ignores cultural preferences and prejudices.

While our opinions are strongly influenced by a one’s address, occupation, and social role, God never determines beauty by social rank or life circumstances. When we speak of the so-called “beautiful people,” rarely do we mean those who are struggling to survive, who make their living by menial jobs, or who come from “backward” areas. In contrast, God never notices those things when He considers beauty in people. Paul wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26–28).

What is beautiful in God’s eyes? Recognizing the qualities God has cherished in the lives of other people is one way to determine His concept of beauty. Noah’s implicit trust in God led him to construct a gigantic boat miles from water. Abraham trusted God’s promise so implicitly that he would have sacrificed his son of promise without hesitation. Moses yielded total control of his life to God and became the man of meekness. David gave his whole being to doing the will of God. No consequence or shameful treatment could keep Daniel from reverencing his God. Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy were ruled by God in every consideration and decision. They were totally focused upon Jesus’ will as they shared the gospel with all. In all these qualities God saw great beauty.

While all these people were beautiful to God, virtually nothing is known about their physical appearance. It was not their physique or stateliness but their faith and service that made them beautiful. The same was true of God’s beautiful women: Rahab, Hannah, Ruth, Deborah, and Mary of Bethany. Those noted for physical beauty were often great spiritual disappointments. Sarah, the beautiful wife of Abraham, did not have his kind of faith. Saul was a man of physical beauty, but he was not the godly king God wanted.

The qualities God wants in His people further reveals His concept of beauty. The beatitudes reveal some of God’s standards of beauty. An awareness of one’s spiritual poverty, sorrow for wickedness, hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and being a peacemaker are all qualities of beauty. The epistles also stress attributes valued by God: keeping a living faith while enduring physical hardships, controlling the tongue, enduring personal harm to protect the church’s influence, making sacrifices for the good of others, and living by Christian convictions in the face of ridicule. All these are beautiful to God.

However, just as a beautiful appearance can become ugly through neglect, a beautiful life of righteousness can become ugly through neglect. Spiritual beauty must never be taken for granted or be neglected. We must remember that just as it is possible to be one of society’s most impressive people and be ugly in the eyes of God, it is also possible to be an unknown in society and to be radiantly beautiful in His eyes.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Cults and Religions: How can I recognize a false teacher / false prophet?

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23–27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17–18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16–17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:

1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15–16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”

2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1–4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).

3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15–20).

For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: What is the Preterist view of the end times?

The preterist interpretation of Scripture regards the book of Revelation as a symbolic picture of early church conflicts, not a description of what will occur in the end times. Preterism denies the future prophetic quality of most of the book of Revelation. In varying degrees, preterism combines the allegorical and symbolic interpretation with the concept that Revelation does not deal with specific future events. The preterist movement essentially teaches that all the end-times prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and Israel.

The letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were written to real churches in the first century, and they have practical applications for churches today. But chapters 6–22, if interpreted in the same way as the rest of Bible prophecy, were written about events that are yet future. There is no reason to interpret the prophecies of Revelation allegorically. Previously fulfilled prophecies were fulfilled literally. For example, all of the Old Testament verses predicting the first coming of Christ were fulfilled literally in Jesus. Christ came at the time that He was predicted to come (Daniel 9:25–26). Christ was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He suffered and died for our sins (Isaiah 53:5–9). These are but a few examples of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies God gave to the prophets that are recorded in Scripture and that were fulfilled literally. It simply does not make sense to try to allegorize unfulfilled prophecy or understand unfulfilled prophecy in any other way than by a normal reading.

Furthermore, preterism is entirely inconsistent in its interpretation of the book of Revelation. According to the preterist view of the end times, chapters 6–18 of Revelation are symbolic and allegorical, not describing literal events. However, chapter 19, according to preterists, is to be understood literally. Jesus Christ will literally and physically return. Then, chapter 20 is again interpreted allegorically by preterists, while chapters 21–22 are understood literally, at least in part, in that there will truly be a new heaven and new earth. No one denies that Revelation contains amazing and sometimes confusing visions. No one denies that Revelation describes some things figuratively. However, to arbitrarily deny the literal nature of select portions of Revelation is to destroy the basis of interpreting any of the book literally. If the seals, trumpets, bowls, witnesses, 144000, beast, false prophet, millennial kingdom, etc., are allegorical or symbolic, on what basis do we claim that the second coming of Christ and the new earth are literal? That is the failure of preterism—it leaves the interpretation of Revelation to the opinions of the interpreter. Instead, we are to read it, believe it, and obey it—literally and exactly.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.