Friday, March 27, 2009

Revive Me Oh Lord: Psalm 119

“You cannot revive something that has never had life, so revival, by definition, is first of all an enlivening and quickening and awakening of lethargic, sleeping church members. Suddenly the power of the Spirit comes upon them … they are humbled, they are convicted of sin … then as a result of their quickening and enlivening, they begin to pray. New power comes into the preaching of the ministers, and the result of this is large numbers are converted. So the two main characteristics of revival are, first, this extraordinary enlivening of the members of the church, and, second, the conversion of masses of people who have been outside in indifference and in sin.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church can't fight, cause it's asleep in the light,
How can you be so dead, when you've been so well fed,
Jesus rose from the grave, and you, you can't even get out of bed,
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead, come on, get out of your bed.

Asleep In The Light by Keith Green
Copyright 1978Birdwing Music

Psalm 119:

88Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth

154Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.
155Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.
156Great are Your mercies, O LORD; Revive me according to Your ordinances.

All Revival is born from Reformation, and all Reformation is "Word" Reformation.

Sola Scriptura
Soli Deo Gloria

Chris P.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Isaac and Ishmael:Freedom and Bondage

Galatians 4:
1I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.


21Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband."
28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

In Christendom, we are currently in the season of Lent/Easter, and in the culture of Judaism and the christian Messianic movement, the feast of Passover is fast approaching. This always sparks a debate within the "church" re: which "holy day" to celebrate. For me it has been a no-brainer for many years. I do not celebrate Easter, Lent, Christmas, or any such days simply because we are not told to do so in Scripture. I also view many of these activities as a waste of the time which we should be redeeming. Eph 5:15-16: 1 Cor 6:12

(There is also the fact that these holidays have their roots in paganism. That is another subject for another day.)

This being said, I do not hold it against those who choose to commemorate Resurrection Sunday or Christ's birth, in sincerity and truth. This also applies to Passover:

1Co 5:
8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

(I will never understand Lent and it's flip-side, the Babylonian bacchanal known as Mardi Gras.)

Aside from the obvious fertility symbols of "bunnies" and eggs, I must truthfully say that I have never heard any pastor or church member who proclaims Jesus as Lord, encourage their brothers and sisters to worship Eostre or any other pagan deity, while conducting their annual "egg hunts".

Rom 14:
1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
11 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.

Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

We must be careful that in our zeal for "truth" we do not become like the judaizers that Paul was warning the Galatians about.

In Galatians 4: 1-8 we often overlook some important points.

First of all, Paul is using the pronouns "we" and "our"

1I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

He is including himself in the same group with these regenerate Galatians. This means then that he, Paul, identifies with them, as they should with him, as those who are free in Christ.

He continues with:

8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

In other words, Paul is saying that since they, the Galatians, have already forsaken the bondage of their former pagan practices; why are they now exchanging their new found freedom for the practices of Judaism. set of chains for another. They are under no requirement to keep the feasts or rituals.

Colossians 2:
16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" 22( referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Make no mistake, by the time of Jesus' birth, Judaism/talmudic rabbinicalism was an apostate religion, full of paganism and man made practices which were already setting in before and during the exile in Babylon. We must remember that Israel was sent into exile for its idolatry and apostasy.

Jesus took on the mission of calling the people back to the Tanakh, that is, the Law and the Prophets, the Word. He did not preach the talmud as many who wish to "tal-muddy" the waters would like us to believe.

With that in mind let's look at:

Genesis 17:

9And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."

Galatians 5:

2Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

James 2:
10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Matthew 5:
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Rom 4:
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring--not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"--in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be."
19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb.
20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,

Rom 4:21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
22That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness."
23 But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone,
24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Therefore we can conclude from these passages that:
1. Jesus, Paul and James are in complete harmony
2. Paul, while addressing specifically the issue of circumcision understands that based on Genesis 17:10-11, Circumcision represents the entirety of the Law (Covenant).
3. He who lives by the Law will be judged by the Law.
4. He who tampers with the Law, i.e. God's very word by adding to, or subtracting from it will be judged .
5. He who lives by the Law will die by it.

So Paul can then say:

Rom 7:10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.


Gal 2:
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Paul purposely begins his letter to the Galatian churches with these words. Therefore they are the foundation,(Christ Jesus 1 Cor 3:9-15) on which he builds the remainder of the letter.

He then ends the letter with:

Gal 5:
10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.
11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.


Gal 5:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

There is no requirement to keep feasts and rituals. or commandments etc because all who are in Christ are showing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives against which the Law does not exist.

Gal 6:
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
(The above verse, #7, is sadly taken out of context, ad infinitum. It is not about money!)


Gal 6:
12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation
16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Think about verse 12 at the next messianic event that requests you don't mention the name of Jesus so as not to offend the visiting jewish contigent.

See also Acts 15:7-11 re: verse 13.

Paul then ends by reminding them in verse 14 of the fact of his "co-crucifixion" in Christ, i.e. the foundation of the letter.

I realize that this is quite lengthy but I sense the importance of getting as much of the Word out there, concerning this, as possible.

In conclusion I will say that there are those who preach legalism in Judaism and Christianity, and there are those who preach licentiousness in both camps. The Word supports neither argument. (There is even legalism and licentiousness in paganism.)

Paul and his fellow apostles preached freedom in Christ.

Whether you as a Christian or Jew, keep Passover or Easter or ..... do it to the glory of God and in faith as whatever is not of faith is sin.

Php 3:
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh--
4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ishmael and Isaac - The Discerning Church

Genesis 17:

15And God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." 17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" 18And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you!" 19God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year."

Matthew 16:

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 20Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." 23But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."

John 3:

6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

It has been my observation for some time that the church at large whether it calls itself emerging; emergent; evangelical; charismatic/pentecostal/fundamentalist; or ????Has long been operating in the realm of the ”good idea”.

(The church has been caught up in dispensationalist dogma for so long that it is missing the point entirely. The story of Ishmael and Isaac is not the story of Islam vs. the Judeo-Christian world. In fact, Islam came into being during Mohammed’s lifetime some 2600-2700 years later. We also have the fact that the Arabic nations of the middle east do not contain the largest population of Muslims currently in the world. The real brotherly contention that affects Israel is the one between Esau and Jacob. Romans 9:6-12)

The confession of Peter, followed by his receiving a most severe rebuke from Jesus, is not the story of the “first pope”, or the story of good old “bumbling Peter”.

Jesus’ words to Nicodemus are not a mystical “formula” for salvation.

Isaac and Ishmael is the story of faith against flesh; promise vs the Law; and freedom vs bondage. All of these are speaking of the battle between man’ ideas and methods, and God’s specific and pre-established plans, which are his ways and thoughts.

1. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In the next breath, he was denying the work and purpose of that very Christ.Let’s look at this.The revelation that Peter spoke was given to Him by God the Father. Peter could take no credit for this knowledge, as he never possessed it. 1 Cor 2: 6-16This alone refutes the roman catholic claim that Peter is the rock the church is built upon.Why build your church on a man who is of corruptible flesh, and in bondage to the Law of sin and death?

It is, in reality, built upon the new man of sinless perfection and incorruptible flesh, who is the Christ, the Son of the living God? 1 Cor 3:9-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Eph 2:19-21
Therefore the confession that Jesus is the Christ, is the cornerstone we are built upon. The confession is the essence of who He is.
The Word (confession) became flesh.

The knowledge given to Peter from above, and the professing of that knowledge into the earth, are the revelation of the plan and method of God, that is, Isaac.When Jesus begins to explain what that revelation really means, Peter slips into “man-mode” and rebukes Jesus, “far be it from you Lord!” to which Jesus rebukes Peter, “get behind me Satan”. The word satanas in Greek take from satan, in the Hebrew meaning adversary/accuser. Jesus was not calling Peter the devil. He was saying that Peter is thinking like men think, which is always against what God thinks. Peter was well intentioned, but had no concept of God’s plans and ways. Isaiah 55:8-1;2Cor 10:3-6
We are all so relieved that the Lord rebuked Peter, not realizing that the Lord is saying this to us, constantly. This is our rebuke also!

2. Let’s look at Nicodemus:Jesus said a man must be born again, i.e. born anew, from above (in the Greek)Nicodemus asked how a man could enter the womb again and be physically reborn. Of course we know that Jesus did not mean that. He was speaking of a new creation through the Spirit. The old man has died, and we are reborn in Him; baptism being the testimony of this fact, and not the required method of salvation. That is another subject, for another time.
Jesus answer is interesting. “That which is born of flesh is flesh”; Ishmael. This refers to the physical process of childbirth. “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit”; Isaac. In other words, “born again” has nothing to do with the natural man.
No one knows where the wind comes from or where it goes, but they know it is there. So it is with all things spiritual. No one discerns the origin or destination of the Spirit, but the Spirit. 1 Cor 2:6-16 Nicodemus was thinking as men think. He could not discern the mind of the Spirit. The sovereign Lord reveals His will and agenda, when He desires, and to whom He desires.

3. Onto Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael.
God gave a covenant-promise to Abraham, which Abraham believed by faith. Genesis 12:1-3and Genesis 15:1-6; (See also Romans 4:1-5)When Abram and Sarai came to the decision to have Abram conceive a child with Sarai’s handmaid, Hagar, they acted in good faith as far as man was concerned.“Abram believed God” is what the Scripture says. However, neither he nor Sarai, had any understanding of how God intended to accomplish this.In Genesis 16 we have Abram conceiving a child with Hagar (this was done in accordance to the custom of the times they lived in).
Sarai had a change of heart about the whole situation, causing Hagar to flee from her in fear. (God’s will)
Still, God promised Hagar that He would BLESS her son, Ishmael, and give him many descendants, which is in keeping with His original promise to Abram. (What a faithful and glorious God. He keeps all His Word.) The one caveat being that Ishmael would be wild and contentious towards his brothers.

In the beginning of chapter 17 God repeats the covenant to Abram, and reveals more of its detail. He also changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s to Sarah.He then reveals His will and ways completely to Abraham. You will have son with Sarah. At this Abraham laughs, as he is now 99 years old.Abraham cries out “oh that Ishmael (now 13 years of age) might live before you.”Abraham still does not see it. God is merciful and blesses Ishmael for Abraham’s sake, but he proclaims that only through Sarah, and in Isaac ( God’s laughter) will He accomplish His purposes of salvation and blessing for all the earth.

Ishmael and Isaac, and the contention between them, is commonly taught in dispensationalist circles to represent, as I said, the current state of the middle-east.This is a shallow reading of the scriptures.

Galatians 4:

21Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.27For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband."28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Paul is saying Ishmael represents all who are born into the bondage of the Law and have never left that bondage, i.e. they are not “born again”. this is truly a "tale of two cities" Hebrews 11: 8-10

Isaac represents all who are “born again” into the promise, as Isaac is the fruit of two “dead bodies” miraculously producing life: life out of death, what a novel concept.

Paul quotes Isaiah 54. The “desolate one” typifies all of those who are not Israel, and “the one who has a husband” is the nation Israel. Read Romans 10:18-21

Paul then concludes with this thought, which has its’ full revelation in his letter to the church in Rome; We who have died with Christ, to the flesh, are now born again on the Spirit, and therefore children of the promise.

The Law, through the flesh, contends with those who are of the Spirit and are free.(Romans 5-6-7-8)The name Ishmael means “God has heard my cry” this symbolizes the state of the slave crying out for freedom. The name Isaac, meaning laughter, i.e. God had the last laugh, symbolizes the state of the free man, i.e. “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Isaac is God’s revealed will, and Ishmael is man’s good idea; man’s attempt to save himself and accomplish the will of God. Ishmael is legalism. The Law saves no one, unless one can actually keep it. Jesus was the only one to keep it perfectly. It is most interesting that Ishmael was circumcised under the covenant, and both he and Isaac, together, buried Abraham (this being a wonderful picture of the promise of the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets in faith). Genesis 17:23-26; Genesis 25:8-10

So in the church today we have Peter’s rebuke to Jesus. Nicodemus’ non-comprehension, and Abram’s and Sarai’s good faith attempt to accomplish God’s will for Him.Let no one believe for a moment, that God’s allowing Ishmael to be conceived, birthed, and even blessed, for a time, is a sign that anything we say, or do, is Isaac. God works however He desires to work, and all things work together for good to all who love God, who are the “called”.
Our efforts are allowed only as a contrast to the times when God does move through His “Isaac church”.
God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and referred to him as Abraham’s ONLY son. Genesis 22

In the flesh this was not true, as Abraham had several sons, but what is born of the Spirit, is Spirit.
We prove daily what works are Ishmael, and what are Isaac. What comes from ourselves, innovative as it may seem, and what is Christ. The Father accepts only that which is offered to Him through the finished work of His only begotten Son. That finished work and will is this:

Matthew 16:

“21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Is the foundation we are laying, and are we building upon that foundation, in line with the Lord’s mind revealed in this scripture, or are we saying” far be it from you Lord” we don’t care for that way at all?

When it comes to protestants or catholics modernists/post modernists, or evangelical/charismatic/pentecostals this is the only standard that applies.

The appearance of success or blessing is no proof that their work is not of their own invention.

Jesus’ admonition to judge with right judgment is not only applicable to healing a man on the Sabbath, it is applicable to everything and anything that the “church” says and does in the name of the Lord, and His Kingdom. John 7:23-24

The only standard of discernment is the WORD, i.e. Jesus, revealed through His Word, the Scripture. Nothing will be judged by mere appearances. Righteous and just judgment is God’s will.Deut 16:18-20

God does not hide His will, from us.

May the Isaac of God be birthed in His church, and may true biblical discernment be manifest.

Amen and Amen!

Deut 29:

29"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Scriptura

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

Genesis 2:
1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Leviticus 23:
3 "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

Psalm 92:A Sabbath Psalm
1It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; 2to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, 3to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. 4For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

Mark 2:23
One Sabbath he was going through the grain fields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24And the Pharisees were saying to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" 25And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?" 27And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

John 5:
15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." 18This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

Matthew 11:
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Eph 2:
8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

John 14:
11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Hebrews 4:
1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." 5And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest."6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts."8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.

What is the Sabbath? Which day is the Sabbath day? Why does it cause such heated debate?What does the word of God say?

The truth of the scripture is this; the Lord's resting on the seventh day is what made the day Holy. In other words, if He had created everything in three days, the fourth day would have been the Sabbath. If it had taken 9 days, the tenth would have been the Sabbath etc etc. God chose to complete it all in the first 6 days, making the seventh day a Sabbath, as He was finished, and rested on that day. (The significance of the number 7 in scripture is a study for a different time.)This is why I believe a literal 24 hour day is being referred to in Genesis 1.
While God was creating the earth, its' inhabitants and its' accoutrement, He was also creating “time”.
Time. i.e. the 24 hour day, (manifesting into weeks. months and years), is not a concept that we came up with.
Time has a set beginning, and end. God deemed this to be so.
In the first six days God created and set into motion everything that exists, including time, by His spoken Word. It is God's resting that is the overarching issue. Isaiah wonderfully affirms the account of Genesis, which is; creation’s functioning displays the working of the Word that God spoke, and the glorious truth that this Word does not return void.

Isaiah 55:
10"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God did not rest because He was tired, bored, or ran out of ideas. He was not under a deadline because the seventh day was quickly approaching. He stopped after six days because everything that He wanted to create and set into motion was completed. We, all the saints past and future, along with the world we live in today, are the still ripening fruit of the Word He spoke in those six days. The end has not come yet in time though it is contained in the completed work of the six days. His Word is still going forth, doing what it was intended to do until the pre-destined day of the return of Messiah Jesus.The Word will return to Him, with all the fruit it was intended to bear, at the end of time.

1 Cor 15:
28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Therefore, the day is Holy because God rested on that day. If He had not rested on that day it would not be Holy.All the Scriptures cited here, prove that the issue is one of rest, not which day of the week. They also discredit the arguments between Jews, messianic jews, seventh day adventists, roman catholics and protestants over which day to have church. The scriptures tell us in Acts 2, that the church met daily.
If I have ceased from works by entering into His rest, that is, into Christ himself, and His finished work, then I am celebrating the Sabbath, and keeping it holy. I live in the Sabbath every day. I am no longer living to complete my own work, I am now working the works of God, which were prepared before I even existed. When we are doing His work, and have ceased from our agenda and its labor, then we discover that His work is HIS WORK, and we find rest in the performance of that work. (Hebrews 4).
God was content to rest in His own work, and call it Sabbath so should we be content to do so .The Sabbath is not a day. It is the Lord’s rest. So be diligent to enter that rest, and not be disobedient like the generation of the “wilderness wandering” that perished in the desert. The meaning being, they were not content in what God had provided for them, but constantly complained and contended with God and His ways. Our works are birthed in the incubator of discontent.

Phillipians 4:
11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

The "secret" is resting in Him.

Quail anyone?
Isaiah, rebuked Israel for not understanding and following the true fast, i.e. taking all that you deny yourself and giving it to those who have need for it; anything else is a "fasting show".He then ends with this:

Isaiah 58:
13 "If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;14then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Why does he end up speaking about the Sabbath in a passage devoted to the topic of God's true fast? I believe that the true fast and the Sabbath are one and the same. We live a life of self-denial (ceasing from our own labors), every day, and minister to those in need (entering His rest). These are the works of faith spoken of by Paul in Eph 2:10, and by James in chapter 2 of his letter.
How do we enter this rest?

John 6:
27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." 28Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

Herein then is the call to Sabbath, and the promised rewards of entering that rest:

Luke 9:
23And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Hebrews 4:
9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

Phillipians 1:
6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Phillipians 2:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kingdom Of God-Kingdoms Of Men Part 3

John 18:
36Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." 37Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

Rev 21:
5And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

In the two previous installments of this series, we explored the scriptural foundations concerning Babel, and the beginnings of cultures, nations, and kingdoms of this world.
Let’s quickly review:

1. At one time mankind was united by a common language, and from that “unity” they strove to make a name for themselves, i.e. they desired to exalt themselves as a god. (Genesis 11:1-4)
2. The diverse nations, tribes and tongues of the earth came about because the Lord caused the common language of men to become “diversified”, and thus many tongues and dialects came into being. God confused their language; hence the name Babel, meaning confusion. (Genesis 11:5-9)3. This action did not put and end to man’s desire to ”be like God”.(Genesis 3:4-5) However this action ensured, for all time, that mankind’s plans to create unity through diversity, would never be successful.
4. Unity through diversity is man’s corrupt attempt to undo what God has done.True unity is found only in Christ, the great high priest over the house of God, the living temple. (Psalm 133; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:4-10)
5. The events of the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2, especially the gift of speaking in other tongues, reveal the fruition of the covenant given to Abraham by God in Genesis 12, (who was called out of Babel/Babylon, Genesis 11:31-12:1) and spoken of through all the Law and the prophets. It is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is sealed by the Holy Spirit in this present day, beginning at the day of Pentecost.
6. The call goes forth, “come out of her my people”, from the old testament, (Jeremiah 51:45) to the new. (Rev 18:1-5)
7. This is the mystery contained in the overarching context of the covenant given to Abraham, (Genesis 12:2-3) and the promise prophesied to the serpent. (Genesis 3:14)
8. God will have a people, called by His name, for His glory, and “born again” to enter His Kingdom, which is not of this world. (John 3:3-8 and 18:36-37)
9. All citizens of this Kingdom speak the “common language” of God’s Word.
10. Jesus Christ calls men into the “culture” of the redeemed, i.e. the Kingdom of Heaven. We are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, formerly not a people, but now the people of God, aliens and strangers in this world. (1 Peter 2:9-11; Isaiah 65:1)

Rev 5:
"Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

Rev 7:
9After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

Jesus Christ is found worthy to open the seals of the scroll, which signifies the beginning of the end of all things, because He gave His life’s blood as ransom for the foreknown, redeemed remnant of Babel. Therefore they are seen praising their redeemer every one of them wearing robes of white (the putting on of Christ?), which is the “cultural” dress of the redeemed.The scriptural view of cultural differences and/or diversity as recorded by Paul is simply this:

Galatians 3:
27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Colossians 3:
9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

So Abraham, in typology, represents the “first-fruits of those who are the called out (ekklesia) of Babylon, but also is the one through whom the “seed” of the woman will come and crush the head of the serpent. This, of course, is Christ, the true first-fruits of mankind. All who are redeemed, were in "Abraham's loins" when the covenant was given, just as all of mankind was in Adam when he fell. (Romans 4:1-13 and Romans 12-21)If we are baptized into Christ and His death, then we are a new creation walking in resurrection life, being renewed in knowledge, after the image of our creator, that is, the true imago dei. (Colossians 1:13-20)We are then sons of Abraham, and joint heirs with Christ who is all and in all. He is the fullness of the new man. (Romans 6:2-4;Romans 8:16-17; Ephesians 4:11-16)Ultimately, the only culture that matters is the culture of the new man.

1 Cor 9:
19For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

This is a favorite “proof text” for the pro-contextual faction.
What is Paul actually saying?This passage is not dealing with cultural contexts per se. For example, is there a culture, or tribe, or nation, of the weak? Yet, there are weak ones living within every nation, tribe, and people group.I believe that Paul is telling us that wherever he was lead to go and evangelize, he did not present his particular cultural affectations as part of the Gospel. He didn’t pack his cultural baggage, so to speak.I minister on the Navajo reservation, which along with the other indigenous peoples of North America was victimized by some very bad methods of evangelization. It is a sad and bloody history. There has been much pain and sorrow caused by the improper preaching and subsequent enforcement of western culture as the Gospel.This was a worldwide phenomenon. The correct method of bringing the good news does not necessarily include “going native” I know that Hudson Taylor and others chose to take this road, but there were other missionaries who were just as successful in their work who did not employ these methods.It is safe to say that the essential thing is to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It’s the Word that brings people to saving faith. Wrapping the Gospel in any context of culture is not necessary, as we are be born again from above. There is no dominant culture in the Kingdom, other than the “culture of Christ”

Acts 17:
22So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,28 for “In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.'29Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

First of all, Paul makes it quite clear that the God who made earth and heaven is not bound by human restrictions, and that it is He who determines the historical shelf life, and geographical boundaries of the nations and peoples, of the earth. He is sovereign over culture. He is sovereign over all people and things.Second; this is one of, the least successful efforts at winning souls recorded in Acts. I am not saying Paul had no success; just that it did not have the same impact as other efforts mentioned by Luke.Third, nowhere in the Bible does it say that contextualized evangelism is a necessity for winning souls.God saves through Christ, and by His Holy Spirit. God foreknows all who will come. Therefore all things work together for good to those who love Him, and they love Him because he called them first. (Romans 8:28-31)Once again, it’s the Word alone.(Romans 10:17)Men’s efforts to “sneak” their way into a relationship with the unredeemed, thus saving them by befriending them, is foolishness. Our friendship never saved anyone.Last of all, Paul’s quoting of the Greek writers from two of their poems, which were written about Zeus, is not “cultural engagement”. He is telling them that the words are correct, but the God they are written for is not God. Such words would and do apply only to Yahweh. As always, men may seek “a” god, but only a god of their own creation (made in their image and likeness). The Greek stoics were no different. No one seeks the one true God. (Romans 3:9-19)

One more caution; by quoting the Greek poets, Paul is not giving a tacit endorsement of their writings, any more than Bible writers are giving approval to the apocryphal books that they quote. Whatever is placed in Scripture is true, and God given for our use. (Deut 29:29)

I would like to briefly address the debate over contextual worship. We need to be clear upfront that it is only the redeemed that worship God, ie. men redeemed from every tribe, tongue, and nation.For too long western culture has asserted itself as ‘Christendom”, that is as the primary and/or sole expression of the Kingdom of God. Western culture has just as much ungodliness in it as any other culture on earth, as it too came out of Babel. One thing the Reformation did not fully address is that while it made great attempts to rid us of the pagan syncretism, and the tyranny of Rome, (which typified both the empire and the hybrid church it became),it never dealt en toto with the fact that western culture is not the Kingdom.The scripture is explicit. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. It exists outside of the world and it’s cultures and systems. Nationalities, race, differences between men and women, socio-economic status, etc are all irrelevant in Christ. We do not live like the world.When I read of people from all nations and tribes and tongues declaring God’s greatness and majesty, singing his praises and speaking His Word, I rejoice. I cannot wait to hear what that will sound like, i.e. all the different languages exalting the Lord simultaneously. It’s the language of the Kingdom of God and we can participate in that to some extent right here and now. Arguments, pro or con, over music styles, the use of indigenous instruments, dance, etc. should not exist in the church.While the church in western culture has given us great hymns and songs, we must acknowledge that the style they are written in is a cultural expression pretty much unique to the western world.The songs of the Kingdom speak the Word, they do not promote a particular musical form.Worship comes after entering into God’s reconciliation, after entering into His Kingdom.Since only the redeemed worship God, then let that worship be expressed in the context of the culture where God has placed you.We should be able to go to any fellowship anywhere on earth and worship with brothers and sisters whether it is “our style” or not.Now I am not contradicting myself. I believe that the content is more important than the style it is conveyed in. Since the language of the Kingdom is the Word, then the only question would be; is the Word being proclaimed thus glorifying God and edifying each other?We need to see that the worship of the redeemed from all tribes, tongues and nations expressed in context of their culture is the final slap in the face of the pride and arrogance of Babel.

I offer this caveat, that while worship is expressed culturally, contextual evangelization is more problematic. As I have said, we do not save anyone. Our methods and ideas do not save anyone. Contextual evangelism may or may not attract attention, and such attention may or may not be a good thing. The fact remains that in every culture on earth, there are things that are not of God, they cannot ever be used by the church, as well as things that are neutral, i.e. things which can be used for good or evil purposes depending on who is using them. Simply stamping the name of Jesus on something does not redeem it. This is error which afflicts both the modern evangelicals, who have absorbed culture, and the post-moderns, who have allowed the culture to absorb them. A reading of early church history will show that both such circumstances prevailed in the church through the 4th and 5th centuries when the empire and the church began their unholy union. There is a reason why the next several centuries were called the “Dark Ages”.
Let God daily add those who are being saved, and let us do our assigned portion.(Acts 2:44-47) He doesn’t need our ideas or innovations, nor did He ever ask us for them.In these three posts my desire has been to motivate the study of Scripture in regard to the church and culture. Please do not accuse me of being a racist, a bigot, or hateful, or……….I am not denigrating cultures or peoples. I am affirming a sovereign God and His authoritative Word.Let us not worship in the temple and at the altar of humanism, e.g. the UN, LiveAid, Bono,Ghandi, or whatever. Diversity is not something the church so much “celebrates”, as it recognizes that it is the fruit of man’s rebellion, through which God’s incredible plan of salvation is being revealed and enacted.I have heard it expressed many times that Jesus, the apostles and the 1st century church turned the world upside-down. I submit that that the reality is; they began turning it right side-up.
Let’s continue that work in obedience to His Word. Amen.

Revelation 11:
15Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."

Kingdom of God-Kingdoms of Men Part 2

Genesis 11:
1Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.And:6And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." 8So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Acts 2:1
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

1 Cor 2:
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

In part 1 of this series we see that from the very beginning, as stated in the Book of Genesis, God intended for man to procreate, fill the earth, and subdue it. Even after Adam’s fall in the garden, God had not rescinded His commands. Had there been no rebellion (Genesis 3:1-7) there would have been no problem in man carrying out God’s directives.
Because they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man’s usurping the authority of God has been the affliction of the ages. We have become “like God” in knowing good and evil, (Genesis 3:22).At Babel, the issue was not man attempting to access God by building a tower to Heaven. The issue was, and still is, man trying to make a name for himself.
Man wasn’t trying to reach God, he wanted to be God. He became a competitor against Yahweh. The tower, and the city being built around it, are man’s way of stating that he is like the God in the heavens, i.e. self-exaltation (Genesis 11:4) The city is the counterfeit (man’s creation) of the heavenly city, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-9) When viewed in this light, Paul’s intent in Romans 1 becomes very clear, especially verses 21-25;

“21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

The Fall was thoroughly devastating . Those who teach otherwise are, in a word, wrong.
Imago Dei, God’s image, became man’s re-imaging of God’s image, (See Exodus 32 as to how that manifests.) The serpentine/satanic rebellion with which the serpent tempted Adam and Eve, and into which they fell, permeates all of mankind, and affects all creation. (Romans 8:18-23)By the end of Genesis 11, and going into chapter 12, we see that Abraham was called out of Ur, i.e. Babylon, the land of Shinar, and called into the promise. God had begun the plan of salvation of men, and the reconciliation of all the world to Himself. (2 Cor 5:18-21) I re-iterate, that all the world, it’s cultures, philosophies etc. are contaminated with the taint of Babylon, the city and the kingdom of man.
The question then becomes; how are we, the ekklesia, the “called out”, meant to address the issue of culture?Most of us are quite familiar with the passage cited above from Acts 2. When the Holy Spirit was “poured out”, it was as “divided tongues of fire” The Word of God is represented as fire throughout the Scriptures. Isaiah 6:6-7 and Jeremiah 23:29-40 are excellent examples of the Word as fire, and also the battle of man’s word versus the Word of the Lord. In Rev 8:1-5 we see the angel taking the prayers of the saints represented by the burning incense, and the fire of the altar, (the same fire and altar as the one Isaiah saw, I presume) and mingling them together before throwing the censer to earth, and releasing the trumpets, and God’s judgment, (That is an awesome study in itself.)So the Word of God, and the proclaiming of that Word, are both imperatives in the Kingdom. They are of utmost importance.( Romans 10:17)
God executes swift judgment on the purveyors of “strange fire”( Lev 10:1-3). Let all who have ears, hear.
So the Spirit manifests as “tongues” of fire, i.e. the Word, and the disciples begin to speak in other languages, proclaiming to men of diverse cultures and languages, “the mighty works of God”The evidence of the “baptism of the Spirit” is not speaking in other tongues, per se, it is the proclaiming of the Word of the Lord, the fire of God, to men of every tribe, tongue, and nation. The gift of tongues made this possible.The speaking forth of the Word is the actual language of the Kingdom. Confusion of language is the result of man’s building efforts. Remember that prior to being dispersed, men had one common language. However since they were speaking the words of man, and the philosophies and ideas that those words convey, and not the Word of God, He thwarted the effort.
Pentecost, or Shavout as it is called in the Hebrew, was not only the day of the celebration of the early/spring harvest, the meaning if which was being revealed in the beginning of the harvest of men’s souls; it was also the celebration of the day that the giving of the Torah, the Law, the WORD, was given to Moses at Sinai, and thus to Israel.
The Pentecost of Acts chapter two is the day that the true tower/mountain of God, i.e. Zion, and the true city, the New Jerusalem began to be established in the earth. (Hebrews 12: 18-29:Galatians 4:26)
It is the day that the law was written onto the hearts of men, and no longer on the stone tablets of Sinai. (Ezekiel 26:36;Jeremiah 31:33;John 1:14)
It is the day of the new creation, by which its being called “new”, implies that it has nothing to do with the old. God was “reversing” the effects of the rebellion and the counterfeit kingdom of Babylon, by calling men out of the world and its diversity, and into the true Kingdom, which has one common (heavenly) language and is not of this world. It comes from above. Therefore all who enter it, and proclaim it, are called from above. (John 3:3-8 and John 3:28-36) All things were, and are, being fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-20) All of this was done, and is being done, not in spite of, but through, a fallen creation. God saves those who rebelled against Him. (Genesis 50:19-20 and Romans 5)
So Paul preached Christ crucified, and nothing else, as that is the language of salvation.The foundation on which the living temple is built are as important as the message. This foundation would include:

1. The Word of God says that the dispersion which produced the cultures and Kingdoms of this earth, was brought about by God’s deliberate confusion of man’s common language.

2. The establishment of God’s Kingdom thereby comes about in the uniting of the redeemed, that is, those taken out of the world, by giving them a common language, that is, His Word.

3. Faith comes from hearing that specific Word.So much emphasis is put on methods and our embracing of cultural diversity that we forget that the King and His Kingdom are essentially and completely foreign, to those who are outside of it.The church must preach the word of God so that men may believe, and then they can express their salvation in the context of their particular cultural setting. God does not redeem nations, tribes, and tongues. He redeems men from every nation tribe and tongue. The redeemed are a remnant, a tithe so to speak, of all the earth. (Isaiah 6:13;Rev 7:9-17;Rev 14:1-8)These first two posts are, as I said, foundational. Our “building" stand or falls on foundational doctrine. (Matthew 7:24-25;1 Cor 3:9-17) My third and final post on this subject, will show how the early church approached the issue of “engaging” the culture, and how that is currently being misapplied in this post modern era.

Kingdom of God-Kingdoms of Men Part 1

Part 1

Genesis 11:
1Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." 5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." 8So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

There has been much made in recent times about culture and the Kingdom of God. The quest for “engagement of", and/or "relevancy to" the prevailing culture(s), is the rage du jour in the post-modern church; emerging and liberal, seeker friendly and charismatic.I have read such profound musings as; the story of Babel shows us God giving us the “gift of diversity”, or that “since Jesus celebrated diversity, so should we”, etc. etc. etc.
Now I am not promoting the denigration of any culture or people group. I am saying that the embracing of culture is not the goal of the Gospel. Contextualization is not a means to salvation. What does the Word of God actually say about culture and the Kingdom?

In the passage above we see the beginnings of cultures, nations, i.e. the kingdoms of this world. They are birthed out of an attempt by men to make a name for themselves. God told Adam and Eve to fill the earth, and have dominion.(Genesis 1:26-31)
This event shows men in direct disobedience of that command. Adam was expelled from the garden, but God did not rescind His directive. Adam was told that the fulfillment of that directive would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, because of his rebellion.(Genesis 3:17-19)Essentially, what we have in Shinar is a repetition of that very rebellion, that is, “you will be like God”. (Genesis 3:4-6)God disperses (expels) mankind, just as he did after the fall.This is a “coercing” of men to take dominion.
Unfortunately the difficulties of subduing the earth still prevailed.
We must also note that Shinar is a plain found in Babylonia, the land settled by Nimrod, who was the grandson of Ham, Noah’s son, the one who uncovered his father’s nakedness, when Noah was in an inebriated sleep.
Genesis 10: 6-20 gives us an interesting reading of Nimrod’s ancestors and descendants; in light of subsequent history.So when God dispersed mankind over the earth and confused their language to thwart their rebellion, He set in motion, the establishing of every tribe, tongue, nation, and kingdom; all of which are tainted by Babylon. There does not exist a kingdom on this earth, that is not Babylonian; some more than others, but Babylonian nevertheless.
So “cultural diversity” is the outcome of man’s rebellion in Shinar.Much the same as the rebellion in the garden created the need for the “seed”, a savior, to crush the head of the serpent, so the rebellion in Shinar creates the need for a true Kingdom, and a true “King of kings”Babylon is both, geographical location and an historic kingdom. Because of its origins, it is also a spiritual kingdom that fills the entire earth.
Babylon is where God’s people, Israel, spent 70 years in exile, until the time appointed by God through the prophets came to fulfillment. (Isaiah 45:1-7; Daniel 9:1-3 and Jeremiah 51:45)Babylon is also where all of God’s people are in exile, so to speak, until the time spoken of by God through His prophets comes to fulfillment. (Romans 11:25-26; Rev 10:5-11 and Rev 18:1-5)Babylon is spoken of over and over in the Scriptures, culminating in the revealing of the harlot and her demise in Rev 17 and 18. (See also Rev 14:6 and 16:9)
So with the Scriptures in mind, and the origin of cultures found to be rooted in the pride of the human race, how is the Body of Christ to reach this world with the message of the One who’s Kingdom is NOT of this world? (John 18:33-38)

That is the subject of my next installment.