Category Archives: Ministry

Why We Should Not Obey the Ten Commandments

As believers in Jesus Christ, we should not obey the Ten Commandments.

If Jesus completely satisfied the requirements of the Law, then everyone who places faith in Jesus is free from any obligation to the Ten Commandments.

It should follow that those who place faith in Jesus Christ are obligated to obey Him and not the Ten Commandments. The law of Christ obligates us to greater things than the 10 Commandments. I am not suggesting that we should disobey the Ten Commandments. While we are obedient to Christ, we cannot be in violation of the Ten Commandments. I do not commit adultery, not because of the Law, but because I desire to honor Christ in my relationship with my wife, specifically in regard to my sexual behavior.  The Law will not fill you with the Holy Spirit. The Law will not provide a crucifixion in which you can participate by faith to experience transformation of character through death to self. Jesus is greater than the Law.

We should not obey the Ten Commandments because we are in obedience to Christ.

Galatians 3

2 Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…

25 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Galatians 4

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Galatians 5

4  You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

16 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 18 …if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Peace at Any Cost?

 

God tells us to bless those who curse you. In fact, it is reinforced in the New Testament at least three times.

Matthew 5:44. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

Luke 6:27-31.  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

So then, wouldn’t you think that church people are expected to humbly accept every and all forms of abuse and insult? For example, wouldn’t these verses indicate that anyone can come into your church on Sunday morning and start cursing everyone, and all you can do is offer them the microphone and a complimentary glazed donut?

The Bible says to bless those who curse you. However, it isn’t the only thing the Bible says.

Jesus’ objective was that we live at peace with one another, that we should be peacemakers, but when his disciples were rebuking the children, Jesus did not welcome their poor attitudes. He became indignant (ἀγανακτέω) and corrected them publicly. When Jesus saw that temple worship had been twisted into an opportunity for financial exploitation, he physically blocked people from doing business and flipped their tables and chairs, and rebuked them. Why didn’t he bless them? That is something to think about.

The truth is that Christians are not called to embrace any and all kinds of speech and behavior. It does not promote peace to tolerate everyone who wants to destroy the peace of God that comes through the gospel.

Paul instructed us not to tolerate anyone perverting the Gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9. “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

John commanded us not to bless those who sin and deceptively spread false doctrine:

2nd John 9-11.   Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Paul directed the church to remove a persistently divisive person:

Titus 3:9,10. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Paul gave straightforward instruction on how to deal with a sexually immoral person who calls himself a brother:

1 Corinthians 5:4,5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

It would be wrong to submit to EVERY kind of opposition just so that we can have peace. There is a time to speak out and act up. At least, Jesus, Paul, and John thought so.

Christians must place a high value on making peace and forgiveness. Please don’t use any scriptures as an excuse to continue unforgiveness toward someone or to display anger and bitterness. Seek peace and pursue it… Pursue peace with all people… Let the peace of God rule in your heart… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…

Yet, don’t sacrifice everything sacred upon the altar of peace.

How do we know when to answer with blessing and when to answer with a rebuke? Know the Scriptures. Rely upon the Holy Spirit. Seek wisdom and agreement with mature followers of Christ. Pray.

How to Start a Cult

Recently, a conference speaker said,

“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”

In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.

The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.

The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison

 

I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.

Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?

The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.

The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.

The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.

The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)

One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.

God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.

I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)

In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)

God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)

 

Divisions Are Not Always Bad

by A. W. Tozer
God Tells the Man Who Cares, c 1970, Christian Publications Inc, pp 45-48

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart. In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. During his lifetime, he was described as "a 20th century prophet." Tozer exhorted the Church to act as those who belonged to the kingdom of God. His legacy is the library of over 40 books written from his heart to the Church.

How to Euthanize Your Fervor

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The nineteenth verse of First Thessalonians chapter five advises us:

Do not quench the Spirit.

I quickly thought of six ways that we can put out the flame:

  1. Lack of communication
  2. Starvation
  3. Isolation
  4. Distraction
  5. Misinformation
  6. Lack of participation

matches

Lack of Communication

When we neglect to talk with God, it is like withholding oxygen necessary for combustion. Prayer is not a dull religious duty, it is a privilege provided for those who want to talk to God. Don’t waste the privilege. Eventually, a prayer-less follower of Christ stops following Christ.

Starvation

The Word of God is like spiritual nourishment. When we eat candy bars and potato chips, we can kill our appetite for healthy food. In a similar fashion, we will do harm to our spiritual health when we neglect the Bible. Sermons are good, but not a good substitute for personal reading. Bible-reading is not a dull religious duty. God gave us His Word for our benefit. It will keep us from spiritual starvation.

Isolation

Fellowship with like-minded believers will provide opportunities for learning, sharing, praying, worshiping and much more. When we do not consistently meet together with other believers, as in a local church body, we are separating the wood in the fireplace. Eventually, the isolated sticks will flicker out and grow cold.

Distraction

Devotion can be directed to anything or anyone. When we devote our resources of time and finances to games and entertainment over opportunities to know God and His Word, we will grow cold. However, when we make a commitment to God, devote our resources to His purpose in our live, and diligently follow through, our hearts will be able to maintain their spiritual heat.

Misinformation

We need good teaching. A bible phrase for good teaching is “sound doctrine.” Do you honestly think that Christians should get their doctrine from FaceBook memes? Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. When you don’t know what you believe, your flame can be huffed out so easily.

Lack of participation

It is easier to be a spectator rather than a participant, but it is not as exciting. We are members of the body of Christ, not observers. We must be doers of the Word, not hearers only. We need to walk worthy of our calling, not sit and watch the world go by. Action-less faith is not living faith. Get involved. Be active. Participate.

 

How to Preach Foolishness

Preaching is rightly dividing the Word of God with a view to persuasion – a balance of all things that make a preacher one who is persuasive.

In 1941, J. Harwood Patterson defined preaching:

Preaching is the spoken communication of divine truth with a view to persuasion.

Patterson explained his definition had three aspects:

  • THE MATTER: divine truth | what to preach
  • THE MANNER: spoken | how to preach
  • THE PURPOSE: persuasion |why we preach

Patterson modeled after Guthrie’s Three P’s:

  • Proving
  • Painting
  • Persuading

Preaching must be more than a lecture or a talk. A sermon must tell us how to live and convince us to act appropriately. Daniel Webster said,

I do not go to church to learn history, but to be reminded of duty.

Preaching must be greater than philosophical pondering out loud. The preacher is a messenger who delivers the Word of God to his flock, not intellectual doubt, not speculation, not negativity, but a confident statement of God’s expectations.

Longfellow said,

To me, a sermon is no sermon in which I cannot hear the heart beat.

Luther said,

It is no light thing to speak before men in the place of God.

 

…just because the ocean is so vast and his vessel so small, no sailor should attempt to compass his tack in one voyage.

 

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With God

The preacher, as a man of God, must thoughtfully embrace the meaning of salvation, must know what is involved, what a personal relationship with Christ is.

The preacher must be in a place with God where he has sensed the Holy Spirit bearing witness with his spirit so he knows he has His touch on his own life. The preacher must experience what he is saying.

The preacher must have had that message touch his own life –  the message has been practical to him. The minister must have a high degree of honesty in applying the Truth that God gives to his own life and family.

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With the Human Race

The preacher, as a man of his times, to be effective, must always be a learner. Read, watch, see. Know the news. Don’t bottle yourself up in as study. Know your community and your congregation.

The preacher must know the times, the issues, and the people in order to learn fresh themes, discern proper doctrinal emphasis, apply proper illustrations and pertinent applications.

The preacher should be the most knowledgeable person in the community. Read a reputable news source. Invest 30 minutes each evening listening to the local news. Spend 2-3 days a week rubbing shoulders with people in the marketplace.

 

How to Be Deplorable

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton insulted American voters by categorizing many of them as a “basket of deplorables”.  She did this on both Saturday and Sunday.

One of the reactions has been to call her speech “hate speech”. Therefore, she offered an apology for her choice of words.

However, I may agree with many of the words that she used. I have observed that some Donald’s Trump supporters actually do hate people of other races, nationalities and ethnicity.

And then I think that Mrs. Clinton was ill, possibly running a fever, when she made the statements.

Donald Trump has been accused of speaking his mind plainly. He is also been credited with “telling it like it is”. The fact is that Donald Trump simply speaks his mind, he talks like a lot of Americans talk, off-the-cuff, casually, emotionally. I don’t think he is particularly skillful at presenting the truth in an understandable fashion. He certainly doesn’t sound like a New York billionaire. (Cue “Green Acres” theme song.)

Followers of Jesus Christ must be different. Let’s not be conformed to any of this. Let’s be Spirit-transformed people who will transform our culture by the presence of God’s Spirit in our own lives. Some people may find us deplorable. So what.

How to Understand the Manifested Presence of God

What A. W. Tozer May Have Meant:

I have read a phrase in some of Tozer’s writings, the “manifested presence of God.” I understood him to mean the difference between the omnipresence of God and the experienced presence of God: “God is everywhere” compared to “God is here.”

For example, look at what David said,

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?”

and,

“In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

No one can escape from the omni-presence of God. We should pursue the “manifested” presence of God where we experience God’s joy and pleasure.

Another Meaning:

I have also heard some pastors and church leaders using the phrase “manifest presence” with a different intent. They appear to mean the presence of God with physical manifestations.

These physical manifestations may be a various combination of things: overwhelming emotional sensations, prophetic utterances, extra-biblical revelations from the Holy Spirit, incantations, shouting in tongues, weeping, wailing, uncontrolled laughing, animal noises, dancing, shaking, falling on the floor, smoke, glitter, feathers, odors, angelic choir sounds, rumblings, strange lights, and other phenomena.

These types of church leaders often encourage the pursuit of these manifestations. I have witnessed some of these manifestations used to confirm a preached message, and that sermon definitely needed some external confirmation since the speaker had taken a path that departed from Scripture.

There appears to be a desire to experience the presence of God in our own way, directly through manifestations, bypassing the Scriptures.

There also appears to be a desire to treat any and every type of manifestation as if they were the “gifts” from the Holy Spirit in a way that arrogantly exalts the experience of that person as more “spiritual” than those that don’t have manifestations.

A Substitute for the Real Presence of God

It is my opinion that this second type of manifest presence is a substitute for the real manifest presence of God of the first type.