Home

Reclaiming Biblical Faith

6 Comments

Have you ever went to bed with a specific thought on your mind,only to awaken the next morning with that exact same thought being the first one to enter your mind?

Most of us have probably experienced this,as I did the other morning.In my situation,I’d been mulling over a verse of scripture found in the book of Jude that deals with believers contending for the faith. You’re likely familiar with it as it’s often used in sermons.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”   Jude 1:3   contend-for-the-faith

The part of this verse that I have been in deep thought about was the part about “earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints”. Specifically,was there something different about their faith as opposed to our faith? Also,what had happened to their faith?

To make sense of this this we need to understand that the book of Jude was written approximately 80 years after the death of Christ. What is most striking about this fact is that in less than one century,there was apparently such a serious lack of faith in the church that Jude felt compelled to address the issue. How could this have happened in such a short time?

Jude gives us the answer beginning in the next verse.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Jude 1:4

False Christians who knew not God,unregenerate men,had come into the church unnoticed by those who were responsible for protecting the flock. Once “inside the gate” these false disciples began sowing discord by teaching things contrary to the Word of God. Jude specifically mentions “turning the grace of God into lasciviousness”.

Lasciviousness? Now there’s a word you don’t hear very often,if at all.Of course,that’s the Kings English version of the word. Different versions read the word as lewd,immoral,decadence,or sensuality. Anyway,I’m sure you get the picture.

This word “lasciviousness” means lustful or lewd sexual behavior. In other words,the pure,sincere love of God that believers had for one another had given way to sexual immorality in the church,resulting in the faith of many being shipwrecked. All in the span of less than 100 years since Jesus was here on earth.

It is almost incomprehensible that such a thing could occur to the church that had turned the world upside down only a few decades prior.Yet that is what happened.

The church learned early on that the cost of not defending their faith against false believers was losing their faith. Let that sink in for a moment.losing-faith

This is why it is so important to stand up and defend the gospel. It is worth defending against its enemies,for if we do not defend it the gospel becomes weakened and powerless. It becomes what Paul described as “another gospel”,which is really no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6).

Jude’s exhortation to “earnestly contend for the faith” should indicate to us that “the faith once delivered to the saints” is the model for Christian faith today.So,we must ask what was this faith that was once delivered to the saints?

It’s pretty simple actually.Their faith was built upon a foundation of love,the love of Christ,and the love of one another.This agape love,the highest form of love, separated Christianity from all other religions of the day.

The faith once delivered to the saints was one of sacrifice and serving one another.It looked outward instead of inward. It was selfless,and I can’t think of a better example of the faith that was once delivered unto the saints than one of selfless love.

It’s certainly worth earnestly contending for. Agree?

Advertisements

A front row seat to a marvelous transformation

3 Comments

Over the past several days I have had a front row seat to watch the construction of a new home directly behind me.To many,I’m sure the noise and debris generated by this construction is all they see and hear.2016-12-22-10-30-09

For me however,it has been a wonderful experience to watch as the workmen who started with a blank canvas of Southern Oaks and tangled vines quickly transformed the site into a house.

I’ve watched with great interest as huge machines came on sight and completely ripped out trees that have been on the earth far longer than I have. In awe I watched the ground being leveled, concrete foundations poured, block walls erected, and now the roof sheathing is finished.2017-02-03-12-11-10

Like a well-oiled machine the construction crews all work in perfect harmony, each person responsible for completing a specific task. As soon as one job is finished, the next worker is waiting to add his unique part to the ever enlarging home as it soars to new and greater heights.

The more I’ve watched this building process, the more I am reminded of construction of another kind. Like these skilled workmen who transform raw lumber into a beautiful home, every one of us is being transformed into something we as of this moment cannot fully appreciate.

Just like this new home is being constructed of many pieces and parts, all of us are in various stages of our own personal transformation, with Jesus being the Master Builder. In as much as the construction crew started with sticks, stone, dirt, and trees, God took us just as we were, and began what will be a lifetime transformation process in us.

Firstly, He must remove the dirt and undesirable things from us, which occurs when we repent of our sins. Once the canvas of our heart has been cleared, it is time for the foundation work to begin.

Second, when He saves us and fills us with His Spirit, the foundation has been laid, one that can never be destroyed. He is the Chief Cornerstone of our salvation, the stone that the builders rejected (Acts 4:11), and in Him our building is secured.

Thirdly, the real work begins in us. While this work may seem tedious, even difficult at times, it is necessary for our growth and maturity. The battles that loom on our horizons will serve a dual purpose: first to strengthen our resolve in Him and our commitment to Him, and second, to increase our faith in Him.

All of this of course, is to build us up to ultimately become the finished masterpiece that the Father envisioned we should become when He is finished with us.

Paul understood this perfectly as he explains it to the church at Ephesus:

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Eph. 2:19-22   NKJV

Yes, we all start as a blank canvas, but oh what a masterpiece you will become, especially when you have a front row seat to the transformation!

Have blessed day in Jesus name!

Ron

 

Upon This Rock……

Leave a comment

Our family just returned from 10 days of sunshine and rest and we are very thankful to the Lord for His provision.I’ve had a lot of time to actually think without the pressures and demands of life interrupting me, and it was good to be able to spend quiet time alone with Him.

I spent quite a bit of time reflecting upon my own journey with Christ.I’ve been a Christian for almost forty years now, and there are times when it seems a lot longer than that. I guess life sometimes makes time seem to drag on longer than it actually does. Wouldn’t you agree?

And then there are times when it seems like only yesterday when I knelt in my kitchen and accepted the Lord into my heart.Serving the Lord,basking in the glory of it all,somehow seems to make the time fly by. Agree?

I should mention here that due to a family medical trait I really never dreamed I would live to be as old as I am.Even though I’m still 16 in heart and mind(just ask my wife!), my body however has a way of snapping me back to reality pretty quickly.

Which kind of has me thinking about endurance,and how we manage to hold to the Lord’s hand through the storms of life.My thoughts are that I could never had held on through some incredibly stormy seas unless I had a sure foundation.Which brings me to the title of this post: Upon This Rock…

In Matthew’s gospel we find Jesus is speaking to his disciples,and in particular Peter about this foundation.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.    Mat 16:13-20 KJV

Now,this is not a post about who/what Jesus was referring to when speaking about this “Rock”. I stand firmly in the corner of those who believe Jesus was referring to Himself as being the Rock,or Foundation of the church……and thus of me. You may think otherwise of course.

What I know for sure is this: there is no way humanly possible for anyone but Christ to have sustained me through the past forty years.No church,pastor,leader,denomination,etc…could do what He has done for me.

Nope. None but Christ. And I know that I know this to be true. Christ is my Rock.He alone is my foundation.

It is Christ alone that makes a way when there seems to be no way.

It is Christ alone who speaks to the storm and brings about a peace that passes all understanding.

It is in Christ alone that I place my hope for a future.A future without pain and disappointment.

There is none like Him. He is the One and Only Son of the Most High God.

The One that at the mention of His name “every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.”

My Rock.

Your Rock.

THE ROCK that even the gates of Hell cannot defeat.

Think about this: what hasn’t Hell,or Satan,defeated in this world? Actually,no matter where you turn there is evidence that Satan is hard at work.Hard to think of much that the devil hasn’t impacted in a seriously negative way through the centuries,isn’t it?

Except Jesus Christ.And His Church.

That’s why I know without any doubt that He is the Rock of my salvation.

How about you?

Be blessed!

What’s Important,or Not?

Leave a comment

What’s important to you? I mean, what’s really important to you?

  • Family?
  • Job?
  • House?
  • Car?

Sometimes it seems as though what’s important to us doesn’t turn out to be so important after all.Think about it:have you ever worked and saved,sacrificed and gave,until you felt there just wasn’t much left to give as you were climbing the ladder to the next position?

Only to finally get there and after just a little while wonder what the attraction was?

I know people like that. People who could see the “prize” from a distance and set their heart to attain it no matter the cost,only to realize once they had it that it wasn’t what they thought it would be after all.

I’m a good example of this.I love acoustic guitars. Especially Martin guitars. I’ve had an affection for them for going on 40 years. A few years ago I finally acquired the guitar of my dreams-only to trade it away for the next greatest thing-that soon got traded for another-and still another.

It’s kind of like no matter what we have we want something else. No matter the job we have we are not satisfied and long to do something different.Same with cars,boats,houses,whatever.

Sometimes we forget the admonition of scripture that teaches us to be content in whatever state we find ourselves in.Our human nature does that to us at times,doesn’t it?

In the Genesis account of Abram and Lot,there came a day when the land could no longer support both of their families and all the livestock that went with them. They came to a place where a decision had to be made regarding their futures.

Read along with me and lets see what happened in Genesis 13:5-13

5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.

6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.

7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.

8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.

Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”

10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.

11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.

12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.

13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.

Lot did exactly what most of us would have done when he looked and saw the green grass and water in abundance:he took what looked to be the best selection.Don’t we do that sometimes?After all,the grass is always greener,right?

If you will take the time to continue reading this and into the next chapter you will see that the land where Lot settled was not at all what it first appeared to be.

Looks can be deceiving,can’t they?

Contrast that with Abram who took the “leftovers” and instead settled in the land of Canaan.Because he was following the Lord and not his own desires,he received an incredible blessing from the Lord,whereas Lot inherited more trouble than he knew what to do with.

Beloved,we are living in uncertain times,times that can be perilous and frightening.What used to be is often no longer.What once made us comfortable is gone forever and we are left to wonder what happened.

We live in a broken world.A world broken by sin and disobedience.A world seemingly spiraling out of control and headed towards the abyss.

A world in which the only truth that remains is found in God’s word.Only God’s word has stood the test of time.Every prophecy that was supposed to be fulfilled,has been.

Every prophecy yet to be fulfilled will be and we can rest assured that nothing can change the course that God has chartered.

What’s important,what we cannot take our eyes off of is this:Jesus is a sure Foundation.A very present Help in the time of trouble.He is the Rock in a weary land.My Defender.My Shield.

Things are usually never as good as they first appear to be,which is why we are so often disappointed with them once we have them.

Not so with the Lord.He’s as good today as when I first met Him nearly 40 years ago!

Be blessed,

Ron

If Jesus Built This Church on Love…….

Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about a gospel song from many years ago entitled “Jesus built this church on love”. In case you’ve never heard the song here is a sample of the lyrics:

“Do you ever just get to wonderin’/ ‘bout the way things are today?/ So many on board this gospel ship/ Trying to row in a different way/ If we’d all pull together/ Like a family me and you/ We’d come a lot closer to doin’/ what the Lord called us to do.

Chorus: “Jesus built this church on love/ and that’s what it’s all about/ Trying to get everybody saved/ not to keep anybody out…”

What got me to thinking about this old song was the simple message of the song title itself. “Jesus built this church on love”…

The more I keep thinking about those simple words the more obvious it becomes that Jesus actually did build His church on love. Or at least that was His intention until we got in the way and decided we knew a better way to build a church. Notice the difference there?

Jesus said He would build His church. We the church of today want only to build “A” church. I wonder how well we’ve done in building “A” church?

Jesus did NOT build His church on the things that we all too often stumble over.For example Jesus did not build His church on a particular denomination. Shocking isn’t it? Especially to those of you who love to espouse your denomination’s doctrinal positions above the word of God!

Neither did Jesus build His church on a foundation of rules and regulations. Sorry legalistic Christians, if it isn’t in the Bible you’ve went too far!

Oh, and lest I forget, Jesus did not build His church upon the traditions of men that dare attempt to usurp the authority of Christ on earth.

Nope. In it’s most basic,simplistic fashion the church of the Living God was built on love. The love of Christ for a sinful world. A love so deep that One would dare give His own sinless life in order to become the very foundation of this church.

If Jesus built this church on love….then where is it?

Where in the world is the love that the church was built upon?

Where is the love for one another within the body of Christ? From where I sit on the front row of the church I see a famine in the church.I hear all the right words. I listen to songs about the love of God. I hear sermon after sermon filled with words about love.

But I don’t SEE much of it. What I do see is this:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:22-24

I hear hearty “Amen’s”. I see heads nod in affirmation at the call to love one another. Hearers of the word abound! After all, if all we ever do is hear the word and never act upon it…it costs us nothing!!

So what does the Bible have to say to us about loving one another?

John 15:12 (NKJV)
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

John 15:17 (NKJV)
These things I command you, that you love one another.

Romans 12:10 (NKJV)
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

1 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV)
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;
not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

1 John 4:11-12 (NKJV)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

Seems to me we ought to be all about the doing when it comes to loving one another and not just be content witn hearing about it.

Yes, Jesus built His church on love.

But if we’re not careful we will dismantle it with our lack of true love for one another.

Ron