Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

You don't see many of these posted here on my blog. I've hit the streets witnessing with the godly men from this organization and I share their burden for the lost. Here is their request;
Dear Praying Friend,

How are you today? Tonya and I are doing well. We hope you are too.

Urgent Prayer Request:

The City of Boston just reinforced a new law that says they won't allow us to have any of our equipment such as our sketchboard, paints, speaker, bags etc. on public property. This has been difficult for us since downtown Boston is our main "fishing hole" for lost souls. We also went to Boston University last Friday and had a great time witnessing until we got shut down by the police.

What do we do? Some have suggested, just not use the sketchboard and paints and just preach. However, from over 100 years of faithful service as an organization, we have seen time and time again the visual attraction is a must for people to stop and pay attention. So, we are willing to battle over this freedom trying to be taken away from us.

I just off the phone with a lawyer from Florida and he is willing to take our case for us. Lawyer Rick Nelson has represented OAC Baltimore twice and have won both cases for them. Rick does not ask for money from us, but asks that we get as much people praying for this situation as we can. Forward this on to as many people as you want. OAC Boston witnesses and preaches to over 50,000 people a year. Let's fight together to keep the gospel going forth.

Please pray for me that I will be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power to withstand the pressure and trials coming our way. Also, Rick and Dovie Moore from Plano, Texas just arrived last week to join our staff in Boston full time. He has come at a difficult time, so please pray Rick will stay encouraged. If you have any questions or comments, please keep in touch. Take care.

Until the Net is Full,

The Wentz Family

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Monday, September 24, 2007

A courtroom drama that doesn't tell the whole story

We at TCC spend a lot of time witnessing to people on the street. We often explain Christ's work on the Cross by using a court room drama.. where the person is on trial.. is found guilty but someone comes in and pays the price for them so they can go free.

Of course this drama, while simple and effective enough for most people to get an idea of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.. doesn't really tell the whole story. Nor is it completely accurate. As some critics of The Way Of The Master have noted. here. Now this critic also suffers because of WOTM's use of the so-called Lordship Salvation Gospel which adds an impossible stumbling block to the Gospel of the Grace of Christ Jesus defined by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 15:1-10 and so robs it of the "Good News" that the Gospel actually is but that's another topic.

It's always bothered me... but lacking a better more clear way of presenting truth of the situation I have used this example myself. That is until just this last week when a friend of TCC asked the question of us and I was tasked with answering it. What follows here is an adaptation of the answer I gave her. The information is valuable and has really defined what I always thought I knew.

She basically had two questions, when her request was boiled down. First Aren't the sins people do just a symptom of the sin nature we have all inherited and therefor involuntary to some extent? And second based on John 3:1-18 doesn't the reason people go to “Hell” because they haven't believed in Jesus and not due to their sins?

A third question, which is implied by the nature of these first two is this – is it Just for God to damn someone who did involuntary sin, or who is guilty of only a very minor sin?

I hope to deal with all three here today.

The first one is fairly easy, and actually relates to the answer for the second one and so the bulk of this post will be about the second question. The answer to the third will become evident of it's own but I'll make sure to answer it specifically. The answer is YES, people sin because of their sin nature. Rom 5:19 and is it involuntary, yes to a large extent it is. Sinners walk as slaves to sin. Chapters such as Rom 6 describes sinners as such. Ephesians 2 describes sinners as walking according to the course of this world, following the prince of this age. There is an involuntary nature to the sin we do. And this can lead people to the wrong idea that it is injustice for God to then destroy someone for doing what they did in some involuntary manner.

The second question.. There is a lot to deal with here, but I'll stick to the important stuff. What people often call "Hell" the Bible referrers to as the Lake of Fire which is the Second Death. Rev 20:14 The people who are cast into the Lake of Fire are those who's names are not found in the Lamb's Book of Life. Rev 20:15 Many have taken this, and the John 3:1-18 section to mean the sinner is condemned not because of their sins, but because they haven't believed in Jesus. While this is a true statement factually... it does not contain the Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing BUT the Truth. It's not the reason.. it's the just the facts and without a Biblical interpretation of the facts involved we can build a very wrong set of reasons which leads to a theology that is lacking.. and confusion for sinners when you're talking to them. Many of whom are great thinkers and able to see inconsistencies in simplified arguments.

Here are some points relevant to this study;

1. Jesus died, paid for, the sins of the World. The whole world... all the sins. John 3:16, John 1:29 The Apostle John wrote to Christians that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and not just ours but the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 Wow. That means that Jesus satisfied God and His wrath for the sins of the whole world, past, present and future. So we're not condemned by the lie we told in 3rd Grade as God has already been satisfied for that lie. In fact He's already been satisfied for the lies you, I and every sinner are even yet to tell.

2. The Mosiac Law, which the 10 Commandments are part of, was not given to the Gentiles (all the people in the World other than Israel). But all people were given a Conscience. This conscience is a Law for us to obey. Romans 2:14-5 It would be a distraction to get into this in much depth, but the Apostle Paul tells us that we are to obey our Conscience even when it restricts us from liberties we have in Christ. He also tells us in Acts 17:24-31 that our Conscience is the morality of God in us. That's the same thing the 10 Commandments are. So we use the 10 Commandments in witnessing as a tangible way of interacting with a person's Conscience to get to the "heart of the issue" - who the person really is.

3. When a person is Reborn - through believing the Gospel 1 Cor 15:1-10 they become a "New Creation" 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are actually given the New Nature which is Christ Jesus living through us. Gal 2:20 We retain our Old Nature, which the Apostle Paul calls "the old man" but we now have the New Nature as well. Eph 4:17-24 No person who has not been Reborn has this new nature. So all they have is the nature to sin.

4. PLEASE READ UPDATE BELOW THIS POINT. Back in the Old Testament there was a thing called a manslayer. This was a person who had caused the death of another person - without intent. They had killed, and were therefore "killers" and guilty, but it was involuntary. These people were removed from the cities and sent to special cities prepared just for people like this. This was done to keep Israel pure. It was not a punishment for that person. It was for Israel's good, and is a type and shadow of the future Great White Throne Judgment. Numbers 35

UPDATE: Point #4 seems to be in error. I have to go back over my study tools to see how I came to this position. It seems, as Martin pointed out when he recently contacted me that the manslayer was sent to the city of refuge as protection for him, not protection for Israel. I think that I was thinking it had something to do with inciting more murders out of revenge, and I'm honestly still leaning that way. If the person found the manslayer out side of the city and killed he would not be guilty of killing the manslayer. It could be bending scripture but this too could be a means of stopping vengeance killing. If the man is not guilty under the Law then he can't be killed legally. Right now I'm working from memory, and a VERY brief review of Numbers 35 and parallel portions in Deuteronomy and Joshua. Sorry for this confusion.

5. The New Heaven and New Earth will both be completely sinless. There will be no one there with the ability to sin, as all those people will have been already cast into the Lake of Fire. Rev 21:27

6. Jesus said that unless a person is Reborn they can't enter the Kingdom of God. John 3:3 You can read this through the light of Paul's writings (from whom we get Church Doctrine) as "Unless you are a new creation, with My nature, you can not enter Heaven"

This brings us to the issue. The sins that we do are because of the nature of Adam which we have inherited. None-the-less, this is who we actually are. When we talk to someone about their sin, or we evaluate ourselves about our own sin, we see "who we are". Sins don't keep a person out of Heaven, who he or she "IS" keeps them out of Heaven. Without the New Nature, that of Christ, we can not enter Heaven because there will be nothing in Heaven that sins after the Judgments. So we ask a person if they've ever told a lie. Not because that individual lie condemns them but because it shows what Jesus said is true - they are "condemned already" because they ARE a sinner. John 3:18 At the Cross Jesus was declared guilty of our sins, judged and punished, in our place. Even in the place of people who would not ever believe in Him. The question is then not punishment or no punishment. The question is the Second Death or Salvation. Those who do not choose Salvation will suffer "eternal punishment" as per Matthew 25:46, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 so the Second Death is a punishment for the sin nature, not the sins. What must be understood is that punishment happened for every sin at the Cross. If you have the new nature, then when resurrected you are in that new nature and there is nothing left to be punished.

If a person doesn't ever believe in Him, they are never reborn.. so the facts described by many about damnation because someone hasn't believed in Jesus hold up. The only people from today who don't get thrown into the Lake of Fire are those who believe in Jesus. But this does not equate to the reason for being thrown in is that one hasn't believed in Jesus. The reason is because they ARE sinners, and God can only fellowship with perfect righteousness. Because to have "fellowship" is to have unity or "likeness" it is the sharing of "who we are", not just hanging out together. So Holy God can not share "who we are" with our Sin Nature because He has no sin. Without the perfect righteousness of Christ one can not enter Heaven to fellowship with God. John 14:6

At the Great White Throne Judgment - which is where and when sinners will be judged these poor souls will have their natures revealed to them by their "works". God will compare what they have done with what He has told them to do - not only by the 10 Commandments or Mosaic Law.. but each person will be held up to the Law that was given to them. So Israel will be held up to Mosaic Law and their conscience (and some other things..) and the Gentiles will be held up to their Conscience. God will expose their nature - they'll be known by their fruit - and then when the Truth is known by all, God will look in the Lamb's Book of Life to see if their names are written there.. all those not found in the Book will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:11-15 This is why it's completely JUST to cast a person guilty of only 1 lie ever into the Lake of Fire. It's not punishment for having lied, it's punishment for the sin nature.. the fact that the person IS a sinner. All the misery we see around us today in this world started from one tiny little lie. Genesis 3 It's protecting the New Heaven from the sin nature of that person. Because there will never be another “fall of man” or anything else. All sin and rebellion will be dealt with and eradicated before the New Earth and the New Heaven are established.

So the court room drama that we often use on the streets with people, doesn't really tell the whole story. The Truth is, the person standing on Trial has already had their offenses paid for. But just like our "corrections" system is supposed to "correct" people before they are allowed to rejoin society God does the same thing. The Judge has been paid for the offenses, but the person standing in judgment must also be "corrected" or "born again" so that they can enter fellowship with God and the Saints. They must repent by judging themselves guilty and trusting God instead of their own supposed goodness, that He Jesus Christ, died for their own sins and rose again. This brings about the "rebirth" which gives us the New Nature so we have been "corrected" and can now fellowship with Holy God because we have the perfect righteousness of Christ.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Character Assassination

I know a thing or two about character assassination, like many people I've been a victim of it.. like even more people I have taken part in the vileness of it. At one my normal internet hangouts.. I have been chatting about prominant Christians... and their past mistakes. When is it ok to call someone on their error.. when is it ok to call heresy, well heresy? But more importantly, when is it proper to stop holding something against someone? Is there forgiveness available to a Pastor who says on live television that there is more than one way to get to Heaven than just Jesus Christ? (this clearly being in contradiction to the Bible, John 14:6 being an example of why)

Can this person continue in ministry? Can they be restored to ministry?

I personally think yes they can be restored! If there is a person so evil that God can not restore them then what hope is there for any of us? If Jesus' blood is not sufficient then it wasn't finished on the Cross ( John 19:30 ) and He didn't really die to take away the sin of the World ( John 1:29 ) nor was God satisfied for all our sins by His sacrifice ( 1 John 2:2 ).

I personally choose to believe the Bible that Jesus' blood paid for it all. That even a man who commits heresy on live Cable TV can be restored. And lacking evidence that the man hasn't been restored I will treat him as though he has been.

Does anyone have any thoughts to add?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Forgive Each Other

Ephesians 4:32
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
In this world we expect people to appologize to us... to promise to do better.. to show some sort of a change.. to earn our trust...

But we've been told to forgive as we have been forgiven. See God doesn't forgive people based on our good performance, our promise to perform well, our being changed or promising to change or even wanting to change. God forgives us because of who He is and what He has done.

So, we ought to forgive others "even as God in Christ forgave" us. God forgave us by coming and dying on the Cross then rising from the dead three days later. He came and did what it took for us to be forgiven.

What a different place we'd live in, what a different group of friends we'd have, what a true unity we'd have in our assemblies of believers if we each forgave as we have been forgiven. If we each took it upon ourselves to do what it takes, no matter what, so that we could forgive that person who has wronged us.

I know this is the cry of my heart today, that I could forgive people the way God has forgiven me. What about you?

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Vertical Fellowship

I'm very behind on personal stuff.. emails.. and posts here. I normally like to make longer more thought-out posts here but I think I'm going to post a couple of short things in hopes that some conversations break out about them.

Lately I've been thinking about Christian Fellowship.. how does it really work? I find myself looking at 1 John 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
It seems to me that I have fellowship with Christians primarily through my fellowship with God. Time fails me to post it all, but we see in Scripture that a Christian has fellowship (unity, commonality.. in a personal way) with all Christians around the world - and in Time, past present and future. Yet when I listen to Christians talk and interact with them on-line it seems that most of us think our fellowship is a horizontal thing.

I see the Brethren judging the Brethren based on fleshy things.... going so far as to judge another's salvation based on performance. While there IS Biblical discipline, it is a very structured thing that is not done by one person and so is not subject to an individual's personal bent on the Word of God or ideas about Christianity. How are we to look at each other if not directly at them? If not directly at their sin, their spots.. the specks in their eyes so to speak. Paul gives us the answer in 2 Cor 5:14-17
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
We're actually not supposed to look at people in the flesh any more. Because we've seen God come in the Flesh and He has done His work on the Cross. Now we should see people as God sees them. How does God see a Christian? As Christ Himself. Again I only have moments to post this so I can't put a full defence of this but if it comes up in conversation that would be good.

How do I see the person in the pew next to me as Christ? Especially when I see him tired.. maybe fighting with someone.. maybe not acting the way I think a Christian ought to act?

I keep my eyes on Christ. My fellowship is Vertical. It goes up and down between God and I. This other's Christian's fellowship is also vertical going up and down between God and he. So if I have fellowship with God, I can have vertical fellowship with the person beside me as well. My fellowship with him comes down from God to me. So if I'm looking at God and see Christ (as should be my focus) and God sees that person as Christ then when I'm looking at God I'm seeing both God and the person beside me in Christ.

Now if that person (or I) breaks fellowship with God, that will firstly and primarily be between he and God. When it becomes evident to me that he has broken fellowship then I need to go through the proper discipline actions in the Church. But amazingly, the Person I'm still focused on has not changed so my view of this person beside me still has not changed.

This is so incomplete.. but it's been on my heart in a big way.

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