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JULY 2017

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Things that are not true in Scripture!

 

James 1:19  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

 

The Truth about Misconceptions

I am convinced that the Bible always tells us the truth.  But sometimes it tells us the truth about misconceptions and lies.  When we read the book of Job, the truth was that Job was a righteous man.  God said so.  But Job had three so-called friends who seemed confused at times, but they were very confident that Job had to have sinned for God to allow him to lose everything but his life.  He had lost his family, his possessions and his health.  That just didn't happen to a righteous man as far as Job's three friends were concerned.  One went so far as to charge Job with sins that he must have committed even though Job had not committed these sins.  Eliphaz the Temanite says, Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end? For you have taken pledges from your brother for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing. You have not given the weary water to drink, And you have withheld bread from the hungry. But the mighty man possessed the land, and the honorable man dwelt in it. You have sent widows away empty, And the strength of the fatherless was crushed (Job 22:5-9).  He obviously did not consider Job to be mighty or honorable.  And yet he was.

 

Lessons for Me

We know that lying is not right.  Our assurance of salvation depends on the the truth that God does not lie.  But often we lie because we don't know the truth.  Sometimes we lie because of the way we have been raised or because we are repeating what someone we respect has said.  Job's three friends were miserable comforters (Job's words) but they thought they were trying to help him.  The unfortunate thing is that they simply didn't know God and they didn't know Job and they didn't know what they were talking about.  How often do we speak from what we think is wisdom when we don't really know what we are talking about?

 

I sit in cafes studying and often others are there carrying on conversations that are hard to ignore.  Often the conversations do not deal with ideas.  Often they deal with people that are not there.  I listen to people who feel that someone they know went to the wrong doctor or they didn't go to the doctor soon enough.  They often talk about how someone is being mistreated or they don't know how to handle their money.  In any case, they are talking about other people's problems without really knowing what they are talking about.  I have often said that if you want to know God's will for your life, ask someone.  They will be able to tell you since we tend to be so sure about other people's lives and failures.  However, if you ask them if they are sure that they know the will of God in their own lives, they will likely say that they are not sure.

 

We know that God sets standards of holiness and they should not be violated; however, when people have problems, how can we be so sure we know why they are having them?  Job's three friends sat with him for seven days without saying anything.  That may have been the wisest thing that they did.  God does not overlook sin, but when we do not know that a person has committed sin, why is it so easy to charge them with sin?  Of course, the Lord was charged with sinning by men who didn't care about truth.  But I suspect, Job's three friends did care about truth but they spoke based on preconceived assumptions when they should have been listening. What they were saying is what makes sense to most people. Job was supposedly suffering for some sin and if he would just confess and forsake it, God would bless him.  Unfortunately, they did not know that Job was suffering for righteousness as a testimony to Satan.

 

Swift to hear and Slow to Speak

So we should be swift to hear and slow to speak.  That way we wouldn't be miserable comforters and we might even be able to support one who is suffering for righteousness sake.  Of course, if as we listen, we do find out that there is a drug problem or alcohol problem that needs addressing, we should be honest and try to find a way to address the problem in a compassionate way. 

 

I am thinking that most of us are like Job's three friends.  We assume that we know when we don't have a clue.  That is why we must listen to the Holy Spirit before we are saved.  Most people think that being good will get them into heaven.  It won't because the law deals with the bad we do, not the good. Some think the Lord died for his own sin and not for the sin of the world.  Most Jews still think his tomb is empty because the disciples stole His body to perpetuate the myth that He was the Son of God.  We need to start listening because what we think is right in spiritual matters is usually wrong.  (See Isaiah 55:8-9). 

 

What lies have we told, what gossip have we spread that the Lord will truthfully record in his books as having been nothing but innuendo and lies?  I hope that the Lord helps me to do more listening and less speaking so that I can edify others, and so that I don't needlessly destroy them or their reputations.

 

 

Meditation for the week of July 2, 2017

What Should a New Christian Look Like?

 

Act 15:11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."

 

The Problem

No matter where you go and whom you talk to, there is always an emphasis on something besides the grace of God when it comes to being a Christian.  We know that most of the teaching in church meetings has to do with what a Christian should do.  Normally the verse in Matthew 7:20  is quoted which says, "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."  We are told that we are not able to determine who is saved because only God knows the heart.  However, we can be fruit inspectors, which means that we can know who is saved by their fruits.  Of course that is a type of double-speak.  The first problem with that is that all of us have bad fruit in our lives (the result of our Adamic nature) and all Christians have good fruit in their lives (the result of the new nature received when we are born again).  The second problem with that interpretation is that the verse has to do with knowing false prophets, not with knowing who is saved and who is not. 

 

Now we know that a person who repents, brings forth fruits meet for or in keeping with repentance which is the change in mind necessary to have faith in Christ.  How much fruit isn't explained.  We know that a person who has faith has been created unto good works according to Ephesians 2.   Whether there are still some bad works is not stated in Ephesians 2 but practically speaking we know that there are. The end result of all of this is to convince Christians that they have to "measure up" in some way to the "good works" standards of those that they respect in order to "feel" accepted and saved.  Often we create doubts in the lives of those truly saved by our emphasis on "doing" since they are never sure if as a new believer their "doing" measures up. 

 

The Early Church

When we are first saved, we don't know everything but we do know that Christ died for us and we can say "I see, I see."  That is, "I understand, I understand."  But it doesn't take long before there are those who will say that if you are saved, "then here is what you should do."  In the early church, there was a belief on the part of Jews that Christianity was a sect of Judaism and that new Christians should act like Jews.  It was not.  It was a new thing.  There were now Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God (See 1 Corinthians 10:32).  Christians did not have to be practicing Jews nor should they be practicing Pagans which most Gentiles were in that day.

 

In our passage, the question of whether Christianity was a sect of Judaism was being addressed.  Peter was clear that Christianity did not require keeping the ceremonial law of the Jewish religion.  But then what was James doing when he laid out these four things that Christians could not do?  Was he not saying that salvation was "mostly" grace but there were some works involved in order to be saved?  I do not believe that is what he was saying.  I think Peter dealt with the Jewish problem and James dealt with the Pagan problem which was a major part of the culture in that day.  These four things were all associated with Pagan practices.  Peter said that Christianity was not a sect of Judaism and James said that grace did not give the license to sin that Paganism allowed in that day.

 

Today

Salvation is defined as a new birth.  It is described as being raised from the dead in John 5:24 and in Romans 6:5.  It is obtained through repentance in 2 Peter 3:9.  It is obtained by faith in John 3, Romans 3, and Ephesians 2 and throughout the book of Acts. But nothing besides faith in Christ is necessary to be saved.  And when we as Christians start adding conditions, we are sadly preaching another Gospel.  However, we need to distinguish between salvation, fellowship and service.  Of course, there are conditions to be met if we are going to be in fellowship one with another and if we are going to work together.  Separation from Judaism which includes seventh day worshippers and separation from the immorality of Paganism are two of those conditions. 

 

I thank God every day that it is by grace that I am saved through faith.  I thank God that when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved.  I am thankful that when I depend on Christ and not on works or on myself, I have peace that cannot be disturbed or taken away from me.  I hope everyone reading this has that peace as well 

 

Meditation for the week of July 9, 2017