Thursday, February 18, 2010

THE SOVEREIGINTY OF GOD PART THREE

The Sovereignty of God Part three

Isa 40:21-29 21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: 23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. 25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things,that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. 27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD The sovereignty of God means that GOD IS IN CONTROL!! God is Master and Ruler over everything. Nothing goes on unless it is approved by the loving permission of God: even things that are seemingly injurious to us. He has a Divine Purpose for them and will make everything turn out for our benefit, even if we must suffer temporarily until everything runs its course. God, who exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is sovereign and exercises supreme and absolute rule over all creation as a function of His Deity.

Isa 55:7-9 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD The biblical teaching that God is the source and the ruler of all creation and that all things come from and depend upon God. Sovereignty means that God is ruler over all, in all and over all.

Psa 24:1-9 1: A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. 3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. 7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

CREATIVE SOVEREIGNTY God is the Lord of creation, the source of all things, who brought the world into being and who guides His creation toward a meaningful end. God’s creativity is not the result of chance or randomness. It holds promise and purpose which God intends.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

MORAL SOVEREIGNTY God’s sovereignty, His authority over creation, is grounded in God’s essential nature which is moral. God is to be obeyed not simply because He is mighty but because He is righteous Ps. 50:6. God judges His creation on the basis of His profound moral character. He is both the source of all creation and the source of all goodness.

Psa 50:3-7, 14-17 3: Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. 6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah. 7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God..... 14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: 15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

16: But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.

TRANSCENDENT SOVEREIGNTY God’s sovereignty is transcendent, beyond our complete comprehension Isa. 6:1. God is separate from His creation and works in ways that human beings do not always understand. Transcendence is closely related to God’s holiness, His surpassing moral purity and essential otherness.

Isa 6:1-8 1: In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

PURPOSEFUL SOVEREIGNTY God’s sovereignty moves toward a particular end, a specific purpose. God’s purpose is to bring His creation—His whole creation—to fulness and completion, to fellowship with Him: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" 2 Cor. 5:19. The kingdom of God is the end toward which God moves His creation.

Psa 145:8-20 8: The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. 10 All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. 11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; 12 To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. 14 The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. 15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 16 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. 18 The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. 19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. 20 The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.

SOVEREIGNTY AND FREEDOM God has created a world in which freedom is a real possibility. His permissive will provides for human freedom and the laws of nature. This freedom means that sovereignty must always be distinguished from "fate" or "destiny," the belief that everything which occurs in the world has been predetermined, scheduled in advance, by God. That view, carried to extremes, makes human beings pawns or puppets of a mechanical universe in which all choices are made in advance and where freedom is not possible. Yet the gospel suggests that human beings find genuine freedom, not in doing everything they wish, but in submitting themselves to the sovereign will of God, the rule and reign of God in their individual and collective lives. The sovereignty of God involves God’s self-limitation in order that His creation might also choose freedom in Him. However, God's sovereignty means that He reserves the right of veto and limitation over what man or satan purposes to do.

Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Psa 51:12-13 12: Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Isa 61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

John 8:31-32 31: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

1 Ki 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

SOVEREIGNTY AND PROVIDENCE God guides, sustains, loves, and longs to have fellowship with His creation. He reveals himself as a parent in love and in relationship with humanity.

Isa 53:4-6 4: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

God has chosen to participate in human history to care for human beings in their strengths and their weaknesses.

Rom 8:28-32 28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Those who belong to God will not be immune from suffering; they will not be spared the brokenness which life brings to all persons.

2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

The people of God may, however, find spiritual resources and strength to persevere in time of trouble.

Rom 8:35-39 35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The sovereign God of the universe chose to identify with His creation in the cross of Christ. There is no greater example of his care for His creation.

1 Chr 29:10-13 10: Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. 11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.

Eph 1:3-12 3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, t he forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Dan 4:2-3 2: I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. 3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.


Agape
Zelma

Monday, February 08, 2010

THE SOVEREIGINTY OF GOD PART TWO

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
The Sovereignty of God, means His absolute right to do all things according to His own good pleasure.

Dan 4:24-27 24; This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: 25;That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 26; And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. 27; Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.

Dan 4:34-36 34; And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35; And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36; At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

Rom 9:13-23 13; As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14; What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15; For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16; So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17; For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18; Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19: Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20; Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21; Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22; What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23; And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

John 9:1-3 1: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2: And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3: Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

1Ti 6:12-19 12: Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13; I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15; Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. 17: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19: Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Rev 4:8-11 8: And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9: And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10: The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

The Biblical teaching that God is the source of all creation and that all things come from and depend upon God. Sovereignty means that God is in all and over all.

Psa 24:1-5 A Psalm of David. 1; The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2: For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. 3: Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4: He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5: He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Creative Sovereignty God is the Lord of creation, the source of all things, who brought the world into being and who guides His creation toward a meaningful end. God's creativity is not the result of chance or randomness. It holds promise and purpose which God intends.

Deu 10:14-21 14: Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. 15: Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. 16: Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17: For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 18: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19: Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20: Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. 21: He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.

Moral Sovereignty God's sovereignty, His authority over creation, is grounded in God's essential nature which is moral. God is to be obeyed not simply because He is mighty but because He is righteous . God judges His creation on the basis of His profound moral character. He is both the source of all creation and the source of all goodness.

Psa 50:1-5 A Psalm of Asaph. 1: The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. 2: Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. 3: Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4: He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5: Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

Transcendent Sovereignty God's sovereignty is transcendent, beyond our complete comprehension Isa. 6:1. God is separate from His creation and works in ways that human beings do not always understand. Transcendence is closely related to God's holiness, His surpassing moral purity and essential otherness.

Isa 6:1-3 1: In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2: Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3: And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Isa 57:15 15: For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Purposeful Sovereignty God's sovereignty moves toward a particular end, a specific purpose Phil. 2:1. God's purpose is to bring His creation--His whole creation--to fulness and completion, to fellowship with Him: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" 2 Cor. 5:19. The kingdom of God is the end toward which God moves His creation.

Phil 2:5-13 5: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13: For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

2 Cor 5:17-21 17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18: And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19: To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Sovereignty and Freedom Divine sovereignty does not mean that everything which occurs in the world is God's will. God has created a world in which freedom is a real possibility. His permissive will provides for human freedom and the laws of nature. This freedom means that sovereignty must always be distinguished from "fate" or "destiny," the belief that everything which occurs in the world has been predetermined, scheduled in advance, by God. That view, carried to extremes, makes human beings pawns or puppets of a mechanical universe in which all choices are made in advance and where freedom is not possible. Yet the gospel suggests that human beings find genuine freedom, not in doing everything they wish, but in submitting themselves to the sovereign will of God, the rule and reign of God in their individual and collective lives. The sovereignty of God involves God's self-limitation in order that His creation might also choose freedom in Him.

Sovereignty and Providence God guides, sustains, loves, and longs to have fellowship with His creation. He reveals himself as a parent in love and in relationship with humanity. He "has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" Isa. 53:4. God has chosen to participate in human history to care for human beings in their strengths and their weaknesses. Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Isa 53:2-6 2:For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us
Agape
Zelma

Friday, February 05, 2010

WAXING COLD IN THE LAST DAYS

Waxing Cold in the Last Days



“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12. Jesus, speaking to four of His disciples about the times just before His Second Advent, tells them that because sin will be so rampant, so commonplace in the last days that the love people once had for one another will become, for the most part, nonexistent. The Greek word “polys” is translated into our English word as “many”. It’s used in numerous places throughout the New Testament denoting multitudes, great and very significant numbers. Imagine, if you can, a world made up of people thoroughly devoid of “love” for their fellow man.



I believe Jesus is alluding to the seven year tribulation period that will begin just after the Rapture of His Church. It stands to reason that this “loveless” generation Jesus speaks about as being full of iniquity (wickedness) doesn’t just appear one day after the Rapture, but that societies would gradually migrate toward degeneracy and ultimately to a crescendo of rampant and overwhelming depravity.



In the verse above Jesus speaks of love which will wax (or grow) cold. Since we are living in the last days just prior to His return I believe that the lack of love for our fellow man has begun to spiral toward that final climax. I suppose, then, that it shouldn’t be surprising to biblically literate students of scripture when we see such cold heartedness infiltrating our society. But was Jesus including believers in that mix of folks whose love would progressively wax colder and colder?



What has happened to the once well known demeanor of those who profess to being born again? It seems, to me at least, that the once loving, caring attitude held by those who faithfully follow Jesus Christ is diminishing as we draw nearer to the last days before Christ’s return.



I’m talking about our attitude towards one another as we discuss biblical doctrine or other Christian issues. Discussion boards and forums are alive with debates and at times heated arguments ensue which are filled with angry words one might expect to hear from worldly people, but not Christians. Christians belittling Christian’s using a tone of superiority that bodes only of pride. Where’s that come from if not from the world? Love thy neighbor as thy self seems to be losing its appeal in these last days. My brethren, this should not be so; loving one another is one of Jesus’ most frequently stated commandments for His followers to adhere to.



Because we can now enjoy much more frank discussions which span what once was considered almost impossible barriers, believers can now communicate with one another worldwide, instantaneously, and with little or no accountability. We can join and contribute to forums and use email to express ourselves and if we so desire we can accomplish this new form of communicating with complete anonymity.



As believer’s views are attacked by other believers they, in many instances, attack right back instead of responding in love. Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased hostility amongst believers who disagree on Bible interpretation.



All of us are confronted almost daily with what seems to be knee-jerk reactions instead of well thought-out and studied responses made through a love for one another and thorough devotion to God’s truth. Where has all the love gone? It seems that among believers today when it comes to discussing God’s inerrant word, love has been jettisoned. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” 1 John 1:7. How is true fellowship possible when the brethren continue in constant disagreement and strife?



Why must Christ’s Church argue so? This unholy trend is not hard to see as we peruse various Christian websites and forums. The anger that persists in discussions among believers is very disheartening. At times the very hostility that once was relegated to the heartless, unbelieving, and lost world has now crept into the lives of many believers. “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” Mark 9:50.



We’re witnessing a chasm growing between Christians today; there are so many different Bible interpretations being promoted that without well studied parameters (context is everything) many can’t distinguish clear and concise teaching from the erroneous. This inability to distinguish truth leads many believers today to argue amongst themselves on subjects such as doctrine and interpretation even though they may be completely wrong.



I believe this absence of love among the brethren can more easily be attributed to being conformed to the world than to a lack of Bible knowledge. Love is the bridge that will span any chasm no matter how big. Where is our Christian love? Are we to conform to the world or to Christ? “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” Romans 8:29. The image of Christ is not seen in all this bickering.



The world is only going to corrupt its inhabitants, that’s all unbelievers can expect from this fallen, sin-filled world which they call their home. But believers don’t call planet earth home, we are only sojourners here and thus we should not become conformed to the world. Certainly we aren’t to have the same self-absorbed and prideful attitude as the unbelieving masses. If we allow the world to dilute our souls and corrupt our hearts and minds we will become as hateful and eventually just as loveless as many of those who have no hope. Then where does that leave our Christian witness?



God gives discernment to those who diligently seek His counsel; most believers know this to be so. There are those who will listen to a Bible teacher or a pastor and take everything they say as truth, never to be questioned. Are these teachers and pastors always correct? Not necessarily. In Acts 17:11 Luke tells us to search the scriptures daily to see if what we are being taught is truly following the scriptures (paraphrase mine). By searching the scriptures for ourselves we learn to rightly divide the word of God.



The problem and how it’s affecting the Church today stems from biblically illiterate Christians who only parrot what they’ve heard or been taught. Because many will believe the false teachers of the day they will argue a false doctrine to the exclusion of all else. And when these arguments get heated what emerges is bitterness and mistrust. Satan must be eating this stuff up.



It seems that believers are moving away from following Jesus’ commandment to love one another and beginning to embrace worldly debate as well as confrontation. There’s no doubt, Christians are becoming conformed to this world. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2.



I am completely aware of the need for correction today in the Church. But all correction should be tied directly to brotherly love. I’m convinced that Paul addresses the occasional need for correction in 2 Timothy. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. God’s word does the correcting when it is interpreted as His literal, inerrant word. We love one another and therefore we instruct and correct with loving convicted hearts. There is no room for contention and strife amongst believers.



As followers of Christ our words and our actions should emulate Christ. If we have a disagreement with a brother about a certain verse in the Bible or even doctrine, we should consider the ramifications of a prolonged and heated public argument on a forum, such as how others might be adversely influenced. Discussion is one thing but when the discussion turns heated something is out of whack. “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” 1 John 2:9. In a public setting, such as a Christian forum, we should never allow heated arguments to develop.



So to what may we contribute much of the bitterness and prideful attitudes being displayed today by believers? The very fact that believers are allowing some of the most depraved visual effects to permeate their minds these days is quite revealing. The more we are confronted with evil passing itself off as entertainment the more our minds will become influenced and guided toward darkness. Television and movies are both culprits in guiding believers away from God. The internet has also become a huge influence in the lives of many believers and non-believers alike. Garbage in garbage out as the old saying goes. Although information is plentiful on the net it isn’t all edifying to the saints. We must beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.



The unbelieving world is always placing Christians under a magnifying glass. It seems what they want more than anything else is to trip us up. The way we handle ourselves in a discussion can affect the non-believer either positively or negatively. As the world watches us they should see Christ in us. But when the world sees us arguing, when they see our debate become so heated and filled with bitterness, that we now look no different than the rest of the world, the rejection of Jesus Christ becomes a whole lot easier. Instead of the possibility of gaining a new brother or sister in Christ, we’ve just tossed them back into the enemy’s camp.



There’s always going to be disagreements along the lines of Bible interpretation and Christian doctrine. All of Christendom, for one reason or another, simply won’t agree. If we are truly born again then we are brothers and sisters in Christ and Jesus is watching our every move. He can’t be pleased with the current trend towards bickering which in most instances ends up in an attitude of bitterness aimed at others in His family.



“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

1 John 3:23. John, twice in this verse, places the emphases on the fact that Jesus gave us a commandment, first that we should believe on His name and secondly we’re to love one another. We would do well to heed all His commandments.



Anytime we are in a discussion with anyone, love must never be replaced with anger. Anger will lead to hate. Jesus’ words come crashing down upon us whenever we forget one of His most basic tenets. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15. Love one another.



Nothing constructive can be achieved through all the bickering and anger associated with believers debating different Bible interpretations. It will only lead to bitterness and that’s something no believer should allow into their hearts. Bitterness, hate, strife, confusion are all strongholds where the enemy will certainly take up residence.



As faithful believers we should always be prepared to take loving correction whenever it applies and even rebuke if applicable. But outright bitterness as an approach to one another in what started out as a simple discussion brings reproach on the Church as a whole. Arguing is wrong and divisive, and it might stumble a brother “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” 1 John 2:10. Even worse is how this constant arguing will send unbelievers scurrying for cover anywhere but to the side of a Christian. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12.



Even in His Church? God forbid!



God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV