After He had sent the disciples of John the Baptist back to him to report what they had heard and seen Him do (Matthew 11:1-6), the Lord Jesus Christ turned to the multitudes present and asked a question that would launch His only recorded eulogy in the New Testament. He asked them once, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Then, he asked twice for a total of three times, “But what did you go out to see,” (Matthew 11:7-9, NKJV)? The first two times the Lord asks the question, He purposely provides an inaccurate description of what John was all about. However, the third time He provides the accurate divine answer--the only one that ever finally matters!
So, now, in providing this opening of His eulogy for John the Baptist as a template in answer to my prayer for how to salute and bid farewell to my retiring Portland, OR friend and mentor, Dr. James Martin, Pastor of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church for over thirty-two years, I now ask the church he served, the many who visited, heard him on the radio or saw him on television during his tenure: what did you go out to see? Certainly one will say this and another that, but I will tell you three important things I saw from a biblical worldview and intermingled with my personal experience with him for the last twenty-two years to the glory of God. I saw a Pastor/Teacher, Administrator and Visionary!
Dr. Martin is a God gifted and called Pastor/Teacher and Administrator (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-30; Ephesians 4:11-16). I sought him out within the first six months of arriving in Portland to serve as a pastor in 1997 after hearing him on the radio. I had been sent from Fort Worth, Texas with the sound counsel to seek out seasoned pastors with whom I could continue my personal growth and development as well as be benefitted as a pastor in being mentored by such experienced men. Like so many others in all of the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area, I was blessed to my soul to hear Doc (my nickname for him) teach God’s Word with His power, clarity, directness and some humor.
As I have often reminded him over the years, God sent him here at the right time and for the right reason as a faithful teacher of His Word since this highly unchurched part of our nation was (and is) so needy spiritually. The proof is how Mt. Olivet grew from about 300 when Doc arrived in 1987 to the nearly 2,000 attending by the time I came to town. Doc made room in his very busy schedule to meet with and welcome me over lunch after I called his office to request an appointment. That first lunch led to us meeting monthly when he was in town over the next twenty years. It turns out, he had been seeking opportunities to help other willing pastors and I knew God was at work.
Besides being a caring shepherd with an emphasis on teaching God’s flock, Doc’s gift of administration was abundantly evident too. I watched him adapt and expand the church’s organizational units to accommodate its growing services, ministries and activities especially when it became “one church in two locations.” During this busy time of expansion, Doc also kept a place in his schedule for me and a couple of other pastors on occasion that met with us--most deeply missed now is the positive interactions he and I shared with Pastor Terry Treadwell who departed to the Lord. Doc also led Mt. Olivet to help our church with building repairs, finances, worship and pulpit supply.
Finally, as a God enabled Visionary, Doc led Mt. Olivet from their original typical church building to purchase an old store and wrestling arena in North Portland to transform into a functional worship, educational and fellowship campus; a suburban storefront into a combination worship center with education, office and recreation space as a second campus. While doing those things, he led the church to plant other churches and send out missionaries to fulfill his commitment to the Lord’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). To this end as well, with his leading the church supported this Ministry in conducting the Strong Man Of God Rally in Oregon and Washington men’s prisons and was the first church in 2011 to host a signing for my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics.1
Though our relationship started professionally, Doc and I became friends in the process. We held each other accountable in our personal walk, family life, ministries and doctrine with only a few disagreements. His enduring legacy with me is having helped me to be a better husband and father which I acknowledge in my book. My wife, Mary, and I also enjoyed the fellowship we had with Doc and his wife, Lynetta, out to lunch or dinner in their home (we had some great Thanksgivings at the Martin’s). What did you go out to see? To the glory of God, I with heavy heart, love and gratitude salute and bid farewell to a gifted Pastor/Teacher, Administrator, Visionary, brother, mentor and dear friend in Christ; wishing him all of the best going into his retirement from Mt. Olivet.
1 Get a print copy or digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can
also get a print copy of the book in the Strong Man Store.
The Lord has led me to re-post a 2012 blog today as a wrap up word of instruction to follow up the four types of arguments against His program for man presented in this month’s 2011 Commentary Series. This instruction speaks plainly of what the heart and stance of the aspiring strong man of God in the image of Christ should be as it concerns correctly interpreting, applying and standing on the already written Word of God. As with everything God wants us to be and do, our Lord Jesus Christ set the example! Indeed, right from the beginning of His ministry when He was tested in the wilderness He provided the needed example and set the standard for us.
In replying to the temptation of Satan to use His own power to satisfy His hunger in acting independent of the Father, our great Champion and Hero, Jesus Christ quoted from and stood on Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘“It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”’” (Matthew 4:1-4, NKJV). Please note our Lord did not preface His statement with “I think, I feel or I believe.” Some smart aleck will immediately declare, “Well, we are not Jesus.” This is true. However, He purposely conducted Himself as our example to follow in the humility of a disciple and power of the Holy Spirit (John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 2:21). It is to the extent that we foolishly do not do this today that professing Western Christianity and so many of our churches are in a mess!
Our mess is made worse by those who arrogantly insist on reading into Scripture what they want as purposeful revisionists to justify their evil theologies and deeds. Such persons will not escape destruction for this (2 Peter 2:1-3, 3:14-16). Truly, our omniscient and infinitely wise God has given us the special revelation of His Word to look to and live (John 6:63)! Jesus, the living Word and Son of God constantly directed His friends and foes alike back to the already written Word of God. In all of His teaching He quoted it directly, illuminated it or illustrated and applied its truths by use of parable for example. We are to do no less; answering all of life’s issues with what God’s Word says!
Originally Posted April 29, 2012
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV). I have lost count of the number of times I have had to direct professing Christians back to what the Word of God actually says to correct bad thinking and doctrine. While it is tempting for all of us to believe at any given moment that we have such intelligence, knowledge and wisdom to think and utter profound things, when it comes to the things of God, none of us are that brilliant. The only safe place to be as it concerns the things of God is in His Word as a devoted, eternal learner re-saying only what He has already said!
How many doctrinal squabbles, compromised churches, sects, denominations and even cults calling themselves Christian would go away if “I think, I feel, I believe” were not allowed as a preface when speaking of the things of God, but only, “This is what the Word of God says”? Indeed, the “profane and idle babblings” that made their way into the 1st century churches and which the apostle Paul gives his godly counsel about how to combat in 2 Timothy 2:15 quoted above are legion today. And why? Because we have fewer students of God’s Word seeking to be approved of by Him in understanding it and instead have those who use the Word corruptly to hold up their own (and other men’s) fleshy thinking that ruins rather than builds up the hearers (2 Timothy 2:14, 16-18).
In my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, we teach men that a very important component of aspiring to be one is studying, internalizing and living out God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit! We are to be diligent--exerting persevering, painstaking effort--in studying and seeking God to know and understand His Word. When we are convinced by God that we have His Word right, then we proceed to teach others in humility what He has said from what is already written. When I have spiritual questions, I want to know first, what does the Word say, not what Dr. whoever said? If I am taught and approved of by God in His Word, then I will never be ashamed from getting it wrong and worse, ruining souls for which I will have to give an account (James 3:1).
Do you feel inadequate to “rightly divide the word of truth?” Excellent! You are just the person God is seeking to teach His Word (Proverbs 1:1-7; John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14). The first step in approaching Bible study for any purpose is the humility to seek God in prayer for a proper understanding. After all, the Bible is God’s Word. Who best to interpret it to and help you understand it than God (Luke 24:45; 2 Peter 1:20-21)? Additionally, there are some fairly common principles of Bible interpretation such as paying attention to the context of verses you are studying you can learn from books on the subject. This and other principles demand your diligence to apply as God requires so that combined with His help, your study is fruitful and your biblically drawn doctrine meets His approval.1
1 As the Lord led many years ago as a pastor, I outlined seven commonly taught principles of Bible interpretation in a one page document from the excellent non-sectarian
book, Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul. Although I would have you get the book, I have provided my Bible Interpretation Document as a free download in our Strong
Man Store as a help to any reader interested in doing Bible interpretation as it is commonly taught in biblically grounded seminaries. There is a right way to interpret and
apply Scripture. Go to https://www.thestrongmanofgod.org/Strong-Man-Store to get your free Bible Interpretation Document download.
Having considered the question from a personal male perspective in last week’s post,1 the Lord now, leads me to pose His question to professed Christian females that are influenced by and/or ardently hold to feminist ideology. Though many professed Christian females and cooperating males over the last half century have sought to corruptly baptize this ideology into the Bible, feminism manifestly originated from outside of it.2 At its core, feminism rebels against God; His will, way and Word as it is written in the Bible! What especially chafes die-hard feminists is patriarchy that originates with God as Father and has been practiced by most human cultures from ancient times.
Despite the willfully ignorant, corrupt and self-destructive efforts by some Bible translators and teachers to remake God over into a non-offensive Being that is gender neutral to appease feminists, from Genesis to Revelation God is revealed to be masculine in nature as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three distinct Persons, One God (Matthew 28:19)! Except for the Son who later added a human male body to His eternally pre-existing spirit form (John 1:1-2, 14-18), God has always been masculine in nature apart from created male physiology. Truly, man derives his inner masculine make up from God who created him in the divine image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, 2:7; Zechariah 12:1)!3
Their spirits distinct from yet, intertwined with their bodies in the marvel of divine creation, human male and female bodies are designed as they are to fulfill the purposes of God on this earth made for them (Genesis 1:27-28; Psalms 8, 115:16). And having chosen males to lead beginning with the first man and his family (Genesis 2:15-25), God speaks to males as the first audience of His Word throughout the rest of the Bible unless speaking to a female. This is not because males are superior, but responsible and accountable to God for their leadership. Even so, when God speaks His Word to males of first accountability, it is also for females as Eve showed she understood (Genesis 3:1-3).
This reality of male responsibility and accountability first to God as His chosen leaders is also plainly seen in the fact sin is not charged or its pre-announced consequence asserted until God judges Adam though, Eve the female was the first and original human sinner (Genesis 3:4-6, 17-19, 22-24; Romans 5:12-14; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). God honors His set order of mankind and male election to lead as family initiators (only men through their seed can initiate, beget--father if you will, children) and patriarchs from creation to the end of this mortal age! The Bible affirmation of this truth is overwhelming from Adam (Genesis 5:1-5, 17:1-14; Exodus 3:13-17; John 8:51-59; Acts 3:11-26).
God is not unaware of the historical treachery of sinful males toward females in a fallen world caused by sin (Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 19:1-12). However, rather than change His perfect order of mankind set like the order of the present cosmos (Genesis 1:14-19)4 as feminists have sought to do, God the Father made a way to transform the hearts of fallen males and females through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53; Romans 3:10-26; Titus 2:11-14, 3:3-8)! If any male or female will repent and believe this Good News--that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day, God will forgive and give them new birth by the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8).
Professed Christian females are supposed to know the foregoing and that rebellion against God can never bear the fruit of righteousness (1 Samuel 15:22-23; Isaiah 1:18-20; Hebrews 3:7-19). Still, many have joined the rebellion against God and His set order of mankind anyway led out half a century ago by a Jewish woman, Betty Friedan, who also defied what she knew;5 reared as she was with other famous Jewish feminists such as just deceased Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the biblical instruction of Judaism. This is tragic since on this Yom Kippur as all others, Jews are confronted about God’s view of sin and need for atonement (Leviticus 16:29-34)! Having suffered dispersions and so much for rebellion, this one in part led by women will not end well either.
Indeed, the majority of Jews historically until now, have rejected the once and for all atonement of Christ (Romans 9:1-5; Hebrews 9). As a result, they experience the divinely imposed spiritual blindness that gives rise to acts of rebellion and is leading to the final foretold severe judgment which unless God preserved a remnant, none would survive (Psalm 69:22-28; Isaiah 1:9, 10:20-23, 29:9-12, 65:2-12; Jeremiah 30:1-9; Romans 10:21-11)! Professed Christian females supposedly knowing the veracity of the prophetic Scriptures too, should therefore, fear since Christ’s question to you in your rebellion remains: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul,” (Mark 8:36, NKJV)? Are the realized ungodly aims of worldly feminism really worth your soul?
To you too, O Christian female, Christ declares: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes...,” (Mark 8:38, NKJV). Will you really reject God’s unchanging Word in apostasy to hold to the latter day deceitful doctrine of demons extant in feminism who are the original rebels and not afraid to lie on or accuse Him of evil (Genesis 3:4-5; John 8:44; 1 Timothy 4:1-2)? As with the men, I urge you sisters that are guilty to repent before it is too late! Return to God’s Word as it is written and objectively understood knowing it means what it says. Your design, position in God’s order, roles and responsibilities are noble, satisfying and sufficient in Christ if you are willing to submit to Him!6
1 Read the September 20, 2020 post, What Will It Profit A Man?, under the category, The Cause.
2 See the May 6, 2018 post, The Value Of Women To Families, under the category, God’s Creatures.
3 See the June 19, 2016 post, Eternal Sons Of God, under the category, Instruction.
4 Aside from shortening days “for the elect’s sake,” for this obvious rejection and suppression of the truth about God as Creator and testimony of His orderly creation,
among the soon coming severe warning judgments will be earth-wide seen disorder in the luminaries impacting time (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 8:12-13, NKJV)!
I write about this and the ensuing chaos that righteously reflects the disorder of human rebellion against God’s set order of mankind in the July 27, 2014 post, God Of
Order, under the category, Instruction.
5 The Value Of Women To Families. What began as a liberation quest from the historic roles and responsibilities of females Friedan is credited with launching has now,
mushroomed into a full on revolution for independent female standing, authority and dominion that not only challenges God’s set order of mankind and patriarchy, but
6 The cause of this Ministry is to restore men as a first priority, then, their families. This means their wives and children are next in priority. To this end, the Lord has led
me to write blogs addressing women. Type “women” in the blog search engine to pull up the many posts. Also, in the context of helping men teach their wives and
daughters about God’s design of and assignment for them, the Lord led me to introduce the great woman of God in two chapters of my book, The Strong Man Of God:
Back To Basics. Now, I am pleased to announce that on October 8, 2020, The Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study drawing from and expanding on the con-
tent of those book chapters will be released and available as the book and the first of our Group Study print resources, The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study in
the Strong Man Store as well as at all major booksellers. Learn more about the Women’s Group Study.
Over the past thirty years mainly, I have been on a God stirred quest to understand myself as a fallen mortal man that was created in the divine image and likeness and with assignments from Him I knew very little about. I have written about how teaching on the topic was quite limited in the churches I had attended from the time of my full surrender to the Lord in February 1979 until the early 1990s when my then, pastor, in a small Fort Worth, Texas church, began a purposeful presentation on the family. At about the same time I was introduced to Promise Keepers and a growing national movement of men on a similar quest I later found had issues that I have also written about.1
The major crippling issue of our national Christian men’s movement and in the churches that welcome the associated ministries in to teach and train their men is the hypocritical attempt to fit the square peg of the Bible’s instruction on God’s order, the roles and responsibilities of men into their round hole of practice dictated by feminist ideology. I was never comfortable with this burgeoning situation, but had included women in the incorporation and oversight of Open Door Communication Ministries for example, in an effort to be open-minded. Meanwhile, I also continued my personal quest to learn from God’s Word what a man is for my own need and to teach men as a pastor.
Illuminating instruction from the Lord through His Word brought me to the inescapable conviction that man and womanhood were not just some add on church discipleship topics, but essential doctrine that flows powerfully out of God’s purpose to save mankind both in time and for eternity! In the grip of this conviction in 2002, I felt led by the Lord to write a little booklet titled, Man, published by the Ministry’s Publishing Division. Shortly thereafter in May 2003 though, I was brought to a spiritual crisis by not being able to reconcile the biblical doctrine on men I was learning with the church practice I and other pastors were hypocritically allowing as I later wrote in a 2007 article.2
Confiding my dilemma to a pastor mentor, he confirmed the need to make a decision about what I would do since I was so deeply conflicted. I went home that day and prayed; finding myself once again in another of those true disciple, cost counting moments that test the depth of our commitment to Christ as Lord and the Word of God as the final authority of our lives. He honestly warns anyone that would be His disciple up front it requires a willingness to deny self to the point of suffering and death and urges “count the cost,” (Mark 8:34-38; Luke 14:25-33, NKJV).3 For those that are initially willing to follow the Lord no matter the cost, crisis comes when that cost gets painfully real!
Especially before me that day was His question: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul,” (Mark 8:36, NKJV)? Too, His soul piercing charge, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes...,” was potent in the moment (Mark 8:38, NKJV). I repented of my compromise, unwillingness to teach, contend for or implement the “whole counsel of God” in His Word as it is written concerning men (Acts 20:27, NKJV). Deciding to proclaim and teach only biblical doctrine on men led to the establishing of Strong Man Ministries on October 1, 2005.
I was also led by the Lord to write The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics first published in 2011.4 Many men to this hour have been reached with the Gospel and instruction on biblical manhood to the glory of God! However, none of this has taken place without cost. Not only have I had very few invitations to speak at or bring instruction to Christian men’s events or churches, but I have also been purposely rejected from serving as a pastor because of holding true to God’s Word as it is written. Humanly speaking it hurts, particularly as professed Christian folk as the unsaved try falsely and carnally to make it something about me when they are the ones guilty of compromise (1 Peter 4:1-5). I stand firm there is no temporal worldly profit worth being unfaithful to God’s Word for!5
Now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I challenge every professed Christian man, pastor, elder, church and men’s ministry leader who have corrupted yourselves through compromise of the Word of God and what it says about His order of mankind, the roles and responsibilities of men to repent! Truly, are you really willing to gamble your eternal soul on the patently false supposition that the immutable God, Christ Jesus our Lord, has changed His mind about anything written in the Bible as His words (Matthew 5:17-20, 24:35; John 1:1-5, 14; Hebrews 1:1-4, 13:8-15)? “Yeah, but look at all of these mega and other large church pastors; their success clearly says God is okay with this,” someone will say. Get in your Bible sir; success is not necessarily an indication of God’s approval!6
Indeed, in His Coronavirus judgment God has shut down the churches of even the most successfully high flying pastors. He shows no favoritism! Pastor, I know the pride and fear that wells up in you to even think of having to admit you were wrong, misled and hurt people who trusted your subjective conviction that God was okay with your disobedient compromise of His Word. But this you must do if you will please Him and do His will since you already know remaining proud, defiant and stubborn in the face of His Word and call to repent will continue to be resisted by Him with more judgment (Psalm 138:6; Proverbs 3:31-35; James 4:4-10).7 You cannot prevail against God! The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 Read part one of the three-part post, In God’s Revival Men Are Restored, under the category, The Cause that begins on January 8, 2017.
2 See the part two conclusion of the September 2007 FSTVEP Journal, If Not The Church, Then Who?
3 Read the two-part post beginning August 18, 2019, Lined Up Behind Jesus, under the category, Instruction.
4 A print copy or digital download of the book published by the Publishing Division of Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. with fresh editing in 2019 for greater clarity
and updated web addresses in the footnotes is available at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only).
You can also purchase a print copy in the Strong Man Store.
5 This does not mean I cannot be (and have not been) tempted to evil compromise--only God holds that distinction (James 1:13)! Satan, the tempter is wily and relentless
in his attempts to get me to sell Christ and His Word out (and you too, if you are truly in Him). The truth is, we all have been tempted by the satanic deceit of feminism
from whatever weakness or desire of the flesh to believe the lies God is no longer honoring His Word as it is written, biased males from Moses and to include Christ for
centuries have misunderstood or purposely misinterpreted the Word to subjugate females or blasphemously, God made a mistake and is wrong (Genesis 3:1-6; Isaiah
29:16, 45:9-10; Romans 9:20; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; James 1:14). And now, having ignored the Lord’s warnings not to be deceived in these latter days and without repen-
tance, many guilty are enduring the consequent fruit of their sinful compromise (James 1:15-18).
6 Large numbers and the majority can be wrong in God’s economy as was the case with Israel’s ten out of twelve spies when they assessed their prospects of taking the
Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). Also, as it concerns success as an absolute standard of divine approval, read how successful Solomon was and how God dealt with
his disobedience in the end (1 Kings 9-11). Finally, for anyone that would suggest “The compromise has existed a long time” (over half a century intensely). “Surely, God
has not waited until now, to actually do something about it?” Please read of His longsuffering shown to Israel in sin over extended periods beginning in Judges before
bringing remedial judgments. He waited in the case of king Manasseh’s sins over a century before finally bringing severe judgment upon Judah; in the meantime, send-
ing His prophets unheeded to warn and call the people to repentance (2 Kings 21:1-18, 23:26-27; 2 Chronicles 36:15-16).
7 This means that unless those sponsoring calls to prayer, repentance and revival at this time or going forward are willing to confess and repent from all God considers sin
including capitulating to feminism and the related compromise (and in many cases, serious corruption) of His Word to justify it, their efforts are in vain. Again, someone
will say, “Those who have corrupted themselves do not wish to repent from what they believe is right.” Then, the Lord from His Word has already made clear neither will
He relent from carrying out His foretold judgment (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 15:1-9; Ezekiel 14:12-23)!
The demand for slavery reparations resurfaced with a vengeance this past Juneteenth as yet again members of the black community led by well spoken award winning author and journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates, attempted to make the case for them during a United States Congressional House Subcommittee hearing. Equally well spoken against reparations was young black American, Coleman Hughes, a college student and columnist with an online magazine who among other reasons objected to reparations being given on the grounds that the person receiving them is instantly made a victim.1
While I appreciate the “why” of Coates’ argument for reparations, Hughes’ victimization concern against them strikes close to the heart of my objection rooted in a biblical worldview and expressed in this edited 2003 Commentary. Let me be very clear: to oppose reparations for slavery is not in any way to indicate that in any cases of economic exploitation of or land theft from black Americans afterwards there should not be a swift and just remedy. However, as I have written in other posts2 and now again in this Commentary, slavery was of God and to demand reparations of anyone from it is to demand them from Him (Lamentations 3:27-28)!
Are we really that far gone from a proper fear of the Lord? Consequently, any reparation recipients as victims have their reward from men now, but eternally miss out on God’s as blasphemers (Jeremiah 17:9-10; Matthew 7:21-23, 16:24-27; Romans 1:18-2:11; Hebrews 10:26-31)!
Originally Published July 2003
There are a growing number of African Americans across the nation calling for the American government and corporations to pay reparations to blacks for the experience of slavery. The word reparation is defined as “An act or the process of repairing or making amends” according to Webster’s Dictionary. It also is “Something done or paid as amends; compensation.” Interestingly, Webster’s defines reparations as “Compensation required from a defeated nation for damage inflicted during a war.”
As I understand the rationale behind the demand for reparations, blacks are owed compensation from the government and selected corporations because they benefited from the free labor of our slave forefathers. The compensation would be calculated based on the wages slaves would have earned in one scheme I recall hearing about. Whatever the scheme, the aspiring strong man of God in the image of Jesus Christ knows demanding reparations for the black experience of slavery in America is a wicked and sinful affront to the God of our salvation.3 Indeed, for it was He who allowed our enslavement and also set us free!
When are we going to stop acting out of this satanically inspired attitude of victimization over our experience in America? This attitude is exactly where the demand for reparations comes from. However, according to the Judge of all creation, neither our ancestors nor we now are innocent victims in His sight! He says, “‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’” And again, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:10, 23, NKJV). Therefore, where is the innocence of any human being, tribe, race or nation on the planet?
We who love to so eloquently explain the equality of the races; in our present cry for reparations are we saying that we are more worthy than all other people in the history of the world because our experience was so unjust and undeserved in our eyes? History reveals many other peoples have suffered the humiliation of slavery. No doubt all would have loved to receive reparations for their bitter service. However, most were grateful just to have their freedom when it came. What makes us, the sons of Cush, so special then? In the sight of God, nothing!
Truly, He planned our remedial judgment long ago and revealed it through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 18). As it was in ancient times, so it is today; we are a people of great pride or is it not pride to demand reparations from the Most High God, the One ultimately responsible for our enslavement (Psalm 107:10-12; Lamentations 3:37-39)? Besides punishing the many wicked deeds of our ancestors, the Lord sought through slavery (and continues seeking in our trials) to humble our great pride as Isaiah’s prophecy shows. It also powerfully pictures that the Lord’s mercy in our sufferings will accomplish His primary end: the salvation of willing souls!
The present cry for reparations blatantly ignores the fact that the Lord impressed on this nation the need to help our slave forefathers set free amidst the Civil War. During the period immediately after the war called Reconstruction, educational institutions (of which many of our historically black universities such as Howard in Washington D.C.) were founded, money and assistance given to help the newly freed slaves begin their ascent to citizenship.4
Did everyone get 40 acres and a mule as promised? No. Were there setbacks due to racism and the violent intimidation of whites? Yes. But while we suffered these things and the grand insult of Jim Crow segregation, did not our people, a little here and a little there, by and by begin to prosper as the Lord in His infinite mercy and grace gave us favor? Yes! And at the turn of the 20th century we were doing so well as we moved from the agricultural South to the industrial North, we started to turn away from the heartfelt faith in the Lord many of our Christian slave forefathers had; rejecting their “Pie in the sky.”
Jeremiah the prophet spells out in clear terms the curse of desolation that follows the man (or people) who trusts in flesh and departs from the Lord; the blessing and enduring prosperity of the man (or people) who trust in Him (Jeremiah 17:5-8)! In light of the many and continuing problems of our community, we don’t need reparations or much more help than we already have. We need to turn back to the Lord in complete repentance which includes forsaking the remake of biblical Christianity into “our own” religion by so many churches!5
The Lord says, ‘“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins shall die,’” (Ezekiel 18:4, NKJV). Therefore, unless the guilty repent, they shall all die (Luke 13:1-9). We who are enduring the current judgment of God upon our people in rebellion and apostasy through faith in Christ, should consider ourselves blessed to have our lives just as Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian in his day (Jeremiah 39:15-18). Let’s not join in the prideful insult to His mercy by demanding reparations from God or anybody else as victims for what was of His permitted will. Instead, let the faithful--every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Christ be victors over the world through faith in Him to the glory of God (1 John 5:4-5)!
1 Read the CBS News article.
2 The two-part, Message From A Redeemed Black Man posted beginning on June 2, 2019 under the categories, Biblical Worldview and Black History, launched a series
of posts through this month of June that serve as the most recent addressing divine involvement in Black History. Otherwise, our entire From Slavery To Victory Educa-
tion Project is devoted to this cause as seen throughout its Web Site.
3 To learn what a strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ are, get a print copy or digital download of my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To
Basics, at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy of the book in the
Strong Man Store.
4 While the poor in the community still need help from everybody to “rise,” what is needed most of all from the descendants of our former masters that are guilty is the re-
moving of all of the artificially imposed barriers and obstacles of racism as I wrote in the February 19, 2017 post, Who Is Weeping For My People, under the category,
5 Read the two-part post beginning February 8, 2015, Strong Through God, Not Religion, under the category, Black History.
Consistent with His Word, the Lord would know who authorized corrupt and abominable worship in His house including the leadership of sexually perverted men and out of order women? It certainly was not Him! But it has been men seduced by the coaxing and teaching of lying spirits as well as the self seeking and exaltation, arrogance, wickedness and selfish ambition for worldly success borne of the sinful flesh that have lied on God concerning His will while usurping His authority in defiant disobedience; unrepentant men God rejects who have fed off of and copied each other’s errors (Jeremiah 23:30-32; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; James 3:13-18; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-22; Jude 3-19).
No one can claim ignorance of what God wants in worship since what He has required for His worship is plainly and thoroughly presented in the Bible. Rebel hearts, of course, disdain the word, “required” because they wrongly believe they have freedom under grace to do as they please; the corrupt shepherds among them even acting as lords over God’s house in place of Jesus who is Lord! Also, the experience of ancient Israel is again our example in all things not to do in displeasing God when Christians assemble to worship. Both the Lord’s instruction from His Word on worship and the outcome of Israel’s failure to heed it are summarized in this second part of my 2013 blog post.
Originally Posted September 15, 2013
True Christian worship does not spring from external stimulus such as singing and music, but internally from connection to and relationship with God through the Spirit! Out of love for Him arises in the inmost being the desire to glorify God the Father in admiring praise and worship for who He uniquely is as do the hosts of Heaven (Psalm 100; Revelation 4); to thank Him for all of His benefits not the least of which is His seemly inexhaustible riches of grace and mercy as did the saints of old (Psalm 103).
Spontaneous worship of God wells up in the spirits of the faithful as do geysers from the earth leading to vocal expression as demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 10:21-24). And when the saints assemble together as drunk men, yet, not drunk on wine but filled by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we express the joy of our hearts “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody” in our hearts together to the Lord not as a performance, but loving devotion (Ephesians 5:18-20, NKJV). From such hearts flows the sold out dedication of our lives to God in obedience with immediate confession and repentance when we sin.
If our bodies and lives thereby are to be offered as of first importance as a continual “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” as our rational service of worship (Romans 12:1, NKJV), then it stands to common sense reason that willful disobedience of any kind in sin including ignoring how God has expressed He is to be worshipped pollutes such worship and in accord with the written Word, rather than pleasing, offends Him leading to His rejection of it!
Notice that for similar reasons the Lord Jesus--who should be considered by all as the highest authority on worship that pleases God--tells the woman at the well Samaritan worship was not accepted by God: ‘“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews,”’ (John 4:22, NKJV). The net result historically and for us today is that untold numbers of individual professing Christians privately and their churches assembled for it at whatever time, offer worship to God without His attending presence or acceptance because of willful disobedience manifested in many ways.
It does not matter what style or how excellent, energetic, emotional or sincere the singing and music or animated the worship leader in fleshy performance, worship polluted by sin is rejected by God. Quick, outward and falsely humble prayers of confession and repentance preceding what is to be served up as worship does not change the result either since God sees into the heart (Psalm 139:1-4; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Luke 16:14-15). The Lord already knows what sins we are clinging to including unforgiveness and bitterness toward along with even ongoing persecution and mistreatment of our brethren as if He is not serious about His command that we love and forgive each other (Matthew 5:21-24, 6:12, 14-15; John 15:12; 1 John 4:20-21).
Then there are the seminary trained pastors who were rightly taught that worship songs should support the preached word, but who take it upon themselves in the flesh to see to it; tightly controlling the song style and selection without any real consultation with the God to be worshipped for His guidance or reliance upon Him. Not only does God reject the outcome, but those that are His genuine worshippers in spirit and truth--aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ--recognize the divine offense and lack of attendance as well as consequential spiritual deadness in these so-called “worship services.”
While the Lord was unflinching in declaring to the Samaritan woman that the worship of the Jews as prescribed in the Law at Jerusalem’s temple was more to God’s approval than what the Samaritans were doing, nevertheless, His declaration of something “coming” that transcended what had been historically done by the Jews suggested it was superior and ultimately what God wanted--what is supposedly now to be seen in Christians!
Israel had co-opted what God had given them as His worship program and made it a thing of cold, dead, empty ritual and manmade religion in spite of the constant rebuke of her prophets. The Lord quoted Isaiah from seven hundred years earlier in a rebuke of Israel’s religious establishment that should painfully resonate within professing Christianity at this hour: ‘“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,’” (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9, NKJV). Connection to Him in obedience was more important to God than the sacrifices and rituals of worship as the Lord Jesus Christ--our example in all things--showed (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6-8, 51:16-17; Proverbs 21:3, 27; Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 10:5-7).
God’s primary concern was always with Israel’s collective heart and conduct. But the people in willful disobedience turned away from authentic worship of God to practice their own corrupt, outward form of religion. Through the prophet Isaiah God had protested their duplicity by declaring His displeasure with their phony worship and demanded to know who had required them to “trample My courts,” (Isaiah 1:10-12, NKJV)? Rather than reverence, the sacred ground of the temple was treated by the people with a disregard similar to untrained animals in a clean space that do not distinguish between the holy and the profane for they practiced all manner of perversions then assembled for worship.
Thoroughly disgusted with this endless desecration of His house and disrespect of His Person, God had had enough and told Israel ‘“Bring no more futile sacrifices…I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them,’” (Isaiah 1:13-14, NKJV). Then God says He will not hear their prayers nor accept their worship because of their disobedience (Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 6:20). Without repentance (which God invited), He would and did judge Israel for their sins including corrupt worship in 586BC and again in 70AD (Isaiah 1:16-20; Jeremiah 7:1-27; Matthew 23:37-24:2).
The Lord Jesus Christ loves His Church and speaks correction to and chastens those within the local churches that supposedly make it up (Revelation 3:19). This is the why and what for of His end of the first century specific messages to seven churches of Asia and their messengers in His Revelation I wrote about to open this New Year (Revelation 1:9-11, 19).1 The mere fact the Lord has something to say about what goes on in the churches demonstrates not only His knowledge, but concern that things be done in accord with His will, way and Word! He did not go away back to Heaven and turn the business of the Church over to us. He is Lord (Ephesians 1:15-23)!
In exercising His ever active Lordship over His Church from birth, the Lord Jesus presents Himself to the messenger of the church at Sardis as “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.” With authority granted by His Father (Mathew 28:18), the Son asserts His control over the fullness of the Holy Spirit represented as “the seven Spirits of God” in His activities among men and church messengers as “the seven stars” He earlier interpreted to John (Revelation 1:20). Then, after declaring He knew Sardis’ works, He drops a spiritual bomb shell on them with shock waves that reach to this very hour: they had “a name” for being “alive,” but were “dead” (Revelation 3:1, NKJV)!
The church in Sardis had a name or reputation for being alive whatever that meant for them at that time. Perhaps like some churches that were before and many that have followed them down through the centuries, professed Christians in the Sardis church were intensely engaged in sensational spiritual practices such as speaking in tongues which the apostle Paul warned against over emphasizing (1 Corinthians 14:1-19). Maybe it was passionate preaching or spirited singing and dancing that were carried out as a telltale sign God was present. Possibly too, it was all of these elements that are found variously in numerous churches among the ethnicities on earth today.
Few however, would argue with me that among the ethnicities, those of my own either on the African continent or scattered among the world’s countries including this one engage in all or most of what is described in the foregoing during any given service of what we call worship. The reputation for being alive among black Americans in their churches draws tourists to observe us from all over the world. And we typically do not disappoint; putting on emotion charged performances sometimes that are hard even for the most stoic of souls to resist being caught up in.2 I do understand such services have been historically cathartic for us and in loving empathy have written about why.3
Nevertheless, without the Holy Spirit whose living, working presence the Lord Jesus controls, none of what professed Christians do in the churches lives now or eternally before God (John 6:63). Clearly, from the Lord’s judgment of the church at Sardis, sensational activity and high energy emotional worship are not surefire indicators of the Holy Spirit’s living presence and work as many want to falsely believe. By default, works not empowered by the Holy Spirit are of the sinful flesh. Those acting in the flesh do not please God (Romans 8:5-8). And while there may be “liberty” when the Holy Spirit is present, such times are never a license to sin (2 Corinthians 3:17, NKJV)!4
The verdict of the Lord Jesus on the reputation of the church at Sardis was that they and their efforts were spiritually dead as is the case in every church where the Holy Spirit is not actually operative in what is going on! Apparently though, the church was not completely dead since after pronouncing them so, the Lord commands them to “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die;” He not finding their works complete “before God.” Then, He exhorts them to go back in memory to what they had been originally taught, grip it tight and repent from their departure. If they don’t, He warns, He will come upon them suddenly for what will surely be retribution (Revelation 3:2-3, NKJV). The Lord says the same to guilty churches today.
Always in God’s economy there is a faithful remnant. At Sardis, there was one that by implication in their life and deeds were alive through the authentic work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord acknowledges them and promises a reward for their faithfulness--“for” He says, “they are worthy.” They will also never face the possibility of Him blotting their names out of “the Book of Life.” They will be alive in the Spirit forever! The Lord will also confess the names of these faithful saints before His “Father and before His angels.” He urges every individual in the church at Sardis and the one you attend too, if you will, “to hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” (Revelation 3:4-6, NKJV). The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 See the two-part post that begins January 5, 2020, Revelation’s Seven Churches In Time, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
2 Save attempting to shame me for telling the truth on “us” since I have been black all of my life and even before I was a believer, as a child I witnessed how we do. And
as it concerns performing, while I know a relative few individuals among the musicians and audience may be having a genuine encounter with God, my teen years
were mostly spent in bands entertaining; I know performance, entertainment and being moved by the music when I see and hear it as still happens to me in all trans-
parency when I allow it (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Just because you are feeling it in what is called worship, does not mean God is and it is idolatry to think so, since He made
us in His image not the other way around (Psalm 50:16-23; Isaiah 1:10-20)!
3 Read the two-part repost beginning February 8, 2015, Strong Through God, Not Religion, under the category, Black History.
4 Examples occur whenever an assembly is thrown into disorder by folk lacking self-control and women in disobedience and defiance of God’s written Word are allowed
to lead worship where adult men are present (1 Corinthians 14:20-40; 1 Timothy 2:11-14). Women freely empowered by the Holy Spirit to prophesy (Joel 2:28-29,
Acts 2:1-18, 21:8-11) are not free to do so as they please or as sinning church leaders command in disobedience to God’s perpetually set order of mankind. Or are we
now blasphemously teaching that the “Holy” Spirit sanctions sin in rebellion against Himself? Knowing this not to be the case, no wonder the false escape is to lie on
God and declare He has spoken (Jeremiah 23:30-32), changed His mind (Malachi 3:6), updated His Word (Matthew 5:17-20, 24:35) or abandoned the temperance of
His eternal nature He wills to display in us (Galatians 5:22-23)! It is not nor will it ever be the Holy Spirit that pushes the guilty into sin, but the prince of darkness and
the lusts of their sinful flesh draw them into it (James 1:12-18).
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