Memorial Day asks us as citizens to pause however briefly to remember those in the military who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives fighting for and defending our nation. This is righteous and I do so with this post. I am also mindful with others and gratitude that during this past year many in our nation’s medical community also made the ultimate sacrifice attempting to save fellow citizens from the Coronavirus. All such remembrances are good and help us look away from our focus on self so natural to do, but which is made quite uncomfortably unnatural in the face of those who willingly give up their lives to save others.
For this reason, I will not pass up the opportunity to also remember and point up the ultimate sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ to save all mankind from our sins and condemnation (John 3:16-18)! Our military personnel and any others that die in service to our nation and us as citizens do so that we might live a little longer in a temporary state of health, safety, freedom, prosperity etc. and I am grateful. However, Christ’s sacrifice not only saves from sin and its consequences, but also brings those willing to believe the Gospel about Him into relationship with God, eternal life and glory. As a beneficiary by faith of His sacrifice certified by His resurrection and ascension to the glory He has promised those who believe, I am joyfully beside myself in gratitude (John 3:36; Romans 5:6-11)!
Just reflecting for Memorial Day as requested. May you do the same and be safe while you are at it.
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).
Just as a matter of human theological construction many professing Christians and their leaders want (and obviously need) a once and for all salvation with no continuing requirements such as faith, holiness or righteousness placed on them to walk in it, so also they want and have obtained for themselves a once and for all forgiveness that relieves them of the burden of continual confession and repentance! The days of God Almighty’s tolerance of such corruptions of the faith and His Word used to support them are nearing their end to His glory and sweet vindication of the faithful saints; every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ--hallelujah!
This nearly now two thousand year span of time God the Father has permitted to accomplish His purposes in the Gospel of His Son and the chastening of Israel is drawing to its fitting close in His judgment of all things human (Matthew 24:14; Luke 21:20-24). As is absolutely righteous, He has begun judging at His own house and before He is finished the whole world will know the wrath of the holy God against unrepentant sinners (1 Peter 4:17-19; Revelation 16:17-21)! The kingdoms of mortal man are brought down; their glory in riches, splendor and technological achievement bound up with evil allowed by God to prove their spiritual poverty apart from Him gone forever (Isaiah 2:10-22)!
Just as the prophets, our Lord and His apostles foretold would be the case near this end of the world as it has existed under the reign of Satan since man’s fall in Eden, darkness, violence, chaos, confusion and intensifying rebellion against the righteous ways of God fill it. In the midst are many professing Christians and their leaders in denial about the times, reveling in their sins and even re-defining sin to allow for example, setting aside the order of God’s house; who are also angry with anyone that might suggest they should repent because their souls are in peril. No, this group is comfy, cozy because they have constructed themselves a foolproof doctrine of salvation wherein God is locked into honoring their once and for all declared faith that Christ died for their sins.
However, while it is certainly true Christ died for our sins “once for all” meaning He in place of all men and no more sacrifices are needed or forthcoming, God’s gracious gift of salvation built on it is entered into through repentance from sin and faith as a beginning point which is expected to continue until death or the Lord’s return (Romans 1:16-17; Hebrews 10:10, 35-39, NKJV). Salvation then at present, is only a done deal in accord with the promise of God in the Gospel, His power and guarantee through the Holy Spirit along with our continuing, growing faith in Him and His Word demonstrated by faithful and obedient lives of godliness (Romans 8:24-25; Ephesians 1:13-14; Colossians 1:21-23; James 2:20-26; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Peter 1:1-11). Interested persons can learn more about biblical salvation in blog reposts, The Faith That Saves under the category, The Faith.
God is so committed to seeing every soul that initially comes to Him persevere, He helps us in our weakness and has suffered this long from Christ’s first coming giving men time to repent because He does not desire to see any soul perish (Romans 8:26-27; 2 Peter 3:9). Alas, though, the end is at hand and the sober truth is many have and will perish among professing Christians and their leaders because they in free will refuse to repent from their sins. No sinner practicing the deeds of the flesh will inherit the kingdom of God and eternal life (2 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). Truly, salvation by God’s grace through our faith is not a license to sin without temporal and eternal consequences as the Lord judges (Romans 2:1-11, 6:1-23)!
Knowing sin which Christ died for offends Him, we who believe, love and honor our holy God seek to steadfastly obey His Word while confessing and repenting from our sins daily, as they occur and/or are revealed by the Holy Spirit. The title and words of that most excellent 1983 song by Candi Staton sum it up nicely for the aspiring strong man and great woman of God: Sin Doesn’t Live Here Anymore! I have heard it said a few times in my journey though, “it’s too cumbersome to do all of that confessing and repenting.” Are you kidding me? God only asks us to confess and repent before Him in prayer to include quietly in our hearts or would you prefer Israel’s system of daily and the annual Day of Atonement animal sacrifices Christ’s superior once for all sacrifice as our High Priest replaced (Hebrews 7:11-10:18)?
Also, spiritual maturity lessens our sinning and therefore, the frequency to confess and repent over time (Philippians 3:7-16). However, the willfully weak in spiritual immaturity enjoy no such experience (Hebrews 5:12-14). Though in Christ’s sacrifice our sins are atoned for forever, this speaks to the thoroughness of God’s satisfaction not the lack of necessity for us to continually confess and repent from our sins to draw upon the unending river of forgiveness He wills to release to us as a benefit! When we enter salvation through repentance and faith, all of our past sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus; as we have need (and we do), in confession and repentance going forward our sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus, the eternal “Advocate” of the willing who look to Him by continuing faith (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 1:9-2:2, NKJV).
Otherwise, know that God remains eternally opposed to sin and His holiness demands the death of the sinner whether he calls himself a Christian or not (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Matthew 7:21-23; Galatians 6:7-9; Hebrews 3:7-19, 10:19-31). Pastors, elders, church leaders and teachers who truly love Christ’s sheep with His love will teach them this truth. Others of you need to repent and in fear take heed to the terrifying warnings of James, pastor of the first local church at Jerusalem and the apostle Peter (James 3:1; 2 Peter 2:1-22). Stop this sentimental, make them feel good, “we are all going to Heaven anyway” lying you are doing to unrepentant sinners dressed in sheep’s clothing that gladly fill your auditoriums and dreams for worldly success about to end. The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
Since I can remember from my youth marchers protesting injustice of some kind have loudly chanted, “No justice, no peace!” No doubt they are serious about what they chant. Also sincerely stated is what I have heard from the Lord and must declare in accord with my calling (Ezekiel 33:1-9) concerning the guilty among my fellow countrymen that are not Christians and those professing to be who obstinately refuse to repent from their iniquity driven rebellion against Him: “No repentance, no peace!” This word from the Lord is easily and powerfully verifiable in His written Word for those wanting proof God would say such a thing. Otherwise, open your eyes and look around you!
The standing judgment of God Almighty has been upon this world since the excruciating death on the cross, burial and resurrection of His Son on behalf of all sinful mankind in 33 A.D. just outside of Jerusalem, Israel as the Lord Jesus announced (John 12:27-33). But for God’s plans from eternity to punish Israel for her greatest sin of all in being the driving force behind His suffering and have the Gospel of His Son preached in every nation, the fullness of His judgment in wrath would have come upon this world long before now (Luke 19:41-44, 21:20-24, 24:46-49; Acts 2:1-40). Truly, the rebellion against God is not just from among the Gentiles, nor did it start recently (Acts 4:1-31).
Some fourteen hundred years before Christ came at first, during and since the days of Moses and the Exodus, God has had to deal with even foretold rebellion from among those He called to be His chosen people (Exodus 19:1-6; Deuteronomy 4:25-40). Now, the Lord spoke repeatedly to them through His prophets calling the guilty to repentance and carrying out increasingly severe remedial judgments among them warning there would be no peace unless they did repent (2 Chronicles 15:1-7; Isaiah 57:14-21, 59:1-8; Amos 4:6-11). Why is this so? Why doesn’t the Lord just let rebel humanity have its way, go away and leave them alone since they don’t want to do His will?
Surely, beginning in 70 A.D. Israel with the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, the dispersion of the people to the nations and desolation of the land, the Lord within measured restraint left them and the world to their own devices and no peace in judgment until now, as the prophets and He Himself foretold (Hosea 3, 5:8-15; Matthew 10:34-39, 24:3-8; Luke 13:34-35; Revelation 6:1-8). He restrained lawlessness until recently for the preservation of the Jews many of whom are back in the land since 1948 and sake of the spread of the Gospel.1 But seen at this hour in our nation and around the earth, His restraint is easing as the demonically instigated lawlessness of mankind upticks as a precursor to the coming of “the lawless one” again, as foretold (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8, NKJV).2
Too, is it not because the universe, the earth and man are of the creative handiwork of God? He created all to be in harmony with Him in holiness and righteousness. But man’s sin corrupted and brought the whole creation down into a state of ruin. God has never renounced ownership over His creation even as He has allowed fallen man and angels to temporarily hold sway in it until He would save willing men and restore it! This world ultimately belongs to the sovereign God who created it and retains His right of say so in it. Thus, the wicked kingdoms of fallen man and angels are about to give way to His Kingdom and Anointed King (Psalms 2:6-12, 97, 98; Revelation 11:15, 19:11-20:3)!
The foregoing is the ominous lesson of His wrath in the day of Noah’s flood and fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Though in these mortal days of man we do not typically behold Him in His awesome glory, God reigns enthroned from Heaven and judges the affairs of men in the earth (Psalms 29:10, 33:10-11; Jeremiah 50:35-40). Concerning God’s wrath upon and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, He did not do it without prior longsuffering and even grace toward the wicked men (Genesis 13:13, 14:1-24) as well as careful consideration of the gravity of their sin and persons. Indeed, the Lord disclosed His deliberations and negotiated with Abraham about what He would do.
Having appeared with two angels as men, the Lord’s first stop on a Personal visit to earth in Human form was to His “friend,” Abraham, to deliver a word of prophetic assurance to him concerning the son He had promised him (Genesis 18:1-15; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23, NKJV). Then, the Lord’s attention turns to the other matter for which He was making a Personal appearance on earth in Human form and determines to disclose to Abraham (Genesis 18:16-19). Speaking to him He says, ‘“Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to Me; and if not, I will know,’” (Genesis 18:20-21, NKJV). From where was the outcry coming?
1 Read the four-part post beginning February 26, 2017, God Of Restoration And Judgment, under multiple categories starting with Bible Prophecy. In the face of calamities
natural and brought by God during this period until now, unbelievers always demand “where is God” as though He only exists to prevent these, not realizing that humanity
lives on borrowed time graciously provided by Him to repent and be saved from His far worse wrath and Hell if they will (Luke 13:1-9).
2 Besides wanting Him to produce for them a calamity free world, God’s doubters, scoffers, critics and angry haters also want Him to deliver one without the kind of grow-
ing lawlessness we now, see. Ah, but what they fail to appreciate is that they can only perceive the uptick in lawlessness because in former days it was not this bad due
to His gracious restraint of it! Now that the Holy Spirit sent to restrain lawlessness fomented by demons is stepping back out of the way to allow its rise with warning
judgments, the godless world the rebels against God clamor for is unfolding leading to the coming of a lawless global ruler. Speaking from former experience, rebels
never think through the ultimate end of their rebellion!
Hollywood loves turning loose out of place in time gigantic dinosaurs and other beasts into the cities and suburbs of the modern world to wreak havoc and destruction as terrified humanity runs for their lives to escape. And while God Almighty in no way compares to any beast of the earth past, present or of fallen man’s imagination, humanity in the 21st century world is just as unprepared for His unveiling in judgment as those of fiction are to the sudden appearance of out of place and time giant beasts. Nevertheless, Bible prophecy is very clear this world hostile to and in rebellion against God is near to experiencing His completely unexpected display of severe warning judgments and wrath!
Sadly, among those that are not prepared for God Almighty to again show His superior power in the earth are many that profess to be Christians. Ignoring the most significant sign God has given yet of what is coming, many still want to put the Day of the Lord off for possible thousands of years away or hide behind “that day and hour no one knows” which refers to specificity, not general times or why would the Lord command us to watch for signs He Himself gave (Mark 13:28-37, NKJV)? It is righteous to avoid confusion from way out speculation about the end times. But it seems many avoid the issue because it interferes with their carefully laid plans and preoccupation with this world!1
Can you speak thunder? The Lord Jesus can and whomever He enables among His servants (Revelation 10:1-4)! During the week leading up to Passover and His crucifixion, “certain Greeks” among the Jewish throngs sought to have an audience with the Lord. Though He did not meet with them, He plainly took their desire for an audience to be prophetically significant as it concerned His glory, fruit of His crucifixion and perpetual requirements to be His disciple as He spoke to Andrew and Philip who were attempting to arrange the meeting (John 12:20-26, NKJV). Squaring up with His crucifixion again, the Lord then speaks of it as His disturbing, but unavoidable approaching reality and concludes it was for that experience He had come to the moment (John 12:27).
Honoring His Father who had assigned Him the cross, the Lord Jesus exclaimed, ‘“Father, glorify Your name.’” Immediately the Father replied, ‘“I have both glorified it and will glorify it again,’” (John 12:28, NKJV). The people standing by heard the Father and “said it had thundered;” some thought the thunder was an angel speaking to him. Jesus said the voice (and very importantly, the words) of His Father was not for His sake, but the people present (John 12:29-30, NKJV). And why? The Lord says, ‘“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself,’” (John 12:31-32, NKJV).
The Father would be glorified a second time in the earth by the atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ, for the sins of the world (John 1:29-34). While delivering all (Jew and Gentile) that look to His sacrifice for salvation through faith, it also certifies the judgment of the rejecting remainder (John 3:14-21). Also, finally, in the aftermath of Christ’s triumphant sacrifice Satan, the ruler of this world, will be deposed and eternally banished (Colossians 2:13-15; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 20:7-10). Now, if all of this from Christ’s sacrifice constitutes a second time the Father is glorified, then, when was the first time? Wasn’t it His mighty deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt?2
God Almighty came down from Heaven to deliver Israel from bondage to Egypt about the midpoint of the 15th century B.C. (Exodus 3-14). With the rod of Moses the Lord strong and mighty suddenly visited and brought plagues upon Egypt representing the modern world of its time because Pharaoh, their ruler, would not let God’s people He came to deliver go. By the time the Lord was finished Egypt was destroyed; Pharaoh who claimed to be a god and all of the rest of Egypt’s gods (demons) were humiliated in defeat (Exodus 7:3-5, 10:7, 14:1-9, 21-30). The fame of the Lord went throughout the earth from that day and remains among all mankind that have heard of what He did to Egypt on behalf of Israel; to deliver them from bondage with mighty signs and wonders in judgment.
So, now, Israel is back in her land after nearly 1,900 years of dispersion throughout the earth by divine decree as foretold by the prophets beginning with Moses (Deuteronomy 28:15-68, 31:14-29; Hosea 3, 5:8-15). Many are returning to the land as God’s preparation for both His final punishment and deliverance of the Jewish people. Indeed, as foretold by the Lord through His prophets, as Judah returned from exile and rebuilt the Temple and Jerusalem beginning in the 6th century B.C., so, those presently in the land are doing the same, but in reverse order. Opposition exponentially greater (involving global hostilities) to what was faced by Jews building the second Temple faces those that would build a third (Ezra 1, 3-4:24). Yet, they have to and will--the Temple is part of their identification with God.3
In the days leading up to and during building the Temple according to the Lord’s specifications (Ezekiel 40-43:12), He will begin to finish bringing glory to Himself again in the cause of delivering Israel this time in the sight of this whole 21st century earth. After sealing His chosen Jewish remnant (Revelation 7:1-8), God will suddenly display His unmistakable wonders in mighty warning judgments (Revelation 8-9). After this will come Satan’s last stand before Christ returns, God’s final exam, Israel’s travail and “great tribulation” that spreads to the whole world (Mark 13:14-23; Revelation 11:1-14, 12:1-14:13, NKJV). Then, following as foretold, God will unleash His full wrath inaugurating the Day of the Lord that also features the Second Coming of Christ to lead the charge.
This unique Day of the Lord delivers remnant Jews and Christians, judges this world and overcomes all kingdoms including Satan’s (Isaiah 13:6-13; Zechariah 12:1-9, 14:1-7, 12-15; Mark 13:24-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; Revelation 11:15-19, 16, 19:11-20:3). Just as He brought Israel out of Egypt, God Almighty will triumphantly bring all of the chosen, surviving remnant of His people back to the land in that Day from all over the earth to see Him in glory. They will turn to Christ as foretold (Isaiah 10:20-23, 11:11-16; Jeremiah 30:1-9, 31:1-9; Ezekiel 39:21-29; Hosea 6:1-3; Zechariah 12:10-13:1; Romans 11:1-29).4 This present world will never be the same again. The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 Faithful and true disciples of Jesus Christ live in this world to please Him and do His will which is the heart of every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in
His image (Mark 8:31-38; Luke 9:57-62; 1 John 2:15-17). Learn more in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics available in print or digital download for-
mats at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can also get the Hard or Soft Cover print ver-
sions of the book in the Strong Man Store.
2 Read the July 30-Sept 3, 2017 six-part series and especially part five, Restoring Men In The Two Minute Drill, under the category, Bible Prophecy as additional back-
ground information for this post.
3 This is another reason putting end time events off for even hundreds of years from now is not sound. Truly, the Jews mournfully commemorate the exact day both the
first and second Temples were respectively destroyed (which amazingly are the same--only God!) by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and the Romans in 70 A.D. on an
occasion called Tisha B’Av--The Fast Of The Fifth Month (see The Feasts of the Lord, Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal, Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville 1997,
151-157). The devout not only grieve the loss and lack of a Temple, but most assuredly will not let the 2,000 year anniversary of the second Temple’s destruction
looming ahead this century pass without notice as many make preparation for a third to be built (Ezra 5-6; https://www.templeinstitute.org/main.htm). This should not
surprise faithful Christians since as He did with the second Temple, the Lord stirs up the hearts of the people nearing 100 years back in the land also this century
(Haggai 1:1-2:9)! Thus too, as it was with Pharaoh who God demanded to let His people go forth to worship Him, so, with Satan through his human vessels among
the Gentile nations and finally, the one who becomes Antichrist, God will demand through Jewish leaders what He similarly spoke to me writing in a former post: “Let
My people worship Me in the house I have commanded them to build Me,” (see footnote 2).
4 See the June 12, 2016 post, The Day Of Israel’s Comfort, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
Of the greatest sins manifested among many church leaders today is the arrogance to believe that they can somehow improve upon and expedite God’s program for making and teaching disciples of Jesus Christ! Though ancient now, the methods Christ and His apostles empowered by the Holy Spirit used to make disciples (preaching the Gospel) and teach them to obey God’s whole Word were effective (Mark 1:9-20, 3:13-19, 4:10-12, 33-34, 8:27-38; John 20:19-23; Acts 2:1-16, 36-47). Even so, 100% of the people who heard their preaching and teaching did not accept it (John 6:60-71; Acts 4:1-4). Our problem is we want that 100% even if it means doing stuff in the flesh to get them!
The Lord’s approach and example to teaching men as disciples was Self-denying, labor intensive and time consuming. But these are the inescapable realities of spiritual fathering our Lord embraced as well as called, equipped and charged His disciples turned apostles to also do. Church pastors are imperative in the work (John 21:15-17)! Having been a pastor and mentor of boys and men I fully understand the demands especially of time spiritual fathering make on one’s life. However, this is why a pastor equips those he spiritually fathers to do as he does. If he is too busy to do what the Lord has commanded as his priority, then he is too busy! As the Lord leads me to point out in this edited 2013 Commentary, men are being hurt because of disobedience to His commands.
Originally Published September 2013
While our Ministry celebrates every brave incarcerated man that steps out before our Strong Man Of God Rally assemblies to publically pray to receive Christ or rededicate to Him, it saddens me personally to see the great numbers that rededicate. Most of these rededications are men that were Christians before their incarceration for a second or third time. It is certainly true Christians that commit crimes must take personal responsibility for their actions. However, after talking to many of these men it becomes clear that they are not getting the one on one mentoring of a “spiritual father” needed to deepen their walk with Christ in the churches they are members of as I did not early on.1
To be sure, the failure to make committed followers of Christ is a wide spread problem in the churches. Spiritual infancy dominates today in a Western church culture that is more concerned with the numbers than whether members are maturing in Christ. This lack of emphasis on the slow process of making disciples as our Lord commanded is hurting men the most since they are God’s chosen leaders in the home and churches. Many sit and the relative few that serve largely do so as babes in Christ with no intentional plan to disciple them. Once a month meetings and the annual golf tournament are not enough to turn baby Christian men into fiery, maturing disciples of Christ!
As I write in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, teaching his family is a responsibility God assigns every man.2 As the head of the house, a man teaches his wife and children. As a father, he teaches all of the children, but with a special duty to mentor and guide his sons into manhood; his wife, their daughters into womanhood. Beyond their families, aspiring strong men of God in the image of Christ imitate Him in taking newborn Christian men under their wing to spiritually father them into maturity. We know this process is slow because our Lord spent more than three years of intensive time with His twelve disciples, then the rest of the lives of those who became faithful apostles (Matthew 4:18-22; John 14:18, 16:12-15).
In the Lord’s “Great Commission,” He commands His disciples to make, baptize and teach new disciples from all of the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). As it concerns teaching, veteran disciples are to teach the new “to observe all things that” Christ had commanded them (vs. 20, NKJV). Teaching what Christ “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV) commanded entails more than just important doctrines, but also all of the thinking, attitudes and behaviors of Christ-likeness we are also to possess in pleasing God the Father as He did (Philippians 2:5). To this end, the apostle Paul also instructed his spiritual sons to teach and pass on what they had learned to men who would do the same with other men also (2 Timothy 2:1-2; Titus 1:1-9, 2:1-5).
To their shame, not only do many pastors and churches not encourage spiritual fathering or mothering in their ranks today, but too many have no formal discipleship instruction at all much less for newborn Christians in the pews who need the “pure milk of the Word” not the philosophical musings of men (1 Peter 2:1-3, NKJV).3 And for the churches that pride themselves on offering lofty sectarian seminary level courses such as Systematic Theology as sufficient to fulfill Christ’s command to teach especially babes, repent! You are causing them to gag and choke in confusion on what is not even biblically organic, but sinful humanly processed and genetically altered meat (1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:14-16, 3:14-17).
Shame too on you guilty pastors that look down on my work in the prisons as though it were inconsequential when Christ your Judge is recording for Judgment Day how many of the Christians I find there that are members of your churches (Romans 14:10-13; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11)! We salute all of our fellow workers in the prisons filling in what lacks in the churches. To the pastors that need help setting up a discipleship plan for new believers or want to know more about teaching biblical manhood to and spiritually fathering men contact this Ministry.4 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 Read Part 1 of the August 21, 2016 post, Christianity The Religion Of Men, under the category, instruction. I lament the early lack of spiritual fathering that potentially
could have saved me from many painful failures and shortened the inordinate length of my infancy in Christ in the opening of this post and also that of the October 2,
2016 post, Gifted With A Prophet’s Heart, under the category, Call To Repent.
2 The book is available at all major internet booksellers, by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
3 See the September 25, 2016 post, A Leadership Caused Failure and Pastors As Developing Christian Men posted on December 17, 2017 both under the category,
Call To Repent.
4 Get contact information for Strong Man Ministries and learn about for example, the Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study as an important help in making disciples of
men and teaching them biblical manhood on our Web Site.
It is with great joy the Lord has allowed me to conclude my 2018 blog writing service to Him and our readers with a word of instruction on tithing. Writing a post on legalism this fall, I was troubled that I was not able to say more about this important, voluntary spiritual privilege and discipline for willing Christians that has been mostly foisted on us historically as a legalistic carryover requirement of God’s Law and commandments to Israel.1 I know some were worried I was against tithing. However, the footnote I would have written explaining the sin of teaching Christians to tithe as a matter of Law, rather than faith, free will love and worship would have been this post and too long!
Now, by the grace of our God, here in summary form is the teaching the Lord gave me early in my journey as a Christian over forty years that I also taught my family and church members as a pastor. Let me begin by saying I was introduced to the concept of tithing as a Christian babe in a traditional black American Baptist church by leadership that insisted it was God’s required will straight up out of Malachi 3:8-12. As a result, out of guilt, shame, fear and inadequate faith I wrestled with how to become an obedient tither and where to begin--off of my net or gross income that either way by sight left me short of my budget needs--as most other folk when introduced to tithing.
After much prayer, I took my first shaky steps toward being one who tithed off of my net (just keeping it real), then my gross and eventually whatever financial increase came to me in addition to giving my God offerings for whatever causes I was led by Him to sow into. Along the way, He took me deeper into His Word about tithing as giving not out of the Law for a Christian, but faith and love (that authentic, always involves the will and worship) as a voluntary spiritual privilege and discipline. Building faith and love are why I am convinced God does not harshly swoop down on us as babes right away to correct tithing wrongly introduced as legalism--but woe to the unrepentant legalist!
Giving a tithe (a tenth or more) in the Bible is first introduced some 500 years before the Law as the act of Abraham, the man of faith, when he did so to “Melchizedek, king of Salem” who “was the priest of God Most High.” Melchizedek had come out to bless Abraham after his successful rescue of Lot and others from marauding kings (Genesis 14:13-20, NKJV). In that blessing, the mysterious priest declared, ‘“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand.'” After this blessing, Abraham gave Melchizedek “a tithe of all,” (Genesis 14:19-20, NKJV).2 What made Abraham do this?
Making offerings to God goes back to Adam, who obviously taught his sons to do so (Genesis 4:1-7). Clearly too, the practice of making religious offerings to priests as intermediaries with a tithe being the norm was common in Abraham’s day. Beyond this, no doubt, the key to Abraham’s tithe given to Melchizedek was his faith recognition in the blessing that his successful rescue campaign and all of its spoils were the direct result of the Most High’s providence who owns everything in Heaven and on earth! Abraham then--though he refused anything for himself, was giving back a portion to the priest for God what He had already blessed him with (Genesis 14:21-24).
The foregoing principle of giving was preserved by God as motive and requirement in the Covenant Law and commandments He gave Moses for Israel to support the priesthood, Levites, His house and benevolent causes among the people (Numbers 18:7-32; Deuteronomy 12:1-19, 14:22-29, 26:1-15). Later, king Solomon declared God’s principle and the associated blessings in instructions he as a father gave his son (Proverbs 3:9-10). After this, it is only for their disobedience in not giving as required in His Law and commandments that God rebukes Judah before and after their Babylonian captivity. In the New Testament and under the New Covenant there is no divine command to tithe!
The Lord Jesus commended the Jewish religious leadership of the time for their obedience to tithe, but failure in other, “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23, NKJV). In conformity with the divine transcendent principle, He also taught the blessedness of giving of one’s substance to God (Luke 6:38, 9:10-17, 12:13-21) to support His Kingdom workers, work and benevolent causes; receiving such support as did His apostles with but one exceptional exception (Luke 8:1-3, 10:1-7; Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 1 John 3:16-18). In the likeness of Melchizedek and the priests of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ is also our High Priest and formal Intermediary when we give to God.3 He receives our tithes and offerings on behalf of the Father and is also honored by us with them (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 4:14-5:10, 7:1-8:6).4
Thus, even though there is no New Testament command to tithe of our income in giving as Christians, the principle--reaching all the way back past the Law to Abraham our faith example in everything, commends it to us as normative and certainly, as I can testify, a spiritual privilege and discipline (like regular Bible study, prayer and church attendance) God blesses as a matter of walking by faith in Him (Romans 4:3; Hebrews 11:6; James 2:20-26)!5 So, then, let any professed Christian leader attempting to get God’s people to give through tithing by falsely and legalistically making it a requirement of the Law repent now if you will please God. Teach His Word faithfully!6 I wish all a blessed and prosperous New Year especially as you make giving to God a spiritual priority.7
1 Read the two-part post, Let’s Talk Legalism, under the category, Instruction, beginning September 23, 2018.
2 So much for the net versus gross question!
3 Melchizedek and our Lord Jesus also very significantly share in common being bearers of “bread and wine,” (Genesis 14:18; Luke 22:14-20; John 6:31-59).
4 As the apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 8-9, Christ’s churches and Parachurch ministries have a stewardship responsibility from Him to receive any kind of offer-
ings as His agents and to disburse them at His direction in support of His Kingdom workers, work and causes. Woe to the churches, ministries and their leaders that do
not do so (Matthew 23:14; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11)!
5 Learn more about the concept of spiritual discipline for the aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ from my book, The Strong Man Of
God: Back To Basics. It is available at all major internet booksellers, by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
6 Teaching God’s word faithfully does include examining the spiritual, moral, ethical and transcendent truths embodied in the Old Testament Law and commandments to
understand His good intent in them and to make a proper application as the Lord led me to write in the post on legalism. So, for example, we can look at Malachi 3:8-12
and see how God wanted the Israelites to obey His Law and commandments on tithing to be blessed of Him while also fulfilling His support plans for the priests, Levities,
the Temple and community benevolence. God stresses His willingness to bless their obedience to the point of inviting them to put Him to the test! The application for
Christians is to see the consistency of God in His transcendent principle of blessed giving through the proportional discipline of tithing that reaches all the way back to
Abraham which also our Lord Jesus Christ affirms. Then, out of faith and love, to act out of it to benefit both us and God's Kingdom priorities!
7 Please remember Strong Man Ministries in your giving among the ordained Kingdom workers (me--Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 3 John 5-8), works and causes of
God in this generation. Give securely on our Web Site at https://thestrongmanofGod.org/Give. You can also mail your cash, check or money order made out to our or-
ganizational parent, Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. and send it to P.O. BOX 56704, Portland, OR 97238.
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