Answer To Previous Post Plus The More Important Question

OK.  I can’t wait any longer, because the suspense is killing me (and I hope you, too!).  What was your answer?  Did you answer that the man became a millionaire when he realized he had money in the bank?  Or, did you answer that he became a millionaire when the money was deposited?  If you answered when the money was deposited you are correct!  Congratulations!

Now, to the more important question.  Ready?

When is a person free from sin (declared righteous in Christ and no longer guilty of sin)?  When Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for sin (which by the way was death, not eternal conscious torment in hell!) or when he/she, by faith, believes in Christ for justification/redemption?

I will let you chew on this for a few days and maybe on Sunday I can find some time to finish this out.  Do you agree that this is one of the most important questions for us to know the answer to?  What are the ramifications of the answer to this question?  Leave your comments below and help all the readers to gain insight from your wisdom!  Blessings to you!

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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Short Question Of Utmost Importance!

Real quick – I read an example today that I must share and hopefully you will share your insights in the comments below. Here goes:

One day a man’s bank account number was found by a person who then proceeded to deposit 50 million dollars in it.  This donor knew the person’s name but did not call the man to tell him about the deposit.  The man continued living his life, struggling to pay his bills and stressing over his future, yet apparently, because of his poverty, did not bother to check his account balance (bear with me, OK!).  Then one day the donor sent him a letter instructing him to check his balance in his bank account. The man did, and his life was changed.

Question: When did this man become a millionaire?

Now for the hook.  I will post again in a few days with another story that YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS!  So, stay tuned!  How was that for promotion?

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A quick note about WWJD from a previous post

In this post (New Creation Christians Should Never Ask What Jesus Would Do) I mentioned that we Christians today should not ask what would Jesus do because that keeps us focused on our mortal bodies and repressing sin.  I wanted to spend a few minutes explaining a little more what I mean.

What was/were the main things that Jesus came to do?  Well, let me mention the most important first:  He came to seek and save the lost, to save all mankind.  OK, now with that said, how did He go about doing that?  Well, He fought sin, and death, and the Devil.  His fight with sin seemed to be primarily against the Jewish religious leaders.  He was constantly pointing out their hypocrisy and sin.  that did not endear Him to them and led Him actually to the cross.  He also fought against death.  He didn’t fight dying on the cross, but He fought death and won, for God, and for our benefit.  He fought Satan, as well, and conquered Him by paying sin’s debt (by dying a real death so we would no longer die spiritually) and becoming alive once again, rendering death for all no longer a thing to be feared, but welcomed.  That people no longer die spiritually and will eventually live with God eternally is quite a feat.  Yet in god’s infinite love, showing the power of His love, He resurrected the Son and made an embarrassment out of Satan and gave all mankind what He created them for before the foundation of the world; fellowship with Him.

We no longer need to emulate Christ in these areas because they have been taken  care of forever by Christ.  Sin is vanquished and no longer the focus of the Christian’s life, Christ is. So if we must cling to the modern abbreviation of WWJD, at least make it mean something true and define it by extending His love to others, not trying to always crucify the flesh (that’s a done deal already!)  Death, the penalty for sin, is paid.  END OF THE STORY.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  All those who aren’t, will face a time of painful restoration to Him, but their end is as sure as those who believe in this life!  AMEN!  Hallelujah!  And, maybe best of all because it shows how strong and deep and unfailing God’s love is toward ALL created beings, Satan will one day bow in adoration and praise for the God who will one day redeem even him!  Can you think of any greater love than this?  Can you imagine a being so powerful in His love that even the tempter will succumb and his heart will be made new again and he will be with us praising the one True God?

If you want to Do as Jesus Did, remember those people He loved and touched in miraculous ways, like the lame, the adulterers, the sick, etc.  When you are thinking along those lines you will have very little, if any, time to focus on your stumblings!  Christ and the Father’s love to you all!

Craig

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Don’t Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body

Here is my provocative question for this post.  When you read what Paul wrote in Romans 6:12, “Let not Sin, then, be reigning in your mortal body, for you to be obeying its lusts.” (CLV, Concordant Literal Version), do you:

A. Believe this to mean “stop sinning” and refers to the “acts of sin” OR

B.  I will never stop sinning in my mortal body but thankfully as a new creation in Christ my sins have been removed and sin no longer tells me what to do, I tell it what to do! (get lost!)

If you choose A., then you are in league with the whole modern church today.  You believe just as most every other believer today because you believe that Paul is telling you to quit committing acts of sin, like adultery, swearing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  It also means you will probably seek to remove all appearances of evil and sin from your life.  Example:  We don’t believe it is a sin to drink alcohol, but we require our leaders to abstain from drinking alcohol because we do not even want to give the appearance of sin, or cause even the least of our brothers to stumble.  Or, I have been “saved” by God and in my past have struggled with pornography, therefore, when I want to rent a movie from Netflix, I search only G-rated movies because I do not even want to be tempted to sin.  Or, I know overeating is a sin, but I have a lust for pizza so, as a believer, I will never go down the pizza aisle at the grocery store, nor will I go to parties where pizza is being served.

If you chose B., you look back at my last paragraph and say, “Wow, I am glad I am not like those sinners over there!”  No, I am only kidding!  But seriously, you probably realize that Paul’s whole case in Romans is not some theological treatise for the seminary classroom, nor for the making of super saints!  It is for everyone, saved and unsaved alike.  It is especially for believers who understand that they will never be NOT sinning in this mortal body but thankfully Jesus paid it all, paid for every sin, past, present, and future, on the cross and in his resurrection.  You realize that you are not defined by your sin but by your identity with and in Christ.  When you realize you sin, and you realize it is an anomaly, that because you treasure His grace, you stop and say, “No more,” and you continue on reveling in the grace that super-exceeds the sin you just committed.  Then, rather than being sad over your sin, and letting sin ruin your disposition, you push it aside and focus on the grace of Christ, His ever and over-abundant love for ALL OF HIS CREATION, and go about praising Him the rest of the day!

Which kind of person are you?  Which kind of person do you want to be?  Think about it!  Send me your comments and let’s dialog about it.  Questions?  Me, too.  Let’s help one another find answers! As always,

Love in Christ,

Craig

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Why I Chose Colossians 1 For My Main Page

It has been a long time since I discussed this verse (passage) of Scripture so I just wanted to add a short post for the benefit of a few readers that I believe can use it most.

 

(Col 1:15) Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature,

(Col 1:16) for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him,

(Col 1:17) and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him.”

(Col 1:18) And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first,

(Col 1:19) for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell,

(Col 1:20) and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.”

(Col 1:21) And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, by wicked acts, yet now He reconciles”     Concordant Literal Version (CLV)

and compare a traditional version such as the ESV:

(Col 1:15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

(Col 1:16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

(Col 1:17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

(Col 1:18) And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

(Col 1:19) For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

(Col 1:20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

(Col 1:21) And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

 

In Christ, verse 19, the fullness of God dwells, or the entire complement of God, all of God.  And, through Jesus, God reconciles to Himself ALL things, everywhere.  And as He does this, peace is made through the blood of the cross, peace between God and His creation (ALL THINGS).  For too many years I had blinders on and did not receive the truth that Paul was proclaiming here in these verses.  But, now the blinders are off and I see the glorious truth being proclaimed.  God will never settle for saving some, or in Paul’s words here, God will never settle for reconciling some to Himself.  No, this would never do for an almighty, loving God who said that He created everything at it was good.  Even in creations’ corruption, God still sees the good and has been executing His plan for reconciling back ALL things to Himself.  The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus has, is, and will save all mankind, AND all the rest of creation as well that needs to be saved and redeemed.  Why?  Because, it is God’s will that this happens.  How are we to be sure that Paul meant ALL THINGS?  In verse 20 Paul says that ALL will be reconciled to God, whether on earth or in heaven!

To me, and I hope to you, this passage brings an immeasurable hope fro the future of you and your loved ones.  If your Gospel lacks this inclusiveness, if it lacks even one person being ultimately reconciled to God, then the “good news” you have been proclaimed, or that you proclaim to others is not THE GOOD NEWS.  It is, in fact, terrible news, because it means that you cannot trust a word of the Bible, a word that proceeds from the mouth of God, so to speak.  Think deeply about these things and allow yourself to be transformed by the renewing of your mind with the truth of Colossians 1:15-21!

Blessings to you and love in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Craig

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A Quick Comment About Commenting

Anyone wishing to have their comments approved by me on this blog must interact directly with a post I have posted.  All comments that merely have links to other posts, are not directly interacting with words I have written, or merely want to espouse their own views without dialog concerning a post of mine, will not be approved but deleted.  This doesn’t happen very often, but it is prompted by a recent comment that I deleted.  I am not an advertising agency where other people can promote their views without meaningful interaction with my writings.

Thank you for your prayerful support!

Craig

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“New creation” Christians should never ask what Jesus would do!

No new thoughts here today from myself, but stunning truth from Martin Zender, who I am seeming to relate to more and more.  Here are some comments from him that totally resonated with me and make sense out of the Scriptures.  Martin talked about a passage from Paul’s writings, 2 Cor 5:14-17.

 

14 For the love of Christ is constraining us, judging this, that, if One died for the sake of all, consequently *all died.
15 And He died for the sake of all that *those who are living should by no means still be living to themselves, but to the One dying and being roused for their sakes.
16 So that we’, from *now on, are acquainted with not one according to flesh. Yet even if we have known Christ according to flesh, but nevertheless now we know Him so not longer.
17 So that, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the primitive passed by. Lo! there has become new!

We are no longer living for ourselves.  We have been made completely new and compare more to Jesus’ resurrected state than we do to the world’s state, flesh, what we used to be.  Verse 17 says the old has passed away (the primitive).  What is the old?  The old is the world’s system, the Israelite system, everything Old Testament and everything pertaining to Jesus’ instructions to the Jews that He came predominantly to instruct.  Think about it.  We are so self-absorbed.  And no, I am not talking mainly about the unsaved in this life. I am mainly talking about those who should know better, believers in Christ.  We Christians are so self-absorbed that all we seem to think about is how much we sin, how badly we sin, how much more we need to be like Christ in our actions, how much better we are than other believers, how much less we are than other believers, and on and on, gag me!  The more we talk about, as Martin puts it, “surrendering the self”, the more we find ourselves having to dig out our old creation from the grave it was buried in with Christ and propping it up, and then abusing the old man (who is dead) and trying to make that corpse understand how bad it is, how much it is not following Christ, etc.  News flash!:  the old man is dead and CANNOT do anything  for he is dead.  He doesn’t hear nor understand your constant instructions to do better!

If we are no longer supposed to live to ourselves, and we are not, vs. 15,  we are also not to know Christ any longer according to the flesh.  Craig, what do you mean?  I mean, we live to Christ, not self.  We live to Christ not in the flesh but in the Spirit.  Analyzing self all the time, like we are told to do in the traditional church today, is against what Paul said we should be doing.The pre-occupation with flesh goes back to the age-old problem the church has had.  The church believes that unless people’s sins (flesh and fleshly living in particular) are kept ever before the average church members’ eyes, they will forget how awful they are and simply do whatever they want to do and begin to think the church irrelevant.  They will leave the church for other things.  Then the church will not have money to pay for pastors’ salaries and buildings and you name it.  So, pastors must always preach sin rather than grace.  In all the churches I have been a part of, sin was always more prevalent than grace.  So, instead of Romans 5 and 6 ruling the day (especially “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound!), it is Satan’s stain of sin, Adam’s downfall casting all of mankind into sin and eventually eternal conscious torment in hell (which I don’t believe is true!), and then all the guilt we should feel about the fact that we are filthy sinners deserving of hell and torment, rather than new creations in Christ, enjoying the abundant grace that surrounds us at every moment.

Think more about it.  We say we stand condemned before God because we are sinners, and when we are saved do we feel any less condemned based on what you hear in church every Sunday?  Hell no!  Paul says in Romans 8:34 that Jesus is our condemner, yet He died for us, and He was resurrected for us, and He is pleading our case to the Father, and so, are we still condemned?  Hell no!  We are no longer acquainted with Christ in His flesh but in His Spirit and in His resurrection and we stand no longer condemned.  We are free in Christ to love Him more abundantly than ever.  It no longer is the desire of the Christian to align himself with the shoulds (i.e. I should follow the 10 commandments, I should go to church more, I should give more, etc.) but aligned with wants (I want to love God more because I am no longer under condemnation, and I want to love His creation more, and I want to show my love to others in Christ, and I want…).  Let me sum it all up this way.  No matter how much I may sin (though my desire to sin diminishes and really should not even be a concern), God’s grace is covering over that in such a greater way that it obliterates the sin and focuses my desire more and more on His grace and love rather than wrath that I will not experience!  Christian, quit analyzing your every behavior, which is self-focused, and focus on God’s abundant grace that comes in measures that would blow your mind!

Sorry for rambling on, and I hope this makes some semblance of sense (it sure does in my mind!).  But, as always, my comment box is open and I would sure love to hear what you have to say, questions, comments, etc., especially the newer ones coming to my blog.  Grace and peace to you!

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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Part 2 – What do you say when…

OK, back to the issue at hand.  Remember Romans 5:20, “Yet law came in by the way, that the offense should be increasing.  Yet where sin increases, grace superexceeds.”  In other versions, you may have read this verse to say where sin abounds, grace does much more abound, or something to that effect.  Let me now ask a series of questions for those who have been raised in the church and still defend the modern church business as it is.

1.  What was the purpose of the law?  (A. To increase sin Romans 5:20)

2.  Can we merit grace from God?  If so, what must we do to merit God’s grace?  (A. No, no answer because we cannot merit grace from God, meaning we cannot earn God’s grace by anything we do)

3.  Since we cannot earn God’s grace,  can we do something against people or God that would nullify God giving His grace?  What would that be?  (A.  No, we cannot nullify God’s grace.  Why?  Because where sin increases, and Paul does not say sin against whom, God’s grace superexceeds that sin.)

4.  Why does the modern church and its leaders continuously teach that we can sin against people or God and miss out on God’s grace, as if Romans 5:20 does not exist?

I think you are getting the point.  Here is what I think about NOW, versus what I used to think, which is that even the horrible sinners like Hitler and Stalin and others in recent history will receive God’s grace at a point in God’s history.  I even believe that the chief of sinners will receive God’s grace and will even tell us stories of how bad he was (oh, wait, that story has already been told by Paul in 1 Tim 1:15) that we would understand more fully how deep and wide and high God’s love and grace are!  Even if Paul does not tell this story, we will ALL find out one day how abundant God’s love and grace really are!

You see, the modern church is still hung up on the law rather than grace.  It is still about works and not grace.  No matter what any of them say, they all still rely on works (if they believe in an eternal conscious torment in hell) to keep them from hell and position them in heaven.  If they truly believed that sin isn’t the issue, but grace is (I believe Paul is trying to explain that we should not be focused on sin, ours, your, mine, whatever!), they wouldn’t try to scare people into heaven by thoughts of “hell.”  After all, what is scary about grace?  Nothing!  So many Christian leaders in the modern church MUST keep people scared and threaten them with eternal torment or else they wouldn’t do the things the modern church needs done (paying for buildings, pastor salaries, trips around the world, etc.).  If every Christian was hung up on grace, meaning they were given over to God’s grace and living in it, then there would be true unity in the Body of Christ and no need for all the materialism of the modern church.  We could simply get together with our neighbors next door and around the block and have grace-filled fellowship with them!  Wow, how cool would that be?

Anyway, I will close this now and save a little for the next article, possibly even finishing out my thoughts on Paul’s teaching of God’s grace .  Until then, may God’s grace be your focus and may your sin fade into the past, to the back of your mind and thoughts.  Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

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What Do You Say When…

What do you say when someone quotes Romans 5:21, “Yet law came in by the way, that the offense should be increasing.  Yet, where since increases, grace superexceeds.”?  Do you truly believe what Paul wrote there?  If you say you believe it, does the belief only exist in your mind, or does it actually come out in your life actions?

My first question when I read this text years ago was this:  If grace increases when we sin, why not go out and sin a lot so we could see the grace of God in huge measure?  Under it all, I knew from my being raised in the church for a number of years, that sin was bad and there has to be something to deny this text, something to refute it.  And then I read into Romans 6 and was relieved to find the refutation for this dilemma.  In Romans 6:1-2 Paul says, “What, then, shall we declare?  that we may be persisting in sin that grace should be increasing?  May it not be coming to that!”

Have you ever had anyone ask the question from Romans 6:1?  I haven’t.  If anyone would, they would certainly be swiftly brought through the rest of the text without thinking, to stomp out the thought that we should sin that grace increase.  We would (and I have with some!) immediately scare them with the thought of what the wages of sin are (death) and that death includes eternal torment in hell forever if you don’t accept Jesus as your personal Savior and give up sinning as much as you possibly can!

But, the fact of the matter is still, where there is much sin, there is much, much, much more grace than we could imagine from God!  If I would have ever told my parents that Iwas sinning so grace could superexceed or super abound over that sin, I would have been shown what more sin really brings (pain in the backside!).  The problem for Christians is this; Romans 6:1-2 does not negate the FACT of Romans 5:21.  Does Romans 6:1-2 actually say that where sin excels, grace does not exceed it abundantly?  NO!

Since I want to split my thoughts on this topic into several posts, I will leave it to you the reader:  How do you answer these texts?  Does Romans 6 cancel Romans 5?  For Christians, should we sin for grace to abound?  Why or why not?  Does Paul go on in the succeeding texts promote legalism or grace?  Let’s talk about this over the next few posts.  I look forward to your thoughts.  There is an understanding of this text that is both biblical and stunning and I will reveal my thoughts and beliefs on these texts soon.  My view will shock the average Christian, but, I caution you to take it very slow and think before you jump to using the H-word (heretic)!  Until next time, keep the comments flowing as we dialog to find the truth.

In Christ’s love,

Craig

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Most Christians Deny the Power of God

4 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, 2 preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and instruction. 3 For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound teaching, but in accordance with their own desires, they will accumulate for themselves teachers, ⌊because they have an insatiable curiosity⌋, 4 and they will turn away from the hearing of the truth, but will turn to myths.  (2 Tim 4:1-4, LEB)

I have preached this text a number of times over 15 years of pastoring churches and preaching sermons.  In the beginning it was more toward those who spoke of a call to the preaching ministry (being a pastor as they call it).  I exhorted those men to always be ready to preach, never turn down an opportunity.  I also taught those same men to preach the whole counsel of God (the whole Bible, not just pet doctrines or passages) and not only the easy passages.  In these “last days”, I taught, people won’t want to hear the truth and will only follow after those they agree with.  They will even try to get rid of you as a pastor if you don’t preach what the congregation wants to hear (boy, did I verify the truth of that statement in my own ministry!!!).  The people in church, you know, the Christians, will even begin following after the likes of Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyers, the feel good preachers of health and wealth.  The only way to combat this was to keep preaching the truth and God will change their minds when He is ready.  But, we pastors should not “go easy” on them but keep telling the Christians the hard truths, like turn from your sin and false teaching or burn in hell forever.

Well, here is my truth statement:  Most Christians deny the power of God!

Listen to what Paul says in 2 Tim 3:1-5:

3 But know this, that in the last days difficult times will come, 2 for people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 hardhearted, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, savage, with no interest for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God, 5 maintaining a form of godliness, but denying its power.  (2 Tim 3:1-5, LEB)

As I have been misled and deceived by one church leader after another , this list of Paul’s truly showed me that this is an apt description of many Christians today, not just people outside the church.  As I have been thinking lately, something struck me hard, right between the eyes, as they say.  Most Christians deny the power of God.  How, you ask?  Most Christians are trying to maintain a form of godliness, following the laws laid down before them (the 10 commandments, the by-laws of the church they are members of, membership rules, any other legalistic do’s and don’t’s church leaders can come up with).  And, on the outside they look and feel like godly people.  They look good, smell good, but they still deny God’s power.  Again, how, you ask?

They deny God’s power by saying or believing that God is not able to save all mankind (all people who have ever lived, past, present, and future).  They say that God is loving yet most of mankind will be consigned to an “eternal hell!”  They say that God is omnipotent (all-powerful) yet He can’t stop people from going to an “eternal hell,” forever separated from God and His loving presence.  My God is capable of saving all mankind and in fact will save all mankind because His Word says so.  Take a look at 1 Tim 4:10 for yourself (10 For to this end we labor and suffer reproach, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.)  This is one of many verses supporting my claim, that God will save all His creation, including all His people, you know, His image-bearers.  Your challenge today, is to comment and ask me to supply you with further evidence of my claim.  Should you  accept my challenge, you may come to an understanding that the reason my theology changed was due to overwhelming evidence contrary to what I had been taught for so many years.

Let me know your thoughts on this statement and the supporting verses!

God’s blessings to you and His peace to you as well!

Craig

 

 

 

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