Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Telling It Like It Is...Jesus Style!

I can't count the number of Christians who were raised to believe that it is wrong to point out false teachings and other kinds of evil, let alone to name who these false teachers are!  When I attended Bible college and seminary I chose theology as my major for a reason...to know how to find the truth in scripture! Does the Bible teach that Jesus was never harsh with anyone? Is this what we read in the scriptures? Many tell me that Jesus never spoke a harsh word to anyone. I've spoken  to pastors and elders who hold themselves in such high regard that to tell them they are wrong is blasphemy! They hold their congregations in absolute fear by their false teaching. They are guilty of what Jesus said the Pharisees were guilty of...shutting out heaven for men and placing the heavy yoke of false guilt upon the shoulders of those they are to serve..not LORD OVER!

The title of this post is taken from the very act our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, did when speaking to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Let’s take a Scriptural look at a side of Jesus that most Christians will not believe, even when they see Him in their own Bibles.

Who were the Scribes and Pharisees?
The Pharisees were not the priests, but rather a religious political party who were very pious and strict keepers of the Law of Moses. They constantly adjusted the Law to fit the changing world according to their traditions and own desires. Among the more educated of the Pharisees were the Scribes, the rulers of the Jews:
"In the modern sense they [the Scribes] were the religious scholars or theologians … sometimes called lawyers … or teachers of the law …could make judicial decisions based on Scriptural exegesis, occupied important positions in the Sanhedrin … played a major role in bringing on the crucifixion of Jesus" and they "mainly belonged to the party of the Pharisees" (WYCLIFFE Bible Dictionary, p. 1536).

Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees "fools, hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchers, murderers, a generation of snakes," and many such epithets. Jesus called them "hypocrites" seven times in one chapter. He spoke with scathing derision to the Scribes and Pharisees throughout His ministry; very few of them received a kind word from Him.

And yet many Christians and unbelievers tell me that Jesus never spoke like this or ever said a cruel or angry word in His life. Therefore when I sometimes write with an edge, I am accused of not following the example of Jesus. Oh but Jesus surely did speak harshly, demeaningly, and with great anger in His voice to the Scribes and Pharisees—the religious leaders of the day. Jesus was not mild and soft-spoken when it came to the sins and hypocrisy of these religious leaders. Too many Christians have read the teachings of Jesus with rose-colored glasses covering both their eyes and their minds.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples…?" Jesus didn’t softly answer their question, rather He retorted back with, "Why do YOU…?" Jesus was never on the defensive, but always on the offensive. Using the vernacular, He was "IN THEIR FACE!"
Do any believe Jesus was referencing farm animals when He said not to cast pearls or give what is holy to "the DOGS and PIGS?"

Jesus referred to the recalcitrant Jewish leaders as, "an EVIL and ADULTEROUS generation," "SERPENTS and SNAKES," and "children of the DEVIL." Why He even told the Scribes and Pharisees regarding the royal and mighty King Herod: "Go ye, and tell that FOX [that JACKAL]…"

JESUS UPBRAIDS THE CHURCH LEADERS
There are many examples of Jesus upbraiding the religious leaders for their gross sins [selections from Matthew 23]:
"But WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… FOR YOU SHUT UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AGAINST MEN…
…THEY BIND HEAVY BURDENS and GRIEVOUS to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but will not move them with ONE OF THEIR FINGERS
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… you DEVOUR WIDOW’S HOUSES… you shall receive the greater damnation.
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES…
WOE unto you, ye BLIND GUIDES…
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! You… have omitted… JUDGMENT, MERCY, and FAITH…
You BLIND GUIDES, which strain out a gnat, and SWALLOW A CAMEL.
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES… within they are full of EXTORTION (fear mongering) AND EXCESS.
You BLIND PHARISEES…
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! You are FULL OF DEAD MEN’S BONES, and ALL UNCLEANESS… and HYPOCRISY and INIQUITY…
WOE unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES!… you are the children of them which KILLED the prophets. FILL YOU UP then the measure of your fathers.
You SERPENTS, you GENERATION OF SNAKES… you KILL AND CRUCIFY… you SCOURGE in your synagogues… Behold your house is left unto you DESOLATE"!!

WOW! Every one of these comments from Matt. 23 were spoken directly to the "Religious Scholars and Theologians" centered at the Temple in Jerusalem. Would Jesus speak in the same manner to the Religious Scholars and Theologians in God’s Church today? YES! Especially those who exchange the gospel of GRACE through FAITH for a WORKS, WRONGFUL SUBMISSION, and DEEDS for redemption gospel! You see the real truth is that Grace through Faith in a living gospel unctions us to good deeds because of our great love for our God who reached down to sinful man and calls us righteous who believe on Him! That AWESOME ALL-POWERFUL GOD who seals us by His Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. Does Jesus "change"? NO. Has the Church changed in the past 2000 years? YES. In some cases it has gotten WORSE as there are ABUSE churches which teach a phobic gospe! They could not hold a congregation in any other way except by placing a yoke of guilt and fear on their backs!

In the scriptures, Jesus many, many times had serious confrontations with the religious leaders of his time.  In fact it was the religious leaders who ultimately called for his death.  (As mostly is the case......same is true for today)  All through His life, they were waiting for the right moment.

                            “…For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him,
                                 because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God
                                 His own Father, making Himself equal with God.  John 5:18

                                “Some therefore of Jerusalem said, Is not this He who they
                                 seek to kill?  And lo, He speaks openly, and they say nothing
                                 to Him…”  John 7:25-26

                                 “And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might
                                  put Him to death; for they feared the people.  Luke 22:2

                                 “Now after two days was the feast of the Passover and the
                                  unleavened bread: and the chief priests and scribes sought
                                 how they might take Him with subtlety and kill Him…” Mark 14:1

                                 “But the Pharisees went out, and took counsel against Him,
                                  how they might destroy Him  Matt12:14

                                 “So from that day forth, they (the chief priests and Pharisees
                                 and council) took counsel that they might put Him to death.  John 11:53.


Yes, Jesus did indeed call the religious leaders of His day "whited sepulchers", "fools", "blind guides", "hypocrites",  "serpents", "murderers", "a generation of vipers," and many such names. Jesus spoke this way to the religious leaders throughout His ministry.  He virtually had nothing nice to say about them.  But yet still today there are many in the church today who say that Jesus would never have spoken this way. The Old and New Testament are filled with warnings about listening to and being guided by FOOLS! Men who have their own religious agenda at heart, not the true faith involved in the the gospel message, and not the well-being of their congregation or family.

You know as well as I, that if Jesus were to return today, there are cultic fear-mongering churches who would NOT hire Him to be their “Pastor”. Not one!  And why is that?  Because the FOOLISH prize their POWER to CONTROL! They do not want to hear the truth.  They believe they are outstanding men of the church who deserve to be followed. The only gospel they have is the gospel of WORKS FOR SALVATION and SUBMISSION TO THEIR MISAPPROPRIATED AUTHORITY! You see Christian the only real power we have comes from submitting ourselves to God, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life, and to one another.

The scriptures speak of things getting worse and worse, and if you read carefully, it’s not talking about just the world, but the church and the leaders in the church!

To be sure, when it came to the common people, Jesus was the "Humble Servant.” His ministry to them was marked with compassion.  He “was moved with compassion for them.”
He gave the gospel to them.
He fed them.
He healed them.
He wept with them.
He spoke gently and mildly to them.  “Martha, Martha,"………"Simon, Simon."
He identified with the people and knew many were distressed, as sheep not having a shepherd.
When it came to the common people, Jesus ministered to them in meekness and gentleness, as His words showed.  But when it came to those in the church; when it came to the “great ones”; when it came to the church leaders and so-called experts in the law, something changed. His ways, His mannerisms, His countenance, His words “EXPLODED.”

In all of His confrontations with the church leaders, you could see the difference in His whole attitude, especially in His words.  Jesus was exposing their evils. He was exposing their false teachings and hypocrisy like no one ever did before.  And in so doing, many others were starting to “see the light.”
His words were as the voice of a trumpet sounding a clarion call to the faithful to stand for truth and not accept the yoke of religious bondage again.

Likewise today, there is much evil lurking in many churches and in those in positions of “church leadership.” The unbiblical authoritarianism and spiritual abuse within the ranks of the so-called “eldership” is rampant.
The hijacking of true and loving shepherding principles within the church and marriages by these wolves in sheep’s clothing resulting in the destruction of many lives is evil beyond words.  To speak of these atrocities in anything less than an angry, forceful tone would be almost impossible.  Anger doesn't have to be sin, just like God’s anger that is mentioned probably hundreds of times in the scriptures, is not sin.

The time is passed to express a righteous anger at what is going on with these wicked shepherds who are killing the message of grace through faith and holding God's flock for ransom because their own egocentric lust for power. The time has come for true believers to express a righteous indignation at these spiritual  monsters who deliver their poisonous and blasphemous theology to so many unsuspecting souls, parents, and innocent children... men who make submission to immature and cruel authority the ultimate guide for redemption. Those who wickedly elevate men in a position of authority in their homes to lord over those in their care rather than shepherd by Godly example.

As these words are being typed, there are many WHO KNOW what is going on. They can see it ruining the faith of those in their churches, their marriages, their family life, and wreaking havoc on a gospel of love and grace.  As this is being typed, there are those in the church today who would readily stand up and say “NO” to the spiritual bullies and to flee from them and to deny them their control over them! Yet, for some, they also know that to do this would only invite persecution, shunning, and a living death within their own families who must disown them because of poor theology...so they remain in yoke of bondage.

But wouldn't you rather suffer for the truth than to deny the real gospel? Many choose serving their spiritual bullies, thinking all the while they are serving their Lord. Some also think that it’s wrong to name these people. They call it “spreading evil” or "trying to restrict this evil to only certain individuals and places."  And what do the Scriptures say of this anyway? Look through the letters of the Apostle Paul.  Many times he mentions specific individuals by name:

                               Galatians 2:11ff  “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him
                               to his face, because he was to be blamed……and I said to Peter before them all….”

                              1 Timothy 1;19ff  “…which some made ship wreck concerning the faith,
                              of whom are Hymeneus and Alexander…..”

                              2 Timothy 2:17ff  “…and their word will have growth like gangrene – of
                              whom is Hymeneus and Philetus, who missed the mark concerning the truth…”

                              2 Timothy 4:10 “…for Demas deserted me, loving the present age…”

                              2 Timothy 4:14-15  “Alexander the coppersmith showed many
                              evil things to me.  The Lord will give to him according to his works.
                              You also guard against him, for he greatly resisted our words.”

In 3 John verse 9, John named Diotrephes as one who does not receive the brothers, but removes him out of the assembly.

Jude exposes the errors of Balaam in verse 11.

In Revelation Chapter 2, twice the Nicolaitans are singled out and the warning is given concerning their wrong motives for works and their teaching.

And there are many more from the Old Testament too!

We are living in a day when false teachers and their dastardly deeds abound.  A faithful messenger will warn those in the churches.  They will identify these churches by name, as well as their "leaders," calling a spade a spade. Just like the Lord Jesus did; just like the Apostle Paul did, and others as well.

Fear-mongering kills real faith! Submission to bad authority only brings misery and pain. The real answer to truly living out your faith is through grace and the recognition that it is all about HIM not us. He did it all so that we could have fellowship with the living God of creation, the King of Kings who laid down his life as the Good Shepherd so that we, through faith, might know Him and the power of His resurrection. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, the same Spirit that was in creation now takes up residency in those who believe in the finished work of the cross. Praise you Lord Jesus! To you alone be all honor and glory AMEN!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Does Forgiveness Mean I Have To Go Back?

"So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."    (Luke 17:3-4, NIV)  

Luke 17:4 tells us to forgive a transgressor if he repents and asks for forgiveness. I'm sorry does not qualify as repentance...let me repeat that-I am sorry does not qualify as repentance! Repentance can become confusing in domestic violence, because repeated pleas for forgiveness followed by broken promises are often a part of the pattern of manipulation, control, and denial. Does forgiveness mean we must endure repeated abuse by our so-called covenant partner? NO! Does it mean a victim must return to an abusive relationship? NO! 

Forgiveness means "to cease to feel resentment against; to grant relief from payment." 

Some people have described forgiveness as:Inwardly letting go of the issue or not desiring to punish or extract payment from the transgressor leaving God to deal with this person, as He certainly will, however forgiveness does not mean that consequences will be forgotten. In fact, the Word of God promises us that we will reap the consequences of sin on this earth...i.e. abuse means most likely you will be losing your marriage. Your abuser is to reap the consequences what he or she has sown...more than they have sown and later than they have sown. It would be a very, very long time before you could trust an abuser who shows no real remorse. I am sorry I hurt you does not qualify as remorse, especially if the abuse is repeated.

If we look at forgiveness this way, we see that forgiveness is not the same thing as trusting someone and resuming a relationship with them, which is reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24).

Turning to Webster's dictionary, we see that reconciliation means "restore to friendship, harmony, or communion; adjust or settle; to accept." We don't accept sin from others, we are to rebuke it (Luke 17:3) and to try to correct it (Galatians 6:1).

Correction of a sin sets the stage for restoring a relationship. If correction does not take place, it is appropriate to limit or stop completely your association with a person who willfully persists in sinning against you:

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; an if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."   (Matthew 18:15-17, NIV)

Some of you cannot even go to your pastor or church with your abuse problem because your pastor or church has falsely believed that no matter what your spouse does you must stay within the confines of a broken covenant marriage relationship even at your own peril.

Wrong!

Jesus, David, and Paul all left dangerous situations rather than allowing themselves to be abused by people who were out to harm them (see Luke 4:28-30 9:23-25; Acts 9:23-25 14:5-6; 1 Samuel 20:30-34,42). In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus taught that we should stay away from those who persist in abusing us, after we have made an effort to resolve the situation.


Repentance is not the same as being sorry or making promises. John the Baptist, in preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins, emphasized that repentance must be accompanied by righteous actions (Luke 3:3,8-14). He specifically said that manipulation, coercion, blaming, and false accusations (so common in domestic violence) must cease. Repentance that is true and godly is recognized by the actions ("fruit") that result from it (Luke 3:8). Jesus also used the concept of fruit when He taught that actions reveal what is in the heart (Matthew 7:16-20). True, heartfelt repentance is proven by actions over a long period of time. No fruits of repentance shown means that no repentance truly exists.

Read this by Pastor Jeff Crippen on real repentance:
http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/repentance-and-abuse-real-repentance-bears-fruit-by-jeff-crippen/

We have heard of pastors who tell abuse victims that they must regard their abuser as being a Christian, even though the abuser shows no repentance and his life is characterized by habitual evil.  Being baptized or having said a prayer to accept Christ or being a church member does not make anyone a Christian.  If it did, then the Bible would have pronounced Esau to be a most eminent saint.  Instead, this is what we read about Esau -
Hebrews 12:15-17  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
And is this not the very thing that so many of our readers have seen and had their fill of in the case of their abuser who claims to be a Christian?  Sexual immorality, despising of the grace of God, yet seeking, even with zeal and tears, to be pronounced by God and everyone else to be a true Christian?  Such actions alone only qualify a man to be an Esau and nothing more.   So let’s not be deceived by a counterfeit repentance that bears only rotten fruit.

See you next blog,
Ted

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What Is The Difference Between True Repentance and Temporary Regret

Forgiveness is essential in bringing about changes in attitude, and bringing you real peace. Forgiveness can transform a bitter, angry heart into one that loves as Jesus loves. Forgiveness takes away the power of those over you who abuse you verbally, physically, or use you without cause. However that does not entitle the offender in your relationship to freedom from consequences for their bad behavior, especially in cases of physical and mental abuse. Real repentance is required before trust can even begin. So what constitutes real repentance?

In the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, there were two men who were sorry for their actions—Peter and Judas.  Peter truly loved Jesus and boasted that he would even die for him if necessary.  However, when Jesus was arrested and taken to the house of the high priest for a trial based on trumped-up charges, Peter’s resolve crumbled at the first taunt from a servant girl who recognized him as one of Jesus’ followers.  Peter boasted a bit too loudly and trusted in his own strength to get him out of difficult situations.  When he came face to face with real trouble, Peter found himself weak and unfaithful.  Have you ever been there? I have!
Jesus warned him to expect rough times ahead, and even predicted that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed at the dawn of the next morning. The first time Peter denied Jesus he should have recognized that he had fallen for Satan’s trap.  But reckless and impulsive Peter continued to lie and protect his own self-interests as he was backed into a corner Ask yourself as I have, How many corners have  I lied and manipulated my way out of? Answer: OhMyGOSH a bunch!!!
The second denial was a more willful and deliberate sin than the first since the denial was accompanied by an oath—calling on God to be a witness to the truth of his testimony.  The second denial compounded the lie with blasphemy, and in the third denial he added cursing and swearing. Cursing and swearing was not the same as our four-letter words which are commonly used today.  To curse meant to assign a curse on himself that he would die at God’s hands if his words were untrue.
Peter had really dug himself into a deep hole of deceit and hypocrisy.  When the rooster crowed the second time, Jesus turned and looked into Peter’s eyes. Right then and there, Peter remembered Jesus’ prediction, and was so ashamed that he ran out and wept bitterly.
Judas was also a trusted disciple of Jesus who acted as the treasurer of the group.   Jesus predicted his behavior in the upper room during his last Passover feast with the disciples.  Judas did not boast like Peter about his love for Jesus.  Instead, he hid his evil heart and concealed his true character from the others.  He had already conspired to betray Jesus before sitting down to the table with him, and his greed for the 30 pieces of silver revealed a heart of evil and rationalization. 
Judas may have thought he could keep his money while Jesus escaped arrest and trial just as he had in the past.  He may have convinced himself that if Jesus was really the Messiah, his betrayal would have no serious or lasting consequences.
Judas had allowed Satan easy access to his heart as he began stealing from the disciples’ treasury.  Bit by bit, he resisted truth and embraced a lie until he was able to rationalize his actions and retain his respectability while perpetrating evil right under the noses of his fellow believers.  Even when Jesus indicated to the disciples that one of them would betray him, no one suspected Judas.  Do you know church leaders who lie and get away with malicious evil because no one believes they could possibly be guilty of evil intentions or actions? 
When Judas saw the consequences of his sin, he experienced guilt and tried to offer restitution by giving back the 30 pieces of silver.  He confessed his crime and affirmed Jesus’ innocence.  The scriptures even say Judas “repented.” But the Greek word used for Judas’ repentance meant “deep regret.”  It was not the usual Greek word for being truly sorry, hating the sin,  and refusing to get involved in that particular sin again.  Judas hated the consequences and feelings of guilt, but not the sin itself.  Peter demonstrated his character by instant repentance while Judas simply wanted to get past the guilty feelings. You see, repentance takes a drastic and deliberate heart change! Let me repeat that...it takes a drastic and deliberate heart change!
In his book, “The Murder of Jesus,”  John MacArthur writes, “Tears of repentance can in no way atone for sins.  But genuine sorrow is nonetheless an important sign of true repentance, signifying that a change of mind and heart have truly taken place.  Not all sorrow signifies true repentance, however.  Judas was remorseful over what he had done and tried to return the blood money to the ruling priests.  His guilt over what he had done finally even motivated him to go out and kill himself.  But that kind of sorrow is a worldly sorrow that only leads to death.  It may involve sincere remorse over the consequences of one’s sin—regret over the loss of prestige or friends or influence.  But it reflects no true change of heart, and thus no true grief over the sin itself.
Peter’s sorrow was of a different sort.  It was the deepest possible sorrow of heart—mingled with shame over his sinful behavior, hatred of the sin itself, and a desperate longing to be restored to a right relationship with Christ.”
This depiction of Peter’s repentance is a model for all relationships, especially in an abusive marriage where the sincerity of an abuser’s repentance is being evaluated.  Does he/she:
  • admit to all that they are in a relationship with that their abusive behavior is a sin and refrain from blaming someone else for their actions?
  • feel ashamed for the sinful behavior and no longer feel compelled to manipulate the situation?
  • hate the sin itself so much that they will get accountable, continuous help to keep from repeating it?
  • have a truly desperate longing to restore their relationship to Christ first and then their family?
When someone has this kind of true repentance, God steps in to redeem them from their worst failures and restore their lives and homes.  John MacArthur writes, “He drew them back, forgave them, commissioned them for service, and empowered them to succeed where they had once failed so miserably.”
When you have suffered at the hand of another person, it may be hard to determine whether or not they are sincerely sorry.  It is right to be cautious and to question their motives when they say they’re sorry.  However, if you see true repentance, based on the model above, be aware that God’s grace and mercy is at work in their lives.  As you allow His mercy to flow through you toward the offender, you will facilitate the first step toward restoration and reconciliation.


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