R.I.P.

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Rest In Peace…

There have been an abundance of celebrity deaths this year and it is those deaths that cause people to consider life and death.  Most recently we’ve seen George Michael and Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame, a day later Debbie Reynolds the mother of Carrie Fisher died.  This past year has included Prince, David Bowie, John Glenn a total of 72 celebrity deaths in 2016.  Even more shocking is that every year 55.3 million people die.  That’s 151,600 per day and 6316 every hour.

None of us will escape death.  It is as inevitable as taxes right?

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment… Hebrews 9:27

It is my assertion that most people are practical “Universalists”.   In other words, most people believe that almost nobody will go to a place like Hell and be punished for their sins.  That’s why so many people say “rest in peace”.  It doesn’t really matter that a person’s lifestyle and testimony of life completely contradict biblical theology.  It doesn’t matter that they lived in complete rebellion to their Creator.  I won’t pick out any of the above named celebrities but I’m not aware that any of them professed Christianity and even among professed Christians Jesus said few will find life.

What does it mean to find peace?

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:14

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  – Isaiah 9:6

This all seems pretty straight forward and easy to understand in fact as we are working our way through the holiday season it’s almost guaranteed you had one of these verses on a Christmas card.  We all desire peace don’t we?  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can only be found where there is peace in the land and so we must consider if Jesus accomplished His mission and it doesn’t seem like He did.

Where did Jesus go wrong?

If He is the Prince of Peace and He is to bring peace how do we reconcile this?  Did you notice that in Luke 2 it says that He is going to bring peace to those whom He is pleased?  This forces a deeper question…  How can one please God?

Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 

If God must be pleased in order for us to have peace then we must understand the difference between the flesh and the Spirit.    God’s word tells us that the natural man cannot receive the things of God for they are foolishness to him and that by nature we are children of wrath dead in our sins and trespasses…  We see a difference in the relationship between the type of a person that can please God and the natural man who is in the flesh that cannot please God.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. – Romans 8:6-7  

It is the Spirit that gives life and it is the Spirit living in us through Christ that causes us to be accepted by God and for God to be pleased.  Through no work of our own, but only through the work of Christ on the cross.  This is the imputation of God’s goodness to the sinner.  The transfer of His righteousness on our behalf.  Not that we are made righteous, but legally we are declared as we should before the Father.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. –  Romans 8:9-10

What an incredible statement of what Christ accomplished on the cross for those that will believe upon His name.  You can have peace with God through Christ and the Spirit indwelling your heart.  Now we can please God.  Now we can be accepted by God through faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

By faith and faith alone only can we please God and by pleasing God through faith we can now have peace.  We have peace with God, we have peace in our hearts, we have peace with as many around us as will live at peace with us.  As far as is up to us we will live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18).

But it’s not always up to us is it?  And actually the problem with peace comes when you proclaim a truth to those that don’t want to hear it.  This is an attempt to make peace but it’s an attempt to make peace between man and God.  These two things don’t mix and when the gospel is presented it often brings conflict.  Peacemakers are more concerned about others relationship with God than they are about the relationship with other men.  And persecution is sure to follow.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword. – Matthew 10:34

This really messes things up doesn’t it?  Or does it?

The Sword of the Word divides.  It brings conviction and it brings truth, it shines light in a dark place.  It breaks up hard ground in some cases but this is not good news to sinful ears.  This is what Jesus meant.  His doctrine would divide people.  Even those of a household.

There is only one way to rest in peace.  And that comes at a high cost.  It can cost our lifestyle.  It can cost our family.  It can cost our job.  It can even cost our life.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.  – Matthew 16:25-27

What’s it worth to you?  Is Christ worth giving it all up?  I can’t answer that question for you but I do ask you to answer that question for yourself.  Because ten out of ten people die.  The odds are 100%.  And it is appointed once for you to die and then the judgment.

Are you ready?

Will you rest in peace?

 

Kevin

Spring…

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For a few short days in the spring, our little piece of the earth is alive with color and beauty. The colors are vibrant, the grass is lush, and the fragrance that fills the air is sweet. But it never last long…

Each and every year this is the pattern…

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth: The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. – Song of Solomon 2:11-12

It’s short, just like life…

We know the truth of this, yet in our lives we don’t always see it, because we are often caught up in the mundane aspects of life.

As I considered my yard the other day, I wanted to take some pictures to remember it, the grass looks as close to perfect as I can get it, but there are things you can’t see. And there are things there that I can’t see.

Lurking under the ground were moles (I think they are now gone), and popping up are dandelions and weeds. These are representative of sin. All believer’s have sin (1 John 1:8), but it’s also true that all believer’s have the Holy Spirit of God and have the ability to conquer sin (Romans 6).

Our lives are like our yards and if we don’t constantly attend to them, like a gardener protects his garden, then the ugliness begins to take over. The dandelions spread and in one or two seasons your yard is full of them.

So for the believer, to flourish, he must attend to and have attended to his yard, by the word of God (Hebrews 4:12), fellowship with the saints (Acts 2:42), and exhortation through the preaching of God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:13). God has given us certain privileges and gifts (1 Timothy 4:14). He has provided Pastor’s and teacher’s (Ephesians 4:11-12 that watch out for the flock (Acts 20:28) and teach the truth of Scripture (2 Timothy 1:13). He has provided the love and fellowship of other saints and He has told us to not forsake gathering together (Hebrews 10:25).

Lazy gardeners will allow their responsibility to relax, and they will skip every once in a while, because it’s just more convenient. We also have the pragmatist who will attend Saturday evening so they can go to their kids sporting events, rather than gather on the one day a week God has ordained (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). In fact we call it the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10), doesn’t that tell us something?

The Christian life is one of commitment and responsibility, but it is filled with tremendous joy. It is not for those that desire ease and comfort.

I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34

If you’ve become lazy in your responsibilities as a Christian and yes I mean you have responsibilities. Then repent and turn from your sin, or better yet, examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5) to see if you are truly in the faith. There are no short cuts in Christianity. It’s a narrow and difficult path that leads to life, not a smooth easy highway (Matthew 7:13-14).

Kevin

Is church membership Biblical?

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Recently I wrote about some friends that had left our church.  I continue wondering why, mostly knowing the answer, but have come to the conclusion they were not willing to pursue church membership and felt some pressure to do so.  The pressure didn’t come from a desire to have them under a thumb or somehow repress their freedoms, although they might believe that.  No, I believe the desire for membership came out of a biblical call to be under authority and willingly submit to church leadership.  I’ve written about this subject once before so I won’t rehash but here is the article authority, obey, submit

Many people want church to be a part of their life, at least on Sunday, and then they want their own life, their independence and freedom to do as they please when they please.  The author of Hebrews tells us this is unprofitable for them (Hebrews 13:17).

Why would it be unprofitable for them?  People really get upset when their lifestyle is being challenged, especially when they are very honorable, lovely and exceptionally moral people.  Possibly and probably they are saved.  It really comes down to one of two things.  They either are saved and in rebellion to God’s Word or they are not saved.  I’ve tried to figure out some middle ground so I could think “good” thoughts, but I don’t see it any other way.  Biblically I mean.  This is why it’s unprofitable, whether unsaved or in rebellion, neither is a good place to be.

The simple act of rebellion certainly calls me to consider their salvation.  Disclaimer: I don’t determine salvation.  God will do His good pleasure and He may use this circumstance to do remarkable work in someone.  That’s not my call, but if an apple tree produces thorns, it’s not an apple tree.  So I must challenge them, in love, to consider their testimony.

I’ve recently commented on another blog that I follow, and really like, about church membership.  I see lots of people calling it things that I don’t believe it is.  I believe God designed us to be in fellowship and He clearly calls us to be under the authority of the church.   Not to oppress us but to free us and to protect us.

Below are two well respected pastors that are of like mind.  These are both short and very powerful.  If you are struggling in this area, consider how God will work in your life when you willingly submit to His will.

Alan Cairns – Is church membership Biblical?

John MacArthur – Importance of church membership 

Kevin