Think About It: Resurrection is Impossible Without Death

As the prophets of old before Him, Christ promised that He would rise from the dead. That is a celebrative and uplifting promise. However, the truth is, He also predicted His death. His death was the worst of all deaths because His death was a ransom for the sins of the world. He died swathed in the unmitigated wrath of God’s righteousness. Imbedded In every claim or promise regarding His glorious resurrection is the face of death; the fulfillment of His resurrection is pedestaled upon the darkness of death.

This truth of experiencing the resurrection is also true spiritually for Christians. Christians surely want to walk in and experience the power of the resurrection of Christ, but seldom do we feel an equal desire to die with Christ.

Christ’s embracement of the resurrection meant equally embracing His death, and the same is true for us. Resurrection without death is impossible!

Christ called us to die before we could live. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).

Paul reminds us that in this life, dying to self is not a one-time experience because the flesh is enlivened by the things of this world. He said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

His prayer was an example of wanting to walk in the fullness of our Lord Jesus. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).

Praying for resurrection power and life without embracing dying to self and being conformed to Christ’s death is simply another deceptive attempt at living for Christ from the energy of positive thinking, a tawdry imitation of the Christian life.

Praying Against Bitterness

Oh Lord please, I beseech you, guard my heart, and mind. Guard them from pondering ingratitude, betrayals, arrogant religious talk, and others’ self-righteousness lest I become what you loathe. For to ponder such can only lead to dying from within as the root of bitterness’s fecundity produces growth that chokes the Word in my life and makes repentance seem so distant and hard, producing ungodly talk and self-defense.

Please dear Lord, let my thoughts be spent not upon such that leads to bitterness. Rather may my meditations hover in the rays of your grace and love, which leads to praising you and walking with you. May bitterness be overcome with blessing and anger with thanksgiving. May hurts from others be subdued by my contemplation upon your undeserved goodness to me each and every day.

I pray the very same for those whom I hurt through my own thoughtlessness and insensitivity. Grant them not to be tempted by my failures, but only by your grace drawn more closely to you.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

 

Think About IT: The Greatness of Great Loyalty

Great loyalty stands as a beacon of life and is most clear in the storms of disloyalty.

Ordinary loyalty is characteristic of the many and the good times, but Great loyalty alone survives and shines during the dark tempest of disloyalty of the many. For it is in the gales of disloyalty by those in whom you placed your trust that the genuine loyalty of nobles rescues you from an avalanche of the despair of isolation, loss of camaraderie, and support unleashed by the disloyalist.

If not for Great loyalist’s doughtiness in the face of the disloyalty of the ordinary, one would stumble headlong into the tomb of impenetrable loneliness.

Our Lord Jesus knows the pain of disloyalty. “And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me” (Matthew 26:23).

Yet, he is the quintessence of Great loyalty, for he said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

May our lives reflect toward others the Great loyalty of our Lord Jesus rather than the ordinary loyalty of Judas.

Think About IT: The Bondage of Want

Christians must always remember whom we are to love and what we are to like.

The difficulty in giving up the comforts of this life should remind Christians to be modest in our acquisitions of them, lest we find ourselves choosing financial bondage rather than separating from them.

Extra comforts and opportunities in this life can be a blessing indeed, but if one’s heart is unguarded, what begins as an extra blessing can soon be possessed as a strong emotional narcotic, which is only overcome by a degrading and destructive financial collapse.

Seeing physical blessings as temporary blessings can safeguard against our propensity to become so accustomed to their presence that we shun willful uncoupling from them until they are forcibly taken.

Modest acquisitions safeguard against future deprivation.

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

The Need to Equip the Saints

When Christians experience prolonged infancy and satisfaction with milk beyond normal infancy, they will have an immature and incomplete Christian worldview, which inevitably results in them advocating ideas that are merely human wisdom. George Barna’s research revealed, “Only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview…. [Those labeled] ‘born again Christians,’ the study discovered that they were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. However, that meant that even among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) had such an outlook on life.”[1] I would add to this that what Barna requires to be considered as one who has a biblical worldview is not by any measure demanding, but is in my opinion quite minimal.[2]

This dismal state of affairs is even more reason to return to an equipping model of the local church. If Christians do not have even a rudimentary understanding of Christianity, how can they communicate Christianity to a lost world, and how can they make biblical decisions in an ever-increasingly secular environment? If the shepherds themselves do not study deeply, they are utterly ill equipped to handle the task of engaging a hostile world.

They also are incapable of training those under their watch care beyond the most blatantly obvious truths of Scripture, which, when learned alone, are well suited for being reduced to clichés and the preferred diet of milkoholics (Christians who like to remain spiritually immature).

Man’s wisdom is not merely somewhat ineffective or unhelpful; it is as useless as a ship with no hull. Paul said, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless” (1 Corinthians 3:20). The consideration of what works in building the local church should always be evaluated by asking if it is human wisdom or divine wisdom as revealed in Scripture. If it is human, despite accolades received by the carnal, it is useless in building the temple of God regardless how fast or large the church grows.


[1] Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years, http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years.
[2] A “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn his way into heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In Barna’s research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.

Calvinism’s View of the Origin of Sin and God’s Offer of Salvation

Calvinists believe that man is free to choose according to his greatest desire. For example, Jonathan Edwards believed in what he called “strength of motive.”[1] He said concerning such, “I suppose the will is always determined by the strongest motive.”[2] Therefore, Edwards argued that one freely chooses to act according to his “strongest motive.” Regarding the nature of free choice, he also said that it is “the ability to do what we will, or according to our pleasure.”[3]

Consequently, according to Edwards, man’s freedom to choose is determined by his nature and his desires. In other words, man is free to choose to do his greatest desire. Of course, this is the Calvinist view of free will as defined by compatibilism.[4] It is important to note two very important components of this view. First, the desire or nature from which the desire emanates is not chosen—i.e. a person’s past. Second, the unchosen desire is in fact determinative of what the free choice will be. Continue reading →

A Supportive Response to Peter Lumpkins’ Article About the ERLC & Trump Voters

Below is a brief supportive comment that I wrote in response to an article by Peter Lumpkins on SBC Today entitled, Joe Carter, the ERLC and Division over Donald Trump (Parts 1 and 2).[1] Peter’s article responds to some general statements from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) that continually positions those who may vote for Trump in a very dim light. In part two, he specifically analyzes the language of a particular article by Joe Carter (ERLC staffer) that juxtaposes the debate between the “Justice side” (those evangelicals who would vote for Trump) and the “Witness side” (those who would not). Unfortunately, the juxtaposition is unduly reductionistic and results in favoring the “Witness side” rather than equally presenting both. Lumpkins does a good job of pointing this out. Continue reading →

A Simple Prayer For Godly Eating When Blessed By Abundance

May I honor You with gratefulness and reject every sinful prompting to chronicle my “woes” as long as the world stands.

Lord I pray to be convicted when I complain about a lack of ice while there are children who die daily because of contaminated water. Teach me the godly discipline of silence before I complain of inconveniences when children’s parents are taken from them in war. Forgive me of my prideful, arrogant, and bovaristic complaining; moreover, may I walk in the Spirit so as not to grumble of being overfull because of abundance while children whom You love starve.

I pray on this day that I will never overeat again, while children want for food, so that I may not sin against You in gluttony, self-centeredness, and pride.

May my diet be spiritual before physical, and may I eat with thanksgiving until I am not hungry rather than to a state of overindulgence because it is there. May I do this so long as there are little children whose stomachs hurt because of hunger and parasites from unsanitary conditions.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

Think About IT: Christ’s Commands without Christ’s Grace

Righteousness alone is not true righteousness because God’s righteousness never stands alone.

Human righteousness responds to the inadequacy of others—their faults, weaknesses, and failures—with the quickly drawn sword of criticism and condemnation. God’s righteousness responds with holy grace and long-suffering.

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;” (Exodus 34:6)

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

 

Think About IT: Complaining and Dishonor

Complaining people dishonor themselves some, but God most!

There are of course times that God calls us to discern or expose weaknesses, fallacies, or flaws either in our present situation or even in others; however, far too often, complaining or being markedly critical masquerades as just “telling it like it is” or “speaking truth” when in reality it is nothing more than carnal grumbling.

Some who routinely exhibit brash impertinence seek to excuse their insolence by claiming to have the spiritual gift of “discernment” or “prophecy.” I for one am not convinced that all the prophets deserve being portrayed as always so impudent.

A critical spirit very often dishonors the individual and rather undeservedly disgraces others who are created in the image of God, but most often and principally dishonors God. It commonly does more to exhibit one’s own propensity to see the flaws of others more than the work of God in their lives. It obscures one’s awareness of his own flaws, which others must painfully and constantly endure; at the very least it detracts from blessing others and praising God for His work of grace in others.

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).