Truth Triumphs Through Troubling Times

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The growing trend in Christianity is emotionalism.  I say "growing trend" because I have personally observed this rise in emotionalism in the church only recently, in the past decade; however, I am sure there has always been a battle to be fought against emotions in the human experience.  After all, each human - whether here today, yesterday, or tomorrow - has emotions.

What I am talking about is the desire among Christian leaders to make people feel good about themselves.  Or, in some cases, to make people feel bad about themselves so that they change.  There are two examples that illustrate this point that I have experienced in the last few years.

There is No Life in Moralistic Holiness

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The majority of Paul's letters in the New Testament to the church center-in on one thing: Jesus Christ is enough for salvation.  There is no work in the law that any can do in order to be saved.

The Mosaic Law was never actually able to bring about holiness - not because the law was bad, but because man was bad, thus incapable of fulfilling it.  However, after centuries of Jewish culture grounded in God's old covenant law, Judaism's moralistic works of holiness were difficult to let go of for many people.  Jesus was, as the Scriptures said, "The stone that made men stumble and the rock that made them fall."  Many could not understand the truth that Jesus had died "once and for all."  Many continued in their works of moral goodness, which is why Paul labored so meticulously with them in explaining to them that the Scriptures they read as a list of rules to become holy were actually full of prophetic anticipation of the Messiah - the One who would wipe away every tear from their eye that the people cried because they could not keep the law, and take on all their sins from all their law-breaking.  Many people could not understand these things, so they continued - by the providence of God - in their works, only to die un-redeemed at the end of their miserable struggle to do enough good.

Self-Examination

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The phrase "God's providence" is often unheard of today in many Christian circles, although it was once commonplace in the days of the Puritans.  William Bradford wrote of God's providential hand in his History of Plymouth Plantation, recounting the Pilgrim's peril-filled journey to the New World: "Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean...."  Bradford and the other Puritans of his day were keenly aware of the sovereign will of God in their daily lives.

"Self-examination" is another concept that is often unheard of today in many Christian circles.  By very definition, the word means to closely examine and analyze one's behaviors and motivations.  Each of us will greatly benefit from practicing the discipline of self-examination.

The cool-aid tastes good, but is it right?

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"Maternity, the natural biological role of women, has traditionally been regarded as [women's] major social role as well.  The resulting stereotype that 'a woman's place is in the home' has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves.  Today, contraception and, in some areas, legalized abortion have given women greater control over the number of children they will bear.  Although these developments have freed women for roles other than motherhood, the cultural pressure for women to become wives and mothers still prevents many talented women from finishing college or pursuing careers" ("Women's History in America," Women's International Center, 1995).

In our hyper-sensitive "freedom of expression" societal way of thinking, this article did not surprise me.  The progressive movements toward increasing liberalism in all areas - including gender roles - is completely illogical, unnatural, and anti-Christ.  (By "progressive" we must understand we are referring to God's ways as old-fashioned and all human "wisdom" as better.  For instance, one might say: "A man and a woman?  Pugh.  We have progressed far beyond that old idea.  We now have 36 different genders to choose from."  How wicked are all those who practice - or even accept - such progressive thought.)

What is Christian Suffering?


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"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:16-17).
"Does Paul tell us why suffering must precede glory? We can give at least part of the answer. It's found in Romans 5:3, 'And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.' There's the clue: Suffering, or tribulation, works endurance or perseverance. Perseverance of what? Faith. How? By knocking the props of self-reliance (and trust in things and people) out from under us, and making us rely more on God (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Do You Trust God?

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"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6). 
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). 
"Though He slay me, I will hope in Him; yet I will argue my ways to His face" (Job 13:15).
Do you trust God?  It's one thing to say you do, but it's another thing to honestly do so.  In times of plenty - bills are all payed with a little left over, everyone in the house is in good health, and work is going well - it is easy to trust God.  We praise Him happily because all our needs have been met and we feel so emotionally good that we aren't worried or concerned about much at all.  We love God!

A Brief Meditation on Google

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"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial [the devil], or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
'I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
'Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord.
'And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
'And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,'
Says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).
"And He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).
Avoiding all extremes, let us wisely interpret the Word of God as we live in this corrupt and fallen world.

Regeneration

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"The issue isn't Calvinism.  The issue isn't Arminianism.  The issue is regeneration!" Paul Washer emphatically declared in a sermon entitled "10 Indictments Against the Modern Church".  In a world full of extremes - freedom versus legalism, Calvinsism versus Arminianism, tolerance versus bigotry - it is important to stand firm on the truth, not wavering too far to the right or to the left.  Regeneration is exactly one of those truths to stand firm on, and is arguably the most important doctrine of all.

Regeneration, in theology, is defined as the formation of a new heart, new mind, new passions, and new affections - having once directed all these toward sin, the believer has been re-formed through the Spirit of God to direct these toward God.  It is what happens to the Christian at conversion and what results afterward; therefore, it is the most powerful and influential doctrine revealed to man by God.

The Passion of Christ

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"So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:15-16).
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death..." (Philippians 3:7-10).

Training a Child's Heart

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Growing up as the oldest of four children, I became the unofficial "guinea pig" in our family.  There is definitely a thing or two to be said about birth order and this is one of those things: the oldest child generally is the one the parents practice on in order to parent more effectively in the future.  Partly for this reason, and partly for the fact that I have a very strong and stubborn will, I received the just punishment for my actions more frequently than any of my other siblings (maybe even combined!).  There is an unequivocal fact that children are different from each other, not only in personality, but a number of ways.  They not only like different things, have various personalities, and possess differing talents (gifts), but they also behave differently.

One fact remains the same, though: "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) and "all are sinners from birth" (Psalm 51:5).

In The Image of God

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"Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.... So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). 
"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). 
The other night my wife and I were watching an episode of The Andy Griffith Show set in the town of Mayberry.  At one point during the episode, I remarked to my wife, "Sometimes, Andy Griffith reminds me of my dad.  Some of his facial expressions and mannerisms are the same."

Train Up A Child

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"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
This verse can be over-spiritualized.  This verse does not apply to Christian discipleship.  Jesus hadn't been revealed at this point in time, so Solomon was not writing that if you train a child to be a Christian he will be one when he is older.  First of all, how do you train someone to be saved?  No, this verse is not speaking to Christian conversions.

This proverb speaks of the never-changing attitudes of the human heart.  Though we would like to believe - and many do - that all children and adults are basically good and therefore do mostly good, this would be a rejection of the truth of God; for all humanity - all creation! - is subject to the rule of sin from birth (Psalm 51:5).  All are born in sin and all work in sin, the wages of which are death and eternal condemnation (Romans 5:12, 6:23).

Finding the Common Ground

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"Finding the common ground" is a phrase that makes me cringe because it seems to allude to making compromises and being fearful; yet, this is not always the case.  Finding the common ground can be beneficial; for instance, if you are trying to barter with an individual, it is helpful to find a common price on which to agree.  Furthermore, compromises are not always bad.  Sometimes a husband and wife will need to compromise on their household chores; for example, "I'll make supper if you do the dishes."

Head versus Heart: Two Extremes of the Christ-follower

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“Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

The Descendants of Noah

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"'Cursed be [Ham]!  The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.'  [Noah] also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem!  May [Ham] be the salve of Shem.  May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may [Ham] be his slave'" (Genesis 9:25-27).
During the years of slavery in Britain and the United States, some perverted individuals used the Bible to justify their actions of enslaving men and women to work for them.  While the Bible certainly does not justify slavery or racism, it does explain it.

Waging War Against the Dead, Old Man

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God possesses a sinless nature.  Therefore, He is ruled by righteousness, holiness, and perfection.  It is impossible for God to sin.

Man, on the other hand, possess a sinful nature.  Therefore, he is ruled by sin and mastered by it.  The wages of such slavery is death and eternal condemnation.

Self-Government: A Special Report

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An important founder and fourth president of the United States of America, James Madison, said the following:
"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government - far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
A democratic and republican government will only ever be successful if its citizens govern themselves according to moral principles. Without order brought about through adherence to principles, a self-governing political system will fail - always.