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Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Sexual anarchy — America’s demise?

In Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on July 27, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Kelly Boggs ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)—

 When it comes to all things pertaining to sexuality and sexual expression, liberals advocate for nothing less than sexual anarchy. A litany of the left’s positions affirms that the previous statement is an ironclad truth.

The left views traditional marriage as nothing more than an anachronism, sex outside of marriage as sacrosanct and any and all sexual expression worthy of acceptance. If the left does accept any boundaries in respect to sexuality, the lines are hopelessly blurred by post-modern subjectivity.

Those who embrace a hedonistic ethic of unfettered and unrestrained sexual freedom insist that sexuality belongs to the realm of the private and the personal. Consensual behavior, in which no one is harmed, is simply none of society’s business, they say.

Are liberals correct? Is sexuality simply a private matter with no consequences for society? On this subject, as with most others, the left could not be more wrong. One thing the left rarely considers when delineating their dogma is unintended consequences.

“The law of unintended consequences pushes us ceaselessly through the years, permitting no pause for perspective,” observed Richard Schickel, film critic for Time magazine.

Schickel is correct about the ever-present reality of unintended consequences, which the left continues to miss. However, he is wrong about the inability to gain perspective — especially when it comes to the impact collective sexuality has on a society.

One of the best ways to gain perspective concerning unintended consequences is through the lens of history. And history has much to say about the impact of collective sexuality on a society.

British anthropologist J.D. Unwin studied the sexual behaviors of 86 cultures through 5,000 years of history. His findings were published in 1940 under the title “The Sexual and Economic Foundations of a New Society.” Unwin’s observations were — and are — sobering.

Unwin’s observations ran counter to one of the most influential thinkers of his day, Sigmund Freud. Freud maintained that sexual repression was the root cause of a society’s ills. Unwin found the opposite to be true. Unwin’s findings showed that cultures that observed a strict sexual ethic — especially valuing pre-nuptial chastity and post-nuptial monogamy — thrived and flourished. However, those societies that rejected sexual restraint withered and died.

“Expansive energy” was the term Unwin used to describe a culture that was growing and healthy. Concerning this reality he observed, “Expansive energy has never been displayed by a society that inherited a modified monogamy or a form of polygamy.” What Unwin discovered is that once a society ceased to value marriage and sexual restraint, it began to decline.

He added, “In human records, there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence.”

In other words, once a generation abandons a sexual ethic that values sexual restraint and monogamy, the following generation begins to wane culturally. It is then only a matter of time before society shrivels and dies.

Concerning his study, Unwin made a chilling observation. He wrote, “The evidence is that in the past a class has risen to a position of political dominance because of its great energy and that at the period of its rising, its sexual regulations have always been strict. It has retained its energy and dominated the society so long as its sexual regulations have demanded both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence. … I know of no exceptions to these rules.”

No exceptions to these rules. Once a society utterly rejects a sexual ethic that values restraint and monogamy, its days are numbered.

America is in the midst of casting off all sexual restraint. Sexual license is celebrated daily in the popular media. While marriage is still practiced, no one can say that it is approached as seriously, en masse, as it once was or as it should be. With the introduction of “gay marriage” the deconstruction of marriage will be complete. And, while not yet widely accepted, some “elite” academicians are introducing ideas that polygamy and polyamory, and even pedophilia and bestiality are healthy pursuits.

Will this be the generation that throws off all sexual restraint? Will the next inherit a sexual ethic of ambiguity? How long can America last if she rejects a moral compass that points toward sexual purity before and after marriage? Not long, according to Unwin.

The message from J.D. Unwin’s research is clear: Make sexual purity and marital commitment top priorities or face a steady decline and slow death. While liberals advocate sexual anarchy, they fail, or refuse, to recognize the unintended consequences of such a position — consequences that will undermine any hope for America’s future.

–30–

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), news journal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

Wrestling with my Denomination or Faith ?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School on July 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm

(2Ch 30:9 HCSB)  for when you return to the LORD, your brothers and your sons will receive mercy in the presence of their captors and will return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful; He will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”

 (2Ch 30:12 HCSB)  Also, the hand of God was in Judah to give them one heart to carry out the command of the king and his officials by the word of the LORD.

 (2Ch 30:18-21 HCSB)  For a large number of the people–many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun–were unclean, yet they had eaten the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah had interceded for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, the LORD God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day after day with loud instruments.

 (2Ch 31:20-21 HCSB)  Hezekiah did this throughout all Judah. He did what was good and upright and true before the LORD his God. He was diligent in every deed that he began in the service of God’s temple, in the law and in the commandment, in order to seek his God, and he prospered.

 (Psa 85:1-7 HCSB)  (For the choir director. A psalm of the sons of Korah.)

LORD, You showed favor to Your land; You restored Jacob’s prosperity. You took away Your people’s guilt; You covered all their sin. Selah You withdrew all Your fury; You turned from Your burning anger. Return to us, God of our salvation, and abandon Your displeasure with us. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger for all generations? Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your faithful love, LORD, and give us Your salvation.

 From the passages listed above we gain insight into God’s character and how we as the object of his affection should approach Him.

 What is the first action we need to take?

  1. What is God’s response to seeking Him?

 We see the people retuning to Him and with their purpose to worship Him. However they didn’t follow the rules given concerning the ceremony and earlier in scripture we see God punishing those who didn’t prescribe to the exact rules of the law regarding worship.

 3. Is something different here did God go back on His word? 

  4. Are the rules of worship and the prescriptions of outward behavior more important than the heart?

 How many times do we as believers and followers of our denominational traditions become so wrapped up in the prescriptions of those ideas we lose sight of the real essence of God’s message? I would not want to seem a Universalist in my thought expressed here but I also want to belabor the point of how entrenched we have become in our understanding of our particular expressions of faith. I am sure you see like me the total collapse of our society at large and the apparent lack of response from the “church” at large. Every denomination is busy reacting with their particular prescriptions and responses but it seems to me most are very short sided and exclusivist. This came to mind the other night after a rousing conversation with a dear friend and believer who is from a denomination that is very well known and has established church’s world wide. We discussed at length the differences we had concerning a particular act we as Christians all participate in under scriptural authority. Baptism was our issue he can with conviction and scripture defend the ideas expressed of his particular denomination. We disagreed on regeneration taking place as part of the salvation experience or as a result of salvation. As you can see the essence of the conversation had to with the finer issues of the prescribed behaviors not the fundamental behaviors we adhere to. This example leads me to thinking as I was reading the word how the main issue of the people of God is as follows:

 “May the good LORD provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, the LORD God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

 (Deu 6:5-6 HCSB)  Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.

(Deu 10:12 HCSB)  “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul?

 (Jos 22:5 HCSB)  Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the LORD’s servant gave you: to love the LORD your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

 (Mat 22:37 HCSB)  He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

 (Mar 12:30 HCSB)  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

(Luk 10:27 HCSB)  He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

 I am finishing my devotional time this morning more curious than ever how do we from different denominations claiming the same Bible, Spirit, and Savior disagree to the point of excluding our common Lord and having the impact He intended us as believers?

 Have we become so entrenched in our differences we sacrifice the message of God’s redemption for the purpose of being “right”?

 The real tragedy of our differences we tend to question people’s conversion, obedience and walk with God. I am not foolish enough to think I could bring about any type of unity in this area but my heart is pricked and disquieted concerning this. Especially after reading these mornings’ devotional scriptures:

But Hezekiah had interceded for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God. Are we (me included) interceding for those who don’t see the same scripture the same way. I don’t mean those who want some kind of universalism of good acts to be the determining factor for God’s precious gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life. I am speaking to those whose confession and life reveal they pray to the Jesus of the Bible and seek Him. I know many who don’t worship where I worship, or how I worship. Yet I see based on the Word the evidence of Jesus working in their faith and life as well as in my spirit. I see this same Spirit and Jesus working where I worship and accomplishing His purpose. I am sure anyone who claims the name of Jesus and is endeavoring to read His word is torn, and seeking God to bring a great revival to our nation and world. We claim His coming again and see the prophetic Word revealing itself everyday in the news. I seek your thoughts and understanding on this issue, it would mean a great deal to me personally for your response to this from your understanding and walk with Jesus.

 (2Co 13:14 HCSB)  (13:13) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Defenders

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2009 at 3:10 am

 

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“True for you but not for me”

“There are many paths to Heaven not just yours”

“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere”

“What right do you have to convert others to your point of view”

If Jesus is the only way to God, what about those who have never heard of him”

“Christianity is arrogant and imperialistic; if you grew up in India you’d be a Hindu”

“I’m a good moral person God will look at that and I will go to heaven”

“How could a loving God allow so much evil in the world”

 

 Finding Answers for those that are speechless!

Too many Christians and Churches are baffled by these powerful assumptions, how do we respond to those who think this way. Most Christians scurry for cover when shot at by these sayings or ideas and shamefully walk away with no response. 1st Peter 3 tells us to always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you, with love and respect. The Defenders class will help equip us for that task. Not a permanent class but a 15 week training session that will help in your Spiritual growth and confidence. Limited seating available starts Aug 16th.

Grace:Giving Life to those around us!

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on July 9, 2009 at 4:09 am

“Grace is a magnetic force that draws people to God, the source of grace.” Richard Blackaby

 (Col 4:2-6 HCSB)  Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah–for which I am in prison–so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.

 The story is told of the worst customers for restaurants’ are the Sunday “after church” crowds. They are often impatient (sitting through a long sermon can make you hungry), and are notoriously chintzy (maybe their tithe cleaned out their pockets). By the way almost nothing is as bad as leaving an unbelieving server a gospel tract instead of a tip.

How about the manic that is driving a car while having a road rage moment with a decal of a fish or cross on the truck? That really speaks of God’s love and grace.

One of the more notorious issues are business people with Bible verses and religious symbols on their business cards that provide poor products, or services that  bring shame upon the name of Jesus.

 Then it’s our story at GBC a story of hard hardness, murmurings, disputes, and generally selfish behavior towards each other and our soon to be resigned pastor.

 We miss so many opportunities to share the grace of Christ and the love that we have been given with others. In the verses listed above we are given guidelines about our behavior, speech, and making the most of the short time we have on this earth to allow God to accomplish his will through us. Scripture assures us as Christians we can persuade the world of our message by the way we demonstrate grace. We are told by the word the world will know us by our love. When we have genuine love for Jesus we can’t help but have grace to share with everyone else.

 (2Co 8:7-8 HCSB)  Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us–excel also in this grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love.

 Unfortunately this is a time of testing for the body at GBC. We as a body are fractured and hurting. When we are faced with the giants of failure and rejection it’s hard not to fall back on pseudo-common sense and retaliation as means of defense. In these most difficult of times when the enemy is shouting in our ears to react and retaliate, it’s very difficult to listen to the voice of God and react in grace. Somewhere between fight and flight we trust our emotions instead of the Spirit of God in us. We see listed in scriptures below what happens when we trust emotions. Grace goes out the window so to speak and now we operate in the flesh. If we continually live in this kind of lifestyle then we have no part of the kingdom of God. Unfortunately this scripture implies we can fall back into old habits and this is more the focus of the lesson. When we have no grace we can come to this check list and see what is killing the grace in us.   

 (Gal 5:19-21 HCSB)  Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance–as I told you before–that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Listed here is the hope that is set before us when we are experiencing the fruit of the Spirit; we become grace givers by default.

 (Gal 5:22-24 HCSB)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 When we really try to define grace it has to all the characteristics listed in the fruit of the Spirit and in my opinion it is the result of living the Spirit filled life. So how does this apply to the present situation at GBC in this most grievous time of dissensions, anger, quarrelling, rivalries, divisions, and provoking one another? The word speaks to all our basic issues.

 (1Ti 5:1721 HCSB)  The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: You must not muzzle an ox that is threshing grain, and, the laborer is worthy of his wages. Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid. I solemnly charge you, before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism. Don’t be too quick to lay hands on anyone, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

 (Rom 13:13-14 HCSB)  Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

 (Tit 3:9-11 HCSB)  But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

 (Gal 5:15-17 HCSB)  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

 How do we overcome this in our life, our church, our witness? First we have to deal with our sin in our lives.

 (Gal 5:13-14 HCSB)  For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 (Rom 13:8-10 HCSB)  Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment–all are summed up by this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

 (Mat 5:23 HCSB)  So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

 (Mar 11:25 HCSB)  And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.

 (Luk 17:3-4 HCSB)  Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

 (Mat 18:15-17 HCSB)  “If your brother sins against you go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.

 The last verse in Matthew is the hardest for any of us to live up to as it involves a confrontation with the very person we are in disagreement with. Notice confrontation is not the same as combativeness. We are commanded to speak the truth in love. This particular idea of taking more with you to establish a witness and being willing to go before the church is probably the most difficult. This is why I used so many references about forgiveness in the previous scriptures. If we have forgiven our brother and our desire is to have a right standing before the body and before God in his church, we have an obligation to make sure of our motives and the goal is to restore not remove fellowship.

Christians are able to give grace to those who don’t deserve it because we didn’t deserve it either.

 (2 Cor 8:7-9 HCSB)  Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us–excel also in this grace.

I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.

 This verse sets the standard for all of us as believers, to excel in grace! What a calling and opportunity to show what Jesus is really like to those who don’t Him as their Savior. God’s Spirit may be convicting your heart of two things.

 Behavior in our lives that is graceless (critical, unforgiving) toward others.

  1. An apathetic attitude that keeps you from seeking out opportunities (or ignoring the obvious ones) to be a grace giver.

 How do we become a person of grace and what steps could we take to begin praying for the transformation to a grace giver?

 Consider the source of grace: We can all show kindness tot others, but grace originates from God. Don’t assume because you’re a believer you are a person of grace. The key is to allow the Holy Spirit to work I us to produce grace as only he can.

  1. Consider your own need for grace: We need God’s grace every day, and amazingly every day he provides it. Never forget we are sinners saved by grace.
  2. Consider other people’s need for grace: We are far more forgiving of own shortcomings than we are of others faults. If we first consider that those around us need grace just like us we will relate to them differently.
  3. Ask God to fill your heart with grace: We can’t begin to know how deeply hurt the people around us really are and the people that hurt them are with us too. Cheating husbands, terrible fathers and mothers, and generally repulsive behavior by some. How can we be expected to show grace and to forgive? Own our own we can’t! Only God is loving and gracious enough to do that. What we can do is open our hearts to God so He fills us with his love and mercy. Then we can in boldness ask God to forgive that person through you. This appears impossible but with God all  things are possible.
  4. Look for opportunities to share grace: Grace-givers look for opportunities and practical ways to show kindness to others. If we ask the Holy Spirit to free us from our self-centeredness and to bless others through us he’ll provide the person and place.

 Listen to what we say. Meditate on (Mat 12:34 HCSB) Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the Day of Judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 Take note of our behavior: Meditate on (John 15:14 HCSB) You are My friends if you do what I command you.

 Don’t be satisfied until every part of your life is saturated with grace. Meditate on (Psa 139:23-24 HCSB) Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.

See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.

 Remember grace never gives up on you.

Grace:Shortfalls

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on July 2, 2009 at 3:54 am

Grace:

Sharing Life with Other Believers

Shortfalls

One place Grace should be experienced is in the church. It’s often been said in the church we kill our wounded. The religious lost the Pharisee of the modern church is always present with us. Gandhi is often quoted as saying “Your Jesus I like your Christians not so much, they don’t act much like your Jesus!” Giving the recent issues at GBC the lesson is especially difficult for me this week as I struggle with my own resentment towards the people I consider to be responsible for the discord in the body. My constant prayer has lately been to keep the faith, talk the talk and walk the walk. Sadly grace is often in short supply in the very place it ought to abundant.

 Why are supposed Christians so unkind to each other?

 What often results when church members forget the grace of God?

 We don’t have to read very far in scripture till we see examples of people who forget God’s wonderful provision of grace. When we begin to take our salvation for granted, forgetting the reality we are sinners saved by grace, our hearts can soon become calloused towards others. Paul seemed to understand this early on in his ministry when he encouraged young Timothy:

 (2Ti 2:1 HCSB)  You, therefore, my child (son), be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (Some translations use son)

 In Hebrews the writer warned “Pursue Peace with everyone”

 (Heb 12:14-15 HCSB)  Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness–without it no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.

 Reviewing Grace:

  • Grace builds up; it doesn’t tear down.
  • Grace gives what is underserved, focusing on mercy not justice.
  • Grace is costly.
  • Grace gives without expecting anything in return.
  • Grace thinks of others, not self.
  • Grace focuses on the important not the trivial.
  • Grace looks at what could be, rather than fixating on what is or is not.
  • Grace helps people become more like Christ.
  • Grace doesn’t condemn or give up on people.

 What often results when church members forget the grace of God?

 Would you want God to display grace to you in the same manner you display grace to church members?

 Grace and the undesirable:

“God said it; I believe it that settles it!”

“Thank goodness we don’t act like that!”

“I am glad I’m not a sinner!”

“They really need prayer look at how they act!”

“I sure am glad we’re not like those people!”

 I am sure you could think of dozens of other statements with no grace in them or room for the grace that changes lives. When non-believers join a church, it doesn’t mean they no longer need grace. If anything it’s just the opposite, the church attracts people who recognize their desperate need for grace. Jesus never compromised truth or excused sin, yet sinners like me were and are being drawn to Him. Righteousness is attractive, glorious, and life changing when it is combined with grace. In Matthew we see this take place in the calling of Matthew.

 (Mat 9:9-13 HCSB)  As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him. While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 9:9   The tense atmosphere building up around the Savior is temporarily relieved by Matthew’s simple and humble account of his own call. A tax-collector or custom house officer, he and his fellow officials were hated intensely by the Jews because of their crookedness, because of the oppressive taxes they exacted, and most of all, because they served the interests of the Roman Empire, Israel’s overlord. As Jesus passed the tax office, He said to Matthew, “Follow Me.” The response was instantaneous; he arose and followed; leaving a traditionally dishonest job to become an instant disciple of Jesus. As someone has said, “He lost a comfortable job, but he found a destiny. He lost a good income but he found honor. He lost a comfortable security, but he found an adventure the like of which he had never dreamed.” Not the least among his rewards were that he became one of the twelve and was honored to write the Gospel which bears his name.

9:10   The meal described here was arranged by Matthew in honor of Jesus (Luk_5:29). It was his way of confessing Christ publicly and of introducing his associates to the Savior. Necessarily, therefore, the guests were tax-collectors and others generally known to be sinners!

9:11   It was the practice in those days to eat reclining on couches and facing the table. When the Pharisees saw Jesus associating in this way with the social riff-raff, they went to His disciples and charged Him with “guilt by association”; surely no true prophet would eat with sinners!

9:12   Jesus overheard and answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The Pharisees considered themselves healthy and were unwilling to confess their need for Jesus. (Actually they were extremely ill spiritually and desperately needed healing.) The tax collectors and sinners, by contrast, were more willing to acknowledge their true condition and to seek Christ’s saving grace. So the charge was true! Jesus did eat with sinners. If He had eaten with the Pharisees, the charge would still have been true—perhaps even more so! If Jesus hadn’t eaten with sinners in a world like ours, He would always have eaten alone. But it is important to remember that when He ate with sinners, He never indulged in their evil ways or compromised His testimony. He used the occasion to call men to truth and holiness.

9:13   The Pharisees’ trouble was that although they followed the rituals of Judaism with great precision, their hearts were hard, cold, and merciless. So Jesus dismissed them with a challenge to learn the meaning of Jehovah’s words, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (quoted from Hos_6:6). Although God had instituted the sacrificial system, He did not want the rituals to become a substitute for inward righteousness. God is not a Ritualist, and He is not pleased with rituals divorced from personal godliness—precisely what the Pharisees had done. They observed the letter of the law but had no compassion for those who needed spiritual help. They associated only with self-righteous people like themselves.

In contrast, the Lord Jesus pointedly told them, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” He perfectly fulfilled God’s desire for mercy as well as sacrifice. In one sense, there are no righteous people in the world, so He came to call all men to repentance. But here the thought is that His call is only effective for those who acknowledge themselves to be sinners. He can dispense no healing to those who are proud, self-righteous, and unrepentant—like the Pharisees. (Believers Bible Commentary).

 This is our guide for how to “do church” I would suggest no matter the congregation if this not the model we missed it entirely. We must look past the spiritual condition of the person in front of us to see what God’s grace can make them. By investing in the lives of people wither outcasts, unacceptable types, our social peers and most of all those we encounter at church, God is in the changing people business. Jesus invested his life in the most important of all; people, that’s what grace does! People are scared, scared, and defiled by the world, yet if the church is operating in God’s grace, they can experience a life changing transformation and become beautiful people of grace. That’s what churches do they share truth and grace with hurting people and watch the Holy Spirit transform those people into saints.

 Often it is easier to extend grace to non-Christians than to fellow believers. We tend to bring our expectations to church and expect people to do the “right thing” after all they “should know better”. But grace recognizes that God’s transforming work in our lives (sanctification) is a process. Webster’s defines it as the following:

 

Sanctification

SANCTIFICA’TION, n. [See Sanctify.]

 The act of making holy. In an evangelical sense, the act of God’s grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God.

   Sanctification (Easton Bible Dictionary)

Involves more than a mere moral reformation of character, brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man (Rom_6:13; 2Co_4:6; Col_3:10; 1Jo_4:7; 1Co_6:19). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption to carry on this work (1Co_6:11; 2Th_2:13).

Faith is instrumental in securing sanctification, inasmuch as it

(1.) secures union to Christ (Gal_2:20), and

(2.) brings the believer into living contact with the truth, whereby he is led to yield obedience “to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.”

Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1Ki_8:46; Pro_20:9; Ecc_7:20; Jam_3:2; 1Jo_1:8). See Paul’s account of himself in Rom_7:14-25; Phi_3:12-14; and 1Ti_1:15; also the confessions of David (Psa_19:12, Psa_19:13; 51), of Moses (Psa_90:8), of Job (Job_42:5, Job_42:6), and of Daniel (Dan. 9:3-20). “The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always subject to the constant chastisement of their Father’s loving hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for themselves.”, Hodge’s Outlines.

 I wanted to spend time defining the role of sanctification in our lives and its role in the body as we worship together and reach a lost dying world around us.

Hebrews shows us what this looks like in action:

 (Heb 10:24-25 HCSB)  And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

 Now our: Attitude? Actions? Goals? In church, jobs and daily life.

Don’t be deceived by a misguided perception that showing grace means a blanket tolerance and acceptance of sin or what someone does that the Bible expressly defines as sin. A church has a God ordained responsibility to stand against sin especially in the body. When we welcome people into the fellowship who grievously sin and are unrepentant or even defiant, we bring disgrace on the cross of Christ. At times churches so misunderstand what grace entails, church members fell guilty even mentioning the person’s sin. “After all” they say “who are we to judge?” The best example of this is the misunderstanding of Galatians 6 as illustrated below:

 Pseudo Grace:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are open-minded should condone such a person with a tolerant spirit.” This really shows how we can be mislead if we don’t understand the scriptures and call for the truth of the word.

(Gal 6:1 HCSB)  Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also.

 If we lead with our emotions instead of the truth look at the damage done and genuine grace is lost in translation. Pseudo grace avoids dealing with sin and instead focuses on being “loving.” But showing genuine grace never involves condoning sin. Grace NEVER compromises truth or righteousness. Jesus forgave the adulteress woman but he also commanded her to “sin no more.”

(Joh 8:11 HCSB) …said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”]

Genuine grace always draws people towards Christ. Pseudo grace tolerates sin and muzzles those who would speak against it. A loving graceful response to sin sometimes means caring enough to say the hard things that may help people understand the consequences of their sin.

 (Pro 27:5-6 HCSB)  Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.

 (Psa 141:5 HCSB)  Let the righteous one strike me–it is an act of faithful love; let him rebuke me–it is oil for my head; let me not refuse it. Even now my prayer is against the evil acts of the wicked.

Jesus claimed the world would know us by our love for one another. Loving one another involves grace. Jesus said this kind of love would characterize the church. We value our tasks and results more than our fellow believers. We defend our opinions and comfort rather than seeking the best for those God has placed around us. I know in my life I struggle with my behavior with problem people that offend me (sound familiar). Problems come and go but people are eternal. Grace always sides with people. I am a recovering sinner and my first instinct is sin. My prayer is to be a person of grace and to be in the business of bettering people not battering them. Not to see the church in terms of what it does for me rather as means to serve others. Grace id for sinners. God demonstrated this through the sacrifice of His only Son. The church should be a safe haven for repentant sinners. The world cannot understand grace. It is something God instigates and enables. When we as believers truly grasp what grace is the church becomes irresistible. The church of all places should be a haven of love in a hurting and grace starved world. Lord send a revival and let it begin in me.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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