The Gospel Has No Middle Ground

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There are many people who feel safe “straddling the fence” regarding what to do with Jesus. One of the reasons for their indecisiveness is they see their options as painted a neutral gray rather than black and white. However, there is no middle ground with Jesus. The Lord said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Luke 11:23). In the same way, the Gospel has no middle ground. Knowing this, It may be better understood by considering the “law of antithesis” that is evident throughout Scripture. The word “antithesis” means a sharp contrast of ideas that are set opposite one another, such as: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). This verse gives a sharp contrast between the saving grace of God and the worthless works of man.
An antithesis also can be two people who are directly opposite of one another, such as a believer, who is under God’s grace, and an unbeliever, who is under God’s wrath. Regenerate people are alive in Christ and unregenerate people are dead in sin (Rom. 6:11, Eph. 2:1). The apostle Paul described people as either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). Everyone is either in Adam, or in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22). There are only two groups of people, those who have been called out of the world into the church and those who are still in the world (John 15:19, 1 John 4:5). Everyone is either a child of God, who is the creator of life, or a child of the devil, who is a destroyer of life (John 1:12, 1 John 3:10, 1 Pet. 5:8). There is no middle ground in God’s message of redemption. According to God’s court of justice, everyone on this earth is either justified or condemned, and either declared righteous or guilty (Rom. 5:18-19, James 2:10). Everyone is either trusting what the Lord Jesus has DONE to satisfy divine justice, or trusting what they must DO.
The most powerful use of the “law of antithesis” to explain God’s Gospel may be found in Romans 6:23. Paul writes: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The antithesis of “wages,” which is the payment for work rendered, is “the free gift”, which is freely given by God’s grace, exclusive of works (Rom. 11:6). The antithesis of “death”, which is everlasting punishment in hell, is “eternal life” in Christ Jesus. In this one verse, we see the “law of antithesis” contrasting man, the sinner who has earned spiritual death, and God, the Holy One, who offers the means of escape, as a gift of His grace. From a human perspective, the presentation of two opposing contrasts should make it easier for people to choose the more desirable one.
The Gospel gives us many more opposing contrasts. Everyone is either walking in the light or in darkness (1 Thes. 5:5, 1 Peter 2:9). People are either free in Christ or in bondage to sin and Satan (Gal.5:1, John 8:34, 2 Tim. 2:26). They either demonstrate deeds of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-25). People are either lovers of God or lovers of the world (1 John 2:15-17). One day our Lord will return in glory and separate all the people of the world into two groups. He will welcome His sheep (believers) into His eternal kingdom and send the goats (unbelievers) to be punished in the eternal fire (Mat. 25:31-46).

Throughout human history, Satan has tempted God’s people to compromise “the law of antithesis” by seeking to unite sanctified believers with unbelievers in spiritual enterprises and ungodly marriages (2 Cor. 6:14-18). One of his most effective ploys has been to use evangelical leaders to compromise the purity and exclusivity of the Gospel by making it more inclusive. Many are teaching a man-centered gospel instead of a Christ-centered Gospel. This is a fatal deception because only God’s Gospel has the power to save those who believe (Rom. 1:16). Any other gospel gives people a false hope and brings condemnation to those who preach it (Gal. 1:6-9). Those who do not stand for truth will fall for anything.
The Father of Lies has also compromised “the law of antithesis” by creating a middle ground for people who do not believe they are good enough for heaven or bad enough for hell. He fabricated another destination after death called purgatory, which has become a safety net for Catholics since they do not know the sufficiency of Jesus in salvation. The Lord Jesus made it clear that there are only two ways and two destinations. He said, “…the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mat. 7:13-14).
As we consider all the antithetical statements in Scripture, I especially enjoy the ones which identify born-again Christians. God’s Word tells us we are strongest when we are weak, richest when we are poor, exalted when we humble ourselves and loved when we are unlovable. We empty ourselves so we can be filled, and we confess our wrongs so that we can be declared right. The more we die to self, the more we can live for Christ. May He be honored and praised as we share His glorious Gospel of grace!
Mike Gendron (Proclaiming the Gospel)

 

Black Lives Matter

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“We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work. (1)

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable. (2)

We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise). (3)

We cultivate an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, show up with the capacity to lead and learn.

We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”

https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/

(1) Marxist feminism is a philosophical variant of feminism that incorporates and extends Marxist theory. Marxist feminism analyses the ways in which women are exploited through capitalism and the individual ownership of private property. According to Marxist feminists, women’s liberation can only be achieved by dismantling the capitalist systems in which they contend much of women’s labour is uncompensated. Marxist feminists extend traditional Marxist analysis by applying it to unpaid domestic labour and sex relations.

 (2) Marxists argue that the nuclear family performs ideological functions for Capitalism – the family acts as a unit of consumption and teaches passive acceptance of hierarchy. It is also the institution through which the wealthy pass down their private property to their children, thus reproducing class inequality.

(3) “It is important to remember that the revolutionary riots at Stonewall in 1969 were spearheaded by many LGBTQ people of color, and that none of the progress made for the acceptance and equality of LGBTQ people over the past 51 years would be possible if not for the action and courage of those protestors,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said.

According to the Black Male Achievement Funders organisation:

More than 50 organizations have already registered their support, but one, in particular, stands out. The Ford Foundation added their voice to the growing chorus of supporters, in the strongest possible terms.

 “That’s why now is the time to stand by and amplify movements rooted in love, compassion, and dignity for all people. Now is the time to call for an end to state violence directed at communities of color. And now is the time to advocate for investment in public services—including but not limited to police reform—together with education, health, and employment in communities and for people that have historically had less opportunity and access to all those things.”

 Ford is also planning on studying and underwriting what it calls a “new and dynamic form of social justice leadership and infrastructure,” by investing in the Black-Led Movement Fund, (BLMF) a pooled donor fund designed to support the work of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), and led by Borealis Philanthropy.

http://bmafunders.org/who-is-funding-black-lives-matter/

This seems strange that an organisation that is opposed to racism would accept funding from an organisation that was founded by a notorious racist like Henry Ford. Ford’s anti-Semitism is a matter of record. He was the recipient of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle which was an award bestowed on Ford by Nazi Germany.

In Germany, Ford’s anti-Semitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several anti-Semitic parties and a member of the Reichstag. In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters”. Ford is the only American mentioned favourably in Mein Kampf, although he is only mentioned twice: Adolf Hitler wrote, “only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews’] fury, still maintains full independence … [from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions.” Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his “inspiration”, explaining his reason for keeping Ford’s life-size portrait next to his desk. Steven Watts wrote that Hitler “revered” Ford, proclaiming that “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany”, and modelling the Volkswagen, the people’s car, on the Model T. Max Wallace has stated “History records that … Adolf Hitler was an ardent Anti-Semite before he ever read Ford’s The International Jew.” Under Ford, the newspaper also reprinted the anti-Semitic fabricated text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford#The_Dearborn_Independent_and_antisemitism

This is even stranger with BLM demonstrators calling for the removal of statues to key historical figures who were involved in racial exploitation.

According to Borealis Philanthropy, a left-wing philanthropic intermediary:

Black Lives Matter is a fiscally sponsored project of International Development Exchange (IDEX).

https://borealisphilanthropy.org/grantee/black-lives-matter/

(IDEX is now called Thousand Currents and has on its leadership team a number of activists from various groups that deal with such areas as Feminism, the Environment, Social Justice, Palestine Solidarity, Racism, Sexism, Sexual and Reproductive Rights amongst others.)

https://thousandcurrents.org/about/

Crticism

Black Lives Matter has come in for criticism from a number of Black and Ethnic Minority groups. Some examples:

Wilson Lee, co-founder of the Boston chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance — one of the country’s oldest Asian American civil rights organizations — complained that the commentary from the Asian American Commission expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement is “divisive and inflammatory” because it suggests Asians benefit from “white privilege” and are racist against Black people.

Lee said also it promotes violence by invoking the controversial civil rights-era Black Panther Party.

  “I’m saddened when an organization funded by my tax dollars says there is hatred in the Asian American community for Blacks,” Lee said Monday. “In the past there have been misunderstandings between the Asian and Black communities, but a blanket statement like that doesn’t help the situation. It’s putting gasoline on the fire.”

Asian Americans have been marching with demonstrators in Boston and elsewhere in the country calling for an end to police brutality against Black people, he added.

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2020/06/09/asian-american-commission-black-lives-matter

 

Candace Owens is an American conservative commentator and political activist, she is also an African American. She recently commented on her Instagram account:

OH MY GOD!! BLACK LIVES MATTER FUNDING GOES DIRECTLY TO WHITE DEMOCRATS AND THEIR VARIOUS INITIATIVES TO GET DEMOCRATS INTO OFFICE. This is CRAZY. It was ALL a scam! I am honestly shocked by how evil this all is. They are using Breonna Taylor’s face and George Floyd’s death to funnel MILLIONS to support Joe Biden’s campaign. This is DESPICABLE. I knew it was all suspicious. The rioting and looting and chaos was meant to make white people feel guilty enough and black people feel angry enough to donate MILLIONS. Well ladies and gentlemen, here is where all of your millions are going. TO THE WEALTHY WHITE DEMOCRATIC ESTABLISHMENT.

Breonna and George Floyd died so that Joe Biden could have more funds to go up against Trump in this upcoming election. The celebrities were effectively pressured into getting their fans to pony up to the Joe Biden’s election.
Black Americans have always been used as slaved to earn wealth for white Democrats.
This is absolutely sickening. If you are Black person and you ever vote Democrat again after seeing this video, please know that you are not a serious person in this world.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBRm91SFuMZ/

A black police officer, Jay Stalien, was quoted in 2016 by the BBC:

Black Lives do not matter to most black people…Only the lives that are taken at the hands of cops or white people, matter.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if it had been me, a black man, a black cop, on TV, assassinated, laying on the ground dead…would my friends and family still think black lives mattered? Would my life have mattered?”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-36777582

In 2016 African American Law Professor Carol Swain appeared on CNN and stated:

I believe that it’s been a very destructive force in America, and I urge all of your viewers to go to that website and look at what they’re really about. It’s a Marxist organization all about black liberation. It’s not really addressing the real problems affecting African-Americans and so it’s problematic, it’s misleading black people, it needs to go.”

https://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/09/politics/carol-swain-black-lives-matter-smerconish/index.html

Jewish groups previously supportive of BLM have not only criticized BLM’s attitude towards Israel, but some have removed all support.

Israeli News Paper Haaretz reported:

Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, had harsher words — saying they would be disassociating themselves with any group aligned with Black Lives Matter from now on.

 “We cannot and will not align ourselves with organizations that falsely and maliciously assert that Israel is committing ‘genocide,’” a statement from the group read. “We reject participation in any coalition that seeks to isolate and demonize Israel singularly amongst the nations of the world.”

For some Jews of color, particularly African American Jews, who had embraced the popular movement, the language of the new platform was especially troubling.

 “It broke my heart,” said Stacey Aviva Flint, a student at Chicago’s Spertus Institute who is African American and Jewish and writes on parallels between black and Jewish nationalist movements.

“I understand what Zionism was about when it first started. You had a group of people who were seeking self determination. And self determination was also something that African Americans desperately needed and wanted,” said Flint.

“[In past months], I really thought, ‘a movement is starting, I want to support this, as African Americans are being targeted by the police,’” Flint said.

“This dashed my hopes.”

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/jewish-allies-condemn-black-lives-matters-apartheid-platform-1.5421194

African American author Charles Love and activist wrote in an article titled

False Prophets

If you really want to help black America, don’t look to Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter was started in 2013 to shed light on mistreatment of and brutality against blacks by police, but it has become a radical leftist organization. The “Herstory” section of its website, for example, reads: “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.” This proclamation is demonstrably untrue: there is no evidence that anyone—including the police and white supremacists—is killing black people in a targeted campaign, nor are the numbers of such deaths significant compared with the number of blacks killed by other blacks. But beyond BLM’s inflammatory and false rhetoric, there are important reasons to avoid the group.

“Defund the police” is the new rallying cry of the “woke,” and BLM is the leader of this dangerous push. Defunding police would make the neighborhoods that activists profess to care about less safe. Neighborhoods with higher than average crime tend to have many black residents, and police offer the only defense from criminals. Defunding the police puts a disproportionately dangerous burden on the elderly and vulnerable in these neighborhoods—and on business owners, who would not be able to rely on police protection against the destruction of their stores or other places of business. Those promoting the defund-the-police idea either live in low-crime areas, can afford private security, or are radically misinformed about the nature of crime in the United States.

https://www.city-journal.org/black-lives-matter

The Black Lives Matter movement is trying to convince African Americans that they are oppressed, despite evidence to the contrary, according to black activist Nestride Yumga.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/black-lives-matter-tries-to-tell-african-americans-they-are-oppressed/video/8cd79117fcc88d54713b39b9f930ad4c

Another African American academic also criticizes BLM:

I, like other centre-right social scientists, including Heather MacDonald, began empirically to investigate the #BLM movement over the past few years. To an overwhelming extent, I found that the movement’s core claims were wildly exaggerated or simply false.

 American law-enforcement officers actually kill very few people of any kind on an annual basis, and black people are not overrepresented among police shooting victims once a basic adjustment for group crime rates is made. Many or most of the shooting victims lionised by Black Lives Matter were not heroes, but rather street criminals killed during violent scuffles with police. And, finally, the police pull-back cheered by BLM and its allies has produced a ‘Ferguson Effect’ that caused US murders to jump by more than 1,500 in a single year.

He also states:

Rather than examples of near-murder, of black men being gunned down with no provocation or reason, many are revealed to be tragic but mundane incidents where criminals were killed while struggling with the police. We now know that ‘the gentle giant’ Michael Brown, most often pictured in a high-school graduation gown, was a linebacker-sized legal adult who committed a brutal strong-arm robbery just before being shot while apparently fighting with a uniformed police officer for his gun.

 Similarly, the Alton Sterling case, perhaps the defining BLM matter to take place in the American South, turned out to involve a career criminal and convicted paedophile who was shot while carrying a loaded gun. Police were called to the scene specifically to respond to a report that Sterling was threatening another minority man with his gun.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/02/04/why-black-lives-matter-has-been-bad-for-black-people/

Jason Damian Hill, Jamaican-American professor writes:

against the heroic commitment of the entire police force in this country, and given the enormous contribution that police officers—black, white, and Hispanic—are making every day by going into black and Hispanic communities overrun by murderous street gangs and protecting the lives of innocent residents living in these tragic neighborhoods, we need to keep things in perspective here. Police officers, when all is said and done, overworked as they are, underpaid as they are, and given the poor public image that they suffer, are doing a good job of trying to protect black lives in the inner cities of this country, where thugs and hooligans think neighborhoods are either extensions of their living rooms, or their own private fiefdoms where they can do as they please.

Professor hill also writes:

The leaders of Black Lives Matter have written a profoundly anti-Israel (and anti-American) manifesto in which they accuse Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid.” The manifesto endorses the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement and takes the view that the United States justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliances with Israel. This, according to Black Lives Matter, makes the U.S. complicit in a supposedly genocidal massacre of the Palestinian people.

 As a staunch defender of Israel on moral grounds, I categorically condemn the moral ineptitude of the Black Lives Matter movement on this point. If there is a victim in the Middle East, it is the beleaguered state of Israel. The Jewish state is the only technologically advanced and democratic country in a region of illiberal, primitive, and human-rights-abusing nations that treat women worse than cattle and don’t know the meaning of religious reciprocity. Since its founding, Israel has fought marauders in the likes of the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and the Syrians. These parties have invaded Israel, threatened her right to exist, and tried to eliminate her and Jewry itself from the region. Israel’s enemies among the Palestinians have sought to do the same with the help of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority.

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/jason-hill/black-lives-matter-problem/

In 2017 Sapna Rampersaud, in an article for The National Review, wrote:

The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), whose mission is to affirm “Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression,” has a flawed ideology of reparatory racial exclusion that is clearly illustrated in Lisa Durden’s interview on Fox News.

 Earlier this month, Durden, a professor of media and effective speech at a New Jersey community college, made a televised appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, where she defended BLM’s decision to preclude people who do not identify as black from attending a Memorial Day celebration organized by the movement. Carlson began the interview by reading an excerpt from a statement disseminated by BLM regarding the controversy:

 Being intentional about being around Black People is an act of resistance. This is an exclusively Black Space so if you do not identify as Black and want to come because you love Black People, please respect the space and do not come.

“I’m confused by that,” the host followed up, “because I thought the whole point of Black Lives Matter . . . would be to speak out against singling people out on the basis of their race and punishing them for that, because you can’t control what your race is, and yet they seem to be doing that. Explain that to me.”

 “What I say to that is boo hoo hoo,” Durden shot back. “You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white-privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter’s all-black Memorial Day celebration.”

 While BLM tries to raise awareness of the segregation and racial exclusion that blacks have faced throughout history, Durden’s comment suggests that the movement is now trying to enforce the same exclusion on whites. The Memorial Day event may have excluded people of other races in order to collectivize blacks and give them a “voice,” but this voice is a racist, rather than reasonable, one.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/07/black-lives-matter-racial-exclusion-lisa-durden-tucker-carlson/

African American reporter Jenice Armstrong levelled a criticism of BLM for its practice of excluding white people from its meetings. She writes:

BLM Philly isn’t the least bit shy about its closed-door policy. Its Facebook page clearly states that the next meeting, on April 15, will be a “black only space.”

I find this shocking and appalling, especially considering how many nonblack faces I see participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations here and nationwide. As a person who grew up seeing images of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. protesting arm-in-arm with whites and others during the civil rights movement, the blacks-only policy feels wrong. It’s exclusionary. The optics are bad. It feels as if African Americans are self-segregating and doing to whites what has historically been done to us.

Besides, how can the BLM movement be expected to grow and catch on nationally if it limits itself? African Americans represent just 14 percent of the U.S. population, and are virtually invisible in many parts of the country.

https://www.inquirer.com/philly/columnists/jenice_armstrong/Black-Lives-Matter-blacks-only-meeting-policy-rankles-.html

 

 

An End To Hostilities

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8th May, 1945

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

8th May, 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.  The allies had overcome the military might of the Third Reich and liberated the people of Europe from the evil of National Socialism and the horrors of what would become known as the Nazi Holocaust.

The streets of every city, town and village that had suffered under the German occupation were now filled with crowds of people rejoicing.  The sound of gun fire and heavy artillery was replaced with the sounds of cheering people rejoicing that the war was now over.

This year’s celebrations will be somewhat subdued due to the national lock-down because of the Covid19 Virus.

I was born in 1954 just 9 years after the end of the War.  I grew up listening to family memories about the war, the blitz (when German bombers dropped bombs on the United Kingdom), and those family members that served in His Majesty’s Armed Forces.  Many television shows featured documentaries about the war because it was still fresh in the British psyche.

At this time we should look back with gratitude for the sacrifices made by the generation of brave men and women who fought against the evil of National Socialism both in the military and in the various resistance groups across Europe.

We must never forget the scourge of antisemitism and oppose it whenever we come across it. We must resist and reject any notions that God has rejected and has finished with the Jews.  Although the majority of Jews deny Jesus Christ and opposed to attempts by believers to evangelise them they are still loved by God-

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.  For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.  For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:25-32)

Surveillance

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The American business magazine Forbes on April 10th, 2020 published an article with the following headline

Coronavirus Phone Tracking: Apple And Google Just Took Over—Here’s What That Means For You

The article proceeds to outline Apple and Google’s involvement in setting up and monitoring of a global network system that will monitor everyone through a simple phone app in order to “prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

The article states:

Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort,” Apple and Google have assured, “and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders—through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2020/04/10/coronavirus-phone-tracking-apple-and-google-just-took-over-heres-what-that-means-for-you/#24c27eaa88db

The Times of London published the following:

NHS phone app holds key to lifting UK’s coronavirus lockdown

Mobiles will trace every contact of infected people

The article published Sunday 12th April, 2020 states:

Ministers have ordered the creation of an NHS mobile phone app the government hopes will help end the coronavirus lockdown.

The app would allow mobile phones to trace users who have come into contact with infected people, alerting them to get tested.

This would make it possible to start lifting the most stringent social-distancing measures from late next month, ministers hope.

Senior sources say NHSX, the health service’s technology arm, has been working on the app with Google and Apple at “breakneck speed”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nhs-phone-app-holds-key-to-lifting-uks-coronavirus-lockdown-wfmt3pt0g

The desire to have life return to normal after weeks of lock-down is in everyone.  Who wouldn’t want to be able to go out as before, back to school, go to the cinema, the theatre, pubs and clubs, to sit and have a drink and a meal in a cafe or restaurant?  And to have an app on our phones that would permit this, who wouldn’t want this?

main-qimg-5df8e30e7866054e18828bfa692fcc96-c.jpgThe British Government sought to bring in a biometric ID card similar to the ones that residents in other countries have to carry.  This proved to be very unpopular because it meant that private and personal information would be stored on a computer data base somewhere.  So much controversy was stirred amongst the British people who were naturally suspicious as to how such information could be held securely without being hacked into and used.  It also smacked of Nazi Germany in people’s minds.

The government quickly saw how that the introduction of this scheme would be unworkable and the plan was abandoned (although some politicians are still looking for a way to resurrect this plan).

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The Mobile (or Cellular) phone has now become an essential part of human life.  With one, hand held, device we can communicate, take photos and film video, send and receive emails, do our banking, plan journeys and even locate ourselves, navigate via satellite, watch movies, listen to music even pay our bills.  Our lives are lived on our phones.

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Our phones have the potential to be used in order to operate a system of mass surveillance of a kind unparalleled in human history.  We have become used to being placed under scrutiny on our city streets and roads that are consonantly being viewed by literally scores of CCTV cameras.  index.jpg

In some societies, such as Communist China, these cameras come equipped with facial recognition software that can quickly identify an individual enabling the Communists Government to keep every individual under continued surveillance and, in turn, controlled.

Many may see the idea of allowing their movements to be tracked by Government Agencies on our phones as a good thing, especially if it can help stem the tide of Covid19.

But then what?

What about after the covid19 crisis has passed?  Of course we may have to face the spectre of further pandemics in the future.  So it may be seen as being a wise thing to maintain this app operational, especially as we begin to travel abroad once more on holiday (vacation).

Thus we may find our precious liberty completely removed as we become controlled by the State to be rewarded or punished for our noncompliance.

For an example of this we only need to look at Communist China’s “Social Credit” System:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cGB8dCDf3c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkw15LkZ_Kw

 

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sleeping around and debauchery, not in strife and envying.  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:11-14)

James Chapter 4

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1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Now James turns his attention to the root causes of strife and envy that he spoke about in the previous chapter. It is apparent from his opening statement that the Jewish believers had a problem with strife and contentions. We can see an example of this from disputes amongst the Apostles (Matthew 10:35-41).

Throughout the scriptures, and history, the Jews have been notorious for being a contentious and rebellious people often engaged in seditious behaviour and infighting.

Often they cloaked this behaviour under a guise of zeal for God and their religion. James declares that this was firmly rooted in their worldly and fleshly lusts. It is these worldly and fleshly lusts that inspired and managed their wars and fighting.

The internal war manifests itself in external conflict. Impetuous passions and desires war in their members, and then raise feuds in their nation. There is a war between the conscience and corruption, and from these contentions often arise their quarrels with each other.

In fact this conflict is the root cause of divisions and fighting (even wars) amongst people. All the conflict begins in some small, unresolved issue that is allowed to broil, stew and boil over into wars and fighting. Thus the cure for contention is to lay the axe to the root and mortify the lusts that war in our members.

One would think that people would be quick to kill these lusts because they do not satisfy. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not.” We desire to have and obtain things so we seek to remove those things that we perceive stand in our way; so we are willing to do anything, even fight and kill. Religion is often the most effective way of justifying fleshly ambitions and internal sins; it serves as a convenient mask to cover selfish pride and ambition.

 We covet great things for ourselves and think to obtain victories over others so we fight and we may obtain temporal success but it will ultimately guarantee our failure. This is because we do not include God in our undertakings. We must pray, make our request to Him and leave the undertaking in His hands. We should not, however, follow our natural inclinations.

Human logic will tell us that battles are won by strength of numbers and a show of force! That the Holy Spirit’s will is revealed by signs and wonders and by our activity, pomp and show!

 Our lusts spoil our prayers and make them abominable to God, because we ask amiss. We can pray for success against our enemies, but our aim is not to improve the advantages we gain; but to improve our personal advantages (pride, vanity, luxury and sensuality). Seeking to live in great power and plenty, in excess and sensual prosperity. Thus we disgrace our devotion and dishonour God!

How can we expect God to bless our lives if our goals are ungodly and we are being driven by fleshly lusts and carnal motives? Our goal should be simple, that Christ is glorified and the Gospel is spread.

James warns against friendship with the world, that to be a friend of the world is to be an adulterer because worldliness means that we give our devotion to the world. To desire the world is to commit idolatry because devotion to the world is the measure of covetousness, which is called idolatry (Colossians 3:5). The one who sets his heart upon the world, who places his happiness in it, and will conform himself to it, and do any thing rather than lose its friendship, he is an enemy to God.

The root of much evil is the desire for riches, so we are to keep ourselves free from the love of money!

 Higher principles and a nobler spirit should motivate our lives. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up treasures for ourselves and to accumulate wealth. God teaches us to be willing to share and provide for the necessities and the comfort of others. The Grace of God is contrary to the spirit if the world, thus friendship with the world is to be avoided at all costs.

The spirit in man lusts to envy. When we envy others we can be sure that we shall be unforgiving, bear grudges, seek personal gain. The worldly Pastor will only produce a worldly church. Such is the way of the Word of Faith/Prosperity movement, dominionists etc. In recent years pastors have been trained to run their churches on what is known as “the business model”. Ministries are run like mini corporations or, in some cases, major corporations such as Hillsongs. Secular Marketing companies are employed to promote conferences and preachers; sponsorship is sought from companies and/or local and national government.

The notion being that Big is beautiful and the Kingdom of God can only grow through having great financial resources (such as in the Mega church model). Marketing principles replace the movement of God’s Spirit and human reasoning replaces the Holy Scriptures.

If we seek to be the friends of God, the Grace of God will correct and cure the spirit that naturally dwells in us; where He gives grace he gives us another spirit than that of the world.

6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The world exalts pride and disdains humility. Pride was the devil’s downfall and Pride is his greatest weapon. He tempted Eve through the pride of life that she could become as God! Pride is the height of rebellion to God. Each year the city of Manchester holds its Pride week! Gay pride is an affront to God. God created male and female as the means by which the world would become filled with living creatures. Gay Pride is nothing less than a rejection of marriage and nature as God intended.

 We are to be submitted to God. We are to forsake the friendship of the world and watch against the envy and pride that is so prevalent in the human heart! We must submit to Him and subjects to their prince, submit our understanding to the truths of His word and submit our wills to His will.

This is the one area that the devil attacks and strives to hinder us from doing, submitting to God! Thus we are to strive to resist the Devil. Submission to God will bring opposition and hostility from people and it is the fear of men that that will cripple any and all believers. Also pride will push us towards feeling more highly of ourselves than we ought to and take the credit for things that is only due to God!

If we resist the Devil then he will flee from us. We see this plainly in Christ’s own dealing with Satan (Matthew 4:10-11).

 We are to draw near to God. Moving towards God is to go in direct opposition to the devil.

We are to cleanse our hands. The one that comes to God must have clean hands. The hands are symbolic of one’s actions, if we do wrong our hands are seen as being unclean, if we do well they are seen as being clean. To approach God is often described as lifting up one’s hands (1 Timothy 2:8).

Our hearts must be purified. To be caught between God and the world in indecision is to be double minded! We are to be genuine and act upon one single aim and principle. Christ taught that we are either for Him or against Him, thus there is no middle ground. In Revelation Christ describes this as being either hot or cold. This can be seen as an extreme viewpoint, but a door only has two sides; the inside or the outside!

We are to be afflicted, mourn and weep. When God’s people are being afflicted we are to accept the afflictions and not flee. We are to mourn and weep for our own sins and the sins of others. The prophets mourned over the sins of Israel (Lamentations 5:16). Times of contention and division are times for mourning and the sins that cause wars and fightings should be mourned over. We are to sober up. Christ wept at the plight of the people, even though the people were rejoicing and feasting.. Thus, before the worst may come upon us, we are to lay aside vain mirth and sensuous pleasures that we may indulge godly sorrow and tears of contrition.

We must humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. We ought to bewail and bemoan everything that is evil. If we humble ourselves in the sight of God He will lift us up. Our tears of repentance are to be kept from the eyes of others (that is not in the sight of the unbelievers). All that we do is to be done in a spirit of humility, for the humble knows that any good that may be found in them is down to God and not them. (Romans 7:18).

11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?  13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James speaks against evil-speaking. The Greek is καταλαλεῖτε (katalaleite)which means to incriminate or to speak badly of others in order to damage their reputation. This equates to the 8th commandment; you shall not speak unjustly against our neighbour. This is a sin motivated by hatred, prejudice and unkindness.

Since we are believers we should not defile or defame one another. Were we cannot speak well we should keep silence rather than speak evil. We are not to take pleasure in making known the faults of others., divulging their secrets simply to expose them and exaggeration them, much less spreading false stories and spreading things against them of which they are absolutely innocent.

 This cannot but raise the hatred and encourage persecutions against them.

 To do this is to judge the Law. The Law of Christ is to Judge not, that you are not judged. Thus the sum of this is that we should love one another. A tongue that seeks to diminish the worth of another condemns the Law of God and the commandment of Christ.

 This is not suggesting that we are to overlook serious sins or false doctrine, this is aimed at speaking very hard things of each other because of differences about minor things such as the observance of meats and days.

 Censuring and condemning a brother for not agreeing with him in those things that the Law is indifferent about is to judge the Law. To quarrel and condemn over something that the Word of God is silent about, or is not clearly taught, is to prescribe something to the Law that is not there. We are to be doers of the Law and not set ourselves up as those that are judges of it.

It is God’s prerogative to make the final sentence on men. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save, and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

 No one is excluded, Kings or Lawgivers, because even the principle of the rule of law in society is ordained of God and we are commanded to obey the Laws of Society. His right to enact laws cannot be contested, because He has the power to enforce them; He is able to save and to destroy as no other. He has power to reward the observance of them and punish the disobedience to them.. He can save the soul or he can destroy it and cast it into Hell.

We have been warned against being many masters and so we are cautioned about be many judges! We ought not to impose so many rules and regulations upon others so as to take the joy of serving the Lord away and make it burdensome (Matthew 23:1-4).

We are not to be presumptuous concerning our lives and successes. Our times are in God’s hands (Job 14:5).

James issues a severe warning against such presumptuousness: “Go to Now”! In other words, “See here you!”

The world always leaves God out of its schemes. It is man’s pride that tells him that he is able to accomplish anything that he sets his mind to. This is what false teacher, Norman Vincent Peale, called, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

It is a vain thing to look for any good in the future without God’s involvement. This cock-sureness, that we will go here or there! Problem is, how could they be so sure that they will eventually arrive there. Something could occur, trains might be cancelled, an accident might occur. Even the great apostle fell foul of the unseen (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

None of us know how long our lives will be. Our life is but a vapour. We do not know when will be the moment of our death, we may make all sorts of plans, but let us not be so presumptuous as to think that we will have enough time to bring our plans to fruition (Luke 12:17-20).

 We must keep a constant sense of our dependence on the will of God. If God wills! We ought not to state this as a matter of custom, but this should be a guiding principle in our lives..

If the Lord will, we shall live, if the Lord will, we shall do this or that. All that we do for God is under His will (Philippians 2:12-13).

All that we do must be referred to God; all that we design and do should be in submissive dependence on God.

We are also to avoid all vain boasting, and look upon it not only as a weak thing, but also as an evil. We can promise life and prosperity, and great things in this world without any regard to God; and then boast about these things. This is the joy of worldly people to boast of their successes, their projects even before they have even completed them. Such rejoicing is evil; it is foolish and hurtful. It shows a complete lack of humility and is prideful, something that God hates (Proverbs 8:13).

We are to live within the bounds of God’s will, which we know via the scriptures. We derive our faith from the word and we are to live within the bound o our faith (Romans 14:23), also if we know what we should do and don’t do it, this is a sin, because it is disobedience..

There are two types of sins; sins of COmission and sins of Omission.. Sins of commission are the things that we commit, sins of omission are the things that we omit doing. We are to have a conscience about things and our conscience must be bound to the Word of God, as Martin Luther stated. Our conscience must be rightly informed so that it is faithfully and constantly obeyed. If our hearts do not condemn us, then we have confidence towards God, but if we say that we see and do not act suitably to our sight, then our sin remains.

James Chapter 1

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There are 7 men called James in the New Testament so it is possible that one of six wrote this epistle. It could not have been James the brother of John because he had been put to death very early on by Herod. The other apostle James was known as the son of Alphaeus but most scholars are agreed that it is unlikely that he was its author. The general consensus today is that the author was James the brother of the Lord. (Galatians 1:19).

This James is included as an Apostle by Paul and was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. Like Peter James was an Apostle to the Jews.

 It is believed that he died as a martyr in between 62 and 69 AD.

Chapter 1

  1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

Unlike Paul James does not describe himself as “James an Apostle of Jesus Christ” but simply as “a servant of God”. Being the Lord’s brother he was witness to the resurrection of Christ as spoken by Paul (1 Corinthians 15: 3-7).

Initially James had been a disbeliever, as were all the Lord’s siblings (John 7:3-5), however he became a believer after meeting his elder brother. He soon became a leading Apostle to the Church in Jerusalem, and was instrumental in instructing the Jewish believers in all the churches as to the requirements for gentile converts.

 It is probable that he, like Paul, felt humbled by being chosen by Christ and for this reason described himself as being a mere servant. Paul, on the other hand, was constantly having his apostolic authority challenged so he had to constantly remind everyone of his calling.

It is a fact that all who are in positions of leadership in the churches are but servants and ministers to the body; ministers and not masters (James 3:1).

It would have been easy for James to boast of his being close family to Jesus and allowing others to view him as someone extra special in the church. He did not see himself as being worthy of greater reverence because he was a near relative of Jesus.

He sees himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nobody can be a servant of God unless he or she is also a servant of the Lord Jesus. God will have everyone honour the Son as they honour the Father; they are both due the same level of honour (John 5:23).

 Like the author of the previous epistle James is writing to the Jewish believers; the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad! Even though mainly Jews and Israelites inhabited Palestine at this time many were still scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. It is interesting that this is the case even today, most Jews living scattered across the world.

In much the same way that the unbelieving Jews at the start of the Church persecuted Jewish believers, so today Jewish believers are also persecuted by Jewish zealots; such as the Haredim.

The Jews were largely scattered throughout their history as a judgement from God for their disobedience and idolatry, even so God still cares for them and upholds His covenant with them (Ezekiel 11:16). They are still beloved of God and God has not cast them off forever (Romans 11:25-27).

 James show them great respect by sending them greetings desiring them Peace and salvation. No believer should be looked down upon because they suffer many hardships. It is part of our calling to suffer hardship and persecutions (Philippians 1:29). The greatest example of the faith is that we can rejoice in our sufferings, this is what makes us stand out before the crowds. It undoubtedly causes people to take note and wonder how it is that we can react positively to such negative circumstance. How is it that we can love our enemies and do good to those that persecute us, even praying for those that abuse us.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Like the Levites of old the Children of God only have one lot in this world, the Lord Himself (Deuteronomy 10:14). Apart from this they may only expect troubles, trials and to endure very grievous afflictions. These outward afflictions and troubles are temptations that the devil uses to draw people to sin and to deter them from fulfilling their duty.

However, although the devil uses them, they are in God’s hand intended for the trial and improvements of our Graces (that is, our character as believers). Just as Gold that is purified in the furnace.

These temptations are numerous and different: as James says, “Divers Temptation”. This is why we must put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11). We must be armed on every side because temptations lie on all sides.

We do not create such trials to ourselves, nor do we sinfully pull them on to ourselves but are things that we fall into.

James lists the graces that we are to be exercised in; one is Joy. We are told to count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations. The fallen human nature succumbs easily to fear and depression when confronted with trials.

Human philosophy instructs men to be calm, new age therapies point us to serenity and a sense of well-being, however the believer is instructed to be joyful, because this form of discipline proceeds from love and not the fury of God.

By suffering in the way of righteousness we are serving the interests of God’s Kingdom amongst men, and the edification of God’s people. Trials serve to polish us and make us shine as lights in the world.

This is not a New Testament principal, as many might think, it is also revealed in the Old Testament (Job 5:17-18).

 When we are tried it is not we but our faith that is being proven. Trials are necessary for faith in order to produce good fruit in us. Trials should cause us to exercise our faith in the power, the word and promise of the Lord so that we remain faithful and in constancy with Christ.

 The trying of one grace produces another.; and the more they are tried through suffering the stronger they become.

 The trial of faith produces patience. This is also borne out by Paul (Romans 5:3).

 To exercise patience we must allow it to do its work. It is not stupid but active. Godly patience is far different than stoicism. In the one people become insensitive to their afflictions, they grin and bear it; by the other they become triumphant in them and over them.

In times of trial we can easily give in to passion where tempers flare and confusion reigns, and this hinders the operation and effects of patience. Thus we must allow Patience to have its perfect work.

Like the muscles of the body, if patience is not exercised in us through the trying of our faith then we will remain weak and unable to overcome.

 We must bear with all manner of affliction, even if God appoints multiple trials to come upon us (Psalm 34:19). Thus, when we do not only bear troubles but rejoice in them as well, than patience has its perfect work.

When the work of patience is complete, then the believer is whole wanting of nothing. We will be furnished with all that we need to run this race and fight the good fight, enabling us to endure to the end. Then the work will be completed and we will be crowned in glory (Hebrews 10:36).

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

The thing that suffering believers require most is wisdom. There is always the natural instinct to ask God to remove trials and afflictions, however we need wisdom as how to make a right use of the trial. We need to make a correct assessment of things in order to govern our own spirits and temper. To be wise in a time of trial is something that we must seek.

We are not instructed to run to others, but to run to the Lord, “let him ask of God”! God is fully aware of everything, he knows the origin of the trial, our natural reactions to the trial and the outcome, in fact he knew it even before it happened (Matthew 6:6-8). In and of ourselves we do not have the wisdom necessary to confront such trials and withstand them and go through them. Thus we must ask God daily.

 The promise is that God gives to all men liberally and does not upbraid. We need not fear that God will deny us wisdom, in fact He is more than willing to grant us as much wisdom as we need and will never reprove us for it. An admission of our need takes humility and this only pleases God (2 Chronicles 1:7-12).

The one thing necessary whenever we ask something of the Lord is that we do it with a believing, steady mind. “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” We must believe that God will grant us everything we ask (Mark 11:24, Hebrews 11:6). Christ often posed a question to those who came to him for healing (Matthew 9:28). There must be no wavering, no staggering at the promise of God through unbelief or a sense of suffering unfairly on our behalf.

Faith is a constant, it never wavers, being moved by feelings. The waverer is like the troubled sea, driven and tossed about like the waves on the ocean. To disbelieve is sheer wickedness (Isaiah 57:20-21).

 A heart of unbelief cannot expect to be rewarded by God; it spoils our prayers. They that are distrustful, shifting and unsettled and do not value any favour shown by God. They are ungrateful and take everything for granted. Wisdom is to be prized above all things (Job 28:12-14).

 The doubter is unstable in ALL his ways! He is not just a bit unstable, or unstable in some ways, but in ALL his ways. His ability to make correct choices and decisions are put into question. His foundation is not firm but like quicksand. His walk is not steady, but like one that is walking on the deck of a ship on a troubled sea. Try carrying a tray of drinks or writing one’s name in those circumstance.

9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Both poor and rich are directed on what grounds to build their joy and comfort. Contrary to the prevailing mindset the poor are to be given equal status as the rich in the churches. It is common to see the wealthier brethren, and those that contribute more in terms of finances, as being worthy of greater status within churches.

It is also true that the poor often feel envious and despise those that have material riches.

 Christ spoke often about both issues (Luke 18:9-12 & Matthew 19:23-25).

 When persecution arises the rich believer can quickly lose their wealth and their lives. They are to rejoice in that they are made poor for the cause of Christ, their poverty is their exaltation. All who are made destitute for the cause of Christ can rejoice in the prospect of their exaltation at the end in heaven.

The rich should not trust in their wealth because both they and their riches are passing away. Worldly wealth is a withering thing, riches are too uncertain.

 We are not to rejoice so much in the providence of God that makes us rich as we should in the grace of God that keeps us humble!. We should rejoice in those trials and exercises that teach us to seek our joy and fulfilment in and from God, and not from these perishing enjoyments.

 It is not simply the person who suffers with trials but the one that endures and with patience and constancy goes through all sorts of difficulties whilst following Christ.

 Afflictions are not meant to make us miserable. Blessings often arise because of them, and we may be blessed in them.

 Sufferings and temptations adorn the path to eternal blessedness. When we are tried, we shall receive the crown of life. Our faith, like Gold, only shines brighter when put through the fires of trials. It is the tried believer that will be crowned. We will only bear the cross momentarily; the crown will be worn for eternity.

 Our future rewards do not come as a debt, but by a gracious promise. The Lord has promised this to them that love Him. A man may die in the cause of a religion and yet not be pleasing to God, nor be regarded by Him, because he is wanting of charity, or a prevailing love to God and man (1 Corinthians 13:3).

 The crown is not solely for great and eminent saints, but to all those that those who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God will have its trials in this world fully recompensed in the world to come.

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

God is not the author of any man’s sin. Whoever raises persecutions against others, whatever injustice and sin they may be guilty of in proceeding against them, it is not God’s doing. Also, whatever sins good men are provoked to by their exercises and afflictions, God is not the cause of them. The blame for any form of misconduct lies firmly with the person that acts.

We cannot justify our misdeeds upon the Devil nor upon God. True the Devil may try to persuade us to sin but he cannot make us sin. A moral evil is owing to some disorder within the individual, some lack of wisdom, or of power or of good behaviour and purity of the will. Simply put, we sin because we want to, because it is in our hearts to do it.

We are motivated by the thoughts and intents of the heart. We sin because of fleshly lusts that are in us. This is not God’s doing and God cannot be blamed for, “making us this way!” A fire is a small thing, it is the fuel that is added to it that causes a conflagration!

In the beginning man was created innocent, pure and guiltless. When faced with temptation the serpent appealed to Eve through the very thing that John warns us about in 1 John 2:16.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

 The tree was good for food (the lust of the flesh). Note that it was not sexual lust but something even more basic, the stomach. What some people are capable of when faced with hunger! They will steal, sneak, lie and even commit murder when faced with hunger. This was the first of the temptations the Devil used to tempt Christ with after He had spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness.  It is also the reason that Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob.

 It was pleasant to the eyes. It looked nice, looked desirable, looked good. How often can people be deceived because something appears to be good. God warns us not to be deceived by the outward appearance of a thing when inwardly it is bad (Matthew 23:27).

 A tree to be desired to make one wise! It appeals to the pride of life. How often men are deceived by the thought of having a special understanding or a special insight and knowledge that others do not have. Cults make people feel special, that they have a relationship with God that is closer than anyone else. It is always a source of pride to think that we are part of God’s inner circle of disciples; the ultimate blasphemy of all being that we are as God Himself.

The problem with eating the fruit of that tree is that when it takes root and grows in our hearts it brings forth death, the death of one’s soul!

We are told not to err! To err is to deviate from the truth, to apostatise. We should not stray into erroneous opinions and go off the standard of truth. The quickest route into corruption is the way of Gnosticism. Gnostics are led about by all kinds of false notions, every wind of doctrine, every flight of fancy, every new fad of teaching. People become quickly bored with the plain truth, they lust after something that appears to guarantee that they will gain more knowledge and thus become especially pleasing to God and admired by others.  Today many Christians seek mystical experiences, direct words from God and higher levels of spirituality.

These errors are nothing new and were combatted by Irenaeus in his first book against heresies.

The plain truth is that God is not, and cannot be, the author and patron of anything that is evil; but must be acknowledged to be the cause and fountain of everything that is good and perfect.

 God is the Father of lights; the visible light and the invisible light of the Spirit. God is unchangeable and there is no shadow of turning in Him. Ordinary light produces shadows that move and change as the day progresses. With God’s light there are no shadows (Colossians 2:16-17).

 Every good gift is of God. We have nothing good but what comes from Him and no evil or sin that does not come from within us or is done by us. The renovation of our natures, our regeneration and all the consequences of it must be accredited to Him. The genuine believer becomes a different person from what he or she was before the influence of divine grace causes a person to be born anew.

It is of His will and not our own, not by our skill or power; not because God foresaw any good in us or done by us, but purely from the good-will and grace of God. This came about as the result of the Word of Truth, which came to us by the preaching of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15). The design of which is to make us a kind of first-fruits of His creatures. The first fruits are God’s portion and a more peculiar property to Him, that we should become holy to the Lord, as the first-fruits consecrated to Him.

19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

This portion of chapter 1 is a warning against jumping to conclusions or being rash. Paul warned Timothy concerning the time when men would be “heady” or precipitous. We see evidence of this today as people act emotionally and are dominated by passions.

 There are numerous example of this I the scriptures where people have spoken or have acted in haste. Elijah thought that he was the only one left that was for God, Jonah thought that he was justified in being angry at God for not judging Nineveh. Instead of censuring God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to hear what He will say to us.

 Amongst brethren, whenever there are differences each side should be willing to hear the other. Sometimes things end up being blow out of all proportion and people fall out and divide over something that is pointless. Winning a senseless argument is not as important if it means losing a friend.

 We must always have a hold of our tempers. Another of Paul’s warnings to Timothy was concerning the implacable. The implacable cannot be placated, anger is easily stirred up in them and they remain angry for so long.

 In the world anger often overflows into rage and violence, and when it’s a group they quickly become a mob and mobs often vandalise property, assault others and begin to plunder and pillage! This is not God’s way. To peacefully demonstrate is fine; to riot is not of God.

 Religious piety is often a mask for a pretend zeal for God. This is what the enemies of Christ used to stir up the crowds to clamour for Christ’s crucifixion. As we have seen in the rise of modern terrorism, the worse thing that we can bring to a religious controversy is fleshly anger. The pretence of concern for what is right and just is not to be trusted.

Wrath is a human emotion and the wrath of man is opposed to the righteousness of God. Thus, all those that pretend to serve the cause of God show that they know neither God nor His cause!

Other corrupt affections must be resisted also, as well as rash anger; all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness. The word translated “Filthiness” is ῥυπαρίαν (rhypariai) which means defiled or dishonoured, befouled. This equates to someone smearing things with dung, or menstrual blood, thus being made especially vile. This is used mas a metaphor of wickedness as a moral defilement or sordidness. A superfluity is synonymous with an overflowing, for that is what superfluity literally means. So the wrath of man comes as the result of the flesh and accompanies other works of the flesh.

Setting aside these things we should receive with meekness the engrafted word. The word can be engrafted, or implanted, either by nature or by the instruction of others, and this can save our souls.

 We are to be doers of the word and not just hearers. Many are willing to receive instruction from others. They will listen eagerly to all types of preachers and teachers, they will travel from conference to conference yet fail to obey the word of God.

 When we do this we are only deceiving ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking that we have light when, in reality, we walk in darkness (Matthew 6:23). We are rendered like people who are partially sighted who can see shadows and shapes but cannot see clearly.

James states that we become like people that glance at themselves in a mirror only to forget what they saw. However the Law of Liberty gives a perfect reflection of our face. Some mirrors flatter but God’s mirror gives a true reflection, showing us any and all the imperfections on our faces. Thus we can see clearly any and all blemishes so that we might deal with them.

 When we attend to the word of God in order to see ourselves in our true state and condition, to rectify that which is amiss then we are making correct use of the scriptures. When we listen to the word and fail to apply it to ourselves, we may feel stirred in some way but not enough to come under the Spirit’s conviction and change. How quickly the conviction is forgotten, good affections vanish and pass away like a vapour that quickly evaporates.  Too often we fail to apply the words of Christ to the Scribes and Pharisees to ourselves and take it for granted that we are walking in His ways.

We are not simply to look into the Gospel but we are to continue in it. For the Jew this meant that the Gospel is one of liberation, deliverance from Levitical Laws, from sin and from guilt, from wrath and from death. Moses brought bondage; the Gospel of Christ brings liberty.

 It is perfect; nothing can be added to it.

 We are to keep it in our hearts, set it always before our eyes so that we will fully follow its instruction (Psalm 1:1-3).

in other words it is not by hearing and talking, but it is by hearing and walking that we follow the path to Heaven.

26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Here we see that there is only one form of religion that is acceptable to God. This religion has no name, it is not called Christianity, Islam, Judaism, whatever, it is simply to look after widows and orphans and keep yourself from the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 All other forms of religion are vain and unprofitable and are not acceptable to God. Vain religion is based upon appearances, and persuading others of our “spirituality”. If all we have is a show of religion and piety we have a form of godliness but deny its power.

Vain religion censures and condemns; it reviles and diminishes others. As Matthew Henry puts it:

When we hear people ready to speak of the faults of others, or to censure them as holding scandalous errors, or to lessen the wisdom and piety of those about them, that they themselves may seem the wiser and better, this is a sign that they have but a vain religion. The man who has a detracting tongue cannot have a truly humble gracious heart. He who delights to injure his neighbour in vain pretends to love God; therefore a reviling tongue will prove a man a hypocrite. Censuring is a pleasing sin, extremely complaint with nature, and therefore evinces a man’s being in a natural state.

(Note: To evince means to reveal or show evidence of)

Godly religion is not adorned with ceremonies, but with purity and charitableness. Christ explained this to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. They were having a discussion as to what constituted the true religion. She spoke concerning their religious differences; that the Samaritans worshiped at Sichar and the Jews in Jerusalem. The Samaritans had no Temple but did have priesthood and kept a sacrificial system. The Jews, however, had the temple at the heart of their religion with all its accompanying rituals and ceremonies. Yet Christ declares that this is not what God desired and that the old system of worship would be replaced by worship that was in spirit and in truth.

This means to follow the teachings of Christ because Christ declared that His teachings ARE Spirit and Life (John 6:63). It is they that give life to the scriptures and, if they abide in us, then they will come alive in us (John 15:6-8). This is not evidenced by a person’s level of engagement in a variety of activities within the confines of the walls of a church building our outside of those walls, such as social programs, music performances, the exhibiting of (or appearance of having) spiritual manifestations, good works etc.  None of these things are the sign of a genuine believing heart.

People in many cults and religions pray, sing praises to God and do charitable works, so these things are not at the heart of the Christian Faith.  As Paul explains:


If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

 Compassion and charity to the poor and distressed is not a part of the Christian life it is the heart of the Christian life (Matthew 22:37-40), but we must also keep ourselves clear of the corruption that is in the world (2 Peter 1:4). The world will quickly taint our spirits; but the sins and lusts of the world deface and defile. The three things; the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life are the very things that we are to keep ourselves unspotted from.

How are we to achieve this? ……Only by the Grace of God (Romans 7:24-25).

Effective preaching does not always bring conversion

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For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:15-17)

Many have the mistaken idea that effective preaching causes people to come to Christ.  This is nonsense!  Truly effective preaching shines the light of God’s Word into the depths of a person’s being and exposes what lies at the core.  This has an affect on the hearer, and it produces 3 reactions: it makes the hearer mad, sad or glad!  Mad, that their sin is exposed; Sad, that they have sinned and Glad that there is a remedy for their sin and they can have peace with God through Christ!

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It matters not whether we preach aloud or simply hand out Gospel literature, the reaction is still the same.  The other week Amélia was approached by someone asking for a booklet, she obliged at which point he rubbed it on his backside and handed it back.  Other times people have spit in the booklets, torn them and thrown them back in our faces or ripped them up and tossed them to the ground.

As Miguel was preaching a couple of young women sat nearby to listen.  They were laughing and poking fun.  At one point they began to kiss passionately.  One of them got up and went to a nearby store and came back with a rainbow streamer and began to dance up and down in front of John and Miguel.  They were obviously trying to provoke us into some form of reaction.  Miguel continued to preach.  Whilst her friend had gone to the store one of them remained listening to the preaching, it was obvious that she was becoming convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Eventually they left as we did not react to their provocations.  They approached Amélia to ask her for one of the booklets.  This was effective preaching!

In the New Testament, Stephen, was preaching to a crowd of people.  His message was uncompromising and hard hitting.  The crowd were stirred to anger and stoned him to death.  This was effective preaching!

The Apostles preached, were often harassed and imprisoned.  Why?  Because they preached effectively!

Which Gospel?

Gospel

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

It is entirely possible to hear someone preach another Gospel than the one contained in the scriptures.  Counterfeit Gospels can often be close to the truth that without good discernment minds cannot even distinguish between that which is fake and the true.

The need for discernment is such that modern Christians cannot discern between true Evangelicalism and the modern Neo-Evangelicalism.

Several decades ago churches adopted the so-called Gospel of Prosperity. The doctrine that Christ died to make us prosper materially both in our finances and in terms of health is contrary to the scriptures.

When challenged about this we are often met with the reply, “So God wants us all to be poor, is that it?”  It is true that, in times past, many had been led to believe that in order to follow God they had to take vows of poverty.  This is also contrary to the scriptures.

So what is the truth?  Let us take a small look at the scriptures.

Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9)

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:11-12)

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.  But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:8-10)

The true Gospel is not one of Prosperity nor Poverty but one of contentment!

The Holy Spirit is very clear concerning those that equate godliness as a means to become rich:

If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. FROM SUCH WITHDRAW YOURSELF! (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

Of the seven churches in Asia God had the Apostle John write to, the church of Laodicea was typical of many of our modern day Pentecostal/Charismatic churches.  They had spiritual gifts, they were a prosperous church and contented themselves in the belief that they had everything that a church needed to enjoy the blessing of God.  However Christ said this to them:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:14-19)

They believed that they were wise and godly, in fact they were deceived and blind to the fact that they had strayed from the path.

God’s counsel to His children, when they come across Christians who promote the so-called Prosperity Gospel, is to withdraw yourself from them.  This is essential if we are to keep ourselves from the corruption of covetousness.  It only takes a small amount of leaven to corrupt a person or a church!

The commandment of God to us is as follows:

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.  WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” (Hebrews 13:5)

Liberalism

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John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704)

Liberalists campaign for a fairer and more tolerant society and hold to a philosophy based upon 7 fundamental principles:

 Individual Rights
Protecting the rights of the individual must be the highest value of society, to foster mutual tolerance and respect towards the cultivation of the dignity of every person.

Democracy
Constitutional democracy is the best way for a free citizenry to maintain a state and resist tyranny.

Economic Freedom
Property rights that begin with personal self-ownership and private property create the most productive societies.

Freedom of speech
Freedom of expression is a necessary and fundamental pillar of a free society.

Self-reliance
People possess agency and should be treated as such because treating people like victims becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Blind Justice
Each individual should be governed by the same laws as their peers without arbitrary discrimination and be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a fair trial.

Secularism
Everybody is free to practice their religion, or not, as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others.

On the surface they appear trustworthy and, as Bible-believing Christians, we can agree with much of the sentiments held by Liberalists.

Liberalism as a coherent philosophical belief

British philosopher John Locke developed Liberalism in the 18th century. Locke is often described as the “Father of Modern Liberalism”. Locke lived at a time of great social upheavals in England. Events that happened during Locke’s lifetime include the English Restoration (1660), the Great Plague of London (1665-1666) and the Great Fire of London (2-6 September, 1666).

Although Locke was an advocate of tolerance, he urged the authorities not to tolerate atheism, because he thought the denial of God’s existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos. That excluded all atheistic varieties of philosophy and all attempts to deduce ethics and natural law from purely secular premises. In Locke’s opinion the cosmological argument (that is; the fact that all things in nature exist are down to a singular cause) was valid and proved God’s existence. His political thought was based on Protestant Christian views.

Whilst we would agree with the Liberalists on some of their principles we, as Bible believers, have serious concerns with the idea of secularism. It is our belief that our lives are to be in submission to the principles laid down in the Bible and, in particular, the New Testament.

We are taught to submit to civil authorities and the principle of law. Of course where civil law legislates us to act against the commandments of Christ then we are to submit to Christ as echoed in the words of the apostles to the Temple Authorities:

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:18-20)

We cannot, and will not, promote the principle of secularism as secularism is opposed to the furtherance of the Gospel. Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the “indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations.” In different contexts the word can refer to anticlericalism, atheism, desire to exclude religion from social activities or civic affairs, banishment of religious symbols from the public sphere, state neutrality toward religion, the separation of religion from state, or disestablishment (separation of church and state).

We agree that church and state should be separate from each other. The idea of a theocratic system is anathema to us as this is contrary to the teaching of Christ, that His kingdom is NOT of this world.

The churches should not be governed by the State and, in turn, the State should not be governed by the churches (ie: ecclesiastical authorities). The problem with Secularism is that it too often leads to the secularisation of society.

In our times we have registered a rise in militant atheism that seeks to impose an atheistic secularisation of all levels of society to the point where all churches are to be combatted and controlled. Even legislation is enacted to prevent and outlaw the Christian education of children by their parents.

It is this prospect that John Locke foresaw and was so insistent that Atheism should not be tolerated in society. In his publication A Letter Concerning Tolerance Locke states:

Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. 

In conclusion, though we applaud any, and every, group that would uphold the ability of believers to pursue their religious freedom we shall always remain vigilant when it comes to secularism, and (in particular) any and all groups that would seek to pursue the Neo-Atheistic policy of secularisation.

Sensuality as Worship

So-called Ecstatic Worship
So-called Ecstatic Worship

….. they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who would walk after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who separate themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit.
(Jude 1:18-19 )

The dictionary defines sensuality this way: sen•su•al adj.
1. Relating to or affecting any of the senses or a sense organ; sensory.
2. a. Of, relating to, given to, or providing gratification of the physical and especially the sexual appetites.
b. Suggesting sexuality; voluptuous.
c. Physical rather than spiritual or intellectual. (Emphasis mine)
d. Lacking in moral or spiritual interests; worldly.

The Holy Spirit here warns us through Jude concerning the Last Times when people would be Sensual not having the Spirit. These are people who would enter the churches not as visitors from outside the churches, but from within the churches; else we would not need to be warned against them.

It is commonly felt that “Sensual” is always synonymous with sexuality; however the context here is with regards to the physical “senses”—“Feelings” and “sensations”.

We have five senses; Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste and Scent.

We are told that we “walk by faith”, as opposed to walking “by sight”.
2Co 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. This is simply a reminder that our lives must not be governed by our feelings, our senses.

Back in the sixties one of the philosophies of the world was always, “If it feels good, it IS good”.

Another question often asked is, “Is this so wrong if it feels so right?”

The paradigm shift:

In the 1980’s a major change in thinking began to affect the churches, and continues until now; “The need for a paradigm shift in the Church (we must change our Western world view to that which integrates reliance upon supernatural influences)”. Basically this teaching suggests that that which promotes the “Fruits of the Spirit” is of primary importance. On the surface most would agree. According to Paul the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. (Ga 5:22-23). Therefore if the Holy Spirit is moving amongst a congregation these are the things that will be manifested.

According to John Wimber, “A result of our worshipping and blessing God is being blessed by him. We don’t worship God in order to get blessed, but we are blessed as we worship him. He visits his people with manifestations of the Holy Spirit.” (Equipping the Saints, Vol. 1, No. 1. Renewal Journal #6 (1995:2), Brisbane, Australia, pp. 3-7).

It was common in a number of churches, particularly the Charismatic churches, for the preaching of the Word to be set aside if the leadership felt that the Holy Spirit was “moving”. It was felt that it would be wrong to disturb these manifestations (thus “Quench the Spirit”), as the working of the Holy Spirit is more important than listening to teaching. “Doctrine” was seen as being too divisive and, as a result, demoted in the thinking of the average church member. The reasoning being that; “God is above His Word”; and, “God is not limited by His Word.”

John Wimber again, “This was an exciting revelation. After learning about the central place of worship in our meetings, there were many instances in which all we did was worship God for an hour or two.” (Equipping the Saints, Vol. 1, No. 1. Renewal Journal #6 (1995:2), Brisbane, Australia, pp. 3-7).

This is a dangerous precedent because there was no longer a need for a Scriptural basis for anything. It is true that scripture would be quoted in order to back up this idea, however this would generally be based on scriptures taken out of context being spliced together in order to give the appearance of being scriptural.

Sensuality as Worship

Worship is seen as “Intimacy with God”. The thing that stands out and attracts people to many church meetings is the “depth and richness of worship”. This usually refers to a well-orchestrated time of singing commonly called, “Praise and Worship”.

I was a member of a Charismatic Church for several years and became involved in the “Praise and Worship”. “Worship” leaders were taught “principles” of worship, techniques that can be used to create an “atmosphere for worship”. Generally these were techniques commonly taught to musicians about how to stir up emotions in the hearers, feelings of awe, love, joy and above all a sense of being so overwhelmed that tears would come to the eyes and there would be an over spilling of emotionalism. This was equated with becoming intimate with God.

John Wimber, ‘After we started to meet in our home gathering, I noticed times during the meeting – usually when we sang – in which I experienced God deeply. We sang many songs, but mostly songs about worship or testimonies from one Christian to another. But occasionally we sang a song personally and intimately to Jesus, with lyrics like “Jesus I love you”. Those types of songs both stirred and fed the hunger for God within me.” (Equipping the Saints, Vol. 1, No. 1. Renewal Journal #6 (1995:2), Brisbane, Australia, pp. 3-7).

The majority of people would enter a state of what can only be described as an “altered state”, with eyes closed and being almost unconscious of what was happening around. However the person leading would remain alert, eyes open and looking around to see the reactions of the congregation. Depending upon the reaction he/she would then continue to play similar music, or change the music, basically manipulating the mood.

Healing and Deliverance” are also a major factor in churches today. I attended a conference on healing where we were being taught a “Healing Methodology”, or what were described as “Techniques of Healing”. We were taught certain “signs” to look out for that often accompanied healings. These were listed as “heat”, “tingling”. So we were taught to “look out for these things”.

Several weeks later I was listening to a local radio show in which a Spiritualist medium was being interviewed. I was shocked and amazed to hear this man stating the very same “Healing methodology” and describing the exact same things to look out for; the “heat” and “tingling”. I soon realised that what was being taught in the churches was simply mediumship in “Christian language”.

All this makes a mockery of true Biblical Christianity, replacing Spirituality with sensuality and carnality.

What is true worship?

What constitutes Worship? Is worship “intimacy with God?

The Hebrew word translated as “Worship” is שָׁחָה (shaw-khaw’), it means:
to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God):–bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

The Greek word translated “Worship” is: προσκυνέω (pros-koo-neh’-o). It means:
To kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):–worship.

It simply refers to our being in submission to God, particularly in the sense of our being obedient.

Jesus, in speaking with the Samaritan woman, stated: Joh 4:23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.

Was He referring to our singing? I think not.

Throughout the history of God’s people he was always reproving them for false worship. The idea that God was simply satisfied with them singing and keeping their religious meetings and feasts without obedience to His commands.

Isa 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

Jesus Himself repeats this:

Mr 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

They would sing and declare their love for Him, however:

Ps 78:36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.

The heart of Worship is NOT intimacy—the heart of worship is OBEDIENCE!

Mt 21:28-32 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

Music has its place; it is a vehicle through which we offer praise to God: Psalms 145-150 show us this; however this should not be confused with worship. We offer God praise with our mouths, but worship is living an obedient life!

Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.