Friday, May 26, 2017


Proverbs 18:17  The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

Psalms 43:3  Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

Grace vs. law, love vs. correction, works vs. faith, free will vs. predestination, eternal life vs. losing salvation, pre-trib, post-trib, or pan-trib, etc. etc. - there is a constant argument on these subjects and others in the Christian faith.  The "discussion" of them is good, since discussion - true discussion - causes us to go to the Word to discover what it is saying.  But many times we can become lopsided Christians, because we are not taking the whole of Scripture, but instead looking at just the Scriptures that fit our argument, for whatever reason, and trying to fit the rest into it.  I'm just seeing a lot of lopsidedness on the internet and on social media these days, so it has been taking up a lot of my thoughts.  I've seen myself as lopsided sometimes, and I've been in lopsided churches.  One thing I've noticed is that when the Lord opened up His Word to me and showed me the truth in a particular area, all the pieces fit together without being forced very nicely and understanding came along with joy and peace  and delight in His Word.  It brought life to me.  When I was lopsided there was not that, but always a striving to fit things together, and a sort of bondage, even though I was unaware of it until I was freed from it.  God's truth always sets free when accepted and understood.  It brought me closer to Him, and I enjoyed His unbroken fellowship.

When I was a young Christian I was under a strong bondage of legalism.  What I mean by that was that I felt that my works mattered greatly to my salvation, and that if I didn't measure up to the standard given to me by a certain denomination or even my own scruples, that I would lose my salvation.  I felt God was always mad at me. It was a very works based way of trying to live the Christian life.  I knew I was saved by grace, and that it was through the blood of Jesus, but somehow I felt it my obligation to "keep" it.  I was being taught a lopsided view and none of the pieces fit together right. They were always being squeezed in here or there. Many places in the Word seemed to contradict one another.

After years I discovered the other side - grace.  I discovered that I was saved through grace alone, by faith, and that it was not a performance based life at all!  It was such a blessing and deliverance to me that I became somewhat lopsided.  I was stressing grace so much in my discussions that I made it look as though sin was nothing - and people could have taken it to be antominianism. I didn't think that way, but I came across that way to some. I focused on this grace to the point that I was missing the importance of obedience and its rightful place.  As I grew in my Bible study I began seeing that the more I experienced of this grace and love of Christ, the more my heart desired to be obedient to Him in everything, and I grew in my disgust and hatred of sin in myself, all the while knowing I was not under condemnation - I hated anything that would displease Him, Whom my soul loved.  Once free from the principle of law, I was free to live truly by the law of love. My focus was now off from myself and performance and was on Christ. I began to understand grace and obedience rightly.  I began to see the danger of being lopsided in either direction.

So many times as believers, we become lopsided in our theology, because we focus on one aspect that has in some way ministered to us, or awakened us.  Or we focus on one aspect, that we are misled by men in, to the point where we cannot see the whole.  Many times we try so hard to hold to a particular teacher that no matter what that teacher says, we have to defend it, right or wrong.  We fail to check the Scriptures and study it ourselves asking the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. There are Scripture verses that seem to contradict one another.

Romans 3:27-28
(27)  Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
(28)  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Romans 4:2-3
(2)  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
(3)  For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."

James 2:21-24
(21)  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
(Thayer on justified:  to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered). (His works made manifest and showed evidence of his faith).
(22)  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
(23)  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"—and he was called a friend of God.
(24)  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

So some, thinking there is a contradiction, choose either works or grace... but fail to see what is being said is not a contradiction at all, if taken in the whole of Scripture.  If you see it as a contradiction, you have to take one and discard the other, rather than to take them both and see what they are really saying and what the whole context says in both books.  If you do this you will see that they are saying the same thing. 

Scofield: These are two aspects of one truth. Paul speaks of that which justifies man before God, namely: faith alone, wholly apart from works; James of the proof before men, that he who professes to have justifying faith really has it. Paul speaks of what God sees -- faith; James of what men see -- works, as the visible evidence of faith. Paul draws his illustration from (Genesis 15:6) James from (Genesis 22:1-19). James' key phrase is "ye see" (James 2:24) for men cannot see faith except as manifested through works.

We have to be careful to lay the right foundation, which is always Jesus Christ and His finished work.  Many take their one sided view of Scripture, or obscure hard to understand verses as their foundation for their views rather than starting from the true foundation of His finished work.  Many also don't understand correct definitions of words and even as they are arguing their different sides to each other, they have different definitions so neither understands the other and nothing is settled.  "Never take a difficult passage of Scripture to explain away a clear cut passage of Scripture" - J. Vernon McGee.  I've seen this done many times over.  There is also correct hermeneutics in studying and "rightly dividing" the Word of truth.  You cannot just make a Scripture say what you want it to say out of context, or without understanding who it is for, or the time period it was given. 

I can tell when I'm with certain people, that there is no discussion because they only want to argue.  There is a difference.  When one wants to argue, there is no discussion, but only their lopsided view they want you to hear, all while they are not at all listening to you so that there can be a discussion.  A discussion involves give and take, looking honestly at the issues on both sides, pointing out the reasoning according to Scripture clearly, being willing to be taught, having a heart to learn truth, and realizing that Scripture is spiritually discerned and sometimes is a matter of maturity in the faith, realizing we have to allow the Holy Spirit time to work in a persons heart, even as He has in our own.  Love, with humility and grace, keeps from pride and anger and aggressiveness or "snarkiness." 

2 Timothy 2:23-25
(23)  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
(24)  And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
(25)  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

We can be lopsided if we are so adamant at convincing someone of their error, that we forget grace and love.  We become dependent on our fleshly ability to convince by argument rather than seeing the real need or the real issue of the heart, as Jesus always did, and trusting the Holy Spirit to work through us, and to know when to speak and when not to. I am always impressed with the way Jesus, in Scripture never seemed to answer the direct question of some, but instead spoke directly to the real heart need, with true wisdom, in each case.  It seemed as though He were ignoring their questions, but He really saw their heart and knew what they really were dealing with and needed to hear (ex. Nicodemus when he came to Jesus by night, the woman at the well, many times with the Pharisees).  Only the Holy Spirit knows what is in a person's heart and what their heart is really seeking.  This is why our flesh cannot save anyone or convince anyone. Only His Spirit can, and we are only of use as we are led by Him.  If we are given to frustration and rage, or snarkiness, we are not being led by Him.  Do you want to reach your brother or sister, or do you want to be proven right and win an argument, which you don't really "win." 

Some become lopsided because the word "love" has been so redefined by the world to mean acceptance of every ungodly lifestyle and sin no matter how gross, and a disregarding of the well-being and salvation of the sinner.  So they jump all over it in their flesh and come across, just as they are accused of by the world, as mean-spirited, self-righteous haters.  It will do no good for them to try to convince the sinner that they love them and are trying to save them when they are lopsided and aren't showing them that.  Here again, the definition of words needs to be clarified as well as seen in the life. 

If someone is not yet prepared to "discuss" it does no good to argue.  To argue then, is only a matter of our pride trying to be "right" or vindicated in our stand.  I've seen Christians on social media become so disgustingly nasty or condemning in their remarks to one another, because they had to prove their view was the correct one, that I am just flabbergasted that they cannot see how they are coming across to, not only that person, but others who are watching.  It grieves my heart and I'm sure grieves the heart of God, when we claim to follow Him but pushing our theology or views onto others is more important than how we represent Him.  I've seen Christians post vulgar things that just astounds me, and use name calling and ridicule, and then they turn around and brag about their beliefs as being superior to others.  I've seen Christians post a mixture of occultic practices and Scripture and tear down anyone who tries to lovingly point them to see it.  How much we must grieve the Holy Spirit and quench Him in our lives!!  How much we play into the hands of the devil! Lord, help us to see our lopsidedness and to care about the things You care about, seeking truly to know You and walk in fellowship with You!  How sad to put ourselves in a place where those who see our error are afraid to come along side of us, because we are so obstinate and unteachable.  How sad if we have the truth but turn it into something else because of the way we present it.  God help us!  Do we want people to see You, or us?  Help us to discern our own hearts!

I'm sure this is not all I or others could say on this subject, and I'm sure there could be many discussions on this subject, but I hope it will at least be enough to cause each of us to question ourselves before a Holy God and loving Savior.  I hope it will not be used as another "argument" to throw in someone's face, but be used as a private moment of examination of our own hearts.  As I see these things online, that's what it has done to me.  It has made me much more thoughtful of how I am representing the Lord I love and how I am affecting people who I touch one way or another every day.  May the Lord enable me to always truly represent Him and to discern when I'm being lopsided.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


In the family there are different relationships where we form bonds, learn to love, learn to bear with another, learn to forgive, and learn many things about our relationship with God as His children.  God shows us His love for us in many ways.  He is the author of relationships and family.  He gave us family for a purpose.  We have a husband and wife.  This relationship is said to be symbolic of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:24-32). We have children and experience the tremendous bond of love between a parent and child, which is how God refers to us, as His children (1 John 3:1).  As children we learned the love of our mothers and Fathers and we see the perfect love of our Heavenly Father. We also have sisters and brothers in a family and in God's family we have sisters and brothers, not through blood, but through His Spirit given to us, causing a new birth into His family.  It is not the earthly family that teaches us so much of His love, because not all earthly family relationships are good.  Some are corrupted so much by sin that they become bitter relationships.  No, it is God's love that teaches us what a true family is and what love is, and His examples of the type of relationship He created through the family shows us the immense love He has for us in those different types.  As we live in our families in step with the Spirit, we demonstrate His love to our family and others.  Following, is an older article I wrote on relationships in the body of Christ.  We are learning to be a "family" in Christ together, and though flawed, we will be continually learning this throughout our sojourn here below. These are things we need to learn as believers in our earthly families as well as in our family in Christ.
I John 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:20-21  If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  (21)  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Relationships In Christ

It would be helpful today to read the entire chapter of Col. 3 for the background of what I would like to share today.

 Colossians 3:1-4  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  (2)  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  (3)  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  (4)  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:10  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Putting on the "new man"... that which is the new image of Christ in us... that which Christ has made us and which is "hidden in Him", v. 3, to be revealed when we are with Him.  Put that on now and put off all those things that cause aggravation in relationships... those fleshly things that bother us or clash in our personalities with one another, knowing that in our life in Heaven, those things will disappear as that image of Christ and love is pure and perfect between us all together in Christ and from us to Him.  Just as His love is perfect then our love for one another will be perfect without any fleshly differences.  Personality clashes and flesh rubbing against flesh will then be gone.  So as they happen now, be "forbearing" v. 13, and put on what you see in Christ, v. 12, knowing that that is your portion.

Ephesians 4:24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

As we increase in the knowledge of God, and the image of His Son within us, all the more we are able to "put on" that image in our daily walk. We learn to walk in that which Christ has already made for us... that image which is hidden now in Him.  We have been made a "new creation in Christ Jesus," 

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Though we are a "new creature", and only that "in Christ," we are yet learning to know Him and put that image on outwardly that He has put in us inwardly.  We are yet growing in that.  But as we are continually renewed in the knowledge of that image, we are more and more being outwardly conformed to it.  We don't learn to put on that image by looking inward and seeing if we find it there.  No, it is "hidden in Christ", and we must look heavenward for it.  We must fix our eyes on things above, His redemption, His life, His finished work, and His attributes, learning of Him.  The more we see Christ, the more His image is being formed in us.  The more our affections are on Him and what He is preparing for us, the more we live in that.  If our affections are on things here below and what they can do for us in our temporal lives, we live according to that, and guard those things. 

1 John 3:2-3  Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  (3)  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

This can only be by faith in that which Christ alone has done.  His finished work must be believed in and apprehended for oneself, and by faith, as we learn more of that which He has done for us, in us, and saved us for, the more we are by faith enabled by the grace He alone gives, to walk in that new creation He has made us.  Again, it is by faith.  It is His work.  We submit to and walk in that work.  Unless we understand His work, and our position given "in Christ", we will not be able to "put on Christ".  All the putting on is under condition of that which was first stated in v. 1, being risen with Christ. We must see ourselves as now risen with Him positionaly, because God, Who is outside of time, sees all things as finished in Christ,

Ephesians 2:5-6  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (6)  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

 He sees us there in the Heavenlies with Christ already.  The rest of His instructions in this chapter are all based on this.  And even as we put off our own fleshly things, and put on Christ in His loving others, we also need to see them as that new creation in Christ, also loved by Him, therefore forbearing them as Christ us in these bodies of death!  We need to be merciful and gracious with our differences and irritations.  They may not sin against us, but they may just rub us the wrong way in personality or likes or dislikes or scruples, etc.  Should we avoid others in the body of Christ because of these things and cling to those who are more like us?  No... we need to "put off" our own preferences and love as we are loved, putting on Christ in His love, not thinking of ourselves or our preferences for one another, but of His love for that one.  When we see each other in His love, we see each other very differently.  Putting on His love, is putting on the "bond of perfectness." 

This is something I've been becoming more and more convicted of in my own life. Most of our friendships are formed because of mutual interests or needs.  We tend to spend more time with the person who validates us in some way, and agrees with us.  We tend to avoid people who stretch us, or make us feel uncomfortable in any way.  What if God sees something you don't see?  What if he sees Himself in you both and is wanting to use each of you, in a relationship, to help each other to see the flesh for what it is, put it off, and embrace His image in each other.  Sometimes it takes some work to do that.  I have to ask myself, am I seeking relationships for myself, or am I allowing God to bring whatever relationships in my life He chooses for His purposes and not mine.  Sometimes we "bear with" one another, as the Lord does us, and continue walking in that love, putting off ourselves, putting on Christ.  Sometimes we are hurt by friends who don't reciprocate our feelings.  We can't make people like us.  We can't make people agree with us.  But we can love them regardless.

Think of it. In Heaven there will be no favoritism among ourselves, and no jealousy, no slighting one another in favor of someone else's friendship, but there will be the bond of perfectness in our love for one another just as we are loved by Him.  All of that will be done away with.  All those things that we tend to do without realizing it because of our own flesh and it's comfort, preferences, likes and dislikes.  We hurt one another without meaning to or realizing it because we prefer one over another in the body of Christ. We form clicks.  We leave someone out because we may not feel we have as much in common with that one or maybe they have a personality that is harder for us to warm up to.  We can't help that in the natural we are drawn to some more than others.  All those things are done away with in Christ as we put on the "bond of perfectness" in His love.  They look past all and love for His purposes and not our own.  They bear with little personality irritations and love the brethren as we are all in Christ.  We are all His and He has stamped His image in each of us.  The freer we are of the love of self, the freer we are to love the unlovely, not looking to get something out of it.

Colossians 3:15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

If the "peace of God" is in our hearts... that peace that comes from knowing He is in our hearts and has justified us and put us "in Christ," removing all doubt of our eternal life in Him, then we are also able to be ruled by that peace with each other in the body of Christ, as a "family," not quarrelling with one another but understanding ourselves as all of His body, united under His headship.  His peace acts as our "umpire" in all our relationships here.  We do not think of ourselves as individuals with our own interests, but as one body, all filled with His Spirit growing together under Him, being builded together as a dwelling place for Him.  Can He have any other dwelling place than perfect love?

Philippians 2:1-8  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  (2)  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  (3)  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  (4)  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  (5)  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  (6)  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  (7)  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  (8)  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

There are so many things within ourselves that can separate us.  There are so many differences of personalities, likes, dislikes, opinions, ways of doing every day things, etc.  We even let them cause hurt in the body of Christ and in some cases even divisions.  We hold onto grudges and hurts and side with one over another on issues that do not relate to eternity.  It happens in families, it happens in friendships, it happens in churches.  We are quick to speak up our opinion to put down someone else's instead of taking an interest in them and listening.  We are quick to have the last word to make sure we are validated, disregarding the other.  Do we always have to make sure we are heard?  Have we really listened with interest in what the other is saying? 

But we must "let this mind be in us that was in Christ".  If He, the Son of God, could humble Himself taking on the form of flesh, taking the form of a servant, can we humble ourselves enough to serve one another?  Can we allow God to use relationships He brings in our lives to serve Him rather than serving us?  We have the mistaken idea sometimes that God will only bring people into our lives that will be a strength and encouragement to us so we don't allow others in.  Sometimes we are called to be a strength and encouragement to others, and sometimes we're just called to love and bear with someone who is not so lovable, simply because they are His.  He loves them and we are to love them no less.  He sees their need for friendship and how hard it is in the natural for them to have that and He is their friend.  He wants to work in each of your lives in ways neither of you see.

I can't help but think of how drained the Lord must have gotten from the people around him, being God in the flesh, and knowing all He knew, yet putting up with sinful men with all their temperaments and self-serving attitudes.  Some people drain you. If you ever have a hard time putting up with someone, just think of how much the Lord has put up with you!  Should you do less toward your brother? 

Colossians 3:12-14  Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  (13)  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  (14)  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Above all... love, which is the bond of perfectness.  This is what we are being perfected in, and ultimately will be... perfect in love. 

Abba, Father, enable us now and each day, more and more, as we gaze on things above to put on Christ in all His love.