Monday, November 17, 2008


Are you a good person?

The answer that most people give (Christians included), is usually "yes".

For the most part, we consider ourselves to be good because of what we do or don't do. We compare ourselves to others who we consider to be much worse than us. The bad people. Yes, even within the Church, we like to broadcast our goodness or elevate our good-self over that of others. Look at what I've done. I'm nice to people. I sacrifice my time & money. I help at the local soup kitchen. Feed the hungry. Give money to the poor. I tithe. I devote all this time to this ministry or that. I go on missions trips. Read my Bible. Pray. Go to church. Love my wife & kids. Doesn't all of that make me a good person? No. For the believer, these 'good works' are evidence of our faith. (James 2: 14-26). Fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23). In and of themselves, these works do not save us nor do they make us good before a Holy God. It's not enough that we try to justify our goodness through our works. We often base our goodness on what we don't do as compared to those we consider 'bad' or even 'evil'. Hitler... now THAT was an evil person. Criminals, child abusers, adulterers, terrorists, greedy corporate CEOs. Bad people.

Our human nature is at it's very core self-centered and self-righteous (Proverbs 14: 12). Think of #1 first (Philippians 2: 21). This is exactly why the 2nd most important commandment from Christ was to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22: 37-40). Our 'scale' of goodness is based on what we do compared to others who don't do as much or do much worse. This is the sin condition plain and simple.

Regardless of your religion, your lifestyle, what you think of yourself or even what others think of you, we are not good (Jeremiah 17: 9). Yes, I know, there are countless self-help books out there (many in the Christian bookstore too) that want you to believe that deep inside, we're all good. Contrary to this popular opinion, God makes it very clear that we are not good...

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. ~ Mark 10: 17-18.

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. ~ Isaiah 64: 6.

Throughout the Bible, we are reminded of our lack of goodness and the wickedness of man... Psalm 14: 1-33.

The truth is, mankind is incapable of fully understanding what 'good' is according to God's standards as a result of our depravity and rebellion against Him (I Corinthians 2: 14), (Ephesians 4: 18).

In this short video clip, Paul Washer explains the universal sinfulness of man and our attempts to impress God with our goodness. How can we really be right with God? The key lies in humility. Being humbled before God and recognizing our sinful condition; unable to save ourselves. Unworthy of God's grace but acknowledging that only through this grace are we saved.

As a follower of Christ, good works are the result of a transformed life (
Romans 12: 2) and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2: 13). These works of obedience should not be viewed as things worthy of praise but as one doing what was commanded in the first place (John 12: 43). A child who makes his bed. An employee who completes a task. A soldier who obeys an order. All are acts of obedience; not things worthy of accolades and praise.

Likewise, the Christian should be doing good. Not as though this will save us but out of love for God who has demonstrated His kindness through the sacrafice of Christ for our sins (James 2: 14-26). Our goodness and works will not save us. Nor should we elevate ourselves higher than others because of what we do (or don't do). The reward every believer receives in the end will be a result of our faithfulness alone in Jesus Christ....

His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." ~ Matthew 25: 21


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Contending for the Truth

As good stewards we must maintain the cause of truth against all comers."Never get into religious controversies," says one; that is to say, being interpreted, be a Christian soldier, but let your sword rust in its scabbard, and sneak into heaven like a coward.Such advice I cannot endorse. If God has called you by the truth, maintain the truth, which has been the means of your salvation. We are not to be pugnacious, always contending for every crotchet of our own; but wherein we have learned the truth of the Holy Spirit, we are not tamely to see that standard torn down which our fathers upheld at peril of their blood.This is an age in which truth must be maintained zealously, vehemently, continually. Playing fast and loose as many do, believing this to-day and that to-morrow, is the sure mark of children of wrath; but having received the truth, to hold fast the very form of it, as Paul bids Timothy to do, is one of the duties of heirs of heaven. Stand fast for truth, and may God give the victory to the faithful.We must believe the gospel and maintain it, for it is committed to our trust.

((The above excerpt from a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon in1876))

Here we are 140 years later and not much has changed. There are still people who live like the world and call themselves Christians. The truth is still questioned, doubted and not taken seriously. Even by the church.

As a follower of Christ, we should be passionate about sharing the Gospel. Expressing the truth in love and keeping verses such as Ephesians 4: 29-32 and 1 Peter 3: 15 in mind so as to encourage others. Likewise, we are reminded of the effectiveness of the Word (2 Timothy 3: 16 and Titus 1: 9).

Our purpose in life is to Glorify God. We do that by loving Him and loving others. The key is to do so without compromising the Word or grieving the Holy Spirit in our testimony (words & actions). It's relatively easy to share the message of "God loves you" to the world however, there are going to be times when the whole truth is not as popular.This is exactly why we need to be 'consumed' with the Word of God. Our human (sinful) nature can easily get in the way of the Gospel. Our pride, arrogance and selfishness can all distort the truth. Faith comes through hearing the Word. Our words and actions should be Christ-like. Boldly proclaim the Gospel with love and compassion.

We should be in the Word daily to understand better how to correctly use the 'sword of the spirit'.


Friday, November 7, 2008

The People Have Spoken... Now What?

America has a new President. Barack Obama. Whether you like him, trust him, believe in his agenda or not, he will be the new President come Jan. 20th 2009. As a Follower of Christ, we understand that our responsibility is to give him the respect and honor he deserves as President. This includes praying for him and his family. The Bible reminds us to obey and pray for those He has put into positions of leadership. Sen. Obama faces challenges that this country has not seen in decades. Without the support of the people, his administration and the grace of God, these challenges can be potentially disastrous for our Nation. As Christians, we must be dedicated in prayer that God will give wisdom, protection and diligence to this new administration.

The results of this election were not a mistake nor were they against the will of God. He knew the outcome and allowed Obama to win. As such, we must respond as Christians recognizing the challenges he and our nation faces. Failing to acknowledge our roles as representatives of Christ will bring disrepute not only on ourselves but also the Gospel.

The people have spoken. Free-will was exercised. Choices were made and as a result, a new era in this Nation has begun. Not only has this election crossed the race-barrier and given hope to people of all color that we are equal but, it has also reiterated that this is still a democracy. Freedom still reigns.

The Bible is filled with examples of God not interfering with mankind's decisions or free-will. In many cases, He gave the people exactly what they wanted even to the point of letting them worship other gods. The Israelites went through one 'life-lesson' after another as God let them have their way. When they asked Samuel for a king, (
1 Samuel 8: 7-22) God gave them one despite the outcome. They wanted to "be like all the other nations". Sound familiar?

There is no doubt that America is in for a change. On the left, the people have put their hope & trust in the person they believe will bring a change for the better. On the right, the people were reluctant to embrace this 'change'; They stood for something more than economics and social issues. Regardless of where we stand, we can expect there will be frustrations and disappointments in the days to come. Our behavior and attitude as Christians must remain consistent with the Word and not based on circumstances or feelings. Our trust and hope must remain in Jesus Christ. It is God who raises leaders, creates nations and it is He who also brings them to an end in His timing. Now more than ever, our prayer life must be moved to a higher level. How fervent we pray is not nearly as important as what we are praying for. Yes, we will have a more liberal President. Yes, our nation and world is facing a major economic crisis. However, the more critical issue that demands our obedience to prayer is much bigger.

The people have spoken. They've chosen a President based on what they felt was most important to them. The economy. World peace. Shared wealth. Affordable health care. A green planet. Issues that affect every one of us. Issues that affect our quality of life. What this election revealed is that most people are more concerned about these issues than they are life itself. The life of the unborn. They chose a President who supports abortion. One who supports the homosexual lifestyle to the point of having it accepted as normal behavior, degrading the God-designed marriage of one man, one woman. He will pave the way for this detestable lifestyle to not only be normalized but also protected and taught to our children in school.

Essentially, the people made it quite clear that morality and Christian values are no longer as important as they once were. From a purely 'worldly-perspective', that might be understandable in today's economic uncertainty. However, history has shown us time and time again that when a nation turns from God, they eventually cease to be a nation. We cannot and must not give in, give up or have a defeatist attitude. Now more than ever, we need to stand for what is right and defend the essential principles that define Christianity. God's word does not allow for compromise; nor should we. We must be willing to work with the President without compromising our Christian principles. However, we must also be prepared to confront and oppose those issues that defy or reject the the character and fundamental doctrine of God.

May our prayers be that God will change the heart of not only the President and his administration, but also those of the people who have turned to the world for their hope.

Jesus Christ remains our hope. The Gospel remains as our mission to the world. The Church needs a wake up call to get back to preaching the Word instead of trying to market God to the 'seeker'. No doubt, this country... this world needs change for the better. That change is found only in Jesus Christ.