Tag Archives: modern gospel

When Your Profession Has No Power

Shortly after I had asked “Jesus to fill the God shaped hole in my heart” at fifteen years old, I went to a Christian bookstore for the first time. I came out with a Teen Study Bible and a poster for my bedroom. Finding a poster that I wouldn’t be embarrassed of was hard work; A lot of flipping past rainbows, butterflies, and kittens was involved. I found one poster that appealed to me, black with scrawled writing on it, and a scratchy, blood streaked cross. This is what it said:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25

I cannot tell you how many times that poster glared at me. Or maybe I was glaring at it. It sounded hardcore, intense, life changing. It didn’t reflect the soft peddled message of Christianity I had heard, neither did it reflect my experience. That poster stared me down, hanging above my own reflection in the bedroom mirror, and kept on telling me to do something that I had no power to do.

Deny myself. Lose my life in order to save it- In order to find it. The commandments of God weighed heavy on my soul and there was no ability in my flesh to carry them out in a way that would please God. I was supposed to go out my bedroom door and die to self. Live for God. Obey commands that were only burdensome, and only death to me.

Romans 7:10-11 “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing and opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.”

That is the condition of a spiritually dead person hearing the commandments of God, feeling the weight of His law, and recognizing that at the very core of your being you cannot fulfill them. I couldn’t make that sin-loving person in me die in order that I might live. I could not, in the weakness and corruption of my flesh, deny myself and follow after Jesus Christ. For that dear friends, I needed to be truly born again, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit (John 3:6-8).

2 Timothy 3:2-5 talks about people who inwardly hate righteousness while loving self, money, and pleasure, all the while “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” They might look alright on the outside, at least to a distant spectator. But there is no effectual power in their lives. No power to obey God, live righteously, or overcome sin. In their hearts, there is no desire even to do so.

If you are somebody like I was, then I have good news for you. “The letter (that is the written law) kills, but the Spirit gives life (2Corinthians 3:6).” If the law has produced death in you and you have seen that you have no ability to fulfill it (and fulfill it you must, James 2:10), then the law has done its work in you. Perhaps, you have been living as a false convert like I was. Maybe you’ve attended church since childhood but have never received forgiveness for sins, a new heart and Spirit, and in Christ the promise of eternal life. Or maybe you don’t care about God and you don’t even pretend to. I don’t know.

If you don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, then at this point I’ll refer you to a series I did a few years back called “An Appeal to the Modern Mind,” which discusses salvation at length. Or, if you only have a bit of time part 4 of that series: How Does Jesus Make Entrance Into His Kingdom Possible?

If you are a believer, chances are part of you still resonates with some of the struggle I described. Though we are no longer slaves of sin (Romans 6:6), our new reality still includes a daily war with our remaining sinful man, or flesh. As Galatians 5:17 explains “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

I want to write some more about that war and how to wage it, so check back in soon. God bless.

The Love and Anger Of God Part 2

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*Warning: It is quite likely, as with many of my articles, that if this is the only one you read you will have a skewed idea of how I feel and think.  If offended, strange though as it seems, I’d request you to continue reading as I post.

How Angry Is God?

And Why Has This Attribute Nearly Disappeared?

As stated in the introduction the Bible makes it clear that “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11 ESV).”  Psalm 5:5-6 states the seldom quoted and intensely controversial words: “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evil doers.  You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

It seems to me these verses are not controversial based on any type of inconsistency or rarity in the word of God.  Simply consider the way that Jesus Christ is coming back: “…with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Thessalonians 1:7-8).”  Or consider the future cries of those on whom this day of Judgement comes, as they call out to the mountains and rocks saying: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand (Revelations 6:16)?”

I witnessed to a man the other day who was quite certain that the Old Testament God was a God of wrath, and the New Testament God was a God of love.  The guilt of this erroneous belief falls on the multitudes of professing believers who portray Christianity this way.  They speak as if God was and maybe is a God of justice and wrath, but Jesus was all love and mercy.  But who is coming back with a sword in his mouth (Rev 19:15)?  Who is coming in the clouds to inflict vengeance?  And did they not cry out “hide us from…the wrath of the Lamb?”  We know from scripture that the precious Lamb of God, who was slain, is none other than Jesus Christ.

If the Bible is not unclear nor does it make rare reference to the hatred, wrath, anger, justice, and like qualities of God, then why have these qualities been shunned among professing believers and the general public?  Well, a culture that promotes only listening and believing those things which make you feel good about yourself, does not jive very well with a God who exposes your sin, unworthiness, shame, and guilt.  It especially does not sit right with them that the outcome of what they consider a life well lived could be for God to send them to Hell.  That spot may be reserved for murderers or rapists, but certainly not for them.

“How can God be angry with us when we are all basically good people?” some might say.  Or even “God isn’t angry at us, because He loves everyone just the way they are.”  Though these statements might sound nice, they are far from Biblical.  People everywhere are making a god in their own image, a god who does not exist.

About three years ago I read through the book of Revelations and was profoundly impacted that these were real events that were coming upon real people.  The words of this book produced in me an unwavering conviction that men and woman everywhere must be warned about the coming Judgement of God.  It caused me to “note…the kindness and severity of God (Romans 11:22).”  It seems fitting for me to share a poem I wrote after finishing the book of Revelations.

Judgment Day

In his eyes are flames of fire,
The wicked wail and I admire
Christ who’s coming with a sword
Handing out the due reward.

To few he grants eternal life
Those dressed in white, His bride, His wife.
Those beloved and chosen ones
Who share God’s treasure, His own Son.

But tribulation and distress
For those who cherish wickedness
Wrath and fury coming near
For although warned, they would not hear.

God who is gracious sent them plagues
To turn them from their wicked ways
But although scorched and crushed and shamed
They refused to repent and cursed God’s name.

They beg of mountains “fall on us, hide us from his face!”
But there’s no pardon for their sin, they receive no grace.
They seek to die but death escapes them
‘Till naked they stand so that Christ may condemn them.

Hark! He’s coming in the clouds
Tune your ears to hear the trumpet sound
The earth is ripe and His sickle swings
He gathers the elect underneath His wings,
And casts away into the winepress of wrath
All evildoers who walk the broad path.

Glory be unto the Lord, He will have His way!
He is coming soon and won’t delay
His Great and Glorious Judgment Day.

Fear and tremble all the earth
Dear Christian warn them with weeping
For us who have the second birth
Let not Christ come to find us sleeping.

To summarize this and answer the question “how angry is God?” let me say this:  He is angry enough that Jesus warned “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Hell (Matthew 10:28).”