Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P6 (04-29-20)
Do people really understand what faith is? Is faith something you concentrate on for God to do something, that you could cause God to act? No, that would put you in the position of the initiator. We were born dead, and now as a born again believer, apart from Him we can do nothing. We are responders. We respond to what he has already done, and in what he has said and has already given. You have been given everything you need for life and godliness. That does not mean you live in independent from God.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Adam chose to live independently of God, and that is how sin and death entered the world, and so all men died. Now, as a child of God, a new creation, we learn to walk in dependency upon someone who loves us perfectly, in the one who created us and knows how we were meant to function, with the Holy Spirit of God living in us. We come to know Him through the Spirit living in us, who makes known to us the meaning of the word of God. We have been given the mind of Christ to discern the things of God. That is something a lost person does not have, and considers the things of God as foolishness, for they are spiritually discerned.
Now, there are many things a person is taught that is contrary to truth. How would you know? You will not if you do not learn to test everything with the scriptures we hold in our hands, while relying on the Spirit to reveal to us the meaning of it. Now, you can tell someone to read the bible or pray, but even lost people can read and pray. The Jewish leaders had the Old Testament memorized and had Jesus crucified. Many people pray but they pray to a God they do not know or even to a false god or gods. It is not like the bible is a genie lamp you rub, and out pops what you want to hear. No, you have the attitude of relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of the word to you. So faith is learning to trust what God says over what you had been taught by denominational persuasions of men or what you have once understood as true from the wisdom of this world. You live by faith in the revealed word of God.
So what are some of the things that you hear that are contrary to what the word of God reveals as being true? One example is this prosperity gospel that says if you sew a seed of goodness then God will reward you materially. The clearest answer in scripture is in 1 Timothy 6, where it is very clear that if someone is teaching godliness as a means to financial gain, then he is a man of corrupt mind. If God’s word says he is corrupt, then I need to stop listening to him. If he is corrupt in teaching this, then what else is he corrupt in?
Other things that are taught are from well meaning people, pastors even, that teach that Jesus atoned for sin, or that you can be in and out of fellowship with God because of sin, or saying that a person is a carnal Christian, recommitting your life to God, the taking of oaths, or this general confusion in regard to this forgiveness from God. These are more subtle and sometimes referred to as “hobby horses” because they are taught from generation to generation, and simply passed on to the next generation, without anyone really giving it much thought as to whether it is true or not. How would we know if something is taught is true or not? Do we ask some other pastor? What if that other pastor is wrong? No, we go to God’s word for truth, while asking the Spirit to reveal the meaning of the word of God to us. Now, a pastor might be telling you the truth, and a good pastor will explain the truth as revealed to Him by the Spirit and will explain the meaning of the scriptures to you. But even then you need to rely on the Spirit living in you. For the Spirit ultimately is the one who reveals truth to you.
So scripture does not teach that you are in and out of fellowship. You are either in fellowship, saved, or out of fellowship, lost. There is no such identity as a carnal Christian. There are only two identities, lost and saved. You can be a Christian who lives carnally, who lives contrary to who he is. And you can be a lost person, living a life he does not have. That is acting. Jesus also did not come to atone for sin. That is what the blood of a bull and goat did, and that only for the Jews under an Old Covenant system before Christ came and finished the work he came to do, so he could usher in a New Covenant with all men. That only covered sin until the person sinned the next time. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world, as John the Baptist also testified concerning him, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And as for rededicating your life to God, Jesus spoke of not making an oath, or a promise or a commitment, when he said that was of old, but now just let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”. Why? Man is weak in his natural self and is unable even to keep his own standards much less God’s. That is why we boast in our weaknesses that the power of God might rest on us. He clearly said that anything beyond that is from the evil one. So faith is taking God at His word, the truth revealed to you by His Spirit.
Now, in this forgiveness issue. In Ephesians we read that in Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. So often people think that when they sin they need to ask God to forgive them. That is not acting in faith, but asking God to do something He has already done. When Jesus died on the cross, how many sins did he die for? How many sins were in the future when he died? Will he ever shed his blood again? Why did he cry out on the cross, “It is finished?” What is finished? Jesus will no longer die again, as the just punishment of sin, which is death, and for our sins, not His, for He had none of His own. His sacrifice was once, and for all, and was all sufficient to take away from the eyes of God, sins all the way back to Adam and the sins of those yet to be born.
The real struggle with people not understanding this is because of an incomplete understanding of what salvation is. Salvation is not getting sins forgiven, for that is a necessary preparation for life to be given. Salvation is receiving new life, the Holy Spirit to take residence in you. Until the cause of death is taken away, life could not be given, for then if you sinned again, you would die again. So, redemption is what God did in Christ Jesus, to buy men back to life, by shedding His blood on a cross. Sin caused our death, but life is in Him. So salvation is the receiving of new life, the same life that raised Jesus from the dead.
The Spirit of God has to teach you what it means. That is a total reliance, again, of faith, dependence, reliance upon the Spirit of God to do what He said He would do. He said He will lead you into all truth. He did not say the seminary will lead you into all truth. It did not say the pastor’s teaching will lead you into all truth. He said that the Spirit of God alone will lead you into all truth. What that means is the knowledge of the meaning of the word of God.
People fail to teach that. Pastors continually tell you that if you do not understand science of biblical interpretation, you will just not understand it. Now, you have got to the point of worshiping at the foot of intellect instead of at the foot of the Spirit of God, who is our wisdom. You may get intellect from school but you will only get wisdom from God. I am not discrediting methods of teaching the word of God, but I am saying you can get a hold of the best methodology in the world but you will not know what it means until the Spirit of God reveals it to you. It is that simple. If you do not believe that, then you need to read what the scripture says in regard to the only way you can understand what the scripture means is through revelation. You cannot study revelation. You cannot put it in a box. You cannot make a science out of biblical revelation. It has to be revealed to you by the Spirit of God.
So, I am appreciative of people trying to get people to study the word of God, but what I encourage people in studying the word of God is to approach the Word with this mindset. “Lord Jesus, if you do not teach me what this Word means, then I am not going to know what it means.” If I do not know what it means, and I hang onto what I think it means, then I will be teaching stupidity and man-made ignorance instead of teaching the revealed word of God. I do not approach this Word with scientific methods or with inductive, deductive, or any other “uctive”, although nothing wrong with that methodology. If this methodology is what I am depending upon to teach me the meaning of the Word of God, then I am not going to know the meaning of the Word of God.
What I am saying to you is this. “Lord Jesus, I am depending upon You to reveal to me the meaning of the Word of God. When I run into places that I do not understand, I will put a little check mark there. For I am also going to walk by faith in what you said about that.”
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
“Little children, there is so much more I want to reveal to you, but you are not ready for it yet.”
So I will assume that in my growth I am not ready for it yet. I will look forward to the day you do reveal that to me so I can go back and erase my check mark. That is how you approach the Word of God if you want to know what it means when you are walking by the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly€”mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Otherwise, you can get into all kinds of things. I was talking to a person the other day, a brand new Christian. As soon as you come to Christ, you get into church systems or Christian teaching, into Christian developments. All of a sudden then you begin to use words that are not scriptural. For example, “carnal Christian”. Is there such a thing as carnal Christian in scripture? There are only two categories of people in the world, lost and saved. There are only two degrees of other people in the world, Jew and Gentile. Out of Jew and Gentile you have lost Jews and saved Jews. In the Gentile world, you have a saved Gentile and also a lost Gentile. But you only have two kinds of people, Jew and Gentile, lost and saved. There is no category of people in between there. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian. You are either lost or saved.
Now, can you be lost and act like a Christian? Yes, of course you can, every Sunday. Can you be a Christian and act lost? Of course you can. But that does not mean who you are. That means you are acting contrary to who you are. When I was in the lost world, lost as could be, going on Sunday, and praise the Lord, and doing that stuff, what was I doing? Acting like someone I was not. In other words, trying to live a life I did not have. Then you get into another category. You live a life you do not live. In both cases, two distinct categories of people, and God is not impressed with their acting ability. When I become a child of the living God that is who I am. There is no such thing as being an unchild or being a carnal Christian. I can be a Christian thinking and behaving carnally just as I can be a lost person thinking and behaving spiritually sometimes, but please do not put me in the category of saved when I am lost and do not put me in the category of lost when I am saved, and please do not develop a category in between those two, of no man’s land called carnal Christian. There is no such thing in scripture. Until you know scripture, and you hear that word. I used to call everybody carnal Christian because I was taught that, not by God but by man. Then you finally go to God and He says there is no such thing.
Trust what God says and trust His word. We are talking about that now. Things that we are taught that are not biblical but they sound biblical, so we grab a hold of them. This is one of the dangers of a new Christian. A brand new Christian is called a babe in Christ. Now, what are some of the characteristics of a babe in Christ? They are cute. Normally, a babe in Christ is cute. A baby is obnoxious. A baby is totally self centered. When you first come to Christ, that is all you think about is you. There are a lot of things that are similar between being a babe in Christ and being just a baby. A baby is excitable and a new Christian is excitable. And you do not want to squelch that, but you do need to recognize the immaturity of it.
The problem is this. When I was 16 I did not think there was much more to know. That is one of the problems with youth, is that you are so dumb that you do not know that you do not know anything. That is just part of the growth pattern that is there. That is the same thing that happened to me. As a brand new Christian, I absorbed myself in the Word of God, in the seminars, and learning how to witness. I absorbed myself in that type of thing. I would say that within six months to a year, why I really thought I could not understand these people who could not understand the bible because I understood all of it. I thought there was not a thing I did not understand. That is all a part of youth. We think we know everything.
So, again, you do not want to discourage a person in that position but you also want to guide them because they can go off into no man’s land with a no return. So, I am grateful for some of the organizations. The organization I got in involved with as a brand new Christian because a lot of what was taught was good, but I also found a lot to not be true. It was not because of intent. It is because of that tendency that if my dad taught me then I pass it onto my children. So you have generations of errors passed on, and never examined.
I was listening to Chuck Swindoll, as he was teaching a series on Romans. It was very exciting listening to him. He is a presidency of a seminary and one of the most popular radio teachers there has ever been, and probably the most articulate and accurate teachers you will ever hear. Yet, here he was saying that God was revealing these new truths to him. For years and years he taught the same things without examining it. He was examining the depths of other parts of scripture but leaving hobby horses alone, not even looking at them. Being in and out of fellowship is one of those deals. There is nothing in scripture about being in and out of fellowship. You are either in fellowship saved or out of fellowship lost.
Progressive sanctification is another example. There is nothing in scripture dealing with progressive sanctification. You are talking about growing in grace but not progressive sanctification. God set me apart and made me holy but I am going to make myself more holy. God set me apart but I am going to set myself apart more. There is no teaching like that in scripture. There is this teaching to grow in this grace in which you now stand. You are a child of God. Now grow. That is not sanctification. That is growth. Sanctification is holiness. You had dishes in the Old Testament that were holy and sanctified. They were not moral but they were set apart for a divine purpose. You and I were set apart for the divine purpose for which God created us.
You have to begin looking at those teachings. This is what I have been taught, but is this true? I was talking to a guy who was involved in this prosperity gospel. He asked me, “Is this true?” I told him, “Look in the scripture. What does it say?”
1 Timothy 6:1-5
2 These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Anyone who teaches that godliness is a means to financial gain is a man of corrupt mind. If a man is teaching that godliness is a means to financial gain, and God calls him a man of corrupt mind, why do I want to go learn anything from a man with a corrupt mind? It is not that it is corrupt in that regard. It is corrupt. If it is corrupt in teaching this, it will be corrupt in teaching something else. You have that kind of teaching going on all over the place and you must latch onto the word of God in order to know what is truth and what is not truth.
I told people before, if I was a banker, I would have my tellers study the real thing. I would not have courses on counterfeit, on what counterfeit looks like. Let us do a book on counterfeit. No, I would teach people what the real dollar bill looks like. I would have them so taught on what the dollar bill looks like that they would spot what a counterfeit looks like and give it back to whoever is giving it to him. Unless we know what the real thing is, we cannot spot counterfeit. It is just that simple.
That is the importance of this. We keep concentrating on studying the word of God. That is not the issue. The issue is to study the word of God by depending on the Spirit of God to teach you the meaning. Otherwise, all you are telling someone is to read your bible, as if reading the bible is a magic formula to thrust you into spirituality. Not if you do not know what it means. The Pharisees, the Sadducees and leaders in Jesus day, from my understanding, had the Old Testament memorized. So it was not the case they did not know what the word said, but they did not have a clue what it meant. If they had a clue what it meant, they would not have crucified God.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8
7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
So you have to get beyond this surface stuff where we live in the Christian world. Go pray. Go read your bible. What good does it do to go pray if you do not know who you are praying to? Old fat Buddha and the Muslims pray. Everybody prays. The object is not to go pray. The object is, do you know who you are talking to? “Read the bible. Read the bible.” How good is it to tell someone to read the bible if you do not know the author, the one who is speaking to you. The Muslims read the bible. The Jews read the bible. But they do not know what it means. And you do not know what it means until you are born again. God meant that to be. You cannot understand spiritual things because spiritual things have to be discerned spiritually.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Now, all of these kinds of things I am talking about, you need to learn to match up against the word of God. Why do I not believe in this if you go do this, that God will bless you and make you rich. The scriptures said that if I taught that I would be a man of corrupt mind. I will not teach that. What do I do if my pastor is teaching that? Get another pastor. What do you mean get another pastor? Get out of there if that is what is being taught. That is the kind of things going on that are real contrary.
Then there are the more subtle things, like the “carnal Christian” or “in and out of fellowship” deal, where the meaning of it is perverted. Many times this is not intentional. You are not trying to deceive anybody. You are merely passing on what you have been taught. That is often the case on the topic of forgiveness that has been taught for years and years and years. Are you, as a child of the living God, a child that now gets forgiven, or are you a forgiven child? You are one of those two because you cannot be both. “If I get forgiveness, then I am a forgiven child, but if I sin again, then I have to get forgiveness again, then I am a forgiven child. Then you are a forgiven child, then an unforgiven child, back and forth.” God said, “I took away your sin.”
People use the word atonement all the time. The word atonement is not used in the New Testament. That is a shock to many listening. Jesus did not come to atone for sin. Do you believe that there is healing in the atonement? No, I do not believe in atonement. Jesus did not come to atone for sin. He came to do something greater than what a bull and a goat can do. The blood of a bull and a goat atoned for sin, and we are told that.
18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar.
That is called atonement. The blood of a bull and a goat did not do the same thing as Jesus did. The blood of a bull and a goat atoned for sin. People will say, “Jesus atoned for sin”. Quite frankly, that is an insult to Jesus. Jesus did not come to atone. The blood of bulls and goats atoned for sin. Jesus came to take them away. That is far different.
10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
1 John 2:2 (KJV)
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
Sins were taken away at the cross. I may not know that as a brand new Christian, but when I come to understand that truth, and begin to do something besides read the bible like a newspaper, and begin to absorb it, and get the Holy Spirit of God active in my life to explain the meaning of it, I will look at that and say, “how could you call Jesus, who took away sin, the same thing as a bull and a goat, that covered sin?” How could you call that the same thing? If you want to explore the Greek language you can do that, and sure enough it is not there, in regard to this forgiveness issue. If I am in Christ, then it says, “In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
I am in Him. In asmuchas as I am in Him, I have something. I do not get something. I am in Him because I already got something. That is why I am in Him. In Him I have redemption. I do not get redemption. I already got redemption. I was bought back. The price of death for sin was paid in full. Similarly, I do not get forgiveness of sins. I have gotten forgiveness of sins. It is something that has already occured in your life as a born again Christian.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
You have been translated out of darkness into light. That is what it means to be born again. You have been transferred from death into life. That is the real issue of salvation. That is the real problem of man – death. The real solution to that is life. When you are in Him, you do not get something. You already have something. When we are talking about the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and equating it identically the same way that we do with the blood of a bull and a goat, we are discrediting the blood of Christ Jesus. That may not be done intentionally but that is what people are doing. The blood of a bull and a goat atoned for sin. Jesus did not atone for sin. He came to take it away. That is something far greater than covering it until the next time.
You could not say that before the cross, that you have forgivenss because you didn’t. You were not in Christ. You were in the world. In the world you got forgiveness. Now that you are in Christ, you have forgiveness. If I am going to walk by faith in that, I can ether walk by faith in truth in what the word of God says or I can walk in faith of the traditions of Christian teaching, which may be true or not. I have a choice whether I am going to walk in that or walk in truth. Am I going to continue as I used to, calling someone a carnal Christian, when no such term is in scripture. That is an identity that is not there. To tell people you bounce in and out of fellowship when nothing in the scripture is ever talking about in and out of fellowship. It is not there. Telling people if you do right, God will prosper you. Not only is that not there, but it teaches against it being there. That is what faith is all about. It is not that I am sitting here concentrating on my faith for God to do something but entering into what he has already done.
Now, people talk about such a thing as making a commitment. We have people coming down, committing and recommitting to Christ, promising I am going to do this. Taking an oath, making a promise, making a commitment are all in the same category. What does scripture say about that because there are huge movements around that kind of thing. Here is what scriputre says.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
But “I tell you”. Before that, that was told of old. Now, Jesus says this. Do not swear at all. Do not promise at all. Do not commit at all, by heaven or by earth or by Jerusalem or by your head. Do not swear, promise, or commit. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’;for anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Now if that does not get your attention, then what will? I believe that because it comes from the scriptures.
You guys need to recommit. Go commit. Boy, that sounds so good. I remember people going down aisles, recommiting their lives to Christ. Then the next day, going forward again. Next Sunday, go down and recommit. Same thing with promises. “God, I am going to do it. I promise. I promise.” Then they break it. What does it say about that? Do not do it. Why? Let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No” and if you go beyond that truth of just letting your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No”, it says anything beyond that comes from the evil one.
Am I going to get involved in people coming around saying you need to promise this and you need to take oaths on this. No. I am not going to get involved in that. The reason for that is because of this passage. It means exactly what it says.
Is a person doing that mean well? Yes. If I can get a person to recommit their lives then I can help them to be a better Christian. It seems good from the point of view of man. But we do not understand the frailty of man. We do not see that man cannot even live up to his own standards let alone God’s. Therefore we have to glory in our weakness that we can’t. It is not that I will but I can’t in order to live in dependency on the one who said, “I can”. There is the difference between living by faith in man or faith in the revealed word of God, as revealed in our scripture.
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