IDENTIFYING MARKS OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN!

SPOTLIGHT: CULTURES REFLECT VARIOUS AND DIVERSE WAYS OF LIFE IN TERMS OF EVERYTHING FROM BUILDINGS, VEHICLES, HOMES, DRESS, AND APPROACHES TO LIFE !

Christian culture affects our way of life over all. It is and can be identified in our outward demonstrations of life events, our actions in government, how we design buildings, and how we handle economics.

Peter the Apostle of Jesus Christ our God mentions in I Peter 2 that we are a chosen nation of people. Nations reflect a primary style of living which is called a culture and that means the people are distinctively identified by not only their skin color, but the outward manifestations of things one sees in their domains.

Inward ideas and belief systems do affect many things outwardly. For instance, a Christ follower may show a more conservative approach to outward dress. That is, their dress will be more modest than the non- believers, or at least it should be!! Buildings used for worship are distinctively recognized as Christian. Many times there are outward symbols such as a Cross. Secular buildings may have signs indicating what goes on inside of them.

Cultures can be studied in human history. For instance, the culture of the Corinthians in the time of Christ and Paul the Apostle was noted for its immorality, especially sexual deviations, and idol worship. Then there are certain tribes or racial groups on various islands around the globe were people practiced head hunting and would kill and eat the human bodies they had slain.

I noted one tribe that practiced cannibalism, but also, practiced honesty and were very careful not to steal someone else’s property.

The Roman Empire eventually had a reputation which identified them with much immorality, so much so, it actually contributed to their total downfall.

I refer to all of this because I wish to share with you how throughout history God allows tribes, nations, and individuals to progress more and more into evil and sin, or He may bring certain tribes and cultures to faith in Himself and His Son Jesus Christ changing their entire way of life and culture.

In the United States there has been times when we were collapsing spiritually and morally. Church buildings were empty, worship of God was on a low level. Bars and sordid and crude entertainment was prominent, drunkenness and prostitution was high. Our nation was in deep trouble. But, God chose to bring people back to worship and changed the entire nation and we called that period of time “The Great Awakening” reflecting how people turned to God through Jesus Christ and began worshipping Him. Bars and houses of ill repute were closed down and Church buildings begin filling up with people worshipping God. They took their faith seriously and it changed the culture.

Remember this, we cannot, no matter how strong our desire to do so, in our own power change the culture to a righteous and holy one. Only God Himself can do that by changing the hearts, souls and spirits of the people. He has to do it!! A nation can become more religious, but that will only be outward, but the innermost part of the culture’s citizens will be rotten to the core. They will be basically hypocrites, or moral deists without Christ. This is spoken of in the scriptures as, “those who have a form of Godliness but deny the power of God”!

This world is not paradise. You and I can’t make it into a paradise. Often when I ask others how they are doing, I hear, “Having another wonderful day in paradise”! Well, that’s not so! No paradise here. Paradise is coming, but it will only come when Jesus comes back and makes a new heavens and a new earth! But while we are here the culture will always be changing.

It either gets better or worse . And without the influence of true, Biblical Christianity it will get worse.

DISCOVERY:

True chosen Christ Followers, are those who realize their culture is different. Different than the one they were in prior to being called by Christ into His Kingdom and the new culture of God!

Inclusion in this new culture means there is going to be radical changes in the Christian’s life. Changes so different and so dynamic others can’t miss them.

God, for our good and His glory, has chosen to keep us in this broken-down sinful world. He has chosen to use the hardships of this world to complete our transformation into the image of Christ. He does not leave us helpless or alone either. He is not somewhere up there or far away from us. He is actually in us, with us and directing us.

He blesses us every day, and He has us right where He wants us to be. That means your marriage, your job, your local congregation of fellow believers, your family, and your friends and acquaintances, will NEVER be the paradise you want them to be in this world. If you are expecting that from them you will be highly disappointed.

We live in this world system, but as pilgrims, aliens, migrants from another unseen world and culture which is totally foreign to this one, but God has given us a place in that unseen culture and kingdom which is eternal paradise beyond our wildest dreams. Jesus said:

In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you but I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:2.

As we face hardships in this world, we must remember that GRACE has purchased us a ticket for the paradise above with Him which is to come. He will keep His promise. He kept His promise to the world to come the first time, to die and rise from the dead paying the penalty for our sins, so we can escape the judgment and wrath of the Father, and He promised to go back to Heaven and send the Holy Spirit to His chosen ones and He did!

So, He will return! Are you ready for Him? Do you really know Him and His culture? Are you finding that He is more satisfying than this world system and all it has to offer? If not why not? Come to Him and find life, satisfaction, contentment, hope and assurance that ONLY HE can give, for He is God! He loves His own and will always provide for them since they are HIS family!! Amen!

THE GOSPEL OF GRACE!

THE BOOK OF ROMANS, GALATIANS, COLOSSIANS AND THE GOSPEL OF JOHN ARE GREAT BOOKS TO STUDY CONCERNING THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

David is prominent in the Old Testament, especially the book of Psalms. I love David and God’s teachings to him! He said in Psalm 32 the following:

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty”.

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat! Finally, I confessed all my sins to you, and stopped trying to HIDE my guilt. I said to myself, I will confess my rebellion to the Lord, and you forgave me! ALL my guilt is gone! Therefore, let the godly pray to you while there is STILL TIME, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are My Hiding Place; You protect me from trouble, You surround me with songs of victory!”

Hallelujah what a Savior! Amen!”

Was David a sinner? No, he wasn”t. David was a Saint! Does David sin after being saved by God’s grace, Yes! Why? He still lives in a body that has sin dwelling in it called the Flesh! David had a new heart, a new soul and a new spirit. God saved Him by His grace.

Yet, David had many personal sins during his lifetime. The fact is, salvation is FROM the penalty of sin, but sin still dwells in our flesh. That part of us is not born again! We struggle with sin. We do not wish to sin!

In the Garden of Eden when God called Adam and Eve to account for their sin, what took place? GOD came and found them. God came and called them. God killed a Lamb and shed its blood and took its skin and put it over their bodies to cover their nakedness.

One of the lessons for us in this is God is the one who grants mercy and grace. He did so through the shed blood of an animal which pointed to the Lamb of God (Jesus) who was to come and shed His blood for His peoples’ sin. Adam and Eve did not even blink an eye. They didn’t do anything. They were worked ON by God alone for His glory alone!!

The same today. God calls. God grants us faith and repentance. God grants us mercy, grace, and a new birth, covering us in Christ’s blood. He puts us into Christ and into eternal life never remembering or holding us accountable any longer for any sin whether it is past, present or future.

David was saved, redeemed, justified by faith, regenerated (made alive unto God), had God in his daily life, had the Holy Spirit, for no one can be saved and not have the Holy Spirit abiding within them!

In other words, we get a new identity. Sinners are turned into Saints.

In no way am I advocating sinless perfection. Our flesh or our fallen or old man, which ever phrase you prefer, still produces sin. When we do, we bring those sins to the light and confess them, but not in the sense that they have NOT already been forgiven. Jesus died ONCE for those sins (past, present, and future). No re-crucifying Jesus again, and again and again by acting like you haven’t been forgiven. You have. The O.T. High Priests had to sacrifice the lambs daily, but Jesus sacrifice was once. It is finished. We have been born again. We are new creations.

Paul called us Saints. Peter called us Saints.

Even though we are new creations, we still live in unregenerate, fallen bodies and sin dwells in them.

We confess those sins to the Lord and to each other when need be, but those sins are forgiven. David confessed his sins to the Lord, but David also knew he was forgiven.

The Word teaches us not to hide our sins, but to bring them to the Lord, to the light, and confess them. As a Saint, hiding such sin brings guilt, shame, and difficulties in our lives, until we confess openly we have failed the Lord.

But, remember always, those sins are already forgiven. When we confess them we are agreeing with God that we need to seek to slay sin, stop sin, and walk in the Spirit with Him!

We don’t we start begging God to forgive us of our wretchedness. We confess and thank Him that He has hidden them under His blood and never to be remembered again. The idea of being laden down with sin and failures, and thinking we are wretched, terrible, awful sinful wicked people is to “smear” God and His message and Jesus’ finished work done for us on the cross. We are not under wrath, not under condemnation, not under shame and disgrace, not under sin’s power, not under Satan’s control. We are not to be depressed, or shamed, or feel lost because we sinned.

Let us agree with God that we are His righteous saints. His righteousness had been IMPUTED to our account. He lives within us and we are in Him and He in us.

The Scriptures tell us God’s heavy hand of discipline was on David until he confessed his sins.God didn’t leave him when he sinned. God didn’t leave him when he did not confess. Instead He made sure David did confess. God was always with David, as He is with us. If we try to hide our sins and not confess them, He will make a way for us to do so.

David could have been perfectly obedient for a 1000 years, but that would have not made him a bit better in the site of God than He was after confessing, for he already had ALL of his sins forgiven, PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.

Yes, David was disciplined by the Lord. Yes, he grieved the Holy Spirit. Yes, there were consequences for his sins, especially within his own family.

But, knowing we are not under condemnation and all our sins have already been forgiven at the Cross spurs us on to serve Jesus even more and love Him even more. This is AMAZING GRACE.

Christ is in us, and we are in Him. We Abide in Christ and He abides in us! He always LOVES us, with never a lapse in that LOVE! He never leaves us and He in fact, keeps us in the faith. We can’t go in and out of fellowship with God, for He is always there.

Do you believe the word of God on this?

Lamar Carnes – A fellow believer in the journey of life on planet earth! Praise be unto God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost)! Amen! Selah! Maranatha!

The Holy Triune God from Heaven Sent a Savior!!!

GRACE! WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT THIS AWESOME DOCTRINE? – LESSON 2

GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL

The book of Galatians reveals to us that Jesus our Lord was born under the Law. The Gospel writings are based mainly upon Christ Jesus living among the Jews and doing His ministry under the Old Covenant. He clarified much of the perversions about the Law that existed, and at the end of the Gospel narratives the New Covenant begins.

INTRODUCTION:

As Hebrews tells us, the Old Covenant (Testament) wasn’t replaced by the NEW until Jesus’ DEATH. I say replaced, because it was, but it can be also thought of the Fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose.

So, the gospels are a history of Jesus’ ministry with Jews BEFORE THE New goes into effect.

Any belief system or systematic theology writings, statement of faith or confessions of faith, that doesn’t take this into account will leave a Christian totally bewildered and confused in their studies of the word of God.

Trying to Mix Jesus’ teachings directed to Pharisees and zealous Jews with the Epistles will result in great confusion, and incorrect interpretations of truth. Jesus tells people to cut off their hands, to pluck out their eyes, and to be perfect and holy like God. He tells them their own righteousness must be better than the Pharisees. What He was doing was to discourage those in that day as they work to achieve righteousness through the Law.

Those things just could not come about under the LAW. In fact, He was looking forward to the moment He could reveal to them how true righteousness would come about, that is, under the Gospel of Grace through faith in Him and His death, burial and resurrection! His righteousness imputed to their account and no more striving to keep the law which was not designed to provide righteousness at all.

I. GRACE HAS BEEN MENTIONED A LOT BY THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH.

It has been a constant theme of our talk and our prayers. Hymns down through the years have been written about Grace, and some of the finest ones around contain this great truth.

People have fought and died for grace down through our history. Paul fought for it against the Judaizers. Augustine fought the Pelagians, the Reformers fought the Scholasticism of the day, and the spiritual descendants of Paul and Augustine and Reformers have been fighting Romanism and Pelagianism teachings every since.

Paul’s testimony and ours and theirs has been; “By the Grace of God I am what I am” – 1 Corinthians 15:10; and our rule of life is, “I do not frustrate the grace of God.” – Galatians 2:21.

II. NO GRASP OF GRACE IS PREDOMINANT TODAY!

Lip service is given to grace, but when it comes down the really embracing it and loving it, we find most do not think it is important, or at least not necessary for them in their lives today. When I speak of this, I am thinking of what REAL GRACE means, not the watered down version being taught today in many circles. It isn’t that folks fight against the concept of Grace, but rather, it has no real meaning to them as they understand it. It seems beyond their comprehension.

There are four distinct crucial truths about the doctrine of Grace, what it really means, that must be acknowledged and felt, and in one’s very heart, and if they are not, it is impossible one can have a clear faith in God’s grace.

These truths are listed by J. I. Packer as follows:

  1. THE MORAL ILL-DESERT OF MAN!

Modern men and women, …….naturally incline to a high opinion of themselves. Material wealth is more important than moral character. ……refusing to admit there is anything real seriously wrong with them they go forward on their journey of life. They tend to dismiss a bad conscience, thinking such is just a unhealthy psychological problem. There daily life consisting of such things as drinking alcohol in excess, gambling, reckless driving, sexual laxity, black and white lies, ——dirty reading and things watched concerning evil deeds, and many other things, as they are at heart a very decent and good person. They imagine God is just like they are. It never enters their minds that God considers them fallen creatures, guilty, and unclean. Condemnation and wrath from Him is never considered.

2. THE RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE OF GOD!

Willingness to tolerate evil of all sorts should be ignored, and only punished as a last resort. They see such ideas as virtues. But God states otherwise. He insists that in His goodness He has made a moral world, one in which Retribution is a basic fact of life as breathing is. God is the Judge of all the earth. He will do right at all costs!

3. THE SPIRITUAL IMPATIENCE OF MAN!

The modern man has a belief that will guarantee God’s acceptance of them in the end, whatever they may have done in the past. This is because their pagan ideology teaches them, that man can repair their own relationship with God by putting God in a position where HE cannot say NO anymore. In fact, they are like the old adage of the potter and the clay, they “consider God having a Wax nose, and they can form and fashion that nose as they see fit.”

However, God will have none of it! Romans 3:20 states, “No one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law”, even His law and certainly not man’s produced laws.

4. THE SOVEREIGN FREEDOM OF GOD!

Modern paganism cloaked in the garbs of real true religion of some sort, thinks, that God is somehow obliged to love and help us, with little thought of our deserving it does not exist! We do not deserve any help, any forgiveness any benefits from God. Yet HE does grant grace to unworthy sinners every day! Not because of being in need of doing such, but only because HE wishes to do so! It is for HIS good pleasure and He has purposed to have a people for His Son Jesus, called the Bride of Christ.

Here is the Biblical fact to the contrary of the above thought; The God of the Bible does not depend on any human creature for His well-being. See: Psalm 50:8-13 and Acts 17:23. He is not bound or obligated to any sinner, which all humanity is considered as such. We can only expect from Him justice, because Justice is demanded by a Holy God who always does right. Sin demands justice.

So, God in His mercy, states, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,….”! It is HIS free choice to make such a act upon those who are unworthy. He makes the free choice, not man! An individual’s destiny is based on His choice not man’s choice. And that choice flows from His Love toward them in and through the Gospel of Grace. Grace is the source of pardon for Sin. But again, no obligation, but rather, a personal Choice by God to save Some! Not all, but some! So, submit to God through Christ, hear His call, sense His drawing, and know His convicting Spirit about sin and unbelief. Turn in repentance and faith and trust in Jesus and what He did and Who He was providing this through HIS great Love to unworthy sinners like me and many other down through history. He is the Sovereign Powerful Almighty God, let us bow to Him in humility and confess our Pride and arrogance and independence which is rebellion!

by Lamar

(Some thoughts derived from the wonderful work produced by J.I. Packer, Knowing God) Recommend this great writing by a dedicated servant of Christ.

THE LIFESTYLE OF THE BELIEVER!

May 1, 2020:

Today, as I read 2 Corinthians 6: 1 – 18, was reminded by my Lord how I should live, and how it should actually be fleshed out in real time life in my home, local congregation and city.

INTRODUCTION:

Paul instructs the Corinthians that both he, along with Silvanus, Timothy and even Titus and are workers together with Christ as being ones that have received the Grace of God! He emphasized too that he hoped that grace was not in vain (empty and meaningless in their lives) as well! In other words, did they really receive the Grace of God or had their messages and work among the Corinthians been in vain? Receiving Grace means it works every time and brings about many spiritual realities which can be visibly observed in people.

Paul emphasizes also that “today is the day of salvation” i.e., I think, specifically emphasizing that the Gospel dispensation, the New Covenant, is here and is alive and well. God is saving souls! He is building His ‘called out body or people’ who will make up the bride of Christ and they are to band together as one local visible group to carry out the ministry also! He had spoken of this subject to the Ephesians also. The ministers and Apostles in that day were to be teaching, training, encouraging, and praying for them to be able to do also the “work of the ministry”! Grace in other words “works”!

I. MARKS OF THE JOINT MINISTRY OF PAUL THE APOSTLE AND HIS FELLOW HELPERS, DEVELOPING THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD AND THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL BE SEEN IN WHAT TAKES PLACE IN PAUL AND HIS ASSOCIATES!

  1. THEY ARE SENT BY GOD! – 1 CORINTHIANS 6:2-3

For He (God) says, “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you…….”

2. NOTICE THE OUTWARD DISPLAYS OF WHAT TAKES PLACE NOW AS THEY SERVE CHRIST IN THIS WORLD! – 1 CORINTHIANS 6:4-18.

Much Patience – In Tribulations – In Need – In Distresses – In Stripes (beatings) – In Imprisonments – In tumults – In Labors – In Sleeplessness – In Fastings – By Purity – By Knowledge – By Longsuffering – By Kindness – By the Holy Spirit – By Sincere Love – By the word of Truth – By the Power of God – By the Armor of Righteousness – (On the right hand and on the left, i.e., all around them were these things taking place and also upon them! HE is NOT through, notice more:

By Honor – By Dishonor – By Evil Report – By Good Report – Considered as Deceivers and Yet they were Truth Tellers – AS Unknown – Yet Well Known – As Dying – Yet Behold they Live – As Chastened – Yet Not Killed – As sorrowful – Yet always Rejoicing – As poor – Yet making many Rich – As having nothing – Yet possessing All things!

After all of this he encourages and warns the Corinthians about being unequally yoked up with those who are in Satan’s family, unbelievers! Warning to not become closely associated with them so that they got involved in their evil habits and way of life. If they observed this note God’s promises to the Corinthians and even to us this very day:

“Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you. I WILL BE A FATHER TO YOU. AND YOU SHALL BE MY ‘SONS AND DAUGHTERS’, SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY!” – VERSES 17-18.

In this day of Covid-19 plague, may we remember all of what the early body of Christ had to endure and go through at their time. Throughout the history of God’s people we notice all of the struggles and problems they had to face as they served Christ Jesus. This was NOT what the Prosperity false Gospel teaches people in this generation.

What happens when we do not follow what God said would be our plight in the real world as we serve Him? People can get discouraged, think God has abandoned them. When HE hasn’t! All of the negatives that take place are designed for our spiritual welfare and to push us forward into the maturity He has designed for us spiritually, while on planet earth. We are at war with sin, Satan, the world system and our own flesh in which sin dwells! We wait for our new bodies which the Resurrection of Christ will bring about! During the heavy weight of this world and its evil along with sin, we sense its futility and vanity.

But HE said, ” Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I an gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my Yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 28-30.

Along with all of the negatives comes great joy and peace and comfort, even during pain and suffering, knowing our God and Lord is always with us! HE will conquer all of the things which seek to take us down! We will overcome! In the Lord Jesus Christ the Commander in Chief of Heaven’s Armies! He is the winner for I read the last chapter of the Holy Word of God! Rest in HIM! Pray for His soon coming! Amen!