Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why would God send a delusion to those who refuse to accept Christ? (2 Thes. 2)

In the context of this passage, Paul is telling the Thessalonians of the coming of Jesus. He is supplementing what he has already told them. As we have all been taught, there will be those who accept Christ and those who do not. This passage in the latter verses addresses those who follow the Antichrist and have lived "lawless" lives. It will be much worse than we see in today's culture where people do whatever they want and act as if they are their own gods.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan. The Antichrist will come with power,with signs and with lying wonders. All of this is according to the working of Satan, as described in Revelation 13:13-17. If someone has spiritual power,signs,or wonders,those are not enough to prove they are from God. Satan can perform his own powerful works, either through deception or through his own resources of power. He is Satan’s messiah, an infernal caricature of the true messiah. The deception can only take root in those who do not receive the love of the truth. These people are ready for the deception of the Antichrist, because they want a lie, and God will send them a strong delusion. In the end, the Antichrist is only God’s messenger. God has judgment to bring, and He will send . . . a strong delusion through the Antichrist. God will not force this delusion on anyone, but those who do not receive the love of the truth will receive this strong delusion. God is sending to them the working of delusion in order that they should believe the falsehood. They were first deluded, which was their sin; and God sends them strong delusion, and that is their punishment. Specifically, God sends them the lie. This isn’t just any lie, but the lie, the lie that has enthralled the human race since Adam. This is the lie that God is not God and we can be gods. His point is that the last pseudo-Messiah or Antichrist will embody all that is profane and blasphemous, every conceivable element of impiety; and that, instead of being repudiated, he will be welcome by Jews as well as pagans.
As God gives rebellious man the lie he desires, it isn’t out of His generosity. Instead, it shows God’s judgment on those who reject the truth. As Romans 1 points out, this God giving man up to the depravity of his heart, his pleasure in unrighteousness. They think that they are acting in defiance of Him. But in the end they find that those very acts in which they expressed their defiance were the vehicle of their punishment. Thus he will punish men for their unbelief, and for their dislike of the truth and love to sin and wickedness; not that God is the author of sin, but in righteousness he sometimes withdraws his grace from such sinners as are here mentioned. He gives them over to Satan, or leaves them to be deluded by his instruments. He gives them up to their own hearts’ lusts, and leaves them to themselves, and then sin will follow. God is just when he inflicts spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter, upon those who have no love to the truths of the gospel, who will not believe them, nor live suitably to them, but indulge false doctrines in their minds, and wicked practices in their lives and conversations.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Making God in OUR image

I am seeing a disturbing trend in Christendom today where we are trying to be so relevant and hip that we are actually becoming irrelevant. It doesn’t disturb me as much that the pop culture idols so to speak wear blasphemous t-shirts, what does disturb me is that Christians love them too. We've reduced praise and worship to cameras flying over head, people gyrating and jumping up and down, and people running up and down the aisles. I believe that too often we try to imitate society in a feeble attempt to collect lost souls and in so doing we are in danger of losing our fear and reverence of God if we have not already. What causes people to have absolutely no fear of God, so that a Holy sanctuary is turned into an episode of Desperate Housewives?

I believe the modern church is losing our reverence and fear of God. We no longer view God as Holy and righteous. We have adopted a “tolerant” Jesus who winks at sin and would never judge anyone or anything. I understand we have a God of grace and Jesus is our friend when we repent and join his family, but is he our Homeboy or best buddy?

We live in times where God is "respected" but not "revered"; where people trust in the supernatural, but not the supernatural God of the Bible; where feelings outweigh faith, hope has been overtaken by hopelessness. Here are a couple indicators that I believe show our lost reverence for Jesus:

How we dress for worship. I am way beyond guilty of this. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to be said about the "come as you are mentality". We need only look at Moses and the Israelites, however, to see how history had repeated itself. The reason we don't revere God anymore is just like the Israelites, IDOLATRY. We choose to place everything ahead of God and please our selfish desires instead of giving God our absolute best. We have re-designed God to fit OUR needs and allowed self to control us!

Before condemning, however, let us look a little deeper. Why should we expect reverence for such a God as we have allowed to be set before our children? Such a God as that of the Hebrews, who cursed all mankind because one of them, and the first one, ate from the tree: a God for whom David was a man after his own heart; a God who revealed himself to Moses. Reverence for such a deity used to be inspired by hell-fire and brimstone, at least when I was growing up. Now the fires of hell are going out.

Some of this rejection of God’s authority and disrespect comes from a lack of fatherhood and masculinity in our culture. Parents are losing the hearts of their children to pop culture and their peer groups. Would your child want to spend an evening with his father or with his peer group? Mothers, if you had some free time and opportunity to go to lunch would you invite your daughter? These are tough questions but ones we must answer.

It is not just the youth culture who is rejecting the Holiness, and authority of God. Our seeker sensitive mega churches are creating a casualness and entertainment mindset towards God where we are more focused on our personal comfort and needs. I’ve been in churches that have coffee holders and seats like a movie theater.

So where do we go from here as a nation and a church. I don’t advocate banning powerpoint projectors, and arresting people who bring coffee into the service, because I would have been charged with wearing shorts the other day. Easily, we could have an outward show of holiness and piety but our hearts could still be far from God.

Firstly, I believe fathers have to go after the hearts of their children. If it means working less hours, changing jobs, or turning off ESPN we must go after the heart of this generation. Secondly, we must repent in our own lives of areas where we do not honor God or put him first. What image have we recreated God in? Do we view God as our buddy who will never bring us to account? Or do we view God as The God of Scripture who is just, righteous, Holy, merciful, longsuffering, jealous, and gracious. Finally, we have to start fearing God. If we do not exalt and glorify God, then who will? Not pop culture. They wear crosses and point to the sky after hitting homeruns too. There has to be a sweet fragrance and reverence, and adoration with which we approach God. We can do these things or keep doing the same thing our culture dictates; whether it’s watching Desperate Housewives, standing in line for the new Harry Potter book or wearing a Homeboy T-shirt.

I personally have no problem bringing about a God-fearing revolution and bringing reverence back to our society. Why? Because Jesus isn’t my Homeboy, he is my Savior and the King of Glory, and he deserves it.

"I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: Each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Isaiah 6:3

Monday, April 23, 2007

Philippians 2:1-4

One of the things that I have learned from being, and around athletes is the importance of coming together for a common goal. If you want to win, team unity is essential. You can have the most talented athletes and the best coaches, but if the team doesn’t work together you will not win. One person cannot do it all. It’s a team effort and requires everyone to pull together. We've all heard the adage there's no I in team . . .

The same is true for Christians. Our effectiveness is determined by inner qualities, not outward abilities. God is not impressed by how smart you are, how talented you are, by how much knowledge of the Bible you have, or by how well you can sing or play an instrument. What God is after is a heart that loves Him completely. God is looking at whether the character of Christ is being formed inside of us. Are we becoming more like Christ? Are we right on the inside?

One of the ways you can tell whether you’re right on the inside is by asking yourself if you pull together with other Christians. Are you looking for ways to work together or things over which you can disagree? Do you find yourself giving encouragement or tearing down? Are you hard to get along with? Do people have to bend over backwards to please you? Do you generally think the best or worst of people? These are important questions to ask ourselves. The answers to them will reveal what’s going on inside.

Have you ever wondered why the cults are so effective? In many cases, the message they are preaching is far more difficult to believe than biblical Christianity. The one thing that they have that makes all the difference in the world is their unity. They are uncompromisingly united. They pull together and have a shared vision, a common goal, and a singular purpose. They go after their goal with every ounce of their being. I believe that this is why they are so successful. This kind of unity is very attractive. Would you rather hang out with a bunch of kids who are always fighting or a group of kids who do fun stuff together and have a blast?

Paul gives us five insturctions for coming together in unity in Philippians 2:1-4:

You could easily change the "if" to "since" in order to convey the true meaning of v. 1. Paul was reminding them what they had received because of their relationship to Jesus. They had received encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion. And so have we! Every Christian has received these things because they are the benefits that come from knowing Jesus. We have been shown tenderness and compassion. God has given us His mercy when we deserve his judgment.
Remembering what we have received in Jesus gives us perspective. We have been blessed way beyond what we deserve. Therefore, we should be thankful. We should be grateful for all that God has done for us. God’s blessings should replace a negative spirit with a positive one. So the first thing we need to do is remember the many blessings we have received in Christ.

Paul reminded them what they had received in Christ, he went on to say v. 2 This is a call to unity. We’re called to be like-minded, to have the same love, to be one in spirit, and one in purpose. So now you ask yourself if it is really possible that we "all speak the same thing," and that we can be "perfectly united" in our "opinions" and "judgments?" As Christians, our opinions ought to be subservient to Christ’s opinion, and so we ought to be seeking to find out what is God’s opinion and conform our opinions to His. Our unity is a testimony to the fact that God sent Jesus into the world. In other words, if we want people to believe that the Father sent the Son, we need to demonstrate our unity to them. This kind of unity must be worked for, chosen, and purposefully undertaken. I do not believe that this kind of unity simply happens. This kind of unity must be a decision of the will. This is precisely why it is a command.

The enemy of unity is the enemy within each of us. In other words, we can be the worst enemy of what God is trying to do to bring us together. Our own selfishness can derail the activity of God in our midst. Selfishness is at the root of every sin. Selfishness deals with "what I want" and "my opinion." At its core, selfishness is the antithesis of what God is. God’s love is selfless and other centered. So, if we would like to be like Christ, we must resist every selfish attitude and action. (See "What's in it for me" blog-post)

Here is a command that has the power to deliver us from attitudes of selfishness and pride. It is a command that goes against every sinful nature we have. You might even think this is a command that is impossible to keep. It may be an impossible command to keep in our own strength, but Jesus can give us the strength to keep the command. Remember, God never gives us a command that he is not committed to give us the power to keep. God’s commands are not a demand upon us, but rather a demand upon the God who gave the command. To do this properly we need the quality of humility. Humility is the ability to see ourselves as we really are before God. Humility informs us that we are no better than anyone else. Humility enables us to look outward toward others. Humility puts us in a position where God can lift us up. Our hearts will only become humble if we bow before the living God to acknowledge Him as Lord over our lives and as we surrender to His will. When our hearts are right before God, we will be able to see others from His perspective.

A natural result of regarding others as more important than we are is the ability and the desire to focus on their needs. The mark of a true Christian is that we are to genuinely love one another. If we do, we will care about the welfare of one another, and we will want to do what we can to stimulate one another to trust the Lord and follow Him. The example of Jesus should be what drives us to serve others. He did not come to serve himself. He came to serve others.

Don't get caught up in the, "if I look out for the needs of others, who is going to look out for me?" game. God will look out for you, and he may even use some of the people we help to do it.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Identified in Christ's Death

Romans 6:5-7. There is a sense where we are identified with Christ in his death - as he has died so we die to sin.

There is a legal identification of the sinner with Jesus in his death and resurrection. Because of Jesus' death on our behalf, we are viewed by God as if we ourselves died in the death of Jesus where he suffers the full penalty for our sin. The punishment for our sin rests on Christ and is dispensed with through the sacrificial offering of his own body. Thus, we die to the legal consequences of sin.

Just as Jesus was crucified on the cross, so our old self must be crucified and put to death. The old self is not the ability to sin because that remains no matter what. It does not eradicate the carnal nature of man either, for the Christian continues to war against his carnal nature as you can read in Galatians 5:16-17. What is put to death is the dominion and control that the sinful nature has over us.

I’ll digress a bit. When we are saved, sin and Satan's control over us is destroyed. Since the dominion of sin over us is lost in our death with Christ, we should treat sin itself as dead. Sin can no longer dictate to us or control us. We can overcome temptations and ignore sin's power. Although we can sin if we desire, we should not submit to sin but treat it as though it no longer exists. I heard in a sermon just today that referenced Matthew 3:13 - 4:11. The pastor showed that immediately after Jesus was baptized, that he was sent to the wilderness to be tempted three different ways by Satan. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Jesus was tempted in three ways that can directly relate to every type of temptation we face.

We first apply the death of Jesus to our lives when we exercise enough faith to repent from our sins. So in essence we do die to our sins but it is a two-fold death to sin so to speak. We die to the world (sin) but also to the actual sin itself.

Now you have to also look at the fact we identify with Christ through His death AND resurrection. You cannot have one without the other. Identifying with Christ through His resurrection means that our identification with Jesus was not limited to our death with Him. We are actually in Christ. Whatever happened to Jesus happened to us, because we are in Him. Romans 6:5-6 shows that we were also buried and resurrected in the Lord.

This just touches on the question posed, but I hope that it inspires you to study deeper into Romans chapter 6 and really reflect on each verse. A lot of Paul’s writings discuss this issue and I invite you to find them and report back…

We can make this passage of Romans a continuing blog after Philippians 2, if you guys would like. Just let me know. You can always email me at:

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Carmen Christi (Philippians 2:5-11)

Philippians 2:5-11 is commonly known as "The Carmen Christi" or "The Hymn of Christ." It has been treated as a Carmen Christi, a Christological ode, devoted to the praise of the Lord and hailing Him in confession and worship as Jesus." This 'hymn of Christ' details the basic doctrines of Christianity concerning Jesus. The doctrines addressed include the preexistence of Christ, His deity, His equality with God the Father, His incarnation, His voluntary death, His exaltation by the Father, and His ultimate triumph over evil.

The example of Jesus is set before us. We must resemble him in his life, if we are to have the benefit of his death. There are two natures of Christ of this passage; his Divine nature, and human nature. Who being in the form of God, partaking the Divine nature, as the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, had not thought it a robbery to be equal with God, and to receive Divine worship from men. His human nature; here he became like us in all things except sin. Thus low (a servant), of his own will, he stooped from the glory he had with the Father before the world was. Christ's two states, of humiliation and exaltation, are presented. Christ not only took upon him the likeness and fashion, or form of a man, but of one in a low state; not appearing in splendour. His whole life was a life of poverty and suffering. But the lowest step was his dying the death of the cross, the death of a malefactor and a slave; exposed to public hatred and scorn. The exaltation was of Christ's human nature, in union with the Divine. Here we see such motives to self-denying love as nothing else can supply.

We should all realize this example of servanthood and Christlikeness. How much better would your life be if you took the focus off of you and placed it on others? How can we hate or be bitter and spiteful if we "love our neighbor?" It is my hope that all of you can grasp the fulfillment of serving others. The reward is greater than any selfish act could ever provide.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pulling Weeds . . .

I was doing yard work today and pulling a lot of weeds that had become overgrown and taken over flowerbeds. I had neglected to pull them for quite some time. As I was ripping them out of the ground, I realized how much my life is like that flower bed. I know we have all heard the cliche about pulling weeds, etc., but this was actually surreal. I thought about all the weeds in my life that were irritating when I first noticed them, but that over time I just let grow until they strangled the life from me. In other words, sin and other weeds crept into my life which I noticed at first, but I did not repent from them, and just let them fester until they became happenstance. Now those weeds have grown up and are strangling the life breathe from God that I so need to survive. It's just like the weeds in my garden that grow bigger and bigger, and eventually closer and closer to the beautiful flowers until they begin to grow around and within the flower, eventually killing it. I don't want to die. I don't want sin and "weeds" to take over my life and stop me from being what I was created for. I think it is time we all did a little yard work and pulled all those weeds from our flower beds. It was hard and dirty work, and there are still a few small weeds that just didn't come out, but the flower bed looks 100% better, and the flowers can breathe and live once again. There are no weeds to steal their water and sunlight. Yes, some of the weeds broke off and the root remained. I know that the sins and weeds in my life do the same thing; I get rid of the weed but the root stays behind. I confess the sin, but don't repent from it. It is weird and wonderful how God works. I went from doing a tedious chore, such as pulling weeds, to an intimate moment with God. I pulled the weeds in my physical and Spiritual yard today. What weeds are suffocating you from becoming what God has in store for you? Don't just pull the weed, grab it from the root and tear it out so that is does not come back.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”

2 Timothy 2:19 (NLT)

Friday, March 30, 2007

What's in it for me?

That is the most frequent question we pose to ourselves before we ever make a decision. Sick isn't it? It's all about me. Well, to embrace the cliche you get out of what you put into it seems adequate explanation. I solicit your feedback and especially what God reveals to you. Everyone views the same thing differently and Scripture application is no different. God may reveal one thing to me and another to you. This is how we grow, and fellowship, and strengthen our relationship with God and others. I will try to explain the intent of the Scripture as best I can while at the same time giving you some application. If something "POPS" out at me I will surely include it in the post. Click ----> "HeLP!" <----and you can email me topics anonymously that you would like covered, or verses you would like to study. This blog is for those of you who choose to participate. Philippians 2 is just the beginning. . .

What is the Philippians2Project?

So what is the Philippians 2 project you ask? To answer that question we need to examine Philippians 2.

1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality
with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a
servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled
himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave
him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in
heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

There is a lot to be said in those 18 verses, and many life applications. They relate to all people including Christians and especially teens. If you can adopt this lifestyle now and make it your way of life, the mistakes that were made by adults you know will be mistakes that you don't make. You will live a fulfilled life and know that you are doing what God has implored you to do.

In the next several posts I am going to dissect verse-by-verse this passage and provide life applications. I encourage you to post questions or comments on the "passages of the post". If you choose to, you may reflect on the post as part of your quiet time or daily devotional, and post what God revealed to you personally about the verses.

So in a nutshell, this is what Philippians2Project was designed for.