Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Powerful Gospel, Part 3

There is a question that has boggled my mind for a number of years, and here it is: If we are Christians, and the Bible says that we have the mind of Christ, then how come we are all still thinking so differently if we’re drawing from the same source? The varying viewpoints on basic spiritual issues would make one think that Jesus is some sort of schizophrenic or something. I mean we can’t even agree on something as simple as the Ten Commandments. Now if you ask people in the church, “Do you believe in the Ten Commandments?” I can pretty much guess that there would be one hundred percent unanimity. Oh, come on, almost everyone is going to say that they believe in them.

With that being said, there’s this one commandment that says, “Thou shalt not kill,” which means to take innocent life/murder. Now, if we all agree that we should not murder, then how can the church be so divided on something as simple as abortion? Huh? Why is the church divided on this issue? “Well, there’s a lot more to it than that.” Oh yeah? Murder is murder: the taking of an innocent life. Tell me of a life that is more innocent than that of a baby in its mother’s womb. That baby hasn't even been birthed yet or done half of what you and I have done. Come on, somebody. Yet we can’t even agree.

Then we’ll hear this argument from Christians, “You know, there are a lot of other issues.” It all begins with life, that’s the first thing that needs to be dealt with. “No, it’s the economy.” I haven't heard that one in a while. Anytime we put economics ahead of life, do you know what we get? A big mess!

Then this gets thrown in the mix: “We don’t need God. We have our experts; we’ve got this; we can handle it.” Oh really? No, it’s not just America; look at the state of the world today. Man rejects the same Gospel of Christ wherein Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed.” One of the problems in the church today is that she has grown ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. May I say it? The church has grown ashamed! Do you want to know how I know? Because I know how intimidating it can be to stand up for Christ in a worldly culture. We know we ought to say something, but don’t do it because we fear rejection. We can all identify with what that feels like.

In light of the above, we need to keep in mind that we are carriers of the Truth. Do you know that God has given you and I a special assignment? He has granted unto us a special privilege. I’m going to be honest. I laid in my bed recently and repented for neglecting, taking for granted, and treating lightly what God has entrusted to me, Emory Goodman. You see, I know where I was before I got saved, and I have a pretty good gauge on where I am today, and I had to plead guilty. I had treated it lightly; I had stepped on it; I had walked on it; I had neglected it; I had taken for granted what God has entrusted to me.

God must see something very unique and special in you and I, for He has entrusted unto us His truth and His life. I think that perhaps the greatest purpose for which Christ came, died, and was raised from the dead . . . it wasn’t so much to save us from sin . . . it wasn’t to simply give us access to heaven. He came to prepare a place in us, a place wherein the Spirit of Almighty God could dwell. He came to prepare a temple, and that temple is you. The only way that He could properly prepare us is by first washing us in Christ’s blood. You weren’t just being forgiven of your sins! You were being called out and your life was being dedicated to Almighty God as something holy. As a result, the way was prepared for Him to take up residence in you! One of the greatest miracles of salvation is the indwelling of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit coming to dwell in you and I. You have God on the inside of you!

God’s miracle-working Gospel and power are alive and well in us today. It’s time for Christians to rise up and grasp hold of everything that He has provided so that we may be living demonstrations of His powerful Gospel!

~ pg

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Powerful Gospel, Part 2

Greetings from the beautiful Dominican Republic!

In the last blog we focused on the ability of God's power to transform us. We're going to pick up there and talk a bit about how that translates into making us a new creation!

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." That is one of those simple verses we've known for so many years, and yet, ponder the words carefully: a new creation. "Old things are passed away and a few things have become brand new, and you get to choose what things you want to be made new. Now, if you don't want those things to change, then you're okay. You just come to therapy every Sunday." NO, that's not what the Word says! It says that all things are made new! That's radical transformation . . . not evolution! A Christ-less Gospel is a powerless Gospel, and it would appear that society, particularly modern society in America, tends to gravitate towards this mindset. That, in turn, leads to a form of righteousness, but it denies the power of Christ. When all you have is a form of righteousness that denies the power, that equates to nothing more than religion!

Every major religion in the world has the ability within it to make a person "better." If that is all it's about, you might as well convert to being a Muslim or a Buddhist. Now those are some peaceful people! I've hung around Buddhist societies before. Do you know one of the things that a Buddhist notes about Western culture? They believe that if a person loses his temper or gets frustrated in a grocery line, it is a clear sign of weakness. You or I might think that someone is just being short-tempered, but the Buddhist is probably thinking, "This one is weak." They tend to lean towards the belief that if a person is strong, then those deficiencies in behavior will not surface. There is something to be said for that . . . I mean . . . come on, if we can't even bear to wait for three minutes in a grocery line or at a red light, who then shall stand in the day of adversity? But the transforming power is not simply about becoming "better people." Having the power of the Gospel activated in our lives gives us the ability to demonstrate God's miracle-working power.

So many times the Church attempts to try and meet the needs of the world using worldly means. This is not to say that feeding the hungry and clothing the naked are not valid or great works to pursue. A good question to ask ourselves when pursuing those types of works is: "Am I doing this for God's glory and for His alone?"

Jesus came preaching the Gospel. It was not a message of how to evolve, how to better your life, or even how to become a more acceptable person. He came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it was not a message of simply being rescued from something, it was a proclamation that God's Kingdom was and is yet at hand. He was making very, very clear to us that not only can man be saved from something, but that he can be saved unto something!

There's a whole new life available to those who want it. We would do well to evaluate our own lives. I would challenge you right now, very quickly, to look back and consider what a difference Christ has made in your life. Somebody might say, "Well, I wasn't that bad of a person to begin with." Another one might say, "I was a nice person then, I'm a nice person now, and I just want to be nice." You know, I've read a lot of books, and I've read the Bible quite a bit in the last thirty years. I've also read a lot of characteristics about men like John the Baptist and even Jesus Himself. Through all of that studying and reading, not even once have I ever read that, "Jesus was a very nice person." I've never seen it. "John the Baptist: he ate locusts, wore camel hair, and he was a very nice man." No, I don't read "nice" in any of the descriptive terms. I don't mean to insinuate that gives us a right to be rude; I believe that Christians never have a right to be rude.

The American church, frankly in my opinion, has become "too nice" in an attempt to be socially accepted. We want the world to like us, so can't we all just be nice? "Well, it's those Christians that are so intolerant." Tell that to the Mayor of Chicago. It's the Christians who are supposedly intolerant, but in the meantime, if you believe in the sanctity of marriage, "You are not welcome in our city." Just as bad, there are those who call themselves Christians and take on the posture of, "Right on, brother."

I'm going to pause here and carry on with this same train of thought in my next blog as there really is not a good stopping point, but there is much more to be said along these same lines.

My prayer is that we will wake up and stop trying to placate the world or be swayed by society's opinion. Let's refocus and get back to the principles and morals proclaimed throughout the Word of God!

~ pg

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Powerful Gospel, Part 1

Greetings! Vickie and I are excited about the turn of this New Year and everything that God has planned and is doing! We pray God’s best for you in 2013.

With that being said, I’ve been pondering something regarding our Christian lives and the direction of the Church. Let’s begin by looking at Romans chapter 1. Did you know that there is such a thing as a powerless Gospel, and it is being preached around the world and particularly in America today? In Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” That word power is dunamis, not exusia. Dunamis means, “dynamo, dynamite, the miracle power of God.” Paul says the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation.

Today, particularly in America, I believe that we’re seeing variations of the Gospel being preached, even in Christian churches from Christian pulpits. There is a message going forth that sounds good, and it stimulates the senses, feeds the flesh, and builds the ego temporarily, but it lacks the power of God that brings about true salvation. I want to discuss that topic in this series of blogs as I’m concerned about it. I do a lot of reading and try to keep up with current events and what’s going on in the Church. I visit various ministries, travel around, and I observe. I’m going to be very honest with you. We’ve gotten to a place where it almost seems like the kind of coffee we serve is more important than what is being preached from the pulpit. “Oh, I’m going to that church ‘cuz they’ve got Starbucks!”

It’s like if we can just give them the biggest muffins, the best coffee, and the chewiest chocolate chip cookies, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll come back. Meanwhile, many times the Gospel that’s being preached under the Christian banner is a powerless Gospel. A powerless Gospel can feed a hungry man, clothe the naked, or visit the lonely in prison, but it lacks the ability to bring about true, radical transformation.

The Bible says that Jesus went everywhere preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom while He was on the earth, and everywhere He went preaching, the power of God was demonstrated. How do we know? Because He healed all manner of sickness and cast out demons; He cleansed the lepers; He raised the dead! There was true evidence of the power of the Gospel of Christ being manifested.

In many church circles today, we’re afraid to demonstrate the power; we’re afraid to preach the message. Why? Because it is offensive to many people. Many people are looking for a psychology/therapy session every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. “Come to group session; we’ll talk about it.” But where’s the power of the Gospel of Christ being demonstrated?

The Apostle Paul said, “I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” It has the ability to set the captives free. And I want to remind you of this: God did not save you just so you can be forgiven! God didn’t save you just so you can get to heaven. That isn’t found anywhere in the Word. God didn’t save you so you can feel better about yourself. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that God didn’t save us just so we can become better people.

Too many people are going to church because they think it will make them a better person. That’s like evolution. Over the course of time, that’s how a form of Darwinism has come into the church’s mindset. Christianity is not an evolutionary process; it’s a transforming process! Do you understand? That’s not to say that we don’t grow, live, and go on. The world and many in the Church would have us to believe that mankind is still evolving and that somehow we’ve become so much better than we were thousands of years ago. Really? If that is so, can you explain to me why more people have been brutally killed and slaughtered in the last hundred years than in all of the years prior to it in known history? Four thousand babies are murdered every day here in America. Can you explain that to me if we’ve become so much better at becoming humans? “I go to church so that I can be a better person.” Going to church ain’t gonna make you a better person!

What we need is the Gospel of Christ to become a reality in our lives, and the Gospel of Christ carries with it the power to transform us!

In Him,