Monday, May 30, 2016

The Lord's Prayer

I just finished two series: one on the Ten Commandments and one on the Apostles' Creed.  Both were based on my time with Celebrate Recovery, a wonderful resource to help anyone and everyone healing from either addiction or sin, which is everyone, to heal and to be able to be honest and open about their problems.

At each meeting, recoverers recite the 12 steps of recovery based on AA but with Scripture and 8 steps of recovery based on the beatitutes followed by the Serenity prayer.  As helpful as those are, I feel like it would be more helpful to draw from more historical source and on Scripture.

Scripturally, we do not have problems or bad choices, we have sin the separates us from God and will for eternity unless we surrender our lives to Jesus who lived the only perfect life and died in the only complete sacrifice for all the sins of those he will save.  He rose again from the dead.  Being both God and man he intercedes between us and the Father.

It would be helpful for people who come to church for recovery to recite the 10 commandments to show them what exactly is their sin and why it is so deadly.  It would also be good to recite the Apostles' Creed because it shows what all God has done to both create us and save us from our sins.  Jesus is the only solution to our sins.  Not 12 steps and not my resolve to make better decisions.  Only Jesus can save me.

The Lord's Prayer would be a better prayer to pray than the Serenity Prayer.  The Lord's Prayer was specifically taught by our Lord to the disciples when they asked him how to pray.  The Serenity Prayer has good moments, but is not biblical, is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, a liberal, and is not really God's solution to the sin and tragedy in our world.  God doesn't want us to merely live in the world and take its blows.  He wants us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fight for justice in order to make it more like the Kingdom of God.

So this is my start to the Lord's Prayer.  It is divided into six petitions, so the next six posts will be about those.

When you pray, it is also good to come just as you are and not do anything extra whether it is to light a candle, draw a circle, or any other unbiblical ritual not prescribed by the Lord.  The principle behind the 2nd commandment, the one to not make a graven image, is that we do not try to worship God in ways that he has not commanded.  God cannot be manipulated.  God wants us to come to him through Jesus with nothing but ourselves.  Anything extra that we do is relying on our own efforts and telling the Lord that we don't believe he cares more about us and our loved ones more than we do.  I can't think of anything more arrogant and less trusting in the Lord.  Just come as you are with nothing else.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Life Everlasting

"And the life everlasting. Amen."

I honestly don't have much to say about this one.  Humans will live forever.  God's elect believers will be with him forever in heaven and the rest will live in eternal agony in hell.

If that is the case, then from a recovery standpoint, you need to repent of your sins and make Jesus your Lord.

If people have a choice between heaven and hell, they will choose heaven, but they will not choose Jesus as their Lord and have someone rule over them.  But you cannot have heaven unless Jesus has taken over your life by God's grace and poured his Holy Spirit into you.

But our Lord is gracious and waits to come back to earth so that many people will come to repentance.  If I had it my way, he would come back today and I would not have to hear about wars, Islamic terrorism, liberal/LGBT bullying, and self-righteous "Christianity."  Jesus would come and sort everything out.  But I am not God or nearly as gracious.

Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  I encourage you to come to Jesus if you have not done so already.  He will take away your sins and put his righteousness on you.  Just believe and abandon the sins that you are in love with with a gorgeous Savior who is way better!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Modalism: why it is idolatry

When God gave his Ten Commandments to Moses and Israel, his first one was not, "You should all get along because everybody worships me."

No, he said, "You will have no other gods before me."  Of course the other nations had different gods, but Israel also had many gods throughout their history and God judged both them and the other nations for not keeping his command.

This commandment applies today when someone says he worships Jesus but it is not the Jesus as God has revealed him in Scripture.  There is a non-Trinitarianism that is attractive called "Modalism."  It is attractive because it still calls Jesus God, but it is still not Trinitarian just like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness beliefs.  It states that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not three members of one Godhead, but that God is only one and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just manifestations of him.  People who believe this worship a false God because this is not the God of Scripture.  The main celebrities that hold this view are the preacher TD Jakes and the singing group Philips, Craig, and Dean, both within Oneness Pentacostalism.

God has to be three distinct people to be a Trinity, and he has to be that way from all eternity.  He had no beginning, and will have no end.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have all existed alongside each other from all eternity.  They are all God but they are not all each other.

This is important because for God to be eternally loving he had to have someone to love and to love him back.  He has had three persons loving each other always.  If God had not had this, then he would be a cold, impersonal god, the same as Allah that the Muslims worship.  He would have never sent Jesus to save us and would not love us enough to forgive us of our gross sins that should have killed us.

God has to be three separate persons because Jesus would not have been raised from the dead had God the Spirit not been a separate person from him.  If they were all one, then God would be dead and not God.

If they were the same, then there would be no intercessor between God and man for our sins.  God would simply be that unknown god beyond the mountains that many pagan tribes worship and who need human intercession.   No, but gloriously, God is three separate persons, and we have someone in heaven interceding on our behalf, and we have someone here with us to guide us in the Holy Spirit.

Modalists do not believe in the same Jesus that I believe in and are not true Christians.  God can save them, yes, but they are not true believers.  Therefore, I will not participate in a church event that has TD Jakes as a speaker, which will happen at my church over the summer.  I might sing some PCD songs, but I won't attend their concerts either.  Not on purpose.  We need to have a right knowledge of the Trinity to properly worship the correct God, and we need to be more discerning about who we recommend as theologians lest we dissolve into apostasy.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Resurrection

I believe in the "resurrection of the body."

This means that although my mother has passed away from cancer and that, she does have a healing as her soul is with Jesus, I still believe that her healing is not complete.  Jesus will come and raise both the godly and ungodly bodies from the dead.  My mother's body will live again, will be completely healed, and will be made like Jesus's body after his resurrection.

And this applies to me and all believers.  The ungodly people and their bodies will suffer eternally in God's wrath in hell while God's forgiven Church will live and reign this earth, the very earth we stand on now, forever.

The heaven that is now is not the heaven that will be when Christ sets up his kingdom on earth.

For recovering sinners, this is wonderful news.  Just as Jesus has raised our spirits away from the death of our sins and made us so where we can follow and obey him, he will also raise our bodies after they die.

I hope that God will not wait to much longer before he says that time is up and that Jesus can return.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Forgiveness of sins

"I believe in the forgiveness of sins."  This follows the section about the Holy Spirit, the Church, and the communion of the saints.

Forgiveness is something the Lord gives freely to his loved ones.  Truly, the Lord is the only being who has a right to remain angry at his people for committing treason against him but he does not.  He sent Jesus to freely forgive us.

It is freeing to know that my sins are forgiven.  It is difficult to forgive other people, but this is another work that the Holy Spirit does in his children.  He forgives sins through us.

It's even harder to teach children to forgive.  Children are best at showing their natural depravities. They kick each other, get mad, use each other, and will always blame others for whatever is wrong in their lives.  How do we teach them both forgiveness and loving others more than themselves?  Only the Holy Spirit can really do that, and only he can help us set the example.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Self-esteem or God-esteem?

Colossians 3:1-4, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

I think one of the biggest problems in the church and why it cranks out so many worldly people, at least that is the case here in Georgia, is that we do a good job about teaching Jesus and forgiveness, but we do a horrible job at teaching about how to make him our Lord.

And one of the biggest mistakes is to teach self-esteem.  I think of someone like Donald Trump.  The guy definitely has self-esteem, but is he really someone we want our kids to be like?  Do we want our kids to have such high views of themselves that they think they can sleep with whoever they want to, get pregnant, have abortions, look at horoscopes, view porn, and then blame everybody else for their problems and decide that they don't need to ask God for forgiveness?  Or do we want them to become young men and women who both love Jesus and fear him as both their loving Savior who will also judge the world some day?

The problem is not lack of self-esteem.  The problem is that they are not taught to fear God anymore.  They are not told of his absolute holiness and perfection or that just one sin is enough to keep them under his Wrath for eternity which is what it is so important that they accept Jesus as their Savior.

And they are told that they are enough when really, God is simply enough.  Look closely at Ephesians 2:10.  This applies to all believers: "For we are his workmanship."  Whose workmanship?  His.  God's.  Not mine, not my mom or dad's, not my teacher's, not my best friend, not my favorite show, not my cell phone's.  I am God's workmanship.  Which means without God, there is no me and certainly no reason to boast in myself apart from the worth God gives me.

How did God create us? "Created in Christ Jesus."  God made a way so that we would not have to endure his Wrath for eternity.  He did not act like what I did was not important.  He also did not cast me away as a nothing.  He sent my sin to Jesus Christ and gave me his perfect life.  Neither of us deserve that.  I was created in Christ and that is what he does for believers which is why they matter so much.  That is what he can do for you.

And why did he create us? "For good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in him."  My good works do not save me.  Apart from Jesus they are only just as evil as my sins.  Christ's works save me and because of that I can follow him.  God does have a plan for your life, but you have to follow his plan.  You have to marry before you have sex.  You have to marry the opposite gender.  You have to go to a church body once a week.  You have to seek His will in His Word.  And you have to believe Jesus.  And when he saves you, you will do all that.  And he will be enough.  You won't need anything else.  Give your life to him and esteem him, then you will have time to esteem yourself in light of him.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apostles' Creed: communion of Saints

"I believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints."

The Holy Spirit on earth is the one that keeps all believers whether still on this planet or who have gone home to be with the Lord connected in one church.  This is not the visible church where believers are mixed with unbelievers, but all the elect of God from the foundation of the world for all time.

This church has Jesus as its worldwide head and pope and no other.  Nobody needs to take his place on this earth because he has never left his office as Prophet, Priest, and King.  The Church has no husband other than her Lord and Savior.  And he sends his Holy Spirit to all believers and that way we are united as the universal Church.

If you are recovering from any addiction or sin, it is good to know not only what you are saved from, God's wrath, how you are saved, by grace and faith alone in Jesus who lived a perfect life and took your punishment on the cross, but what you are saved to.  Jesus stands before the Father day and night praying for his believers, the saints, the ones he has called out from the world as his treasured possession, and while we still wait for his physical return to earth, he places us in a church to be with both Him and other believers.  So not only do we enjoy heaven in the future, we enjoy it now.

Heaven is not a place, but a man, Jesus Christ.  And we are in heaven when we meet in a true church body where his Presence dwells in the Word and among other believers who have the same Holy Spirit.

Also, for grievers, this means we are not separated from those we love who are now dead.  We can no longer talk to them, but we are not separated from them either.