Monday, February 22 2016
No! This could be the shortest blog entry ever, by answering the question "Can Christians be racist?". The answer is "no, no, no, no, no...infinity!", but let me explain using scripture. There will be people that call themselves Christians that are racist by using the excuse, "That is how I was raised" as they use derogatory terms and spew racist jokes. Racism exists, but it has no place in the church. Whatever "color" you are...racism is a sin!
Our background is not an excuse for racism. The Apostle Paul made it abundantly clear...
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
As a new creature, I want to put on the "mind" have the attitude of Christ. Jesus loved people from every background and felt the need to go to Samaria to speak with a woman that was an outcast in a society that were rejected by Jesus' race.
Racism has always existed for as long as people have been different. We can change our thinking, but we may not be able to change the thinking of others. The cure for racism is Jesus and introducing Him to the world.
Many years ago, I was with a group of young ministers. They were using the "n-word" in their conversation. My stomach turned and I could feel frustration and disappointment. I did not know these men, but I had to say something. Another friend of mine and I told them that what they were doing was wrong and we did not want to hear it. Their excuses flowed including they were from the south, but their language and ideology was in contrast to the Bible (and my parents).
Acts 10:34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “Most certainly I understand now that God is not one to show partiality [to people as though Gentiles were excluded from God’s blessing], (Amplified)
In the 15th chapter of Acts, a meeting was called of the church leadership. The discussion concerned the circumcision of the Gentiles that had converted to Christianity. In a revelatory sermon, Peter preached...
The Apostle Paul in writing to the church at Rome addressed racism directly to the saints.
Verse 11 in the Amplified Bible states:
11 For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favoritism; with Him one person is not more important than another].
God does not see race, background, or economic status. He sees the potential in each one of us despite our differences. We are the child of the King and should worship together as a family. The Apostle Paul reiterated his stance on racism within the church in his letter to the Romans and the Corinthians.
Romans 1011 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile; for the same Lord is Lord over all [of us], and [He is] abounding in riches (blessings) for all who call on Him [in faith and prayer].
13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.”
1 Corinthians 12
As Christians, we cannot see race or differences. We should see brothers and sisters in Christ. We can be a Christian or a racist, but not both. Our background, geography or political views cannot change the Word of God. We either believe it or we don't. We would not compromise the plan of salvation or the separation from the World, so therefore we cannot see others as different. We are family...God's family!
Monday, February 15 2016
Is the Old Testament to be used in the "modern" church? If the Old Testament was removed from our doctrine, we could no longer understand Creation, the Ten Commandments and grace of God. Equally important, we would not comprehend the nature of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus speaking of the Old Testament that said...
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Matthew in writing Matthew 28:19 wrote that we are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The disciples understood this command and baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5) because of their study of the scripture. There is no contradiction because the Old Testament reveals that Jesus Christ is the Father.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy gave sound advice in concerning the Bible, but at the time of his writing he was speaking of the Old Testament.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The Amplified Bible states, "Accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth". We can not pick and choose our doctrine to fit our desires or the desires of a crowd. My dad (and pastor) says that we can not have a "cafeteria-style religion". In the same letter that Timothy is told to study, Paul writes that there will be those that will choose the doctrine that pleases them.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
The Amplified Version states:
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold
The Old Testament is God's Word. We do not sacrifice animals but when the Word is rightly divided, we understand why. We no longer believe an "eye for an eye", but when we rightly divide the Word it is understood.
The Old Testament teaches us the true nature of Jesus. We can understand the pattern of salvation because of the Tabernacle. It allows us to see the mercy of God in the cities of refuge and it our basis for a life of separation from the World. Yes, the Old Testament is for the modern church.
Matthew 5:18 For I assure you and most solemnly say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke [of the pen] will pass from the Law until all things [which it foreshadows] are accomplished. (Amplified Version)
Monday, February 08 2016
The Apostle Paul in his writings speaks of a man named Demas three times. We know very little about Demas, but through the writings of Paul we see a decline in his Christian walk. His name means "governor of the people". Perhaps, Demas had many leadership qualities that were admired and warranted the attention of the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle in Colossians says:
Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
Colossians was written between 60 - 64 AD. Demas is obviously in the presence of Paul as a friend and mentee. I can imagine that when Paul was writing the letter that Demas yelled out, please tell the church at Colosse that I send greetings. It was a close relationship.
In the letter written to the Paul's close friend, Philemon, the Apostle penned:
Philemon 1:23 - 24 There salute thee Epaphrus, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aritarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
Paul calls Demas a fellow-laborer. According to Thayer's, this is defined as, "A companion in work." They stood shoulder to shoulder in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world.
The scripture that Demas is most known for was written in a letter to Timothy between 66 - 69 AD:
II Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica...
Demas had been with or around the Apostle Paul for at least a few years. In reading these scriptures, it would be easy to warn others of the decline of Demas. We have no idea what happened after II Timothy. Perhaps, he was a prodigal that found his way back. But these scriptures should be convicting to us because it teaches we need to stay near to our pastors and build boundaries around ourselves to keep the darkness of the world from invading our life.
Demas was a promising preacher working with the Apostle Paul. His name defines him as a leader, but he walked away from the things of God because he loved the things of the world more.
A guy named Demas lost his way so I challenge you to look in the mirror, check your priorities and stay near your pastor. I am.
Monday, February 01 2016
In my studies this morning, I was reading II Timothy 4. The Apostle Paul was writing a letter to the son in the gospel, Timothy. The purpose of the epistle was to ask Timothy to come and spend time with the elder.
The year was approximately 66 AD and Paul sat in a prison. His execution was nearing and he penned a letter to Timothy, but as he concluded it became very sad. The thought of his execution must have weighed heavy on Paul. He had influenced thousands through his ministry. Churches had been planted. God had used him in miracles and prophecies. He had written inspired words that would become the 2/3 of the New Testament.
His faith in God stayed strong and he understood that his life and ministry was coming to a close. He wrote, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." But it is what he wrote next that seemed to strike me as sad.
9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. 16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
It seemed all those (but Luke) that Paul had invested in through discipling had abandoned him. Demas had backslidden (called a fellow laborer in Phm 24) and Alexander had done something that he called "evil". Paul had spent hours with these men and in the time of need they had abandoned him. He felt alone.
Ministry can be lonely. Jesus died with only one disciple at the cross having been betrayed by one and denied by another. David wrote of "the valley of the shadow of death" . Joseph was a slave and prisoner in Egypt before becoming second in command. Noah preached for many years to only have his family board the ark.
In reading verse 9 - 16, it is hard not to feel sorry or even empathize with the apostle. We have all had friends or family seem to leave us in the most desperate of times. It is verse 17 that gives Paul's real attitude toward the situation.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
In his letter, he explained to Timothy that many of those that he had blessed through ministry had left him, but God has always been faithful. He was alone, but not alone. God had revealed to him the impact of his ministry.
God has never abandoned us and we should ask that he open our eyes so that we can see the full impact of our influence and ministry on others. His strength will carry us through the worst of our trials. The Apostle Paul continued to write of God's plan for him.
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
You are not alone. God is faithful.