CTT | Unholy like Esau

CTTToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post will be a short Bible study. We live in a time where playing the victim seems to be the highest virtue in society. Playing the victim will excuse your actions, statements, lying, perjury, vitriol, and bigotry… as long as you can muster up a claim at playing “the real victim” in all of it. While the foolish, unbelieving world clamors in the dark in all of this… we who are of the Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ have no such excuse.

Suffering Just or Unjust Punishment

Let us begin by making clear that there is a difference between being a victim and playing the victim. Whenever someone is wronged (or sinned against) they are a victim of the wrong. Sometimes, however, the suffering endured by the victim is the due penalty of the victim’s sin. The wages of sin is death. Those who die in unbelief will be punished, and that punishment will not make them the victim of God’s Wrath, but the recipients of the due punishment for their sin of unbelief. There are a couple of places we could go to work this out, but for today’s scenario I want to begin in 1 Peter 2.

1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV)

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

So, then, is there any real credit for enduring just punishment? No. However, for those times where we endure punishment that is unjust, we are taking part in the suffering of Christ, and there will be great reward laid up for us in Heaven for it. I love the Gospel clearly written in this short passage, too. The Apostle Paul often referred to his sufferings for the sake of the cross as his privilege to join in Christ’s suffering. I think that is a vital way of looking at it in the tribulation that is coming, and in some ways already is here.

Do Not Grow Weary

With this idea in place, let us now look to what the Writer of Hebrews wrote after his review of the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11). As the writer move on to encourage his audience in the Faith, we will see a clear reference to Esau.

Hebrews 12:1-17 (ESV)

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

Is it not fascinating to you, that Esau would be the first example of unholiness mentioned after the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11? And of all of the names we might consider as the example of sexual immorality and unholiness, why Esau? The focal point is in the selling of his birthright. The context here is one of believers having been adopted into the Kingdom of God by faith. By faith we are made heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. As sons we are being disciplined by God to take part in holiness. Those who are left without discipline are described as illegitimate children, not sons. Let us review the story of Jacob and Esau and a bowl of stew.

Esau Sells His Birthright

We reviewed the story of Jacob and Esau a while back. We were focused on the fact that God had chosen Jacob over Esau. This time, we are going to look at segments related to what the writer of Hebrews describes as the immoral and unholy character of Esau.

Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV)

29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

For a bit of stew… Esau despised his birthright. Had Esau earned that birthright? No. It was his by the Grace of having been born first. We, the readers, know at this time that God had already made clear that He had already chosen Jacob as Isaac’s heir… but such transfer of blessing had not yet taken place. In the flesh, Esau is the firstborn son of Isaac, and it is his birthright. Not only the wealth and riches accumulated by Isaac (and passed down from Abraham), but also the Promise of the Messiah and the promises of God to Abraham. Esau lacked faith, and despised this birthright for the sake of something as empty and temporal as a bowl of stew.

In our present culture, we’d no-doubt see trending hashtags painting Jacob as the predator, who took advantage of Esau’s hunger to steal his birthright. That Esau was the victim of Jacob’s craftiness. Later, we’ll see Esau blame Jacob, too… and when he does, he won’t accept responsibility for this act of selling his birthright to Jacob. As we continue reading in Genesis, notice that in the very next account, God appears to Isaac reminding him of the Promise of Abraham and confirms His promise to Isaac and his offspring. The reader is being reminded of the significance of the birthright that Esau despised. As read in Chapter 27, we see Isaac desiring to grant a blessing to his son, Esau. We discussed this in our last review of this passage, where Rebekah, knowing the Word of the Lord concerning Jacob and Esau, that God had chosen Jacob over Esau, devised a plan to prevent Isaac from disobeying the Word of the Lord concerning Esau. As the plan unfolds, Isaac gives the following blessing to Jacob, thinking he was Esau:

Genesis 27:26-37 (ESV)

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son
    is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
    and of the fatness of the earth
    and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
    and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
    and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
    and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.”36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?

Genesis 27:41 (ESV) 41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

So, Esau, turns to murderous intentions, while playing the victim of Jacob. Scripture doesn’t see it this way. In fact, Scripture ascribes unholiness and immorality to Esau, while including Jacob in the hall of faith. Was Jacob a more righteous person? No… we are all sinners. Esau despised his birthright and sold it for a bowl of stew. Esau had taken Hittite wives, thus his sexual immorality, for he had married ungodly women outside of the Promise. Jacob, had faith, Esau did not.

Conclusion

Esau is presented as the warning sign for sexual immorality and unholiness, for despising his birthright. This was being presented within the context of being made sons and daughters of the LORD God by faith in Jesus Christ. Do not for the sake of temporal relief, despise your birthright in Christ Jesus. Confess Jesus before men. Forgive those who sin against you. Hold fast to the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. 

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “A Man in the Night” by Alistair Begg

2011-alistair-begg

Today, we’ll visit TruthforLife.org for a sermon by Alistair Begg. Today’s sermon aired yesterday (May 14th, 2015). I found it a good way to bring this week’s theme to a close. We’ve been focused on Resting in Christ, in His Saving grace, by faith. The occasion of Nicodemus sneaking in the night to speak to Jesus gives us an opportunity to recognize that works of the Law are not where we find our rest, our peace, nor our assurance. Rather, it is in believing in faith the work that He has done for us.

Sermon link:  A Man in the Night (Part 2 of 2)

Nicodemus was a law-abiding, religious man. But when he encountered Jesus, Nicodemus was surprised to learn how little he actually knew about entering the Kingdom of God. Sincerity, and even following all the rules, was not enough to qualify.

Sermon Text

John 3:1-16 (ESV)

You Must Be Born Again

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you dounless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him,“Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in himmay have eternal life.

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Supporting Texts

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV)

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Numbers 21:4-9 (ESV) | The Bronze Serpent

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the peoplespoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

 

May God bless you and keep you,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Rest in Peace

Musical Symbol for Rest (quarter rest)

Rest

Today, I want to take a little time to look at one of the most common phrases on tombstones, “Rest in Peace”. While it is indeed appropriate for mourning the loss of a loved one, have you ever heard that phrase and thought, “I’d like to rest in peace before I die, too”. I have. While such a rest isn’t permanent while we walk this cursed earth in fallen flesh, there is rest for the People of God. Sometimes we think that if we work extra hard in one area of life, then we can rest in others, but that rarely grants even a moment of reprieve. Instead, the rest that is available to Christians comes only by faith.

Personal Anecdote

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to share a bit of myself for a moment. One of my personal areas of struggle is in procrastination. The most common reason for my procrastination isn’t laziness, but fear. Fear of not knowing how to “do it”. Fear of not being able to “do it right”. I struggle with perfectionism. This sort of procrastination is self-feeding, the longer I take to start, the less likely I’ll be able to “get it done correctly”. Once the deadline has arrived and I’ve submitted my work, there is no peace and there is no rest, just fear that I didn’t do it right. Depending on the task, there might even be some condemnation thrown in for having procrastinated and not made better use of my time. Vicious cycle.

My wife has helped me a great deal in this matter. How? She loves me. She forgives me. She extends grace to me, when I screw up the honey-do list. Whether its something she asked me to do or something I concocted in my brain to serve her, I can rest in knowing that she loves me… and even if I mess something up, and create more work for the both of us later on, she’ll forgive me and her love for me will not change.  I can work diligently on a project for days on end anticipating the rest that will come once she tells me she loves me. That rest at the end of the work gives me peace in the middle of the toil. In this way, my wife has helped me better understand how we should rest in Christ and in His peace.

Rest and Peace by Faith

What I experience with my wife is temporal and the Holy Spirit uses it to point me toward the rest and peace that are available by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Our American culture has traditionally been obsessed with work and how it defines the worker. Lately there has been a burgeoning sub-culture of entitlement that frankly disgusts me, but is a natural rebellion against the traditional ideology. There is no rest in work to feed your own flesh. Our flesh is insatiable. Our secular culture has rebelled against the notion of work while demanding hand-outs. Odd, really, and a worse position to take, Biblically. So let’s address the traditional mindset of the American dream of being a “self-made man”.

Mark 8:36-37 (ESV)

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?

The answer, of course, is “nothing”.

Mark 10:23-27 (ESV)

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

You see, our salvation… our adoption as sons and daughters of God by the blood of Jesus Christ is not a result of any work we do. Nothing we do earns our adoption, our salvation. In the same way that nothing you did earned your physical conception/birth into this earthly realm. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved for good works. And since our salvation wasn’t of our doing, the good works we engage in from here on out are not by our might or our strength or our skill, but by God who prepared the good works that we are to walk in. This is reflective of our holding fast to our confession of Hope, because He who has promised [God] is faithful. Rest in that, even while you are walking in the good works that God prepared for you. No, you don’t need a special revelation of what good works you need to do, we have the Law. The Law defines good works. We fall short of the Law, even as Christians, but that is why we are exhorted to hold fast to our confession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and why it is imperative that the Gospel continue being preached to believers). The Law isn’t what grants rest… the Gospel is.

1 Peter 1:3-13 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Rather than wait until the end, set your hope daily. As you pray the Lord’s Prayer, “…give us this day our daily bread…” rest in His promise of Salvation. He is the bread of Life. Give us this day… Rest and Peace. Not the sort of rest and peace that the world would understand, for we will indeed face grievous trials in this life… but a rest in the Promise of an inheritance kept in heaven for us. As we confess our sins daily, and repent… know that He is faithful and just to forgive us by His Grace and Mercy. May we strive to enter that Rest… by faith… and when our time on earth draws to a close, may we consider the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Paul could rest in peace by faith knowing by faith that he was going home soon. The thing about rest, is that it can be stolen from you by fear, doubt, and unbelief. Do not rely on inactivity, or lavish vacations, or the praise of men for your rest, for such are fleeting and unreliable. Place your trust in God’s Word, and by faith rest in Him who Granted you eternal life.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Impossible” by Building 429

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

May 07, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Impossible” by Building 429 which is currently being praised for having broken some airplay records.

Provident Label Group pop/rock band Building 429 has officially broken a radio record. Their brand new single, “Impossible”, received an astounding 95 radio adds on add date, making this an all time first for the band. This is also the highest number of adds its first week ever for a Provident Label Group artist. This radio feat hasn’t been achieved since “Free To Be Me” by Fancesca Battistelli in 2008.

“Everyone has that story of when something out of the ordinary happened in their career,” shares Andrew Patton, VP of Promotions, Provident Label Group. “The minute I heard ‘Impossible’ I knew it could be one of those moments. And as exciting as this record-breaking add date has been, I’m looking forward to even more exciting things ahead with this song and with Building 429.”

The GRAMMY-nominated and Dove Award-winning band debuted “Impossible” during the WinterJam Tour this past winter and spring playing to a record-breaking 600,000 fans over 47 dates. “Impossible” is the first single from their upcoming album slated to release September 25th. [ref CCMMagazine.com]

Since this song has yet to appear on the Top20 chart we currently use for DiM Tuesday, I thought we’d take a look at it today. With this much promotion behind this thing, it is only a matter of time before it appears on our charts. Is this song worthy of so much attention? No. This song is a fraudulent promise based on proof-text, vision-casting, and word-of-faith theology. This is going to be another long post, because we are addressing a major theological error. Making promises on God’s behalf, that He did not promise is blasphemy. It is one thing to have a “vision” or a “dream” of what YOU would like to see happen in your life, but quite another to claim that the vision or dream is from God. Dangerous, even. Let’s discuss this.

Official VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Impossible
by Building 429

You got a vision
You got a dream
But it feels a million miles away
You got your passion
You got to believe
That this is why you were made

It takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to see
I said it takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to believe

We can rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know
We know
We know
That there’s no such thing as impossible

And nothing is unreachable
When we trust the God of miracles
We know
We know
We know
That there’s no such thing as impossible

We’re never given the spirit of fear
Only the power of love
We’ll keep on running and not grow weak
His strength is more than enough

It takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to see
I said it takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to believe

Rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible

That nothing is unreachable
When we trust the God of miracles
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible

There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing as impossible
Impossible

There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing as impossible

Rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible

Nothing is unreachable
When you trust the God of miracles
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible
Publishing: © 2014 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing / Havery Publishing / Jord A Lil Music (BMI) / Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) All rights admin. by Sony/ATV.
Writer(s): Jason Roy, Chuck Butler, Casey Brown

Discussion

Well, folks, what we have here is a Vision-Casting / Word-of-Faith anthem of empty promise cloaked in what seems to be truth (truism). This could very well be a CTT post. The phrase “with God all things are possible” occurs several times in the New Testament. When isolated, pulled from its context, it gives the notion that “nothing is impossible for God” is a valid ultimate truth. However, this isn’t the case. This isn’t a mathematical equation or Greek philosophy of possibility, the realm of possibility is defined by God. He has clearly stated certain things are impossible, such that we might have full assurance in His Promise.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

All Scripture is God-Breathed. Some take this Truth to mean that if you can find any phrase in the Bible and apply a meaning to it, then it is infallible. That’s not how it works. You see, God’s Word is defined by God’s Word. One cannot simply pluck out a phrase from the Scriptures and apply it in whichever way seems beneficial and expect God to honor it. This song’s assertion that as long as you believe in God your “vision” or “dreams” will all come true is complete bunk. Let’s do a quick survey of the Scriptures to flesh out the limits of “possibility” for mankind.

With Man it is Impossible

Let’s look at what Jesus was teaching when He said, but with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:23-27 (ESV)

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Matthew 19:23-26 (ESV)

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Luke 18:24-27 (ESV)

24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said,“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Salvation. It is impossible for man to save himself. Salvation is a work of God, so that no one should boast (Eph 2:1-10 ESV).  It is also impossible for man to please God without faith.

Hebrews 11:5-7 (ESV)

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Now, let’s look at what Scripture tells us of the nature of man after the fall. Let’s look back to the days of Noah.

Genesis 6:5-8 (ESV)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

God chose to spare Noah to keep His promise to Adam and Eve, and He cannot lie. Nevertheless, all mankind is wicked and sinful. In fact, dead in their sins and trespasses (Eph 2). God spoke to Noah, and Noah believed God and became an heir of righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11). Notice, we are using the New Testament to better understand the Old. Noah didn’t merit God’s favor, it was for His sake, for His Name’s sake alone that God spared Noah. We know this because Scripture has made it clear, but it can also be inferred from what took place after Noah.

Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV) | The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Where they seeking after God? No. Were they seeking to honor God? No. They sought to make a name for themselves in the heavens, and that was only the beginning of what they would do. Salvation is impossible for them, we know this. They are dead in sins and trespasses. They do not yet have the Law, this is before the Abrahamic Covenant. Without God, it is impossible for man to do the right thing, to be righteous. Righteousness requires faith, and that faith comes from God. We aren’t “born with it”. Faith comes to us through hearing the Words of Christ. When God spoke to men, they were afforded an opportunity for faith, as we see articulated in Hebrews 11. Even Adam, who saw all of Creation in its perfection, and knew God, was expected to obey His word by faith, that he was not to eat of the fruit of that one tree. Adam lacked faith, and so he sinned, and by one man’s sin, death entered the earth. Only God could provide a way of atonement sufficient for man’s salvation. The Law was temporary, a guardian for the people of the Promise, until Christ could come and establish a New Covenant with mankind.

Hebrews 10:1-14 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And Now that We’ve Been Saved…

Okay, but once we’ve been saved by Grace through Faith, can’t we assume all things are possible for us? Is the promise of Salvation temporal or eternal? Who decides what miracle God is going to perform, man or God? Who decided to part the Red Sea, Moses or God? God did. He led Moses to that place, to that shore, and He instructed Moses to act, and He parted the Red Sea, and He saved Israel with His Mighty Hand, and He destroyed Pharaoh’s army when He closed the sea on them. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God… for He is the one who is Sovereign over all of Creation. This goes back to Soli Deo Gloria: to God Alone be the Glory.

You see, the biggest problem with this song that invalidates all of it, is that it begins not with a Promise that God’s Word makes; rather, it begins with the dreams/ideas/visions of mankind, the listener. Bruce Jenner has a vision of being a woman… that’s not God’s Will for him. Mankind will manipulate language, biology, chemistry, and religion to reinforce the illusion that it is possible for him to become a woman… but that simply isn’t possible. Man doesn’t have that power, and never will.

What About the Faith of a Mustard Seed

Let’s take a look at His teaching on faith.

Matthew 17:14-20 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.

Is faith an emotion to be stirred up or some heightened state of consciousness to be reached through meditation or asceticism? No. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ. This isn’t a question of quantity of faith, but on the object of their faith. The Scripture doesn’t specify where their doubt had crept in, just that if they had the faith of a mustard seed to believe the Word of God they could do the Will of God by His Grace through Faith. With man, it is impossible to cast out demons… it is also impossible to walk on water. Let us look there for a moment because that is where I’m drawing some of my conclusions for this understanding.

Matthew 14:28-32 (ESV)

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

By faith Peter walked on water in obedience to Jesus’s call. Yes, Peter prayed the Lord to issue the command, as we should pray for those things which are impossible with men. Jesus did issue the command, and Peter walked by faith… until he doubted. Notice the rebuke, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? 

Does scripture record anyone else walking on the water after this? No. The point was not to promise Christians water-walking powers, but to point to the deity of Christ. Does scripture (or history) record anyone literally commanding a mountain to be moved and it moving by faith? No. The point is to rest in the Word of God by Faith. Jesus came to set the captives free from the Kingdom of darkness, by faith. There is no worthy opponent or impediment to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not even demon possession. The Word of God is mightier than any 2-edged sword, preach the Word, say to the mountain “be moved” that the Name of the Lord will be lifted up in praise. Let us not cheapen this truth with false gospels of prosperity or worse, turning the bible into some sort of spell book. The Apostle Paul faced many hardships, trials, tribulation, and was mightily used of God to spread the Gospel and build up His Church among the Gentiles. Notice the introduction of his letter to the Romans.

Romans 1:1-17 (ESV) | The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Church Discipline

We are living in a time when the visible Church in our day has wandered off-mission in many ways. We have Pastors who think they need to run Christ’s Church as though it were a business with themselves as CEO, we have churches whose sole aim is to entertain unbelievers without preaching Law and Gospel, and we have other churches re-writing the Law as they (or our pagan culture) sees fit, and much, much more. There are many discernment ministries popping up, calling Celebrity pastors and church communities to repentance and a return to Biblical Christianity. There are so many churches that are put together by man’s ideas rather than what is clearly written in the scriptures, that when most people talk about “Church Discipline” we immediately think of Spiritual Abuse like what we saw with Mark Driscol at Mars Hill. It is important to remember, however, that these men abused Church Discipline, they didn’t invent it. Discipline comes from the Lord God. So, let us look first at the purpose of Discipline in our Christian walk.

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

We are going to begin in Hebrews, Chapter 12. A very interesting thing about the first portion of this chapter, is that it is almost always used in the “feel-good encouragement” that tells the Christian, “hey, it isn’t up to you and your works to perfect your faith”. That is absolutely, true, but it isn’t the whole message Paul was conveying. You see, He perfects our faith but it isn’t always a feel-good process.

Hebrews 12:1-17 (ESV) | Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

So  you see, the writer of Hebrews is treating the Discipline of the Lord God as a form of Grace. Lack of discipline is a sign of illegitimacy. There is grace in discipline, for its purpose is to bring the son into repentance so that he might be spared final judgement. God’s word has very strong warning against leaders who abuse their position, but see here that lack of discipline condemns the sinner to judgement. The examples of the sexually immoral and Esau are powerful examples that carry much weight. The sexually immoral being left to their own demise is an easier concept to grasp for most than the unholiness of Esau, especially for those of us today who don’t have an understanding of birthright.

We’ll focus on the sexually immoral by looking at a sub plot that takes place between Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. But first, let us begin with what Jesus taught regarding rebuking a brother who has sinned against you.

Correcting a Brother in Christ

Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV) | If Your Brother Sins Against You

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Jesus made a clear progression of escalation (I tried to highlight it using color of text). What we see in many present-day accounts of spiritual abuse, church leadership pronouncing public judgement on individuals who sought to follow this prescribed progression. A concerned member of the congregation goes to the pastor to point out questionable teaching in private, and then the pastor and his staff shun and isolate the one who dared question the visionary leader. Such actions serve only to protect the CEO’s reputation rather than the health of the Church or of the congregation. On the other hand, if the church fails to do its part to address open sin within the congregation, the entire body is defiled, as we see in 1 Corinthians 5.

Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church

1 Corinthians 5 (ESV)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

What is happening in today’s progressive-liberal churches is not new… it happened in Corinth. A man had his father’s wife, and the church was arrogant in their tolerance of this fact. Paul was furious. He demanded that the individual be removed from the local church. This is upper limit of Church Discipline (though some theonomists seem to think otherwise, they are confusing the covenants).

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Paul wastes no time instructing how the discipline is to be delivered. It was to be in the assembly. The time for private rebuke was long passed. The sin was public and it was tolerated. It was then reported to Paul who pronounced judgement against the sin and the rebel.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

And this is absolutely important to understand, brothers and sisters. It is not for us to judge the outsiders, the unbelievers, those who are still dead in their sins and tresspasses, condemned by their unbelief. God judges them. Paul even said something to the effect of, “hey, when I told you not to associate with sexually immoral people, I meant among those who call themselves Christians”. We preach the gospel to the lost in the world, calling them out of their sin by the Grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For those who have been born again yet give themselves over to the desires of the flesh, knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are to be corrected (Galatians 6:1 (ESV) Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted) but as long as they remain unrepentant we are not to associate with them. Why? So that they might come to repentance, and that their sin might not leaven the whole congregation.

Paul is telling the Corinthians, that they were all in sin for allowing this public sin to go unchallenged, undisciplined, and possibly even celebrated in some twisted sense (I’m speculating on the brand of arrogance Paul points out twice). The individual was to be turned over to Satan. Was that because Satan is in charge? No. God is sovereign over His sons and daughters. Discipline comes from God. We live by His Grace. Therefore, when our rebellion requires discipline, He allows the enemy to take shots at us that are less restrained, so that we might repent. The goal of the excommunication isn’t to condemn the man, but to save his soul in the long-run, even if his flesh suffers damage from the enemy (See also Matthew 5:29-30 (ESV)).

Forgiveness Must Quickly Accompany Repentance

The goal of Church Discipline is not condemnation, but conviction unto repentance. We (as individuals and as a Church) must be ready to forgive, quick to love, and faithful to restore a brother who has repented of sin. Such was the case for the unnamed individual in Paul’s letters.

2 Corinthians 2:3-11 (ESV) | Forgive the Sinner

And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

This is the goal of Church Discipline. It is not loving to interfere or undermine Discipline that is just. As a father, there are few things more frustrating than to have someone interrupt my correction of my children’s behavior to “spare them” from my discipline. My children are to follow my rules, because I love them and I know what is best for them. Similarly, when the Church is exercising just, biblical discipline, the congregation must honor the purpose of Biblical discipline and resist the desire to coddle sinners. Remember what we saw in Hebrews 12, the Discipline of the Lord is a form of grace.

WWUTT | Have Nothing to Do With Them? (Church Discipline)

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In Christ Jesus,
Jorge