Please: Stop quoting people

I’ve had enough! Does anybody believe the Bible anymore? Then why are we quoting all these people?

A few days back an untraditional “out of the box” Christian posted an article by A.W. Tozer called, “The waning authority of Christ in the churches.”  I’m sure you can find it online and here was my online comment to the blogger who posted it:

“I have a question. It’s not meant to be given as some kind of accusation but rather to make us think about why we do what we do.

“I’m in the habit of never quoting what another “Christian” says or has said in my writings or on my sites. The reasons I do this are as follows:

1. Every man ever quoted has been wrong on more than one front. They are fallible just like we are.

2. Many of the “Christians” people quote have had seriously questionable beliefs, many which some people consider to be heretical.

3. It tends to lead some people to either follow these men, their beliefs or what they say without investigating their claims to truth.

4. Quoting any man outside of the Bible is not necessary to discover the truth of God or buffet one’s arguments. If anything it actually diminishes to some degree, albeit likely small, what many claim is the authority of the Scriptures.

 In the last year I’ve seen man after man quoted on site after site, the majority of which are very dangerous influences. Some of these just have skewed beliefs while others are outright heretics. WHY DO WE QUOTE THESE PEOPLE? Is it simply because they have or do share a similar faith as our own in one manner or another? Is it because we think that their likeminded words will somehow encourage others or us? Do we actually know that the benefit in quoting these men outweighs the detriment of their errors and/or heresies? We cannot know this.

 I like parts of the article above and I can most certainly identify with some of it. But if you read with a discerning eye many errors exist in this short article. Can I offer just a few?

 To prove his point about Christ not having authority in the “churches” (something He (Jesus) has absolutely no need nor desire to have in the first place because He doesn’t dwell in houses made with hands) he uses as his example these things: Sunday School, a conference chairman, a foreign missions board, speaks of the Lord not controlling a church service, a theological school and tithing. What does ANY of the aforementioned have to do with Biblical New Testament Christianity? Exactly, nothing. The whole basis of his argument stems from the wrong platform(s) altogether. It tends to lead people to think that the “churches” (what man has built with bricks) needs to be reformed. But wouldn’t that be contrary to what Jesus said about the inability to put new wine into old wineskins?

 The part of this article I agree with is his reasons for a lack of Christ’s authority: custom, precedent and tradition. This is true. But that’s exactly what his examples are too! Do you see the problem? If you do, then you also see how his solution is untenable. It will take a whole lot more than just admitting and confessing we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord. That’s a good place to start. The real solution resides in discovering not just that Christ’s authority is lacking but the manner and vehicle through which Jesus’ authority is exercised. We can start that process by quoting the Bible itself and abandoning everything related to church as a whole and any author who’s solution falls short of that.

To be fair, here is the bloggers reply:

“Hi Michael, welcome. Should I allow your comment to be published on my site? You would agree that you do not have perfect theology? I have yet to meet or read the man who does. In almost 700 articles on this site, almost 90% of them are written by me. I am very particular as to who I would quote. I think your main point on this particular article is countered by Tozer himself who acknowledges his own guilt of participation in the system. We agree on custom, precedent and tradition. If you have read just a few of my articles you will see that we probably agree. You can quote me if you like Michael although fresh manna is better”

My response (here only): Obviously he was very cordial and was courageous enough to post my comment on his blog. That was nice. But their are huge differences between the author and myself- the least of which is the fact that I’m still alive and can be held accountable for my errors and renounce them when necessary. Dead men cannot do either. Their errors remain for all to see and be deceived through- unless a wise man avoids his errors altogether and encourages others to follow suit. It appears this blogger has failed in the same place most others do- they deem that imperfection is somehow acceptable when before God it never is. God’s standard is perfection, and when a man can no longer renounce himself and his errors he needs someone to do that in his stead. The continual quoting of dead authors contributes far more error to the cause of Christ than it ever does good. That is not superstition but fact. Even a brief visit to any local “Christian” bookstore by a discerning believer will show most of what they sell to have little to no real benefit.

In the end, notice what is oddly missing from his response- the answer to my question. That’s because their is no justifiable answer to the incessant quoting of “Christian” authors in light of the sufficiency of Scripture and the additional reasons I share above and below.

 The battle for or against the Bible

Once again I’ve recently had the unfortunate experience of being directed to a man’s wisdom from a bloggers recent post. Sadly, this wasn’t all, the site aggressively promoted Catholicism and its false Jesus and false gospel. How can this happen? How can professing Christians seem so oblivious to the damage such a recommendation can cause?

If your not up to speed, an all out attack against the Bible is well under way. At times its “versions” of the “Bible” littered with New Age themes and words such as The Message translation- it’s so bad it can’t even be justifiably called a paraphrase version. Then we have the multitudes of people obsessed with “experiencing Jesus” who throw Scripture to the wind and practice all manner of “spiritual disciplines” (see: dead works) in the hope of attaining union with God. One after another quotes some new revelation, a personal prophesy or wild experience the rest of us are supposed to believe because “they say so.” This includes a vast majority of those within the Emergent camp but also includes those involved in Purpose Driven, Word Faith and New Apostolic Reformation streams of s0-called Christianity as well. If that wasn’t bad enough, even the real saints are being deceived too.

The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” [2 Corinthians 3:6]

Despite how obvious it is that Paul is speaking of the law as the letter herein, one professing Christian after another equates it to the Bible as a whole. Purposefully or otherwise, these too demean God’s Word and relegate it to some lesser form of authority than God Himself. These never cease with these claims, along with ones eerily similar to past Gnostics who had just a little more wisdom than the rest of us. Of course their answer to their special wisdom is due not to Scriptural fact (which is the means whereby we discern truth from error) but rather by their personal experiences. They simply expect others to believe what they say without any reasonable manner in which to judge what they say. Pay attention: These people aren’t simply deceived, they are dangerous.

The subtle drift from truth

Another favorite of the crowds above is this verse in John 5:39, 40:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times professing Christians have used this verse to demean and discount the Scriptures as if they are somehow separate from or lesser than God Himself. Let me ask you something, “Is any statement Jesus made in the Scriptures any less authorative than the very same statement spoken today were He speaking to you directly?” Obviously not. The truth is the truth. The parameters of what is termed “the faith once delivered” is finished- it was created through God’s authority and is sustained by that same authority for all time. Despite this, many people feel as if the Bible is somehow restricting their freedom and preventing them from freely serving God as they would choose. Guess what people, it is (meaning He is) – and for very good reasons. One of those reasons is this: not every manner we choose to approach God is acceptable, nor is every sacrifice acceptable.

Experiencing God

There is no avoiding this, those who drift away from the importance of objective truth will lean in favor of personal subjective revelation. At times this starts with a sincere desire to know Him more or more intimately, at other times one is tempted to utilize “forbidden fruit” in their search of what is spiritual in nature. But keep this in mind: It is the origin of something that determines its end whether good or bad, righteous or unrighteous. Just as “flesh and spirit” are contrasted in John 3:6, so is the Holy Spirit opposed to all other spirits which are not of God. Look at this next text closely:

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully” [2 Corinthians 11:3, 4]    

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'”   …..then in verse 6;  

“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate……”          

  What can we learn from these passages?

  • The warning is that we might not be led astray as Eve was. How was she led astray- By rejecting what she knew in her mind was God’s prohibition (Genesis 3:2, 3) and based upon what she “saw with her eyes” she believed the serpents lies.
  • Her mind was led astray as she relied upon “her own judgments” about matters instead of the command of God.
  • Instead of simply obeying a simple command she “reached for” took the initiative of her own will. Her sin was first in deciding to disobey God- her action of eating the fruit the result of that.
  • Our Father has never told us to stop thinking and simply rely upon some form of subjective revelation. The warning in Proverbs 3:5, 6 refers to our human understanding in Adam (the mind corrupted by sin) not the mind of Christ all believers partake of.

Fast forward

Our Father has made abundantly clear what is and is not permissible for His children. He has called each one of us by grace, through faith and within the framework of a body of believers He is presently bringing together as one. Within this body dynamic their is a proper manner of functioning and there is a manner of functioning that is not proper, but in reality is very deceptive and dangerous. Paul’s warning above is given due to the very likelihood that some “saints” will drift away from the faith (Hebrews 2:1) because they give “their attention” to people (for if one comes– as above) who preach a different Jesus, are propelled by a different spirit and share a different gospel. These individuals will be offering what they say is a better way for you to have what it is you desire. They prey upon basic instincts and needs to convince you to “take of their fruit” and thus “experience” what you have always wanted. On many occasions they promise a deeper fellowship or union with God.

Every solution has an origin….and destination

We talked a post or so back about God Himself being the originator and finisher of all truth. That all of that truth is encompassed within the Person of Jesus Christ. We are called and commanded to walk with Him, to obey Him and to walk in intimacy with Him. Although most “Christians would agree with this last statement, men everywhere are suggesting all manner of ways/methodologies to use in order to accomplish this. Here are just a few authors found on “Christian” internet sites that have nothing to do with the Scriptures or the faith once delivered. ALL OF THEM claim to have discovered a better way to intimacy with God- despite the fact that “their ways” are no where sanctioned by God Himself.

1. “I have said that the ultimate goal of spiritual growth is for the individual to become as one with God… is for the individual to become totally, wholly God”  M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled

2. “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God”  Henri Nouwen in Sabbatical Journey

3. “I’m glad that as a conservative evangelical who still believes in biblical inerrancy and penal substitution, I’ve gotton over my Catholic phobia, and I’ve been studying contemplative prayer, practicing lectio divina, valuing monastic retreats, and worshipping through ancient liturgy. I appreciate Bernard of Clairvaux’s provocative insights. I’m drawn to Brother Lawrence’s profoundly simple ways to practice God’s presence. I’m intrigued and enticed by Julian of Norwich’s mysterious appearings of Jesus”  Larry Crab in Real Church

4. “And I believe by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions, because they have gone, from the natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have”  Thomas Merton in Lost Christianity

5.  “We should without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer”  Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline

6.  “Mystical awakening in all the great religious traditions, including Christianity, involves arriving at an experience of unity or nondualism. In Zen its known as Samadhi…..transcendence and immanence are not separate. The divine is one. The dancer and all the dances are one” Sue Monk Kidd in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

7. “What Jesus does is declare that he, and he alone, is saving everybody. And then he leaves the door way, way open” Rob Bell in Love Wins

8. “Western Christianity has (for the last few centuries) said relatively little about mindfulness to meditative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much. To talk about different things is not to contradict one another; it is, rather, to have much to offer one another, on occasion at least”  Brian McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy

9. “If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy, you’re going to have to do more than meditate and believe; you must boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and your family” Joel Osteen in Your Best Life Now 

10. “Personal computers have brand names. But inside every PC is an Intel chip and an operating system, Windows,” Warren says. “The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church.”  Rick Warren, Christianity Today

What we have within these ten quotes above are some of the most irreverent, blasphemous, arrogant and deceptive statements ever made by individuals professing faith in Jesus Christ. And these individual statements spoken or written by these individuals could be backed up with many, many more that could easily be found in the public domain. These are not minor little mistakes or misjudgments by these individuals- these are bold statements that contradict the very fabric of New Testament Christianity and are without question opposed to that.

It would have been easy to add a hundred more living authors to this list, but why do that? These are merely some of the more obvious quotes from people who long ago abandoned “the faith once delivered.” But even those who haven’t abandoned the faith are still speaking lies from the grave- like the example I offered above. It doesn’t matter if bloggers or site owners are using discretion with the authors they use if those authors are speaking error or have lived their lives in error. Either way, those bloggers are driving people to those authors as an authoritive resource for the truth. That’s the problem. A few occasional good quotes from an author do not erase even a single serious error anymore than our good works will suffice to make us fit for heaven. We need to live in today with the living and let those who have passed remain there.

All Christians are sojourning upon this earth to a destination not made with hands which God has prepared for them. Whether we have planted our tent in a particular city or nation, spiritually speaking we are still hopefully moving in the direction of deeper intimacy with Him. That intimacy is hindered by every form of error and what Christians unnecessarily utilize in the advancement of Christ. That’s includes more than the traditions of men found in all institutions, it includes anything and everything tainted with sin and those things that detract our individual attention away from Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what pointing people to men does. Would any real Christian who has left this physical world want you directing people to them? I certainly wouldn’t.

How did denominationalism get started in the first place? Wasn’t it due to men failing to seek God daily for “fresh manna?” Wasn’t it because they neglected to rely upon “words from God” and preferred to rely upon the words of men instead?

One last illustration

Every day each of us as believers has questions in regard to what our Father desires to do within the framework of our lives. People everywhere are offering “solutions” which basically amount to anything and everything under the sun. In reality though, it isn’t all that difficult.

Jesus is building His ekklesia. This we know. He’s building this universally in the heavens and also on a smaller local scale- in individual geographical regions. He’s building it right where you are. It doesn’t matter if you are the only one there or if a hundred other people are there with you. Your task is simple: to work with God to be that ekklesia to those around you as He leads you. Sounds simple right, but yet there are ramifications that we so often don’t recognize, that we prefer not to recognize. That’s my next posts topic: The cost of true fellowship.

If every day you and I would simply act as if we were part of a local ekklesia where we live it would make so much of a difference. If we anticipated sitting in someone’s living room, sharing the truth, our lives and one another. It would revolutionize us and those around us. Just you, just me, just Jesus. Have we need of anything more? And this is my point. If we don’t need any book other than the Bible in that setting, if we don’t need anything other than Jesus and one another, then why do we think they are necessary outside of that setting?

No Christian is needful of any man’s book or blog for that matter. What we need is Life itself- the Life that is found within the few living and breathing faithful servants of God still to be found on earth today. I want to hear what our Father is speaking to you in the now. “What has Jesus spoken to you or taught you today?”


 -the end




Webster’s definition:

  • A feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen
  •  The act of preparing for something.

The subject matter of this study was prompted by a special friend, one who shares not one, but actually several specific things in which we both eagerly anticipate. I want to devote this study, not just in word and thought, but in spirit to that particular individual.  🙂

There is something wonderfully unique about those things we as individuals anticipate- as well as the anticipation itself.  

Anticipation doesn’t just arrive on the scene, it has both a starting point and an eventual end in mind. It’s like a seed we plant in the ground, we know that in time and with the right kind and right amount of nurturing, that seed will result in the fulfillment of what we anticipate.

The things we anticipate have an origin, a purpose and a destination. Consider the story of Simeon and his prophesy found in Luke 2:25-32;

“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking or the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,


You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,

According to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all people’s, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people, Israel.”

Obviously in the story above, the origin of Simeon’s anticipation was God Himself. It was God who gave Him the promise which he anticipated fulfilling. The purpose of that promise was to herald the young child as the Messiah, not only the Savior of the Jews but also of the Gentiles too. It was a personal revelation- it was something only he (Simeon) was called to, it was something only he could fulfill.

Being a faithful Jew himself (described herein as a devout and righteous man), Simeon would have been looking for and anticipating his messiah. There is no doubt that Simeon would not have been able to differentiate between one child and another were it not for the Holy Spirit guiding him and instructing him. It is obvious that Simeon not only knew of the responsibilities he was given by God, but precisely when and how to carry the task out that he had been given. Oh if only this could be said of us and those things we also anticipate.

Anticipation overload (the result of weak or misguided faith)

At times we find ourselves anticipating things which are not in our best interest or in the will of God. Instead of anticipating what God has promised or things in which we can know are scripturally correct or permissible, we find ourselves fantasizing about what could be. This could include anything from an inappropriate relationship, an unhealthy pursuit of this worlds things or a fixation upon something we know is sinful or even dangerous. The evidence of such unhealthy and hurtful choices is found in three specific ways: an absence of faith, little to no specific guidance from God and a preoccupation with, and tendency to take matters into one’s own hands to bring about what one anticipates.

A right and righteous anticipation (the result of a strong faith in what God has promised)

Most if not all of the things we anticipate are personal desires as Christians or things which benefit another believer, the body of Christ as a whole or God Himself. These things are permissible in Him and include such things as:

  • A desire for a mate
  • A desire for a restored friendship/relationship
  • A desire for the restoration of a sinning brother or sister
  • A desire to witness the fruit of our labors/other Christians established
  • A desire to see God’s body brought into unity
  • A desire to witness the salvation of a soul(s)
  • A desire to see local ekklesias established
  • A desire to see Jesus return for His own

Take your pick, each of us as Christians has something on this list we anticipate, if not most or all of the above list.

Our responsibility in anticipation

We each find ourselves in varying daily circumstances and within those we carry with us what we anticipate. In many cases the very spiritual gifts God has given us relate directly to some of the above. Take one of the many instances where Paul the apostle was anticipating a return upon his labors:

…..through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake…..[Romans 1:5]

“I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles” [Romans 1:13] and some of his responsibilities:

“God is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you” [Romans 1:9, 10]

Note the anticipation of the fruit he desired to find in them- also note the anticipation within the anticipation: “I have planned to come to you” and “I may succeed in coming to you.” These statements are important for one simple reason. Just like Simeon above, it was not up to Paul in deciding the how and when he would be the instrument of God’s using or choosing. He could only “succeed” after God Himself opened the various doors that were before Him. So it was for Simeon, so it was for Paul, so it is for us too.

Anticipation = Longing for comfort, and ultimately perfection

Simeon above was looking for “the consolation of Israel,” He was anticipating the only One he knew who was capable of bringing what His people had always lacked- peace and comfort. Isn’t that the very same burden we have too, regardless of which of the many things we anticipate from the list above? Wouldn’t we also desire to live in peace, have comfort in our hurts and pains and extend that same comfort to other members of His body? I would certainly hope so.

As we noted prior, everything we anticipate has an origin, purpose and ultimate destination. We know as Christians that all of what we anticipate rightly stems from God. He is the Creator of all things, thus making us as individual souls, each a unique person through which He has instilled certain spiritual gifts. Those gifts have very specific purposes, some are for our own edification, most given for the sake of others and ALL to the glory of God to which both we and those gifts will someday return. This leaves God as the origin (Alpha) and destination or end (Omega) and our purpose now is left to the Spirit of God to reveal, empower and fulfill His work over time. (See: Luke 2:26, 1 Corinthians 2;10), (Romans 15:13, Ephesians 3;16), (John 14:26). Much like Simon and Paul, only after they “saw” the fulfillment of what they anticipated were they able to find lasting comfort and peace. This of course is not to say we cannot be comforted in trials per say, we most certainly can be and are, but there is another kind of peace that only results from finally obtaining what we have long anticipated. This verse explains it well:  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life” [Proverbs 13:12]

According to Your Word/Which you have prepared

These two phrases in our opening verses in Luke should ring some bells for the average Christian. Do you know how many times similar statements like “according to Your word” are found in the Scriptures? Statements like “It is written” or “Thus says the Lord” etc. A whole bunch. And what is the significance of such a statement in these passages where these phrases are found? Doesn’t this speak to God’s overall sovereignty in man’s affairs? That the aim of God the Father’s instruments, whether that be Simeon, Paul, you or I or even Jesus Himself was to hear and obey in order to fulfill something?

The phrase “Which you have prepared” speaks much of the same thing. Isn’t this ultimately what we are called to live out before Him;

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them” [Ephesians 2:10]  and even…

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people’s of Israel, (meaning just about everybody) to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” [Acts 4:27, 28]

Staying the course

Nearing the end of Paul’s earthly life he speaks these words;

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith….”

Obviously there was a very specific course in which Paul was supposed to run upon until “he finished that course.” Earlier in 1 Corinthians we find that Paul wasn’t just running around blindly but rather competed in this race in a very specific manner- he knew both what he was aiming for and the manner he must keep himself fit for the service God required of him. To not do the above could have easily led to him being disqualified altogether:

“Therefore I run in such away, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” [1 Corinthians 10:26, 27]

Paul knew what God had called him to. It was given to him via revelation. All of us as Christians are gifted in specific ways as well. Those ways are the very things he desires to use in and through us with this qualification: WE MUST BE PREPARED for what GOD HAS PREPARED BEFOREHAND. It doesn’t matter how zealous one might be to realize any of the desires I’ve listed above. If they haven’t been adequately prepared the perfection God intends to bring about will not be realized.

It’s interesting to note that even Paul knew he couldn’t go it alone and that he needed help in realizing what he anticipated happening;

“For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” [Romans 1:11, 12]  and

“Yes, I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Christ Jesus, according to my earnest hope and expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” [Philippians 1:19, 20]

The signposts along the way

In most instances when we’re driving, if we turn before or after our exit were going to get lost. We may likely get turned around eventually, but all sorts of resources have been wasted and this almost always disrupts what was a previous time schedule. Paying attention is crucial! Who hasn’t missed blessings or opportunities because we were not keeping alert? (Ephesians 6:18)(Colossians 4:2)(1 Peter 5:8) If we truly are prepared for the task or responsibility at hand, our Father will show the way and provide the resources. Our primary responsibility is to keep the goal in sight and continue to abide in the place and in the manner He has taught each of us.

After a little more thought, I suppose the signposts themselves become like little cheerleaders urging us on toward our desires, they become like the first fruits of what will eventually become reality. I suppose they also represent God’s very personal and intimate involvement in our concerns, for the fulfillment of such honors Him and brings about praise unto His name.

If perhaps, now

What real Christian doesn’t want to be used in His Father’s service? Their is no such a person- we all want to be used to bring glory to our Father.

I can’t speak for you, but there were more than a few times where I thought I knew what God was doing in my life specifically and was I wrong! Sometimes I learned this soon afterwards, at other times it took another decade before I saw the light. That’s a whole lot more running around than was necessary I assure you. Most of those mistakes in judgment were do to a reliance upon self-confidence or my own ingenuity which always opposes God’s own designs. It doesn’t matter what I’m anticipating if my desires do not square with Scripture and His will for my life.

I can honestly say that I have many if not all of the same desires I used to have, and still anticipate many of the same things I did 20 years ago. But this is not the same season, this is not the same race, not the same man running. In patience and perseverance have I found my way. In due time the season of “now” will be upon me.

Now Lord

No, this is not how you talk to your Father as you anticipate your desire. If for some reason you persisted with such foolishness, God may have given you a whole lot more than you bargained for. He loves you that much. Needless to say, the waiting will just start all over and last that much longer.

“Now Lord” is the jubilant exclamation of seeing with one’s eyes the literal fulfillment of what you anticipate. It is recognizing after many long seasons of faithful devotion, ongoing perseverance through trial and a continuous pursuit of taking heaven by storm in prayer, that Your Father really knows best after all.  It is that which afterwards witnesses in real time God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for your life here on earth.

Now to Him

Without question our greatest anticipation is still yet to be realized. That when that very moment arrives, we see with our literal eyes the One with whom our sins have crucified. Just the thought arrests one thoughts and leaves one speechless, just as it will.

While waiting for our Lord’s precious return, He knows the plans He has for us and exactly how and when those will be brought to fulfillment. The desires we have are not a matter of simply enjoying life, though they are blessings, but more, they are part of the process of preparation both before and after the fulfillment of all we anticipate.

Our Father cries out to any who will listen, TRUST ME. I am more than all you need and desire. I AM YOUR EVERYTHING.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power which works within us, to Him be the glory in the ekklesia and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3:20, 21]


-the end




Lessons from the future

 Lessons from the future: The way it can be

Just having talked to a faithful brother in the Lord today, a rather common refrain was once again brought up which revolved around some of the regrets we have as believers. Even though I did encourage him despite his concern, I couldn’t help acknowledging that’s exactly how I felt myself.

All of us as Christians have regrets. But like many other things that can affect us adversely, let’s leave our past regrets in the past and dwell upon the goodness of God that we might learn to walk therein- today. Every day is new in Jesus and it can be with us as well provided we choose to make it so. That change of heart starts with a proper belief about what is really true.

Recently I’ve been thinking about and writing about the perfection of God. Even when friends ask me how I’ve been doing lately I’ve been foregoing the typical answer of “ok” or “fine” and jumping right into “perfect.” That usually garners a laugh or two- that is until the person on the other end of the phone realizes I’m not joking. Seeing that people already think I’m a little out there, I thought I might as well add this response to my repertoire.

As funny as this seems, and considering God’s own rather radical declarations, most Christians might as well be laughing just as hard about these things God Himself promises to His children:

“But seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33, 34]

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” [Matthew 7:7, 8]

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My ekklesia; and the gates of hell will not overpower it” [Matthew 16:18]

“Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” [Matthew 17:20, 21]

“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” [Mark 10:29, 30]

And why would they be quietly and secretly laughing? Ask yourself, “How much of the above have you lived or are living presently living at this very moment in your life?” If your not living all of the above, “Don’t you think that warrants an investigation of why not? For either God Himself is a liar (which means He isn’t trustworthy) or the problem resides with you and I? Hopefully we’re no so foolish to think outside the latter.

Promises in the Bible are not always easy to understand. Some are for some people and not others. Some are conditional, some are not. Others relate to very specific things, times, nations or are fulfilled under very specific circumstances. Many if not most of the promises are misunderstood or ripped from their proper context. Take for example the promise above in the book of Mark. What is this promise stating exactly? What does “will receive a hundred times as much in this age” actually mean. Does God want each of us to be rich? Does God really want us to store up earthly treasures upon this earth? Despite what this verse seems to say, wouldn’t both of the previous statements be contrary to other Bible passages?

The whole He hath made

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” [Romans 1:20]

 The verse above is a divine indictment toward all of mankind. It might as well say “THEY KNOW I EXIST” by the evidence I have left for them through creation. God has not merely created the marvel of this world, He has done that in such a way that its existence could not be explained in any other rational way outside of the existence of Himself. Have you ever thought deeply about the marvel of creation? The manner the sun and the moon and the earth all work together? How storms create rain, ice and snow and the other way around? How all of the earths ecosystems are all intricately connected? Although we cannot possibly grasp the entire magnitude of what God has done, we do know this about what we’ve discovered so far- it’s perfect. The fool says in his heart their is no God.

Why is this important to you and I? How does this relate to the perfection of God?

God has reasons for our existence and He put His plan for us together before the beginning of time. God is in the business of redemption, redeeming a fallen world- not through partial or imperfect means, but with a perfect solution, through a perfect Savior.

Most of us realize that it was necessary for Jesus to perfectly fulfill His father’s law as a human being in order for Him to be able to condemn sin and free us from its grasp. He was the perfect lamb of God- an absolute necessity if we were to find forgiveness and ultimately share in His glory. This of course has been accomplished and becomes a reality for those who trust in His finished work on their behalf.  “The hour has come (and gone now) for the Son of Man to be glorified” [John 12:23]

Sadly, many people, even Christians are convinced that this is where the story ends. Huh what? This is the beginning folks, the SEED OF PERFECTION which has fallen into the ground and died:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” [John 12:24]

Oh Christian, do you not want to share His glory? Do you not want to follow in His footsteps of suffering that you might share in that glory?

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” [Hebrews 2:10]

Beautiful in its time

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son…” [Galatians 4:4]

There is a time for everything…..and God is not in a hurry like we are. He knows the tasks that He has prepared for each of us, He knows how to prepare us for those tasks and knows what resources will be needed for their accomplishment. Sadly, two things happen when we don’t wait upon God’s timing:

1. We do things “for God” that He does not sanction

2. We use our own resources/methods to bring our plans to fulfillment

Looking over the thousands of years since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, would you say God’s people are nearer the perfection that God desires for us? Or would we have to conclude that we are as far away from that as we have ever been? Such questions cannot be slighted anymore than those concerning His promises. They too warrant an explanation for what surely amounts to a failure on someone’s part. Someone is to blame for stopping this train on the tracks or replacing it with another that is heading somewhere else.

Get on the right train

If your not on the right train, your bound to end up somewhere other than your destination. Jesus is the engine that is pulling His people exactly where He wants them to go. If you haven’t figured it out yet, as a Christian you have absolutely zero say in the matter. If you are His than you have absolutely no right to yourself.

He hath put eternity in their hearts

In an earlier post we discussed how despite God placing this desire to understand “the ends of the earth” (eternity) or “their beginning and end” that this is beyond the reach of mortal man. This was specifically done that men my grope for God in their quest for that answer. We also discussed how Christians have some insight into this manner because those who have been born again can see the kingdom of God and how Jesus is both the Creator and their guarantor of life after death. As such, these Christians must become the ones who not only preach the message of truth and reconciliation but live in a manner that is consistent with those truths. Jesus says;

“Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” [John 17:17-23]

Uh oh, there’s that word perfection again! Except this time its not just talking about God and Jesus, it’s not just talking about His children also, it’s not just talking about people who will become believers through His children, it’s talking about perfection in this world, in this life among all of these people! This is easily proven by the part of verse 23 which says, “that the world may know that You sent Me.” Where this statement is found is crucial. It shows us that a perfect practical unity is indeed possible in this life amongst believers.

If indeed a perfect practical unity is possible among those of faith, then only one question remains to be asked:

How might perfect practical unity be accomplished among us? I am so glad you asked. If you don’t mind, I’d like to answer that by answering why it’s not happening, why Christians are not united and as a result convincing the world than God the Father sent Jesus to them.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded , unstable in all his ways” [James 1:2-8]

We fail to live in the manner God desires for two primary reasons. First, we flat out don’t believe this is possible. This of course is based predominately upon what we see as continual disunity amongst those who claim to be Christians. This is exactly the opposite of how Christians are called to live by faith, a faith that does not take into consideration things like, whether it seems possible or what we happen to think or presently see about us.

Secondly, and tied to faith is the manner in which we are to share the glory that Jesus promises us in John 17. On one hand we already share His glory due to the deposit of the Holy Spirit in us which is given as a pledge of our inheritance. You can find this truth here (Romans 8:30) But practically living in God’s glory is an entirely different thing. How and when was Jesus glorified? Was it not after His death and resurrection. Was that not when the real fruit from His labors was born? When the Holy Spirit was sent forth in power? Was not that when we witnessed the true unity of the Spirit amongst those believers present in the upper room and afterwards?

Read again John 17:22;

“The glory which you have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;  I in them and You in Me, and the result of that glory is that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know……”

A Simple Equation

+ Belief in what God’s Word says and not our preconceived notions about the truth or what we see with our eyes

+ Belief that our sufferings are the means to fruitful living and individual effectiveness & power

+ Belief that our collective sufferings lead to fruitful living, power and influence in society

= A willingness to embrace one’s sufferings leading to the death of their old self, a death which in turn leads to glory and in glory God’s power is made manifest. The problem we face today among God’s people is UNBELIEF and UNWILLINGNESS which are both equated by God to be DISOBEDIENCE.

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” [2 Chronicles 16:9]

Do you dare be one of them…..?


-the end






Lessons from the present

Lessons from the present: The way it is

Looking at the above title from the outside as a non Christian, I would probably say, “Great, another one of those self absorbed Christians who think they know something.” Frankly, most Christians arn’t really offering much substance these days, and believe it or not your average unbeliever knows the difference.

Most unbelievers could care less about “getting saved” or discovering and living an obedient life unto a God they quickly reject. They have no desire nor inclination to stop living selfishly and relinquish control of their lives. They are perfectly content living in their sins with this one interesting exception: almost all men ponder and consider their original origin and their final destiny. This is more than just a basic curiosity about life, it is the result of God “placing eternity in men hearts.”

As Christians, we rarely give those who don’t share our faith nearly enough credit. These are not ignorant people, but those like ourselves who also have questions and who are looking for answers. They live in the same world we do, they see and experience the same problems that affect us as individuals and as a united humanity. On some fronts, they do more for the needy than many who claim to have “faith.”

Torn between two worlds

It’s understandable when any person seeks out answers to the difficulties each face in life, and those without Christ have lots of answers that they claim to have found and which they promote. Of course these answers are not a testimony to God nor what He has done but rather, to the ingenuity of men and what they themselves have supposedly discovered. Despite these answers which often include a particular view of the origin of humanity such as evolution, their remains a fascination concerning death and what comes after. It is here many unbelievers have an interest, not just because of the troubled times and the obvious ongoing conflicts between men and nations, but because of something deeper……that uneasiness, that uncertainty, that fear of the unknown that God placed within their hearts. It is the one thing God prevents them from discovering outside of Him.

There is no reason why a unbeliever would invest in eternity for they know not about such things. The work of eternity is in the hands of God’s people, and despite what we may think, the unbelievers are well aware of this. Many of them, although still in their sins, are fairly familiar with what the Bible says and even the manner God requires His people to live in this world. Granted, they don’t understand grace, though they are aware of the attitudes and actions which God requires. The claim by those without faith that professing “Christians are hypocrites” is absolutely true about many people and is often based upon what these people know about the Bible. If that surprises you it shouldn’t. There looking and watching much more than we might think they are.

In a very real sense the unbeliever has a legitimate reason for living it up in this world- they’re simply enjoying the only option they know- they are propelled by a nature that cannot do otherwise. Unlike them, the Christian who is called to invest in eternity has no excuse. If he or she does otherwise that is hypocritical, that is the opposite of what God commands and the antithesis of all that the Bible reveals as having true faith. This is even more puzzling in light of another significant truth: a real Christian has the Holy Spirit living in them Who grants them revelation to “see the kingdom of God” and how that operates among the family of God. Furthermore, He also grants a glimpse of eternity from both perspectives as they come to realize God as the author of life in creation as well as the author of resurrection after physical death. Thus the uneasiness, uncertainty and fear that was once present is now removed for the future is sure for those trusting in Him.

All of the above is some background information for what I want to share now.

God’s ultimate aim for us is perfection: the absence of sin

I’ve always been a rather passionate chap, I was the guy who never wanted the Bible study nor the prayer meeting to ever end. I could never understand the people that wanted to get right through this stuff so they could go the movies or pursue something else. For most of the people I knew, something or someone else always seemed to take precedence over what I thought God had showed me mattered most. Anytime I tried to speak my mind or challenge what I thought was wrong I kept hearing people says things like, “We’re all sinners,” “Everybody does it,” and “Nobody’s Perfect.” I would think to myself, “But aren’t we supposed to be perfect.”

Throughout the Bible we find verse after verse that denotes this process of growth from beginning to end. Every time I read these verses they never seem to fall short of God’s intent- perfection for individual believers. In every instance the culmination is always this, nothing short of perfection.

“May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” [Romans 6:2]

“…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so we would no longer be slaves to sin…[Romans 6:6]

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable and perfect” [Romans 12:2]

“…who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 1:8]

‘Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” [2 Corinthians 7:1]

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” [Ephesians 1:4]

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” [Ephesians 4:13]

“…that He might present to Himself the ekklesia in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” [Ephesians 5:27]

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” [Philippians 1:6]

“…who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” [Philippians 3:21]

“…yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…[Colossians 1:22]

“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” [Colossians 1:28]

“…so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” [1 Thessalonians 3:13]

…and many, many more.

God is perfect, and so are His ways

Throughout God’s dealings with man we can easily see that God’s standard is perfection. That perfection began with God’s own character (Deuteronomy 32:3, 4), extended through His law (Psalm 19:7)(Romans 7:12),  and was fulfilled by Jesus so He could become the author of our salvation. (Hebrews 5:9, 10) God has a perfect plan and a perfect will (Romans 12:2)- the consummation of which will be perfect children in a perfect paradise.

Eternity in their hearts

Try as we might, all men long to understand the “beginnings and ends” of their existence and yet that eludes them all. For the sinner, he places his hope in this world and what he can make of it and in it. He foregoes what his heart really longs for, hindered by an ongoing unbelief in the only one capable of giving Him sight. Even when he might look to those supposedly representing God for answers, he or she finds they are just as inept of living free from the very same things that bind them, whether they be natural or spiritual.

The poor professing Christian might be worse off. Supposedly endowed with the very Spirit they claim enables them to triumph over all, they claim God’s knowledge and power to triumph over sin only to be caught in the same quagmire as the world around them. Despite their spouting the triumphs of Jesus, their lives rarely if ever reflect His life on earth or the tremendous promises that He says can raise His own above both death and destruction. They too have relinquished God’s best, preferring to spout out their weak faith using the same excuses the world does like, “Nobody’s perfect.” That pretty much sums up where most of these folks focus is doesn’t it?

The Holy Spirit- the seed of perfection

Believe it. Both the Christian and the unbeliever are desirous of the very same thing whether they realize this or not- and so are you. Think about it. When you go shopping, when you eat, when you buy a car, a computer or a hundred other things. When you long for a mate, when you have children and when you participate in any function that demands your attention. What is it you are looking for, that’s right- perfection!

You can call this selfish, it most certainly is, but that’s only because Adam’s nature has corrupted what God gave as a perfect longing to all of mankind- a longing that can only lead to a perfect place, to the perfect God, to Him. You see, our longings aren’t really for things, rather it’s for answers to questions like, “Why was I born,” “Why am I here” and yes, even, “What is my purpose?” Things are merely the substitutes that attempt to temper the void that the unbeliever pretends doesn’t exist and the average professing Christian neglects and hides from. Even when men attempt to answer these questions for us or them, it’s never sufficient, for only the revelation of Christ will bring assurance of the truth. All must seek God for themselves.

As an unbeliever no one has hope. But those who possess the Holy Spirit have in their possession perfection  itself, literally living within them. What is it that God desires most from us as a result? Our time, our money, even our best?

“He jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us” [James 4:5]

Noting the varying translations of this verse, God has placed initially a human spirit (at birth) and the Holy spirit (when we were spiritually regenerated) within the bodies of Christians. We are called to live our lives by the Spirit of God in many passages, the Spirit that testifies with our human spirit that we are the children of God. It is only as a result of living such that our lives will be fruitful and lived within the perfection of God. That doesn’t mean we are perfect now or free of sin (conditionally that is) but having the Holy Spirit living in us guarantees God’s aim in redemption- the blameless, holy, perfect instruments He’s after.

What we’ve forgotten

God set in motion the guarantee of our perfection the very day He called us unto Himself. Although that perfection is guaranteed by God, there is a practical working out of that “perfect will” that we are responsible for and it does not include making excuses and settling for far less than God’s best in and through us. Every single thing that was necessary for our redemption as well as a lifetime of fruitful service was provided in the past. It is merely our failure to recognize this and live in it, combined with our own ingenuity and human resources that hinder the perfection of God from becoming reality- now.


If Jesus says in Matthew 5:48;

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”

He is more than adequate, more than capable, more than willing.


-continued in: Lessons from the future: The way it can be



Lessons from the past

Lessons from the past (The way it used to be)

In all honesty, I don’t really remember what prompted this study, only that I kept thinking about how often we as human beings reminisce about our past and the reasons associated with why we do that. Obviously this study is not about living in the past (at least not literally) or dwelling in the past (whether that had been for better or worse). What’s done is done, but as we all know, the past is tied to our future in more ways than we might realize.

Think for a minute about the last time you thought about your past. In all likelihood it was within the last five minutes. That’s how often we think about what used to be or what was or what could have been. Our lives are “filled to overflowing” with past thoughts and events and I propose that although not always a positive thing, there is a reason why we keep looking back.

What has been lost

Each of us as human beings have been shaped by God Himself through a series of people and events. We all look back upon fond memories and some people upon tragic events too. As much as we might be attempting to learn from our past (a good thing of course) I suggest that another primary reason for this is a longing for something we now believe to be lost, despite our inability to pinpoint what that loss actually is.

Regardless of who you meet from day to day, stick around them long enough and you are bound to hear them say something along these lines; “Nothings the way it used to be.” There sure is truth to that- but what are they actually trying to say? Isn’t it more than just 50 cent fuel, 400hp v-8 engines and the integrity and strength of most products previously made? Isn’t it more than just desiring to be young again, living in the innocence of not knowing what we cannot now escape due to the media or some item that brings us back to our glory days? Why do people collect all manner of items unto themselves with a particular bent upon what is or seems to be rare? Isn’t it because of the perceived value of those things? Is that all?

“The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in the heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end” [Ecclesiasties 3:11] YLT

“He has made everything appropriate (Lit: beautiful) in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that (in such a way that) man will not find out the work which God has done from beginning to the end”  NASB

Without pretending to perfectly understand the above text to which scholars have some disagreement, I suggest it includes these pertinent things:

  • “The whole He hath made” refers to the whole of creation and all of the various forms of life He has made and the manner in which they intersect and interact.
  • “Beautiful in its season” looks back to verse 10 and coincides with the specific tasks God has given us during our lives.
  • “Knowledge (world, eternity) He hath put in their heart” speaks of that which is hidden (either past or present)- an innate knowledge of eternity itself to which mankind is ever attempting to comprehend and answer without resolution.

When I speak of “what has been lost” above, I am speaking to the Christian and the practice of what they call “the faith.” We know that those without Christ will be continually looking to solve the dilemma of eternity, for they too have this awareness within them. Unlike those with faith, man and his ingenuity would take credit for both “what exists now” and “what has been done.” They will no doubt continue to revolt against the God they know exists and purpose to unite mankind in such a rebellion that “nothing will be impossible for them.” (or so will they think) Genesis 11:6.

Little might you know, the supporters of this rebellion against God do follow in the footsteps of the past. Once again they will unite humanity against the Lord and His Christ;

“THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND HIS CHRIST” [Acts 4:26]  Also note that this rebellion will once again accomplish God purposes exactly:

… do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. [verse 28]

Imagine being an unbeliever with this concept of eternity inside with no answer to it. On one hand, we each age and know we will some day face that uncertain and fearful eternity. On the other, we attempt to grasp onto anything and everything that might prolong our present reality like attempting to relive the past or hoping for some solution that might ease the pain of our dilemma. Eternity is fast approaching and we’re all going there whether we are prepared or not. That’s a real trauma for an unbeliever who is not ready now.

Sadly, the average professing Christian isn’t much better off. They too have lost their way, the evidence of which stands upon thousands upon thousands of hills within the cities where we each live and call home. These are the testaments to the work of men’s hands, and if the sheer number of them isn’t proof positive upon the value they place upon such, the vast investments in those structures most certainly do. Similar to their unregenerate neighbors who also go back to the beginning for the source of their rebellion, most of the professing “Christian” world has done the same- practicing either Old Covenant law or tradition with an unbridled passion reminiscent of “the kings and rulers of the earth” above. Add to this the ever increasing departure or neglect of the facts of scripture and we see the apostacy our God warns us of in full swing.

In the beginning…..God

From the beginning it was God who placed the seed of eternity within our hearts. Though we try, we cannot possibly comprehend the depth and width of such and despite this we keep pretending like we do. There is an uncertainty, an uneasiness about the future that God has intentionally placed within us. The answer to that uneasiness and uncertainty is not found in a better life here on earth, not found in numbing its reality through the vanity of temporal pleasures whether they be sports teams or otherwise. They just shroud reality. Neither is it found in the next religious machinism, movement or in all the new fangled “revolutions” and “revelations” that drive man made solutions. God hates them all. After all this, one would think men would desire to see clearly- nope.

A God inspired and God designed problem can only be resolved by the designer Himself. Not by what He can do and even through what He might desire us to do- but by Himself, with His very Person. Oh how tragic indeed….we have left our God and His perfect designs…..a long, long time ago.

What has been forgotten

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served with human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitations…

…that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him…[Acts 17:24-27]

The verses above are speaking far more than the obvious and most people’s rejection of these truths. They speak of a timeline through which God has chosen to act- a “beginning to end” scenario or Alpha & Omega if you will. Note that God is altogether separate from man, in need of nothing (we could do for Him). He is the One Who:

  • Gives to all men life and breath
  • He made the nations
  • Determines the length of men’s lives
  • Determines where men will live

…..and why? That they would (might) seek God.

What is important here is this: It is the things God does that opens the door for men to seek Him. (Not the things we do or attempt to do for Him, but what He has chosen to do) in very specific ways and within very specific time frames. How do I know this?

Our God has an end in sight that we cannot possibly accomplish, an end that began with a seed of eternity that was planted in our hearts from the very beginning (not to be confused with a divine spark which is not true)…..the very seed that brings forth discontent, uneasiness and uncertainty apart from its solution. There is only one thing which could ever resolve such a dilemma within us, and its the same solution God the Father required of His Son to purchase our redemption- perfection itself.


-to be continued as: Lessons from the present: The way it is)


The communion of suffering

“But resist him, (our adversary who inflicts suffering) in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” [1 Peter 5:9]

The verse above in Peter has a message when read alone, though the fullness of it can be readily understood only in the passage from which it is taken. Just some of what can be gleaned from the previous eight verses of which 5:9 is a summation:

As to suffering:

  • One elder (Peter), a literal witness to Christ’s sufferings exhorting other elders who are among one another (their is a basis here of unity and equality despite him not literally being among them) It is this basis from which he exhorts those scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. [1 Peter 1:1, 5:1]
  • In these verses he talks specifically to the elders who are called to shepherd others in these areas as those who are among them and how to be examples for these saints. (This is so no undue suffering will occur outside of what God has decreed for each person) We all know how much suffering ensues when a shepherd or “leader” serves for sordid gain or because they want to lord it over other saints. [1 Peter 5:2, 3]
  • Peter then speaks of the need for the younger men to be subject to the local elders but quickly adds, ALL OF YOU clothe yourselves with humility. Young men can be self-confident in difficult situations and they must learn to follow the example of those more experienced in battle with the adversaries. Ever wonder why so many young people are busy starting their own self-made “ministries.” They mean well, but think they can do it better or more efficiently than those who have gone before them. [1 Peter 5:5]
  • Then Peter offers a warning: BE SOBER IN SPIRIT, BE ON THE ALERT! Why? Because their adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Have you ever really taken the time to think deeply about these words? Satan is out to kill people, not just to tempt them to do evil. [1 Peter 5:8]
  • Then…..RESIST HIM, firm in your faith, knowing the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

The picture in this chapter above is of a universal ekklesia, headed up by a Chief Shepherd who has flocks of younger and older members in various locales, the older being tasked with looking after the younger in these places. The picture is one of family, where despite all being equal in Christ, members have differing responsibilities (such as each casting their personal anxieties upon God, verse 7) and yet each is subject one to another. The picture is one of continual warfare in this life- warfare against their adversary the devil, not against one another regardless of where their brothers and sisters reside.

The picture in this chapter shows the working relationship and attitude of the saints one to another in the midst of God’s call for them to suffer in this book of 1 Peter. The word suffering is referred to often and speaks to among other things:

  • [1 Peter 1:6] Distressed by various trials… a means to test their faith
  • [1:14] Do not be conformed to the former lusts…..suffering in ignorance
  • [1:18] But with precious blood…..solemn reminder of the cost of suffering to redeem them
  • [2:4] And coming to Him…..sharing His suffering by being rejected of men
  • [2:18] Be submissive to masters…..even willing to suffer unjustly and unreasonably

= “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in his steps……” How? By taking matters into His own hands? No, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously…..[1 Peter 2:21-23] What will result from following His example in practice?… that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. For by His stripes we were healed? Healed from what?

As God has promised, all Christians suffer, though few suffer as God intends them to. Their are a variety of reasons for this, some of which I will explain below.

1. Many people today equate the healing spoken of in the verse above to physical healing. Although their is nothing wrong with finding physical healing in the atonement, the time for this particular healing has not yet occurred. We may have immediately received spiritual healing and restoration upon immediately being born again, but we have yet to receive the new bodies that are promised us at the day of Christ’s return, the day of redemption. The very fact that we will still die physically is proof that physical healing is not guaranteed this side of heaven. The only way that could ring true was if we could avoid death itself, something we have not been promised in Christ. The good news is better yet, as we won’t be replacing these sin tainted shells with new ones but with entirely heavenly ones. Awesome.

Our suffering along these lines occurs when some other professing Christian promises us something God hasn’t promised and doesn’t seem to deliver. When we question others why this is, often we are blamed for not having enough faith or failing to prove our faith through some specific action. WE HAVE SUFFERED NEEDLESSLY BECAUSE WE HAVE BELIEVED A LIE.

2. Christians are supposed to suffer in the context of their family relationships- not merely marriage relationships but among their brothers and sisters in Christ. We are individually and corporately called to share one another’s joys and sufferings, not just the pain therein, but the remedy of those pains to the degree that we are able. Due to what can only be noted as neglect of daily fellowship among the saints we rarely know the specifics of a family members suffering and as a result we don’t aid others as we are commanded by God. WE SUFFER BECAUSE WE FAIL TO FELLOWSHIP FROM DAY TO DAY AS GOD COMMANDS WHEREIN WE ARE TRANSPARENT AND ACCOUNTABLE.

3. Furthermore, many of us are hesitant to open up and burden others with our sufferings or struggles with sin. WE SUFFER BECAUSE WE FAIL TO OPEN UP ABOUT OUR SUFFERINGS TO THOSE WHO ARE COMMANDED TO CARE AND HELP REMEDY OUR SUFFERINGS.

4. Many of the people that attempt to help us offer remedies outside of what God allows such as worldly solutions which complicate and even multiply the problems. WE SUFFER BECAUSE WE DON’T STAY WITHIN THE BOUNDS GOD HAS PROVIDED FOR US AND WHICH STEM FROM HIM.

5. First and foremost, we suffer from a failure to regularly seek God for revelation ourselves by abiding in and with Him, therefore having an undue reliance upon other men and even other Christians for what we are supposed to believe and live out. WE SUFFER DUE TO A FAILURE TO SEEK GOD FOR OURSELVES.

Remember where we started in this study? …..knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world….

The point Paul makes goes much deeper than just a recognition that others suffer too. If that’s all you have gleaned herein than you have missed the main point. Paul is saying that their are others who share the same faith that you do, who serve the same Lord the way you do and care about you the same way Jesus Himself does. These people are family and want you to know that they too understand your plight and they too are perservering through it as you are.

Have you ever noticed how many times Paul the apostle shares his longing to come fellowship with various saints, and how he’s constantly telling of his responsibilities, burdens and even those who he regularly associates with during his service to the body? Even the sickness of a saint is not overlooked as if the whole body needed to know. It’s like he’s a glue that’s constantly speaking of the needs of those he meets, the opportunities and responsibilities this presents to others as if they are one big family? That’s because they are!

Paul understood something very few of us ever grasp very deeply. It’s not the songs we sing, it’s not the meals we share or the excitement of meeting a new brother or sister for the first time that really molds the body of Christ. Rather, it is our identification through suffering, the very path Jesus traversed for us that we might reciprocate it that bonds and unites the body as one. That is what Jesus wants us to see and the reason Paul was willing to exemplify this by “dying daily.” When you recognize this, you will be able to see and understand why the apostle Peter was confident in saying:

…..he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” [1 Peter 4:1,19]


-the end


The communication of suffering

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba Father!”

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may be glorified with Him.” [Romans 8:14-17]

I divided the two sections of verses on purpose. For there is a key in the first that opens and makes possible the second.

The key of course that opens all possibilities as Christians is our intimacy with God through Jesus Christ. To a great extent,  the degree that we cultivate our relationship with other people is the degree that we are able and willing to trust them. It is the very same with Him whom we call Our Father. Therefore, the manner we perceive suffering in this life and our willingness to accept and embrace it lies primarily with the degree that “we know Him.”


With little exception, most every human being alive has asked themselves this question. For to be human is to know pain and to be inflicted with the pangs of death itself. For the seeds of death are the pains we all share, the pains most attempt to escape in one manner or another.

The question above can have many obvious answers. We can suffer in a variety of ways: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually- all for a variety of different reasons. Without delving into those answers here, I simply want to differentiate here between the sufferings we bring upon ourselves and those God allows in our lives.


It’s easy to blame God when we suffer, we’ve all done this, and must stop doing it. Many of the sufferings we share are our own doing, such as when we suffer consequences from things we choose to do in excess. At other times we might associate with people we know aren’t good for us or disobey God by spending time dating someone who doesn’t love God the way we do. In a hundred different ways and more do we bring pain and heartache into our own lives. This may be due to ignorance or simply being naïve or immature, though often our suffering is directly tied to disobedience- knowing the right thing to do and not doing it. (James 4:17)

This study is primarily directed toward suffering that seems “unexplainable” in human terms- suffering that is not purposefully caused by our own doing. I want to suggest that despite how tempting it is to ask the question above about why we suffer, wisdom suggests we replace it with another one.


When our focus is upon why we suffer, we no doubt will look to blame God, others or some situation for why our circumstances are what they are. Sometimes we do this in anger, sometimes peacefully, though both are attempts to silence the pain, to find some reason for why we suffer. At heart, such a question is selfish in nature as if this shouldn’t be happening to us, isn’t fair or is out of order in God’s economy for a Christian. Are any of these even true?


“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” [Philippians 1:29, 30]

Like it or not, God calls Christians to suffer, suffering is part of the Christian life, and an important one at that. Granted, the sufferings above primarily refer to the conflicts with having been associated with Christ in a society and world where He wasn’t welcome. Paul was persecuted specifically due to his stand for Christ and the gospel itself which contradicted the religions of that day. Despite this, God also allows other forms of suffering as well, such as physical suffering for reasons He knows are necessary and that cater to individual Christians specific needs or God’s purposes through them. Don’t be fooled or deceived by those that would teach you otherwise.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep of rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exaltation.”

 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” [1 Peter 4:12-14]

I divided the two sections of verses on purpose. For their is a key in the first that opens and makes possible the second. That key of course in acceptance, combined with a willingness to share in suffering with Christ.

A THREE FOLD DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY (What God desires to communicate to us through our suffering)

1. Identify with Christ

Most Christians claim they want to know God more, but rarely think about the primary means He uses in bringing this to fruition. We all want to identify and associate with a miracle working Jesus, that’s just plain exciting and at times we see His hand in such. For the most part though, we have little considered how we can identify with Jesus in His trials, in His sufferings, contempt and even death despite His command that we partake of these very things. For when we contemplate what the cross of Christ really entails in our personal lives we must admit we have things backwards. Our shiny gold and silver crosses only shroud reality. The cross is and has always been the place of shame, contempt and death. Knowing Him is found in traversing the very same road He did…to the degree that we share the sufferings of Christ, not hesitantly, but purposefully.

2. Identify with others who suffer

Part of the manner we embrace the sufferings of Christ is to identify with others who share in the very same cross carrying life we do. Sadly, despite many of the things we do one with another as Christians, we fail miserably along these lines. The only way we can truly share our hurts and pains is to walk in a deliberate intimacy from day to day with other believers. This is so rare we might as well think it unusual when we see such in action. There is a reason God commands us to be encouraging one another day by day- lest we be hardened by deceit. We can’t hide who we really are and what we’re going through if we’re sharing life on a daily basis. The question for us is this: Am I willing to count the cost of being obedient to such a command and the benefits therein?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation……” [2 Corinthians 1:3-8]

3. Testify before others

As an individual, we have the responsibility to walk faithfully before God and to live righteously and holy before this world’s people. People are watching, and we cannot possibly impart to others what we ourselves do not possess. We have a testimony and if that has any lasting effect upon others will be decided by the manner in which we deal with the tough times we face in life. Any one can claim Christ and walk around with a smile on their face. People in churches do this every week. What we really need is authenticity, real people with real problems and the confidence and trust in God to set things aright. This will impact people and get them thinking along spiritual lines.

Maybe more than ever, the young in the faith need older brothers and sisters they can look up to in these times. More than this, they need these to be willing to walk hand in hand with them, to renounce their own selfish worldly aims and plans and live like Jesus who’s heart settled for nothing less than His Father’s heart. Have you ever considered your brother’s and sister’s needs even as much as your own? How about more than your own?

IN addition to our individual witness before this world is our corporate testimony before this world and other Christians. I want to divide this up and share some thought on each below.

Our witness before other Christians

Until we get this witness correct, our witness to this world really won’t matter much. That’s because every Christian has a place in God’s ekklesia and if we exclude these in an attempt to be our own witness than we will both be the cause of division among the saints and a hindrance to fulfilling God’s will through His Ekklesia.

For example, every time a believer restricts the truth of God or expands the truth of God they hinder God’s will in the earth. When a man or men attempt to start their “own named ministry” they restrict God’s work in several ways. Not only do they purposefully divide the body into a segment of believers, they attempt to name what even Jesus doesn’t name. That’s an expansion of truth of the highest order! Christians need to witness and experience the power and provision of what Jesus Himself builds in local communities. We can partake in this, provided we follow His lead and don’t detract or add to what He desires to build. The next time you meet a professing believer consider anything, in fact everything outside of the box mentality to share with them. Where you fellowship, with whom, and with what matters little. What matters is whether Jesus is center stage and remains Himself, preeminent.

Step out and be counted as an individual. Then seek out the body for His fullest expression in Christ.

Our witness before this world

Success in our witness to the unbelieving world depends upon an entire reliance upon God for everything. Someone recently said that God’s provision always follows God’s will and I believe this. When we beg for money (from God’s people and the unbelieving world) we prove how little we really trust God and assume when the money comes in it must be God’s blessing our plans. How easily and quickly we are deceived.

In order to have a proper witness to this world, we must have a very clear view of what Jesus is building and seek to have our own house in order before reaching out to others. This begins with seeking God for truth ourselves and then aiding others in seeing as well. As the one’s, two’s and three’s congregate in time, we learn to allow God to work through others and into our own lives. Ultimately we shall lead others to the very places we ourselves have gone. Is your aim to pass along your responsibilities to serve to the religious professional in church? I certainly hope not. God’s calling you to lay down your life, your plans, your independence if you really want to know the Jesus who changes the heart as well as the hurting.


In every pain, trial or difficulty, Jesus has provided specifically for that need. The problem isn’t that we suffer, its that we often suffer needlessly because we have failed to act upon what God has commanded- and this results in a lack of His promises being fulfilled in our individual and corporate lives. The very things in which we suffer are meant to be a road map which leads us into brighter paths for His people and for His name’s sake.

We only need to look upon or visit the remote places in this world to witness how these suffering saints have a zeal for truth and a passion for the lost that is unparalleled. We say we want to be like them, but our daily actions betray these thoughts and aspirations. If we really did, we would either move to those locations or at least attempt to identify with them by sharing their sufferings right where we find ourselves.

It isn’t hard to suffer, it’s God intent that we do. What’s hard is learning the reasons why and taking advantage of the opportunities He presents us with. Is this your heart, or are you still avoiding those things that make you most like Him?


-the end