Archive for the ‘Carnal’ category

The old cross and the new, by AW Tozer

December 22, 2009

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power. (A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)

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The Church Versus the World, by John MacArthur

September 19, 2009

The whole article here:

Why do evangelicals try so desperately to court the world’s favor? Churches plan their worship services to cater to the “unchurched.” Christian performers ape every worldly fad in music and entertainment. Preachers are terrified that the offense of the gospel might turn someone against them, so they deliberately omit the parts of the message the world might not approve of.

Evangelicalism seems to have been hijacked by legions of carnal spin-doctors, who are trying their best to convince the world that the church can be just as inclusive, pluralistic, and broad-minded as the most politically-correct worldling.

The quest for the world’s approval is nothing less than spiritual harlotry. In fact, that is precisely the imagery the apostle James used to describe it. He wrote: “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

There is and always has been a fundamental, irreconcilable incompatibility between the church and the world. Christian thought is out of harmony with all the world’s philosophies. Genuine faith in Christ entails a denial of every worldly value. Biblical truth contradicts all the world’s religions. Christianity itself is therefore antithetical to virtually everything this world admires.

Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

Notice that our Lord considered it a given that the world would despise the church. Far from teaching His disciples to try to win the world’s favor by reinventing the gospel to suit worldly preferences, Jesus expressly warned that the quest for worldly accolades is a characteristic of false prophets: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

He further explained: “The world . . . hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). In other words, the world’s contempt for Christianity stems from moral, not intellectual, motives: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20). That is why no matter how dramatically worldly opinion might vary, Christian truth will never be popular with the world.

Yet in virtually every era of church history there have been people in the church who are convinced that the best way to win the world is by catering to worldly tastes. Such an approach has always been to the detriment of the gospel message. The only times the church has made any significant impact on the world are when the people of God have stood firm, refused to compromise, and boldly proclaimed the truth despite the world’s hostility. When Christians have shrunk away from the task of confronting popular worldly delusions with unpopular biblical truths, the church has invariably lost influence and impotently blended into the world. Both Scripture and history attest to that fact.

And the Christian message simply cannot be twisted to conform to the vicissitudes of worldly opinion. Biblical truth is fixed and constant, not subject to change or adaptation. Worldly opinion, on the other hand, is in constant flux. The various fads and philosophies that dominate the world change radically and regularly from generation to generation. The only thing that remains constant is the world’s hatred of Christ and His gospel.

In all likelihood, the world will not long embrace whatever ideology is in vogue this year. If the pattern of history is any indicator, by the time our great grandchildren become adults, worldly opinion will be dominated by a completely new system of belief and a whole different set of values. Tomorrow’s generation will renounce all of today’s fads and philosophies. But one thing will remain unchanged: until the Lord Himself returns and establishes His kingdom on earth, whatever ideology gains popularity in the world will be as hostile to biblical truth as all its predecessors have been.

A personal note about a not so personal blog

April 19, 2009

Right now (and in the last two months) I am simply overwhelmed by the way God chose to bless me.

But before I get to that, there is something I got to say something about what happened before God’s blessings came upon me.

Even though the blog was called “nothing between”, there was still something I wanted to keep – in a way – for myself. I was thinking that was a reasonable compromise, but it was not reasonable at all.

I think that the people who compromise are the most unhappy of all. They are too bad when compared to the church, and in a sense, too good when compared to the world (we are actually not “good” ourselves, though, we have it from Him).

My close friends, you know all about it and I want to thank you so much you for your prayers!

We think so often (like I did) that we can manage sin. We cannot. God knows EVERYTHING about us. He knows that it is infinitely better for us to just obey Him, even when we think we “know better”. 

On the other hand, I’m so glad God is not frustrated by our failures. And He never tells us “I told you not to do that. Now deal with the mess you are in”.

It is my responsibility all that happened and if the Christians will be judged, I’ll be judged for that too. 

Was is God’s will that I sin? No, absolutely not!

Was that God’s plan? Again, no.

But God in His sovereignty can turn our life around at any point (no matter how low). All it takes is our availability to surrender it all.

Now, that this is over, I realize that it is simply too “expensive” not to obey God completely. It was for me, in the sense that it was painful, because I knew it was not right. Someone said that “one always feels miserable when he disobeys God, and on the same time one feels so good (in the sense of “doing what’s right”) when one obeys God.

This is definitely true. Now, that I think back, I don’t want another step outside God’s will, no matter how small the step.

And a big disclaimer: throughout this blog, I didn’t mean to seem what I was not (namely godlier). It was not the purpose of the blog. If I did it, it was unconscious, but I’m sorry and prayed that God forgives me too. And for the most special person in my life, please forgive me too.

The difference between the dead old man and the flesh

January 30, 2009

Summary from “The works of Christopher Love” volume 1.
From “Who were the puritans” by Matthew McMahon, lesson 8:

Some Bible verses first:
Romans 6:6
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Eph. 4:22
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Colossians 3:9
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

Romans 7:5-6
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Now, the syllogism with 17 points

1. What is the old man? 
It’s not the sinful nature. The old man is the man, or state of being  in the unregenerate state. The state of the stony heart, the state of being under the dominion of sin.
There’s remnants of the sinful nature, but the old man is gone, he’s dead.

2. What nature is the old man (with the stony heart) dominated by?
It was dominated by the sin nature, or the flesh

3. What does God fully remove from us when we are saved? (what does He take out)
The old stony heart has been removed.

4. What does God replace the stony heart with?
He replaces it with a new heart:
Ezekiel 36:26
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Heart = will, emotion, inner man, affections toward God

5. Regeneration or receiving a new heart, instills in us what?
According to what Jesus says to Nicodemus and to the disciples in many of His discourses:
New principles of life have been instilled in us, that is the new man, the regenerate man, we have a new man now that’s living.

6. Do we have our old heart, or has God given us a new heart?
We have a new heart, and the old heart is taken away, it no longer exists

7. Can the old man live without his heart?
(the old man whose heartbeat was of the stony heart and that heart is ripped out and a new heart is put in, that is not akin to the old man, can the old man live without his heart?)
No, he cannot live without his stony heart

8. Is the old man dead?
Yes. He is dead. Dead as a doornail. Very important.

9. Though God instilled in us a new principle of life, killing the old man who is now dead, did He also remove the sinful nature from us? (the flesh)
No

10. Why?
To be discussed in a next lesson by Matthew McMahon

11. What is the flesh?
The corruption nature of man by original sin (corruption understood by habit or as an act)

12. Are Christians dominated by sin?
The old man was dominated by sin.
No, the Christians are dominated by the Holy Spirit

13. Also the answer to the “why” not dominated by sin.

14. What is the old man?
We were a certain kind of man, but now this man is crucified, he’s dead.

15. Distinction between the old crucified man and the flesh.
(basic distinction that Paul, the reformers, and the puritans make)
The flesh is the sinful nature, the remnants of it is still left in us.

16. Do Christians do currently war against the flesh?
Yes, by all means.

Romans 13:14
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
2. Corinthians 12:7
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
Whether physical or spiritual, it doesn’t matter. “Lest I be exalted”.
Gal 5:24
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
In that context, does “crucified” mean “dead”?
In Paul’s context dealing with Jesus dying on the cross, we know He’s talking about deadness, but is it the same here? Is the sinful nature dead? 
The old man is dead. Is the sinful nature dead? 
No, it’s not dead, it’s not completely crucified.
“Crucified” doesn’t always mean “dead”. It always means that it will ultimately die, (when the Christians get to heaven), but not necessarily right here on the spot.
Crucifixion is a long, arduous death.
When you’re the roman soldier constantly watching the flesh as it dies on the cross, but desires to have its resurrection, you must not allow it.
Ephesians 2:3
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

The flesh still wants to revive those former lusts and you want to kill it. That’s the idea of mortification.
17. The flesh is looking to the old man to revive.
The old man is dead, but the flesh is still around and it’s looking for the old man.
The flesh doesn’t know that the old man is dead and it’s looking to resurrect, to revive the old man.
It is looking to conquer the old man, as it has done before, but guess what it runs into.
It runs into the Spirit.  The Father, the Son and the Spirit who dwell in the Christian.

Think of yourself like of those lion hunters on a safari trip, and of the flesh like  of a big lion. You’ve wounded the lion severely, you’ve shot it, it’s bleeding, in a manner  in which it is going to die, but you’re still on your guard, because the lion doesn’t know it’s gonna die so even in the end of its life, even as you’re mortifying it is trying to sink its teeth into you, it is still trying to destroy you.
A beast who has been severely wounded by a hunter tries in every possible way to stay alive.
It is still dangerous, maybe more dangerous in the last hours than any time in its life.

So this is the sinful nature, the dangerous lion that desires to devour us.
And it is bleeding.
And it will be bleeding for the rest of our life, until either we die, or Christ returns.
The old man is dead, and sometimes we act stupidly, trying to revive the old man, to put him back on, and we’re not supposed to be doing that. We’re supposed to live for Christ. 

Romans 8:13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Carnal Christian!?

January 25, 2009

He was a regular guy, grew up in the church, “received Jesus” and was baptised at 16, enjoyed youth groups and youth conferences, even the church sometimes (not always), used to (and liked to) sing in the church (including choir).

Nevertheless, after a while he didn’t want God anymore in his life.

But let’s have a closer look at him:

-Did he enjoy reading the Bible? Not really. Well, at times preachers/youth ministers would have prod him to read his Bible more, but it didn’t last.

-Prayer? The same. Not passionate about it, it was rather “got to do it because they say so”. Before leaving for a trip his mother would say “let’s pray” and he always thought “here she comes again…do we have to go through that every time?”

-Also related to sharing the Gospel, at times they had in that city Evangelizing rallies, and that would prod him to be there and occasionaly witness to others about Christ, but it was always (as far as he can remember) in the flesh. The Spirit of God was never there. And I assume it could go on.

-Was he worldly? You couldn’t tell that by the way he dressed, or talked, but in his heart he was always attracted to what the world had to offer. A minister asked him to accompany him in his missions. He didn’t want to because he would miss Sunday afternoons, when they had good TV shows. And because he was not passionate about the missions (and even in the countryside!? if it were at least in some bigger cities…). Then, friends from a youth choir would gather on Saturday evening to practise. For him would have been unconceivable to give up this precious time of the week.

-He once even held the morning prayer service (it was a small country church)

– A group of Christian young men came once to his city (they were Americans) and he asked one of them whether he liked Bruce Willis. For our guy the response wassurprising: “No, I don’t. Too much like the world”. He thought “not to like Bruce Willis!?”

It is so easy to “act” being a Christian (he didn’t do it consciously, of course). You have to have the right friends (in the church), go out mostly to “Christian” (birthday) parties and weddings, show up nicely in the church Sunday morning and in the youth groups and in Christian camps, etc.

Obviously, I was not bearing fruit (because I was the guy, of course). All these could be done (and were) in the flesh. The others didn’t know it, but, even worse, I didn’t know it myself. 

For all these years I thought that I was a saved Christian and that I went away from God. Now, when I think back, it is obvious that I wasn’t saved. I only thought I was. Because:

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? (Matthew 7:16)

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21)

And:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! … (2 Corinthians 13:5)

There’s no such thing as a “carnal Christian”!