New Orleans Atheist Changes His Mind

Desmond Boudreaux was bitter from past church experiences as a child and eventually became an atheist as a young adult. He helped form a Marxist group in New Orleans which he hoped would help silence Christianity.

He said,

“The group I was with hated churches and Christianity. Once I got into it, I realized there was no peace in what I was pursuing. That’s when I met Justin and found Christ. The whole time I was searching for peace and truth, but could never find it. Whenever I found Christ, that’s when I truly found what I was looking for.”

The person who lead him to Christ was Refuge Church Pastor Justin Haynes. It was Christian love displayed by Pastor Haynes and other members of the church that caused a change of heart in Desmond. On April 8th, he was plunged beneath the baptistery waters to publicly display his newfound faith.

(Condensed from Baptist Message)

Bravo for Brother Desmond! Another soul rescued from the snare of the devil.

Maybe you, like Desmond, are looking for peace and truth; rest for your soul. The Risen Lord makes the following offer to you today:

“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 SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

For my yoke is easy, and My load is light”. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Carl

God Made It Simple – Part 2

After posting, God Made It Simple, I felt the urge to write a follow up. While researching in Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, I found the following. I share it for our edification and encouragement:

“God shows His wonderful love in calling us children of God; as expressing community of nature, rather than sons, which expresses the position of privilege.

The world, therefore, does not know us, even as it did not know Him.

We are children of God; and in this fact lies enfolded our future, the essence of which will be likeness to God, coming through unveiled and transfiguring vision.

The result of such a relation and hope is persistent effort after moral purity. “Every one that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself even as He is pure.”

This attempt to purify corresponds with the fulfillment of our true destiny which Christ has made possible. Sin is irreconcilable with a right relation to God, for Christianity emphasizes the law of God, and “sin is lawlessness.” The object of Christ manifestation was to “take away sin”; therefore, “everyone that abideth in Him sinneth not.” “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” “He that committeth sin is of the devil”; but the Son of God was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil. The divine seed –the divine principle of growth– the germ of the new life is in the true believer; and the idea of divine Son ship and sin are mutually exclusive.

The being a child of God will manifest itself not only in doing righteousness, but in love— the love of God, taking shape in love and ministry to the brethren. This is the highest expression of righteousness. The whole aim of the Gospel is the creation and strengthening of love; and the type of life in God through Christ is therefore the direct opposite of Cain, who being of the evil one, slew his brother.

Over against this love is the world’s hatred. This is bound up, as love is, with the question of origin. God’s children share God’s nature, which is love. The children of the world are the children of the evil one, whose nature is lawlessness and hatred. Love is the outgrowth of life; hatred, of death. He that loveth not, abideth in death. For ourselves, children of God, we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.

Christ is the perfect type and revelation of love, since He gave His life for us. We, likewise, ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. The practical test of our brotherly love is ministry. The love of God does not dwell in us if we refuse to relieve our brother’s need.

The fruit of love is confidence. “In this,” —-the consciousness of active and sincere love to the brethren resting upon and moulded by the love of Christ—-in this, we perceive that we are of the truth; and, perceiving this, we shall assure our hearts in the presence of God, in whom we live and move and have our being. It is of the very essence of Christian life that it is lived and tested before God. No assurance or confidence is possible except from being in right relation to God.

Through the consciousness of love, then, which is of God and which marks the children of God , we perceive that we are children of God—of the truth; and in this knowledge we find assurance and confidence before the very highest tribunal. “We shall assure our heart before Him.” Vincent

Wasn’t that concise and rich! I want this “love” to be manifested in my life toward my God, my brethren and those in need of the gospel. He shall bring it to pass if we cooperate with His Spirit.

God bless you!

Carl

God Made It Simple

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a middle aged man who was in the midst of a very stressful situation.  He spoke of his past Christian experience and was confused about the future.   Our interaction reminded me, that as biblically born again believers, when we wake up in the morning, there are only TWO things the Lord requires of us:

  • To Love Him
  • To Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves

The Lord Jesus said:

“…AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’   Mark 12:30-31

and then He adds this statement:

“There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

The Lord Jesus says there is nothing greater than loving the biblical God and our fellow man.

The word “love” is the Greek agapao. This “speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and praise.” (Wuest) It is the same word the Apostle John used in John 3:16 to describe how God feels about lost mankind, whom He sent Jesus to redeem. He considers each person precious. That is why He paid such a high price to redeem lost sinners, like you and me.

Therefore, when I wake in the morning, this is all that God requires of me.  I am to consider my fellow man, lost or saved, as precious to God and, therefore, to me.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives me the desire and willingness to do this. (Philippians 2:13).

If I love God like Jesus said:

  • I will have no other gods before Him
  • I will not have idols in my life
  • I will not take His name in vain
  • I will treat Him as Holy

And if I love my neighbor as myself:

  • I will not murder him
  • I will not commit adultery with his wife
  •  I will not steal from him
  •  I will not lie to him or against him
  • I will not covet his possessions.

When a person is biblically born again by the Holy Spirit, God begins to change that person from a “hater” to a “lover”.  A “hater”, as I am using it, is someone who sins against God and his fellow man. A synonym of “sinner”.

Take for example the apostle John.

The Lord Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. They evidently had a short temper. Luke 9: 54 says that they wanted to call down fire from heaven to kill some Samaritans who did not receive Jesus into their village. Jesus rebuked them saying “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” After years had passed, we see in the Book of Acts, John with Peter returning to the Samaritans to minster to them (a manifestation of love) with Philip, the deacon. Through what John learned from Jesus as a disciple and what God did in his heart when he was born again, he was changed from a “hater” to a “lover” of the Samaritans.

Later in his life, he wrote what we know as I John. In chapter 4: 7-12 his changed heart is manifested in these words:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is PERFECTED in us.   (emphasis added)

Everything God has done for us through Christ is to help us PERFECT His love in us:

  • We identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, therefore, we can overcome Satan and our sinful nature and walk in love toward others.
  • When we are born again, the Holy Spirit spreads the love of God in our hearts so we can properly love Him and our fellow man.
  • The Holy Spirit is given to us to comfort, teach, and encourage us as we fight the good fight of faith in learning and persevering to walk in love toward others
  • The Bible is given to us to teach us how to love through the example and instruction of others who had to learn to walk in love.
  • The Bible gives us levees for our love so it is channeled in the right direction and does not overflow into unrighteous.
  • The Body of Christ, the Church, is a place to exercise our love gifts, share love and perfect our love.
  • When Christ returns and we stand in His Presence, we will not turn away in shame because we have conducted ourselves like He conducted himself.

The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to be PERFECTED in love.  To cause us to do what the scripture said in the beginning of this blog. To stop being a “hater” and change into a “lover” of people and God.

Conducting ourselves in love toward others, assures us that we are saved, “God abides in us“.  John said “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

The devil will use religion to heap expectations and distractions on us that will choke the true spiritual life out of you if you let it. If that is where you are, take a time out and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any traditions of men or church that are clouding your understanding of God and what he expects of you. Then ask Him to PERFECT His love in you.

In closing, listen to Paul’s personal priorities as expressed in I Corinthians 13 and 14:

” If I speak with the tongue of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love ,I am nothing. 

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

“Pursue love…” (emphasis and underlining added)

In Paul’s personal life he was pursuing love. He was another disciple that was changed from a literal “killer” of Christians to a “lover”. May we yield to the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is trying to make us “lovers”, freeing us from being “haters”.

Thank you for your time.  May we be enriched in all knowledge and understanding by His Holy Spirit who was sent to lead you and I into all truth.

Carl

Love in Action

Rome-appian-way

Appian Way south of Rome – one location of Christian catacomb burials

“Atheism (i.e. Christian faith) has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead.  It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”

Roman Emperor Julian (332-63) – Church History in Plain Language – Bruce L. Shelley

Emperor Julian, after Roman Emperor Constantine, was attempting to bring revival of the traditional Roman pagan religion when he made this observation.  He wanted to set aside Christianity and bring back the ancient faith, but he saw clearly the drawing power of Christian love.  Christians were called “atheist” by the Romans because they did not believe in Emperor worship.

Mr. Shelley says the following in reference to early Christians providing burials for the dead.

“One expression of Christian love had a particularly far-reaching effect. The church often  provided burial service for poor brethren. Christians felt that to deprive a person of honorable burial was a terrible thing. Lactantius, the North African scholar (C.240-320) wrote, “We will not allow the image and creation of God [the human body] to be thrown out to the wild beasts and the birds as their prey; it must be given back to the earth from which it was taken.””

This self-sacrificial love for people is said to be one of the reasons that the Gospel spread so fast in the beginning.  The testimony of this pagan Emperor bears witness to the words of the Lord Jesus:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  (John 13: 34-35 emphasis mine)

May we manifest His love for others as we go about our days.

God Bless You!

Carl

God’s Rescue of Man (Part 4)

world-largest-mural-street-art-las-etnias-the-ethnicities-eduardo-kobra-rio-olympics-brazil-5

“…the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that He might rescue us out of this present evil age,…”  Galatians 1:4

(To see parts one through three, scroll down to the end of this blog.)

The picture, which is reported to be the largest outdoor mural in the world, is to me a good composite of mankind that Jesus came to rescue.  Notice the eyes that are looking to the side as if something has caught his attention. May Jesus catch man’s attention with His love.

Continuing our previous discussing on the corrupting influence of this evil age, God warns us about the world in I John 2: 15-17:

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

We are commanded not to “love” (agapao) the world nor the things in the world. The Greek word for “love” in this context means “a love called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved.”  Apostle John was warning some believers to “Stop loving the world with a love called out of your hearts because of its preciousness.”. The verb used, speaks of the act of forbidding the continuance of an action already going on. The world system that God rescued them out of was still precious to them.  John was telling them to stop loving the world.

The Greek word for world here is kosmos and is defined by Vincent as follows:

“The sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God.”

Kenneth Wuest says:

“Kosmos refers to an ordered system. Here it is the ordered system of which Satan is the head, his fallen angels and demons are his emissaries, and the unsaved of the human race are his subjects, together with those purposes, pursuits, pleasures, practices, and places where God is not wanted. Much in this world-system is religious, cultured, refined, and intellectual.  But it is anti-God and anti-Christ.”

After reviewing the NT scriptures that use the word kosmos I put this composite together:

Jesus called Satan the “ruler of the world” (John 14:30) and the whole world lies in his power (I John 5:19). All unsaved people are deceived by Satan (Rev 12:9) by his blinding of their minds, (2 Cor 4:4) preventing the light of the gospel from shining in. Therefore the kosmos is a dark spiritual place and a place of bondage. This is why Jesus came as a Light into the kosmos. Ephesians 2:2 tells us there is a “course of this world” which is “according to the prince of the power of the air”,  unsaved people behave according to their cravings  for things of the world thinking this is the way to true happiness and fulfillment only to find out it is a satanic illusion. They love the world because it is precious to them (II Tim 4:10); have worldly values (I John 4:5) which manifest through their words (Titus 2:12), Paul tells us to avoid worldly and empty chatter (I Tim 6:20) and worldly fables (I Tim 4:7).  Jesus said there are “stumbling blocks” (Matt 18:7) in the world.

“Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (John 18: 36). Jesus chose you, the born again believer, OUT of the world (John 15:19). After discipleship, Jesus sends His disciples back INTO the world (John 17:18) as lights in the world (Phil 2:5). Jesus prayed that the Father would not remove His disciples from the world but protect them from Satan (John 17:5). Believers can be conformed to the world (Rom 12:2, James 1:27) and be defiled by the world  (2 Pet 2:20). The “worries of the world” and the “deceitfulness of riches” choke out the word of God in the believer’s heart making him unfruitful in the things of God (Matt 13:22).  Disciples will have tribulations in the world but we will overcome the world (I John 5:4, I John 4: 17, John 12:25).  The abiding word of God makes believers strong and helps us to overcome Satan (1 John 2: 14) The saints will judge the world in the end times (I Cor 6:2).

In summary, the modern world (kosmos) we live in today exist in the same pernicious age (aion) that Paul and Peter lived in.  The moral characteristics of the age will not change until the Lord Jesus establishes His millennial reign on the earth.  Technology has leaped forward a thousand fold but the evil moral characteristics of man remain.  The predominate religion today is the false religion of works, whether it be works by themselves or mixed with belief in Jesus Christ.

This concludes our study of the world. Next post will explain the remainder of I John 2: 15-17.  Hope you will join us again.

May the Holy Spirit search our hearts to show us where we are still considering the world precious.  The next post will reveal some characteristics of the world.

“… because everything that has been born of God is constantly coming off victorious over the world. And this is the victory that has come off victorious over the world, our faith. Who is he who is constantly coming off victorious over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

(I John 5: 4-5 Kenneth Wuest Expanded Translation)

Carl

 

 

Everyone Seems Normal

IMG_0770

 

I saw this sign in a BBQ restaurant several days ago. It reminded me that everyone in the Body of Christ, including myself, has sins, faults and shortcomings.  That is why the Apostle Peter tells us:

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)

“Above all” could be translated “before all in order of importance” and speaks to the fact that love is the prerequisite to all exercises of Christian duty.   Somewhere in Scripture is a word picture that shows love as a coat that binds all the other pieces (spiritual gifts) of a wardrobe together and completes them.  What Peter is telling us then is very, very important.

The word “love” here is “agape”, God’s type of love that is produced in our hearts by the Holy Spirit at salvation.  Romans 5:5 says “…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit…”.  It is a love that considers the object of it’s affection to be precious.

The reason for this exhortation to keep “fervent” or “stretched out” in love for one another is that love covers a multitude of sins. If we truly consider our fellow Christians precious to God and; therefore, precious to us, we will not talk about their failings/sins, but keep them to our self and cover them with our love; knowing we have our own sins to gain the victory over.

How much sinful gossip would be eliminated in the Church if we truly “agape” each other.

Walk in Love,

Carl