Archive for July, 2008

Were the “carnal” Corinthians sanctified or not?

Sanctification –  is it a state you reach or one you are always in? Is it an event, or a work in progress?

Most reasonable believers agree that sanctification, according to the Word of God, is a lifelong process. Yet there are quite a few people who believe that receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and sanctification are one and the same thing and these two occur, not at conversion, but later, when a person is prepared and in a state of complete submission to God’s will. Many Methodists, and most Holiness Pentecostals, believe this is a “second work of grace”; that it is promised to all believers and destroys or removes the “old man”, otherwise referred to as the sinful nature. Of course, the evidence of this is held to be quite different between different denominations. Tongues are a predominant sign to many Charismatics that one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The gift of prophecy is also highly prized as a sign, but non-Charismatics believe that the true sign is the ability to live perfectly before God, completely able to live sinlessly.

I have heard and read where many of this “perfectionist” persuasion claim two rather absurd things:

1. Cornelius was saved BEFORE Peter visited him and his household and

2. The twelve disciples of John the Baptist were also saved prior to Paul finding them and baptising them in the name of the Lord and laying hands on them so they would receive the Holy Spirit.

In other words, these folks believe that the evidence of the Holy Spirit falling upon Cornelius and his guests and Paul’s laying on of hands are evidence that these folks were already saved and were receiving the SECOND gift of the Holy Spirit. These same folk teach that a believer must reach a state where they are completely ready to sacrifice their bodies (Romans 12:1) and their wills to God before they can receive the Holy Spirit. Yet Peter says, in Acts 2:38, that Belief, repentance, and baptism confer the free gift on the spirit to everyone!

Obviously, Cornelius was NOT SAVED until after he heard the gospel (Acts 10:34-44 and 11:13-14) according to Peter’s own words as well as Cornelius’s. Also, the twelve disciples of John only knew that the Messiah was coming. They had not yet heard and believed the gospel until Paul explained it to them (Acts 19:1-6).

People place far too much confidence these days in two things: worldly wisdom and logic (which Paul says is a bad thing to rest your faith on (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) AND feelings, which are completely untrustworthy. Nowhere in God’s Word are we told to rely on how we feel, or what we “get out of it” when it comes to devotion and worship.

Keep in mind though, that having the spirit poured out on you isn’t proof you are saved or even godly. Saul was hunting David down in 1 Samuel 19 and had already received an evil spirit (1 Samuel 18:10-12). Yet Saul experiences the gift of prophesy, or at least glorifies God in preaching, “… And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:23-24 ESV)What do you think?

I will post my scripturally supported understanding later. This is what I consider “untying a knot” and is what I purpose to do for myself and others. Comments, opinions, and thoughts on this subject are appreciated.

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God’s worst day

Over the last few days, I have experienced the worst days of my professional career. In this trial I have truly learned what it means to believe and trust in God despite all outward appearances. I am the sole IT support, these days, for my company and we support many other companies with our services, both regionally and globally. So, after resolving a minor but significant problem, I gave God the praise (literally) in an email announcing that the problem had been resolved.

Feeling somewhat victorious in having the guts to give God credit for something unrelated to Him in most people’s eyes, I was utterly shocked to find that the changes I had made had detrimentally affected the entire system. Suddenly, nothing was working, users could no longer access records that were essential to business, and I was unable to get the servers to communicate with each other. The fault lay in a hasty fix that essentially corrupted my entire Active Directory tree and began a true implosion of my integrated systems.

For close to a decade, I have been very pleased with my success in providing uninterrupted services to my customers and quite proud of that, too. But, this……!!! I ended up working that day, the following night and most of the next day without any sleep beyond a one hour catnap. During the night, as I was working to rebuild and recover the systems, it seemed I was in a tunnel without end or light in sight. In truth, I felt I was already overrun by the train I hadn’t seen coming! But, through it all, I remembered that God was in charge even though the devil tried to get me to accuse God of treason. After all, this was the seeming result of giving God honor! I resorted to David’s tacic, tellig God that His honor and His name were in danger of being besmirched and to rescue me from my troubles for His name’s sake.

Well, things got worse and worse, it seemed, and I was almost convinced that God wasn’t  on my side, but was rather against me now. However, I remembered the verse “Be not vercome by evil, but overcome evil with good” in Romans 12:21 and the song, by Casting Crowns “I Will Praise You In This Storm”  and I determined that, in spite of everything, I would continue to praise and thank God for His Son and His goodness no matter what. I was very worried I would lose my job, was briefly tempted to quit or even kill myself, and experienced a harrowing feeling that I was abandoned by God and damned. But, all this served to show me what our Lord and savior went through WILLINGLY, for our sakes.

My worst day could not compare to what the Son of God experienced for our sakes. He gave up the privileges and power He had in Heaven for one purpose: to rescue you and me and anyone who will believe from the darkness of death and sin. He was God’s One and Only Rescue Plan for mankind. He had to come to earth and do for us what we could not possibly to ourselves…. make things right between God and us. He knew what awaited Him: the weakness of being a dependent baby, growing up in a world where he was just a blue collar worker with no real privileges at all in a world dominated by an occupying nation.

Jesus Christ knew, ahead of the event, that He would do many great and wonderful things for an ungrateful and carnal bunch of religious people, who would utlimately despise Him, make fun of Him, and try to destroy Him. And yet He came anyway! He died guiltless in a terrible way that we would protest as inhuman today. And to top it off, He experienced His Father’s rejection –  absolute abandonment by God while He suffered for you and me the pain and rejection we so richly deserve.

It was God’s worst day. But this was the only way to resolve the problem of sin. Now, God offers us the free gift of reconciliation and peace with God through His Son’s faithfulness to the Plan of Salvation. So, no matter how bad your day is, please remember that Someone Who had the worst day He could imagine, had it ON PURPOSE!

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11 ESV)

Thank you Jesus!

Oh yes, I am still recovering my systems, but God gave me an escape (a small still voice suggesting a simple plan) that got my systems up and running again. I have a lot of work and planning to do and I have learned some hard lessons, but the most important ones were about my faith and believing in God regardless of everything.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)