He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21
Righteousness or “dead works”? Hebrews 9:14 Which is it? “He who does righteousness is righteous.” 1 John 3:7 However, we can try to self-generate good works. Galatians 2:21 Righteousness is by grace, which, in turn, is through faith, and the faith doesn’t come from yourself lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8 Faith [supernatural belief and trust] comes from hearing with your spiritual ears, and this kind of hearing comes by the utterance of God. Romans 10:17 So you have the faith of God, not your own faith in God. Mark 11:22 God speaks a vision of hope to an expectant heart that is willing to listen and obey. God shows, as if in a mirror, you who you really are destined to become, what that means for this moment, what is and what is not the Body of Christ (Christ the Body), and how you fit into Christ the Body. James 1:25 Faith gives access into God’s grace. Romans 5:2 Grace does the living work of righteousness through us. Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 15:10 This is the free gift of righteousness. Romans 5:17, Romans 10:3 This kind of living Righteousness, of having God work His works through us as we submit to Him, leads to holiness from glory to glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 In this way, we are incrementally set free from sin and the sinful nature. Romans 8:2, Romans 6:18
Question about sins unto death
The Bible tells us that whatever is not of faith is sin. If you study the little animation below, you will see that this equates to saying that whenever you are not doing something that God told you to do or whenever you are doing something that God did not tell you to do it is sin. In other words, if God isn’t leading you to think it, say it, or do it, don’t. However, there is a difference in sins, which we can most plainly see in the law as it was given to Moses. For some sins, the penalty was to pay back what you stole or to sacrifice an animal to God. However, for other sins, the penalty was death: most sexual sins, witchcraft, working on the Sabbath, etc.
Now, what is God saying as we read this verse. I used to think that God was saying that there is no hope for those who commit a sin that is to death, so don’t even bother praying about it. This is inconsistent with what God has already told us in other parts of the Bible, so that cannot be right. After praying about this for a great while, God showed me that there are many sins that we don’t need to talk to our brothers and sisters about. We can just pray for them if we suspect that perhaps they aren’t using the best wisdom in buying a car or in their eating habits. On the other hand, if they seem to be committing a sin that will destroy their faith, a sin to death, then go to them and talk to them. Seek God for His Spirit so that you can minister the words of God as the mouthpiece of God and not in your own words. Encourage your brother or sister to righteousness and urge them to steer clear of the sin because the sin will kill them spiritually. Sexual sins are particularly deadly. That’s why the secular, that is, Atheistic, colleges push what they call “sexual freedom,” which is actually slavery to sin. I’ll deal with the Sabbath as a special case since some theologies have bound people up in a kind of slavery regarding the interpretation of the Sabbath and violation of the Sabbath is a sin unto death.
Some of the things that are in the law are now fulfilled in Christ and are dealt with in the New Testament. One of these is the Sabbath. We know that the Sabbath is Saturday; however, the church met on Sunday because the resurrection was on Sunday. Paul addressed the fact that some were making some days special (this would include the Sabbath) while others treated every day the same. He said that they should be fully convinced in their minds about what they themselves were doing and not to judge the others. In other words, if God led them to observe the Sabbath, then they should do so, but something had been fulfilled about the Sabbath in Christ. When something is fulfilled in Christ, it is obeyed on a different spiritual level than it was previously, and it is more important that it be obeyed. So what is the fulfillment of the Sabbath and entering into the rest of God that God tells us about through the book of Hebrews? It is this. There are dead works. Those are works that we self-generate. We are to be living according to the age that is to come, the Sabbath age, even though that time has not actually arrived. Since this is true, we need to rest in Christ. Here is how we rest in Christ. We wait for God to speak, to lead us. We seek His leading and desire it so that we can be obedient to it. God speaks a vision of hope, showing us, not only what we are to do in each moment, but also who we are as a particular member of Christ the Body (the church) and what is and is not Christ the Body (the church), and how we fit into Christ the Body. When God speaks, faith comes. Faith comes by hearing the utterance of God. Faith gives access to God’s grace and it is God’s grace Who must do God’s works through you. This is entering into the rest of God. You cease from your own dead works and allow God to do His works through you. This is the fulfillment and it is possible to walk in it 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If you, at any time, follow the leading of your own fallen understanding rather than following God, then your sin is forgiven provided you repent. If God leads you and you fail to yield to His free gift of righteousness but rather go about seeking to establish your own righteousness by obeying His leading in your own strength, then you can repent and receive forgiveness. That being said, it is much more healthy for the body to take a day of rest sometime during the week, but this is not the true fulfillment of the Sabbath.
Now, see that the obedience to the Sabbath is now fulfilled in Christ and failure to obey this fulfilled Sabbath is much more deadly than it was to work on Saturday under the law of Moses. When you fail to seek God and get His leading in your moment by moment life, this is very destructive. When you try to do works in your own power, you frustrate the grace of God. So, going back to 1 John 5:16, suppose you see your brother trying to be righteous in his own power and strength, what do you do? You go to your brother and give him this teaching so that he doesn’t have to struggle in this way. To obey God is life, but we just can’t do it in our own power. To try to do it in our own power is to dishonor God’s Sabbath.
How did they cast out devils and Jesus never knew them?
Look at the context: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance. A person can have a real calling and a real gift of the Spirit and fail to obey the Spirit of God in their lives. Many have used the gift to bring attention to themselves or even to make money for instance. This knowing is a real personal acquaintance. γινωσκω ginosko ghin-oce’-ko I believe that what Jesus is saying is that there was never the needed relationship of lordship and submission that was required. There was never the two-way communication and the resulting leading and corresponding following. Whatever is not of faith is sin. The way is indeed narrow. Many run where they were not sent. Many don’t go where they are sent.
It is important for Christians to understand Islam.
The following pressures are causing many Muslims to turn to Christ.
- Many Muslims are not secure in what they believe. Many have never read the Qur’an. The leaders who study it are often disillusioned and discouraged by the Qur’anic teachings, Islamic cultural pressures, social mores, etc.
- Moral problem with the amount of violence within Islam.
- Deep spiritual needs that are not being met by Islam.
- A different view of God than the loving God Whom Christians know.
- Hopelessness. There is absolutely no assurance of paradise in Sharia.
- A personal, loving relationship with God is impossible within Islam. It isn’t even a desire or a goal.
- Peaceful Muslims don’t like the part of Islam that is hateful or violent.
- No ability to call God, “Father.” By the way, “Abba” means “Daddy.” It is a term of endearment.
- Muslims who have questions are often told that they cannot ask those questions but must accept the teachings without question.
- Jesus is softening the hardened ground Himself through many means including dreams and visions.
- There are multiple levels of disconnect between what Islam teaches and what the followers of Islam actually desire and long for.
- Muslims desire to have a spiritual security outside of jhad.
- Muslims desire a God who listens and answers prayer.
- Muslims desire a God who will speak and lead and give power to do righteous, loving acts.
- Muslims desire peaceful societies of compassion and mercy.
- Muslims desire equality in God’s eyes for men and women alike. The treatment of women causes much disillusionment among Muslims.
- Muslims desire individual freedom of choice, individual thinking, and individual freedom.
- Muslims desire to be able to ask questions about God and their faith and receive real answers.
- Muslims desire an end to violent Islamic sectarianism.
- Muslims desire practical help and answers for life’s daily challenges, and help and answers that go beyond “more Sharia.”
- Muslims are turned off by the ungodliness that has so infected much of the world that has labeled itself “Christian.” (pornography, greed, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, evolutionism, etc.)
- Muslims often see the corrupt media (print, film, digital, broadcast) and art forms that proceed from countries like the U.S.A. and associate these corrupted expressions in media and art with Christianity and with Christ not realizing that these very corruptions also revile followers of Christ and that there is great animosity between the perpetrators of such corruption and Christ followers.
- Non-Arab Muslims often feel like second-class citizens.
- Many Muslims are put off by the inconsistency of the strict laws against alcohol and certain foods while allowing the drug, khat.
- Many Muslims are disillusioned by the obligation of Zakat without promoting a corresponding compassion and generosity on a personal level. Those who personally know Christians begin to notice that Christ followers do have this compassion and generosity as part of their walk with Christ.
- Muslims sometimes question whether the restrictions on translating the Qur’an into other languages is a way to keep the common people from discovering its contradictions with other Muslim writings and practices.
- Muslims who read the Qur’an find out that multiple passages affirm the special status of Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah).
- Muslims pray every day, “Lead me in the right way.” Some wonder why they pray this prayer if they already are in the right way, Islam. God answers that prayer by leading them to Jesus.
- Mohammed’s dying confession that even he didn’t know what would happen to him after death is of concern to many Muslims. They know that they have no assurance.
Answer to an Atheist continued
The Atheist said:
I have been too busy to respond to your comments (he had asked about seven questions which I answered). I can seek Santa the same way you ask me to seek Jesus and that is still no evidence that Santa or god exist. The truth of the matter your personal experience isnt evidence that your god exist. Someone of another faith put their heart in their god and believes that they are right and you are wrong. They sometimes hear their god talks or perform miracles. If your god is all knowing and powerful. Then your god knows what it takes to convince me that he exist. Just like Santa knows when I have been bad or good. I was a Christian in the past. I grew up baptist. I just am not convinced that a god exist.
When you write that you could seek Santa the same way I tell you that you have the option to seek Jesus, I can’t make out what your point would be. It certainly defies any logic of which I am aware. Perhaps you could explain what you were trying to say. I hope that you aren’t begging the question.
You said that my personal experience is not evidence of God; however, if that is true, then, by the same line of reasoning, there is no evidence of anything. For each person, every experience is a personal experience. When millions have the same experience showing that the experience is repeatable under the right circumstances, then there is confirmation. This is the case with The Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone who seeks Him finds Him. Multiple personal experiences that confirm each other is also near the root of all science as well. Think about it.
You mention that other people promote other gods as some sort of evidence against God. If we apply that logic to currency, then there is no difference between counterfeit money and real money. There is a difference, though. The real is real regardless of how many counterfeits there are.
God knows what it takes to convince you that He exists. That’s why He supplied the creation as adequate proof. God says that you are without excuse. God says that you know that He is God but that you have failed to honor Him as God. You see, I agree with God. I also don’t believe you when you say that you don’t believe in God. You would have to show me some pretty strong evidence for that claim that you don’t believe in God after seeing the creation. Nothing like the creation with all it’s complexity and order can happen by itself. No human has the wisdom to begin to understand it. Beyond that, God speaks to you through the creation (and though guys like me), so I would need some pretty strong evidence to believe that you don’t believe in God. I think that something else happened. Perhaps you got addicted to some form of sin and gave yourself over to it, so you don’t what God. Perhaps you don’t want God directing every aspect of your life. I don’t know your reason, but I still don’t believe your story when you tell me that you don’t believe that God exists.
By the way, belonging to a denomination doesn’t make you a Christ follower. If you never heard His voice, then how could you follow Him. If you never had a personal relationship with Him, then you were not a Christ follower. Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice.” It’s as simple as that. Jesus also says, “whoever loves Me obeys My commandments.”
The Atheist responds:
how is me telling you I don’t believe in god isn’t enough evidence for you that I don’t? That’s like you telling me that you believe in god isn’t enough evidence for me that you do. Your reasoning is a little off to me. It sounds like you want to only believe what you want too even when it comes to me. You do not know me personally and only assuming the reasons why. I really don’t care if you don’t believe that I don’t believe in god. Do you know what atheism is?
Just because you say that your god created everything doesn’t mean nothing at all. Do you have any proof that your god created anything? Any physical evidence? Is your god standing on a corner somewhere still creating things?
The Christ-follower’s response to the Atheist:
I didn’t mean to offend you. God says that you know that He exists. This may be quite different from being a believer. I agree with God. You know that God exists. I can’t believe that you would not know that God exists given the vast amount of evidence that God has given you plus the fact that He calls out you. So your claim of not knowing that God exists is a bit far fetched. That you don’t want Him to exist I fully believe. Just because you say that you don’t believe that God exists is no proof at all. It is simply a claim that I can’t verify.
The Atheist’s response:
Just because you repeat the same thing over and over again doesn’t make it true. I am done with this conversation. I just don’t have the time to try and reason with you. Maybe we can have a discussion on this another time.
The Christ-follower’s response:
God does literally say that there is no one who is not aware of His existence. They may not understand Him completely, and their corrupted minds may distort their perceptions, but everything that can be known about God and the Godhead is known to them by the things that He created. God is now saying these things through the pen of Paul the apostle in the first chapter of Romans.
This is probably hidden from you since God is speaking through the same chapter and telling you that because you refused to hold Him in your knowledge, He has turned you over to a reprobate mind. This is the natural mind which is deceitful and desperately wicked to the point where you can’t know it. With a mind like that, you can’t even judge your own motivations.
I’m just the messenger. You really need to talk to God about this.
It should be mentioned that the Christ-follower answered each of the Atheist’s questions and asked a challenging question in follow up. In each instance, the Atheist said that he didn’t have time at present to read the responses.