You Are a Billboard for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God

You are a walking, talking advertisement for God’s rule in a human life.

Are you an attractive billboard for His message, or a blighted one?

Your manner of life is already sending a message about your relationship with God before the first words ever come out of your mouth.  Take heed to the billboard that you are.

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Use Your Mouth…Wisely

Those who would be Christian leaders must first seek to be mature Christians.  Christian maturity is achieved only when the tongue is under control.  This is what the third chapter of the letter of James is all about.

If you cannot control your mouth, you have work to do.  Let James set you straight.

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You who watch over the souls of others, watch over your own!

What the verses below have in common is the idea that he who would be a minister of the word must be sure to minister that word to himself as well as to others.

If you are a preacher, be sure that you apply to your own soul the same preaching that you hope your listeners will apply to their souls.

If you are a parent, be sure that you are applying to your own life the spiritual lessons you are teaching to your children.

Galatians 6:1

Matthew 7:3-5

1 Timothy 4:16

Philippians 1:7

1 Corinthians 9:23

Ezra 7:10

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The Man of God Speaks the Words of God

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
–  1 Peter 4:10-11

Note, Christian leader, that it is not your utterances that are the “special gift.”  Rather, it is the utterances of God.  You are but a steward of those utterances.  Be a faithful steward of His “special gifts.”

The saints of God need the utterances of God – that is, His word.  They cannot survive without it.  Be sure to give them His words when they are spiritual infants.  Once they’ve grown, they can feed themselves.  But for now, you must feed them lest they starve.

Do not let this be said about you:

The little ones ask for bread,
But no one breaks it for them.
–  Lamentations 4:4

Those who claim to speak in the name of the Lord must always be sure to speak His words and not their own.

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The Spiritual Growth of the Apostle John

John the son of Zebedee gives us a vivid picture of the spiritual growth the Lord wants to work in us.

In the Gospel of John, he presents himself, along with his fellow disciples, as fleshly in orientation.  This was early in Jesus’ ministry.  For example, Jesus would say to them something like “I have food to eat that you do not know about,” and they would say to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” (John 4:32-33).  Jesus was speaking spiritually, but they were still quite fleshly.

In another example (Matthew 16:5-12), Jesus speaks to John and the others about leaven.  They think He’s talking about physical leaven, but He’s actually speaking about spiritual leaven.

Note then the great contrast when you get to the book of Revelation, also written by John.  That book is so spiritual, and we are so fleshly, that it sounds like gobbledygook to most of us.  Yet the same John wrote it that had such a hard time understanding Jesus in the beginning.  John had grown.  He had matured from a fleshly orientation to a spiritual orientation.

We must go through the sort of change that John did – especially if we are to speak the word of God to others.  Remember 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and let not its admonition apply to you.  Remember also Hebrews 5:12-14.  If you are to teach others the way of Christ, be mature.  To be mature means to be spiritual and not fleshly.  The apostle John provides a clear example to follow.

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A People for His Own Possession

…Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession…
–  Titus 2:13-14

If He’s purifying for Himself “a people for His own possession” why do popes and pastors claim these same people for their own possession?  It’s not right.

Hear the word of the Lord, O pastor:

…”Let My people go…”
–  Exodus 5:1

Why should you let the people go?  Because they are His people, not yours.  And so that…

…”…they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.”
–  Exodus 5:1

How will the people celebrate a feast to Him in the wilderness?  According to Romans 12:1, they will offer their lives a living and holy sacrifice to the Lord in every place they go.

The Lord wants to possess His people – He does not want us to possess them.  He wants us to point the people to Him…that He may possess them.

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The Older Shall Serve the Younger

…the older shall serve the younger.
–  Genesis 25:23

Christian leadership operates on a principle at odds with worldly leadership.  In the world, the older has authority over the younger, but in the kingdom of God the older serves the younger.

Notice how God sets the example.  He Himself is older than everyone, yet He serves everyone.  When the world had gone completely astray, He committed Himself to coming to earth as one of us to set an example.  From the ignominious death He suffered in the fulfillment of that commitment, He was raised back to His place of majesty.

Likewise, you and I are to humble ourselves on earth that we might be exalted in heaven.  If therefore you aspire to Christian leadership, know that you are aspiring to be a servant – not a ruler.  It’s not about how many Christians you can be over, it’s about how many you can serve.

As Jesus taught:

“But do not be called Rabbi;
for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
Do not call anyone on earth your father;
for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Do not be called leaders;
for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”
–  Matthew 23:8-10

If we are all brothers, then those of us who are older (i.e. who have been walking with the Lord longer) should set out to serve our younger brethren – not lord it over them.

Consider also how Jesus responded when His disciples pestered Him about who was “the greatest” (i.e. who would be in charge when He wasn’t around?):

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.  And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’  But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.  For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
–  Luke 22:24-27

Survey the institutional church today and see that leaders do not “become like the youngest” or “like the servant.”  Rather, they have authority over their flocks.  And indeed the flocks are theirs and not the Lord’s.   This is the case whether it’s a mega-church of thousands or a small church of less than a hundred.

It’s not about hoarding the sheep; it’s about feeding the sheep.

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True Christian Leaders Rebuke Unrighteousness; They Do Not Kowtow to It

Pope Francis yesterday make the first remarks of his visit to the United States.  Read the text of what he said at the White House and see if his remarks (a 3-minute read; 614 words below) seem appropriate for a spokesman of Christ to a man who has been outspoken in his support for abortion and homosexuality.

Mr. President,

I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

When the “vicar of Christ” chose to speak in favor of the president’s pet issue while being silent on his Lord’s issues, he demonstrated his corruption.  Christ’s spokesmen speak truth to power – not flattery.

The pope’s capitulation to the spirit of the age, and to a man who speaks for it, was complete.  If you would be a leader for Christ, do not be like this.

Source of the pope’s remarks:  Time.com

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Adjusting My Writing Schedule

In case you didn’t read it on my main blog, here is a post I’ve just written about my writing schedule:  Adjusting My Writing Schedule.

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The False Doctrine of Hell and the True Doctrine That Everyone Goes to Heaven

If you set aside two thousand years of church history and go back to the Scriptures on which that two-thousand-year-old church bases its authority – that is, the Old and New Testaments – you will see that everyone is going to heaven.

The way to see this is to start with the Old Testament. It is clear that the Old Testament teaching was that everyone who died descended to Sheol (Hades). Everyone. There was a hope of resurrection, but nothing more. Then the New Testament, in the story of Christ, explained how resurrection was going to work. The big surprise – even for believing Jews – was that resurrection led to heaven. They had been assuming that it led back to earth. Jesus shocked them with this revelation.

Once it was clear that resurrection led to heaven, the only thing left to ask was “Who would be raised?” The New Testament answer was clear: the dead.

Since everyone died and the dead would be raised and resurrection led to heaven, then it’s clear that everyone goes to heaven. Of course, there’s much more biblical corroboration of this but I’ve laid out the essential logic.

What people call hell (Jesus called it Gehenna) is the judgment for sin that consumes the earth. It is thus on this earth and in this life. It is not something that happens elsewhere after this life.  Hell is a real thing and it is an awful thing, but it is something the Lord gives us the means to escape.  And right relationship with Him is the means of escape.

The heaven-or-hell afterlife scenario under which the post-NT church has erroneously labored for almost two thousand years is a theological perversion of Scriptural truth. And the longer that error holds sway, the more frightened people are to challenge it. The way to challenge it is not with intellect or emotion, but with the Scriptures.

To God be the glory!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

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