Friday, June 15, 2007

Religion vs. The Gospel - Ready Fight!

Religion says, if I obey, God will love me. The Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.

Religion has good people & bad people. The Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.

Religion values a birth family. The Gospel values a new birth.

Religion depends on what I do. The Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.

Religion claims that sanctification justifies me. The Gospel claims that justification enables sanctification.

Religion has the goal to get from God. The Gospel has the goal to get God.

Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin. The Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction.

Religion is about me. The Gospel is about Jesus.

Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key. The Gospel believes that being honest is the key.

Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God. The Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus’ work.

Religion sees Jesus as the means. The Gospel sees Jesus as the end.

Religion ends in pride or despair. The Gospel ends in humble joy.

Side Note: I just want to note that ‘religion’ is not bad in a biblical sense, see also James 1:27. However, what makes it bad is the prevalent perception that institutions or creeds in conjunction with human works can serve as a portal to heaven rather than a full reliance upon the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Grace and Peace.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


I have often said that I believe in love yet have never made any attempt to explain what exactly that means. Therefore I will attempt to pen a few lines about the nature of love. I, like Clive Staples Lewis, believe that there are many forms of love, each more complete than the next. To escape writing a novel on the subject I will stick to that which used to be known as charity.

Unfortunately this, as is the case with many words, has lost its meaning through removing the factual nature from the word and making it a general term, destroying the original meaning. This happened with many words in the English language including but not limited to Christian, gentleman, lady, sir, and madam. These titles all used to mean something more than a good person or a person of respect. They were titles give to people based upon facts about that person.

Likewise charity has been granted the same ill fate of those abused words. It used to mean the love that only God could give, unconditional love, yet in modern times it has been watered down to the notion of giving to the less fortunate.

This is no the love that I speak of, I speak of the irresistible love of God, which is most closely represented in the love shown between two lovers. Now this love of God is irresistible not because we cannot resist, because there are many indications through out the world that we can. Rather this love of God is powerful enough to overcome any resistances if He that gives it so chooses. (Colossians 1:16)

Now I have said this love is expressed so far as depraved humans can show it through the holy institution of marriage, the love of lovers if you will. This is because that love is as close to unconditional love as we humans ever get with one another. One does not choose whom he or she falls in love with. It is not the same as when you choose your friends and are obligated to love your children and parents. This love is clearly different.

Unfortunately being a fallen race we have corrupted love so often into a shadow of its former self, lust. Lust should not and cannot bare the name of love as it would lead the beloved into sin. Rather love, in its true form, because of its very nature, longs for and seeks wholeness for the beloved. The ultimate form of which is holiness. This love of which I speak will greave when fault is found in the beloved, and seek to remove the blot of sin always. The beauty of perfect love is that it seeks the perfection of the beloved.

Charity always encompasses friendship and affection, which are by nature are lesser forms of love, but charity makes its affection known, boasts in its friendship, and claims to have more because of the beloved. Yet we so often see this form of love twisted into a need love rather than its true form, a gift. Those whom are lovers give themselves completely to one another, holding nothing back. While this love will forgive all the imperfections of the beloved it will never cease to wish the removal of such infirmities. This is because as I have previously stated true love, true charity, seeks holiness for the beloved.

Many would argue that to seek to change the beloved from unholy to holy would be to recant what it was that the lover first saw in the beloved. I firmly reject this notion. Allow me to allegory for a moment. If a lover loves his beloved yet his beloved is a whoring drug addict, is it wrong for the lover to wish to remove such traits of ungodliness from the beloved? Would his love be doubted because he wished her a better life, a life away from the drugs and sexual immorality? It is not, rather if he did not wish to remove such vices it would be said that he did not truly love her. Yet he loves her in spite of these vile things she does, and knows that if she continues it will eventually kill her. Yet even if they do destroy her it cannot be said that the lover did not love the beloved. It would not be fair to say her death was his fault, because though he often told her those things were wrong and provided a free way out she did not accept it.

Now if it were truly unfair for a lover to will change in their beloved in an effort toward holiness that is indeed a shame, as God loves none of us according to that statement. God hates unrighteousness, therefore to say that He does not long for holiness out of you is to say that He wishes to hate you, for you are unrighteous and as such will remain unrighteous. It is indeed the greater lover who seeks to correct the failures of their beloved. The one who continues to allow the beloved to continue in sin, in self-destruction unquestioned, without wishing or hoping for something better does not truly love at all; rather this is a clear expression of lust.

The problem with this is that very few of us know how totally and utterly sinful and depraved we truly are. This is because we see all sorts of evil about in the world and we assume that we are actually worthwhile and good. Yet the bible states that none are righteous, not even one (Psalm 14:1; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10). Worse off it calls all of our righteous actions filthy rags before a Holy God (Isaiah 64:6).

If what the prophet Isaiah said is truth then to try to add imperfection, filth, to perfection, purity, is to make it imperfect and filthy. It would be like adding a drop of cyanide to a gallon of milk. It ruins it, and drinking the contaminated milk will kill you. It is as if you were trying to wash a car with muddy water.

You see it is not I, nor any man that states not all will be saved, who limits the love of Christ but rather he whom says, “all will be saved, just to different degrees of glory,” or he that says “one is saved by grace and works.” Who among you would require an exchange of works for your love? To suggest one can be paid for their love is frankly insulting. Which bridegroom among you would say to his bride whose life is being threatened “I will only love you enough to save you if you first work to earn my love?” None among you would be so cruel. Yet you being evil do not hold requirements for your love, how much more will the God that is love accept those who love him unconditionally?

You see my beloved friends to try to earn the love of God is like trying to earn the love of your husband or wife. If it is earned then it is no longer a gift, and if no longer a gift then it is no longer love, for love is freely given, not earned. To put a condition upon the love of Christ other than to simply accept it is to remove all the elements that make it love.

Now this does not say that the beloved will not do good works to show their love for the lover. Yet these are done out of love, not because they will earn the love of the lover but rather because of the manifestation of love for the lover. In the same way the true Christian will be saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Not because they think that the works in anyway can earn their salvation but rather because of the abundance of love for Christ that they partake in.

This is the nature of true love, the nature of charity, that the groom, Christ, simply want a relationship with you, the bride, as part of the church, unconditional, yet love filled. To require work for love is to not have love at all. Yet the relationship is two ways. The evidence of God’s love is that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) The evidence of our love for God is our works, in so much that they are to advance His kingdom and are not to bring glory to ourselves but rather to God. This is true love, true charity.

My dear brothers and sisters in Adam I say this that you might understand and know what true love, love that can only come from the Father of lights, is. I am left with a hope that each of you will enter into a loving relationship with the creator of all things and experience the love of which I have spoken. It is like nothing of this world because it is not of this world.

Beloved, guard your hearts from the idols of self-righteousness and self-worth. Understand the power of love in so much that it is unconditional. May the peace that only comes from God through Faith in God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ be on you. Grace be with all those who have an undying, unconditional, and true love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul