Tuesday, August 29, 2017

In the Yolk of Christianity

These days the word "Christian" has taken on a new meaning that is quite different from what it originally meant. It has become a very broad term that includes many things that were not accepted among the first Christians.

I recall once speaking to my barber in Virginia Beach while I was studying at Regent University's graduate school. I must have tried to open a conversation about the Lord with him, and recall him replying to me, "We're all Christians, aren't we?" It's sad to say, but that seems to be the prevailing thought among so many people.

Yet the true meaning of the word "Christian" is found in the Bible. Scripture says, "The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." (Ac 11:26b). This means that "Christian" was a term used for disciples of Christ. Disciples are not merely "believers." As I explained in my article, The Difference Between Being a Disciple and a Believer, disciples are wholehearted followers of Christ who practice His teachings. When the term "Christian" was first used, it meant the same thing as "disciple," so the two terms were synonymous.

Yet today the term Christian includes the following types of people:

Nominal Christians
In the broadest sense, the word "Christian" includes everyone in the world who considers himself a Christian by name (i.e., nominal Christians). This includes those who were born into Christian families, even if their family were not practicing Christians. It includes Roman Catholics, which have many practices that are unbiblical. Such people who are part of so-called Christian religions may not even believe in God at all. In fact, I have a friend who was Roman Catholic and yet he was an atheist! You can read his testimony in my article called An Atheist Turns to Christ.

The word "Christian" includes all who were once christened or sprinkled as babies. It includes churches that embrace homosexuality as a lifestyle that is acceptable to God. Even Pope Francis Supports Homosexuality. It includes churches that teach that Christians are little gods, churches that preach the false prosperity gospel, as well as seeker-sensitive churches, universalist churches that deny the existence of hell or believe that all souls will eventually be saved, unitarian churches that deny the existence of the Holy Trinity, and ecumenical churches. It includes Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations that deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and eternal punishment -- all three. In fact, members of UU congregations are free to be atheist, pantheist, polytheist, agnostic, deist, theist or even satanist!

The term "Christian," as used broadly today, also includes all those in pseudo-Christian cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses, The Unification Church (of Sun Myung Moon), The Church of Bible Understanding, The Movement for the Restoration of the 10 Commandments, UFO religions such as Raƫlism, The Church of Scientology, Order of the Solar Temple, Heaven's Gate, Branch Davidians (now defunct), and the Mormons, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). It also includes dangerous Korean-based cults, such as the Providence Church, also known as the Christian Gospel Mission (CGM), Jesus Morning Star (JMS), Setsuri ("Providence" in Japanese), International Christian Association (ICA), the Morning Star Church, the Bright Moon Church, Ae-chun Church, World Youth University Students MS Federation, East-West Christian Union, and International Christian Union.

Apostates
The term "Christian" includes those who are apostates or corrupted Christians. These are people who may have at one time said the Sinner's Prayer or given their life to Jesus, but have since drifted away. They could be running from God. They are worldly Christians, who are friends with the world and enemies of God (Jas 4:4). They are no longer connected to the Head, which is Jesus Christ. As Peter said, "after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome." (2 Pe 2:20). They have known the way of righteousness and have turned away from the commandment handed on to them (2 Pe 2:21). They have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways (Pr 2:13). They delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil (Pr 2:14). Their paths are crooked and they are devious in their ways (Pr 2:15). They are double-minded, unstable in all their ways (James 1:8). They have an evil, unbelieving heart that has fallen away from the living God (Heb 3:12). They have turned away from Him who warns from heaven (Heb 12:25). They have strayed from the truth (James 5:19-20). They are backslidden and headed for destruction, unless they repent.

They had better heed the exhortation of James: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (Jas 4:7-10)

"Devout Believers"
The word "Christian" also includes those who are sincere and devout followers of whatever Christian religion they belong to, such as the ones mentioned above. I was once a devout Roman Catholic, who was an altar boy for many years, and later a lector at mass, attending church services regularly, and yet I was not even born again, but was living a life of sin until Jesus radically saved me at age 19. Such people typically read their Bibles, pray, go to church religiously, and believe deeply in Jesus Christ. In fact, they may even say they love Jesus. But they are not born again, as Jesus said we must be. For more on that, please see my article, You Must Be Born Again.

Disciples of Christ
Finally, the term "Christian" also includes those who are true disciples of Christ. They deny themselves daily, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. They understand The Cost of Discipleship. They can truly say with the apostle Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Gal 2:20). Being a disciple of Christ is the only way to eternal life.

In the Yolk and in the Yoke
As a way to demonstrate to you what kinds of people are included in the term "Christian," let me use the illustration of an egg. A chicken egg consists of three main parts. When you boil an egg and open it up, you can see these three parts in solid form -- the outer shell, the white albumen, and the yellow yolk in the center.

The nominal and apostate Christians are like the hard, outer shell of the egg, the devout observers of so-called Christian religions are the rather tasteless egg white, and the true disciples of Christ are the yellow yolk in the center. The yolk is only a small percentage of the whole egg, which represents the true, core Christians. That's who you need to be. Not the outer shell or part of the egg white, but one who is in the yolk.

You need to be a true disciple who is in the yoke with Jesus. He said, “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 will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt 11:28-30).

The Lord invited us to come to Him and take His yoke upon ourselves. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. When two animals are in the yoke together, they do not operate independently. Likewise, when you take the Lord's yoke upon you, then you have your head in one side of the yoke and you are working for Him, as well as with Him, directly under His Lordship. If He goes to the right, you go to the right. If He goes to the left, so do you. If He moves forward, you move forward, and you stop when He stops. You are no longer independent, but intimately connected to Him and His will. When we take the yoke of Jesus upon ourselves, He said that it is easy and the burden we carry is light.

Putting it All Together
As you can see, while the term "Christian" may be useful in some ways, it has become a catch-all term that includes all kinds of people, even those who are not disciples of Christ, as well as some who are actually anti-Christian. It includes countless, perishing people who are headed for destruction in eternal hell fire. If you are one of them, then repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

Let me invite you to become a true disciple of Christ and be in the yoke with Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I hope you hear His voice today saying, "Come, follow Me." Leave the world behind, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father, except by Him (Jn 14:6).

When you are in the yoke with Jesus and in the yolk of Christianity, if you suffer as a Christian, you can praise God that you bear that name (1 Pe 4:16). For it is an honor among those of us who understand the true, biblical meaning of it, which is to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ in the household of God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV. Image copyright Food Hacks Daily and used according to Fair Use Act.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read The Difference Between Being a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of Discipleship, Following in His StepsThe Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the WorldMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, What's Wrong with the Prosperity GospelGodly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, Life Transformation Groups, Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking TestimoniesAngelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ignorance is Not Bliss

Many people think that ignorance is bliss. In other words, they think that what they don't know won't hurt them. They believe they will be happier if they are kept in ignorance about certain things, especially those things that are unpleasant or that scare them. They believe it is better not to know things sometimes. Yet the Lord warned us that ignorance is not bliss.

Jesus said, "That slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few." (Luk 12:47-48a)

He taught that the one who does not know his Master's will and does things deserving punishment will still be beaten. He does not get a free pass because of his ignorance. Granted he will be beaten with few blows, but he will still be beaten. Certainly his punishment will be less severe than that of the one who knew his Master's will and did not act in accord with it, but he will still be punished. Moreover, the Lord did not say the punishment would be temporary, but that it would be less severe, which teaches us that there are varying degrees of punishment in hell for different people. Everyone condemned to hell remains there forever, but they are punished at a level appropriate for their deeds.

This is one of The Apostasy Parables, as I explained in my article by that name. It depicts a servant of the Lord, who believes in his heart that the Lord will not come back for a long time, and who begins to beat the other slaves he was supposed to care of, and begins to eat and drink, and get drunk. Here is the full context, including Peter's question about the previous parable, in which he asked the Lord whether the parable about the servants waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet was addressed to the disciples only or to everyone else.

Peter said, "Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?" And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. "But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luk 12:41-48).

In this parable, as I have already said, the Lord taught that He will punish His servant, who is not faithful and sensible, and who falls away from Him. He will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. So we learn from this parable that ignorance of God's will is no excuse. The Lord will not spare the servant who does not act in accordance with the Lord's will, and who claims he did not know, but will still punish him.

This should put the fear of God into us, and make us want to read the Scriptures prayerfully to know the Lord's will, so that we are not ignorant. We should find out what pleases the Lord and do it. We should seek wisdom, understanding, and the knowledge of God. We should seek to put His Word into practice.

Imagine a person who has at one time come to know the Lord and been saved. He owns a Bible, but does not read it, or at least not very often. He has plenty of time to watch TV, listen to music, surf the internet, spend time on Facebook, spend time hanging out with his friends, and exercise. But he doesn't make time to read the Word of God. Therefore, he misses out on the warnings that God wanted to give him, and he lives in a way that is not in accord with God's will. In the end, he will perish, and it will be his own fault, because he made a choice to do other things rather than read the Scriptures, and by his own actions he demonstrated in his lifetime what was priority for him. God will take that into account at the final judgment, and based on what Jesus taught, we have no reason to believe that such a person will escape hell.

If you don't read your Bible much, let me encourage you to begin doing so now, and to put it into practice. I hope you will take this message seriously and read the Scriptures daily. And for those who already do read the Scriptures, the warning is even more serious, because if you fail to do the will of God that you know you should do, then you will be punished more severely. That would apply especially to people like pastors, teachers, and preachers, who are supposed to be feeding God's people the Word of God. We will be judged more strictly (Jas 3:1), so let's fear God and take heed to this warning.
 
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note Also see Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenAn Open Mind that Loves the Truth, The Top Ten Things Jesus TaughtThe Apostasy Parables, Drifting Away, Should you fear the Lord?, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, Is Obedience Optional?, Wisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersThe False Gospel of Eternal Security, The Conditional Security of the Believer, Overcomers in This Life, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Five Divine Revelations, Garments of Godliness, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, The Judgment Seat of ChristFaith Works!, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Keeping Sundays Holy, Pleasing the Lord, and Is Tithing Required?

You can access the Seeking the Lord Main Directory or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Woes of Christ

Dear God-seekers,

I'd like to share with you the woes of Christ. We rarely hear about these, as most preachers prefer to preach positive messages that please the crowds. One mega church pastor says that he does not preach about hell or against sin, because people hear enough negative things already, rather, he prefers to give them something positive and uplifting. He says, "I'm for people," and "I'm not against anything." It's no wonder his church draws tens of thousands of people every Sunday.

But the Lord did not neglect to preach against sin and warn people about hell, as I have already pointed out in my article, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught. Since He loves us and does not want us to perish, He did not fail to issue dire warnings of God to people, but freely gave them whenever they were necessary. Therefore, we would be remiss if we did not do the same. His woes are still just as important today as they were then, and they deserve our attention, in case any of them might apply to our own lives.

The word "woe" is a primary exclamation of grief, sorrow, or distress. It is still in use today, and can even be used as a slang word to express shock, amazement, or surprise, although most people misspell it as "whoa!" As John Wesley put it, the woes of Christ were "solemn, compassionate declarations of the misery, which these stubborn sinners were bringing upon themselves."

Eight Woes of Hypocrites 
In Matthew 23, we find the eight woes that Jesus delivered to hypocrites, in which He repeatedly used the phrase, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” They are woes to these particular people for the following:

1. For making salvation hard for other people.

He said, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." (Mat 23:13).

In Luke's gospel, it says, "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering." (Luk 11:52)

There are still those who do this today, adding to the Word of God man-made rules and traditions of men that God does not require, which make it impossible for people to ever be saved. Neither they nor their followers will enter heaven. One of the things they do is to call things "sin" which are not sins according to God. They do not preach the fear of God, which is the beginning of knowledge, and they do not tell people the true way to be saved. Woe to them!

2. For devouring widows' homes and pretending to pray long.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation." (Mat 23:14).

There are still those who devour widows' houses in various ways, primarily through pleading for their money in the name of God. And the same goes for those today who make long prayers for a show, who are merely pretenders. Their condemnation is greater.

3. For corrupting converts.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." (Mat 23:15)

Every preacher, religious teacher, priest, evangelist, missionary, and so-called holy man of any religion ought to take heed to this woe. Some travel over land and sea to win a convert, and then when they get one, they make him twice as much a son of hell as they are. One way is through their teaching, and another way is through their life example. Let's be sure that any converts we make are actually converts to Christ, and become true disciples of His that are qualified for heaven -- not sons of hell! For more on this, see my article, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian.

4. For trivializing religion.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.' You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.' You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it." (Mat 23:16-22)

Notice how these blind guides said, "That is nothing," when they spoke of things that were of great significance to God. Blind guides still abound today, so be careful you are not one of them and that you are not following one of them. They teach many things that diminish, minimize, or downplay the importance of that which is very important to God. They also call things that are sinful in God's sight, "Not sin." Woe to them!

5. For neglecting the more important matters of the law.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Mat 23:23-24)

In Luke's gospel, it says, "But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others." (Luk 11:42)

As I pointed out in my article, Is Tithing Required for Christians, the Lord here did not condemn tithing or nullify that requirement. In fact, He affirmed it's importance by saying, "...these are the things you should have done." But He warned those who tithe meticulously while neglecting the much more important commandments of God. While they work so hard to ensure that they tithe on every increase they receive, they neglect justice, mercy, faithfulness, and the love of God, which are even greater matters. These things are as much weightier than tithing as a camel is heavier than a gnat. 

6. For self-indulgence and robbery and greed.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also." (Mat 23:25-26; cf. Lk 11:39-41)

We still have those who take great care to ensure that they and their belongings are clean on the outside, but they are full of greed and self-indulgence within. Woe to them! The Lord taught us to first clean out that which is inside of us, in order that the outside may also become clean.

7. For hypocrisy and lawlessness within.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Mat 23:27-28)

Much like the previous woe, the Lord here warned those who appear beautiful and righteous to men, but are full of uncleanness, hypocrisy, and lawlessness within. The Lord pronounced a woe over such people.

8. For the murder of God's prophets.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." (Mat 23:29-36)

This was the climax and the most serious accusation, since God detests the shedding of innocent blood. Today there are still those who murder God's true prophets. Some do so literally, and others do so with their words. Such people will not escape the sentence of hell. Woe to them.

Woe to Those Who Do Not Repent
The apostle Matthew tells us that the Lord also used the word "woe" to denounce the citizens of certain cities (Mat 11:20). In other words, He spoke this word to solemnly declare the impending threat of destruction over their lives.

"Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.'" (Mat 11:20-21; cf., Luk 10:13)

As I pointed out in my article, Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?, the Lord did not cater to the crowds or try to sweet talk them into following Him. He told it like it is. He warned people of their need to repent, and this was a critical part of his message. He did not tolerate the unrepentant or accept a mere "Sinner's Prayer" from such people.

You may be surprised to know that many people who get healed by the Lord, or receive a miracle, do not continue on to follow the Lord. They do not repent, but continue on in their sins. The same is true of others who have seen healing and miracles take place in meetings where the gospel is preached, and yet they do not repent. Woe to them!

Woe to Those Who Become Stumbling Blocks
Jesus said, "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! (Mat 18:7)

In Luke's gospel, He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!" (Luk 17:1)

May the Lord help us not to be someone that makes others stumble into sin. This is a serious sin in God's sight. As the apostle Paul said, let us determine "not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way." (Rom 14:13)

Woe to the Rich
Jesus said, "But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full." (Luk 6:24)

That same mega church pastor that I referred to previously has become very wealthy through his best selling books, and his church brings in 90 million dollars a year. As I have explained in my article, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Scripture warns against the deceitfulness of riches. And as I said in my article, Wisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity Teachers, it is going to be extremely difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Woe to them.

In light of all the prosperity teaching these days, it's high time we adopt A Biblical View of the Poor.

Woe to the Well-Fed
Jesus said, "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry." (Luk 6:25a)

Some people eat well in this life. They enjoy the best of food and plenty of it. Paul said, " Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things." (Phil 3:19, NIV). Their god is their appetite. Perhaps they even neglect fasting. But in the end, they will go hungry. It will not go well for them. Woe to them!

Woe to Those Who Laugh Now
Jesus said, "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep." (Luk 6:25b).

In heaven there will be much laughing, and in this life, we as followers of Christ have great joy. But we also must be sober, serious. It is not becoming of a disciple of Christ to be always cracking jokes and making fun of things, laughing. As John Wesley said, they "are of a light trifling spirit." Matthew Henry said they "have always a disposition to be merry, and always something to make merry with... and are always entertaining themselves with the laughter of the fool." Sadly there are even preachers like this. Woe to them! For they shall mourn and weep eternally, wailing endlessly with a regretful sorrow that is without ease or remedy.

Woe to You When All Speak Well of You
Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way." (Luk 6:26)

As I wrote in my articles Popularity of the Gospel and Persecuted or Popular?, it is not considered a blessing when everyone speaks well of you. The true gospel is not going to be popular with the majority of the people in the world. And neither are those who preach the true gospel. Therefore, woe to you when all men speak well of you. That's how they treated the false prophets!

Woe to Those Who Love Prominence and Respect
Jesus said, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places." (Luk 11:43)

This woe is still relevant today. There are still those, even among ministers, who love having a place of prominence and receiving respectful greetings in public. They love the chief seat, the reserved parking spot, and the place of honor. They love to have people greet them respectfully as "Reverend," "Bishop," "Pastor," "Apostle," or "Prophet." Woe to them. As I said in my article, Clergy-Laity Distinction Unbiblical, we shouldn’t let anyone address us with such titles and we should not address anyone with titles. Rather, we must walk in humility.

Putting it All Together
I hope this has helped to see that our Lord did not neglect to warn us with very serious woes, which we still need to hear today. They have not become any less important or relevant today than they were then. Let's allow the Holy Spirit to bring the conviction to our hearts and repent wherever applicable. And those who preach the gospel should include these woes in their messages just as the Lord did. Live your life today as if there is no tomorrow. With these things the Lord will be pleased.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?The Top Ten Things Jesus TaughtWisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of DiscipleshipPopularity of the GospelMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking TestimoniesAngelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Is Secular Music for Christians?

Dear God-seekers,

Many Christians these days don't seem to have any problem listening to or playing secular music. Some listen to any kind of music they please, including heavy metal rock. Others may feel that certain types of secular music are permissible, such as easy listening, love songs, country music, the blues, or the oldies from the 1950's and 60's. Therefore, I would like to address that from the Word of God, in order to determine what the standard is in the sight of God.

In Psalm 137, we can find insight into this matter. The Israelites had been carried off into captivity in a foreign land -- the land of Babylon, because of their sin. They later penned this psalm describing the conditions:

"By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' How can we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy." (Psa 137:1-6)

In the World, Not of the World
This psalm describes the proper attitude that every true follower of Jesus Christ should have. This world is not our home. We are not from here. Our home is Zion in heaven. We may live in the world, but we are not of the world (Joh 17:16). We do not belong to this world any more than Jesus did.

The psalmist wrote, "By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion" (Ps 137:1). This describes their posture and attitude of mourning and longing for home while in a foreign land. When I was in the military as a young man, stationed overseas, I recall at times feeling home sick, wanting to be back home in the United States. The best way to deal with it was not to think about home, but sometimes it was hard to do so. And here the psalmist describes how the Israelites felt when they remembered Zion. They sat and wept.

This should also be the attitude of every true disciple. We should be looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Heb 11:10). We are just passing through as pilgrims and strangers here. As the apostle Peter wrote, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." (1Pe 2:11). Therefore, let's not be partakers in The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness.

Refusing to Play for the World
The psalmist said, "Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' (Psa 137:2-3). In their distress, as they sat and wept, they hung their musical instruments in the trees beside the rivers of Babylon. They were not playing them. There is a time for everything, a time to laugh and a time to weep. This was their time to weep, and it was appropriate. They were being punished by God for their sin and it was very difficult to endure.

But the psalmist gives us the reason why they hung up their harps. He says, "For there our captors demanded of us songs..." (v.3). The reason they hung their harps was that they refused to play Hebrew songs for the Babylonians, who were of this world and wanted to hear these songs for entertainment purposes. The Israelites knew that the joyful songs of Zion were for the Lord and his people, not for the entertainment of the world or the gratification of the flesh.

Yet the main reason why people play, sing and listen to secular music is for entertainment purposes and enjoyment. It's not to bring glory to God. On the other hand, the songs of Zion are for the Lord and our worship of Him, and should not be used to entertain the world.

This next verse describes their complete refusal to play the Lord's songs for the world. They said, "How can we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy." (Psa 137:4-6).

The psalmist actually pronounces a curse over himself if he should ever forget Jerusalem, which is the Holy City and represents heaven for us. He also preferred to have his tongue cling to the roof of his mouth rather than forget the city of God's temple. He would rather become mute and be unable to sing at all than to fail to remember Jerusalem and exalt that place above his highest joy. If we forget heaven, and we go back to the world, we will surely perish. Therefore, the psalmist would rather that his right hand forget its musical skill with the instrument than for him to forget the Holy City. How many Christians have that same attitude toward heaven, whereby they would rather they forget how to play their instrument or their music than forget heaven? Do we prefer to be mute and unable to sing at all, rather than fail to exalt heaven, the celestial city, above our highest joy?

You can choose to deny that this psalm has any application to us today with regard to secular music, but I believe it has a definite application for us. It not only shows us that we should refuse to play the Lord's songs for merely entertainment purposes, but it also has application to secular music. For if we refuse to play the Lord's songs for entertainment, then how much less should we play or sing secular music, which is merely for entertainment and enjoyment, rather than the worship of God?

No Friendship with the World
The psalmist tells us that the Israelites in captivity refused to be friends with the world. The Babylonians hated Jerusalem and tore it down, so the Israelites knew that when they asked them to play songs from Zion, they had impure motives for doing so. The psalmist wrote:

"Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. 'Tear it down,' they cried, 'tear it down to its foundations!' Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us. Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psa 137:7-9, NIV).

The Israelites in their captivity, as depicted in this psalm, were not interested in being buddies with the Babylonians. Yet when we use music for entertainment, we are essentially becoming friends with the world. The apostle James said, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (Jas 4:4)

Music is Meant for Worship
Music was created by God for worship, and the devil has altered it to be used for worship of him, as I have written in my articles, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music and The Rise and Fall of Lucifer the Musician. Secular music serves the devil's purposes well by redirecting praise from God to himself. It promotes his agenda of sin and rebellion against God, and takes our minds off the Lord and off of heaven. It provides something in this world to love and takes us away from God. Yet the apostle John said:

"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." (1Jn 2:15-17)

Scripture also teaches us to be filled with the Spirit, and the Spirit-filled life is one in which we are "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." (Eph 5:19-20). Notice that the Spirit-filled life is one of singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. It is not one in which we are singing and making melody in our hearts for the gratification of the flesh.

Putting it All Together
Although the Israelites were not being asked to play secular music, their response to the demands of their Babylonian captors to play songs of Zion gives us insight into the proper attitude for saints to have, and it provides us with lessons that we can apply to our own lives today as disciples of Christ. Although we are in the world, we are not of the world. We should refuse to play music for the world's entertainment. We should exalt heaven above our highest joy, and glorify God with our songs. If we do not make heaven our highest joy, then we should prefer rather not to play any songs at all.

As for secular music, it doesn't glorify God and it isn't holy. It gratifies the flesh and promotes sin, including idolatry and rebellion. It takes people away from God. It contains many idle words and nonsense, and the Lord said we would have to give an account for every idle word we have spoken (Mt 12:36).

If you still aren't sure about all this, then I suggest you read my articles, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Five Divine Revelations and Avoiding Worldly Worship. They will make it abundantly clear to you that God hates worldly worship, as well as worldly music. He does not approve of rock, rap, and reggae, not even for the purposes of worship or evangelism. The saints of God don't play these kinds of music in Zion up in heaven. We should be living here on earth the way they do in heaven.

I hope you will take this message to heart, pray about it and ask the Lord, if you are still not sure. The Lord is coming back right away, and He is calling us to repent and make the necessary changes so that we will not miss heaven. May the Lord show you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. May He help all those who are His to depart from iniquity and live in holiness, righteousness, and truth as He requires.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other verses taken from The Holy Bible -- NIV. Photo of Yes concert, Indianapolis, August 30, 1977, by Rick Dikeman, courtesy Wikimedia.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Five Divine Revelations, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Avoiding Worldly Worship, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, The Rise and Fall of Lucifer the Musician, For the Glory of God AloneThe Straight and Narrow Path, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Remember Lot’s Wife, The Rise of Antichrists, and One Thing. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.