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A Life of Unanswered Prayer

reprint from the Scholars Corner

A life of unanswered prayer
Accustomed to silent years of disappointment
I expect failure and not success:
How can I hope in You?
As the Psalmist sang:
“By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept.”
How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

by the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept
By Gebhard Fugel – 1863-1939. An den Wassern Babylons


Where O Lord is your victory? Where is you mighty hand?
Where is the sign of your favor and love?
Yet my trust in You is unbroken.
You give me faith in your goodness,
No matter what happens to me.

My faith for the future is broken, my hope is crushed.
I looked for your salvation,
Your mighty works on the earth,
And my eyes have grown weary with waiting.
My heart is overcome with sorrow
Because of the sins of the earth and the death of the innocent.

Why do you remain silent?
Where is your power and why is your justice not on display?
Where are you when we cry out to you for deliverance?
Lord, we are without power or strength
We cannot redeem the earth.

Our voices are stilled, our tongues are mute.
When we speak, they do not listen.
If they hear, they only mock.
They think us fools and deceived.
There is no fear of the Lord in their hearts
For they say “there is no God!”

Without evidence of your majesty, they scoff and walk away.
Yet, I know that you love me,
You give me assurance in my heart.
How can I tell them of your love
If they will not listen?
How can I tell them to fear you
If they will not heed?

You know, O Lord! You know.

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What are the Cosmic Powers and How Can They Be Reconciled To Jesus?

A Theological Question. 

This is a question that has bothered me for some time and I don’t  have an answer.   We see in Scripture two contrasting images of spiritual powers, especially of rulers and authorities. The majority of references to these principalities and powers are negative: they are arrayed against the people of earth, bringing them into subjection and oppression. They are spiritual “hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”  They exist as having legal authority to accuse and condemn human beings for their sins. Believers are in a spiritual struggle against them. And when Christ comes again, he will destroy every hostile authority and power. 

by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers (archas) and authorities (exousias) and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (

Colossians 2:14–15, ESV)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (archas), against the authorities(exousias), against the cosmic powers (kosmokratoras) over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil (ponarias)in the heavenly places.

(Ephesians 6:12,ESV)
angels fighting in the heavenlies
Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule (arche) and every authority (exuousian) and power. (dunamis) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

(1 Corinthians 15:24–25, ESV)

Yet in Colossians, it says these rulers and authorities were created through Christ and for him, and through the sacrifice of Jesus, these powers are to be reconciled to him.  How can they be reconciled if they are evil (wicked) and are opposed to the people of earth? There is no redemption for the angels who have fallen. How can these spiritual forces be reconciled and destroyed at the same time? 

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones (thronoi) or dominions (kyriotes)  or rulers (archai) or authorities (exousia)—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

(Colossians 1:16–20, ESV)
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How Do We Respond to Oppression?

from the Scholars Corner

 Praise God (Anyhow).

Since Amazon is blocking Parler, I have added the video to my new Youtube Channel.

Herod murders babies in Jerusalem, Pharoah orders the murder of all the male Hebrew children in Egypt. When God is about to send deliverers, Satan motivates worldly powers to destroy that generation. We are living in a time such as this when the shedding of innocent blood is considered a good thing, and corrupt rulers and perverted courts oppress the people. How should we respond? Praise God (Anyhow).

The Situation in Israel at the time of John.
Focus verse:
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God. (Luke 1:67–79)

Matthew 2:1–18
Exodus 11:4–7
Isaiah 26

“Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:12–13, ESV)

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 3:17–19, ESV)

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions would be very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy… The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruption of time and party, its members would become despots. – Thomas Jefferson
Letter To William Charles Jarvis.
Monticello, September 28, 1820.

At the same time the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. – Abraham Lincoln

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Our National Motto

for the Liberty Tree

E Pluribus Unum.   Out of Many One… Our National Motto.

Our national motto, E Pluribus Unum, is a Latin phrase meaning:  Out of Many (people), ONE (people).  What calls us together from many people out of diverse backgrounds, nations, cultures, and yes, even races, is the dedication to shared ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence:  “That all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Our nation’s ideals are goals, but just as we, as individuals, fall short of our ideals, so too as a nation we do not always live up to our vision. We fall short. But what unites us in our struggle is a dream of justice when those principles will be established in the character of our people and in the laws of our land.

There are forces right now trying to destroy our union and divide us into warring tribes with no shared goal or vision for the future; no shared ideals. They want to divide us along racial, economic, social and political lines. If they can accomplish this goal and divide us into warring, sectarian, petty clans, they will have succeeded in undermining the only fabric holding this nation together: a belief in the equality of human beings before God and one another, and a belief that all people have a right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yes, we have fallen short of those commitments to the common good. We fought a bloody civil war to correct past transgressions. We paid for our mistakes with the lifeblood of many. And more recently, our people fought to establish their civil rights in the face of prejudice. Yes, prejudice is real, but through the courage of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others, the forces of prejudice and hate were overcome when the vast majority of Americans were forced to recognize this inequality as a stain upon our national character and inconsistent with the truths of the Declaration which we hold dear.  

But today we have a different kind of assault upon our shared vision. When the Marxist coalition wants to cancel our history and our culture, they not only want to erase the errors of our past but to remove our hopes and dream as well. What they wish to put in its place can never be as good as what they seek to destroy, for they have no vision. They use race to try and divide us. Their only goal is destruction and disassembly, for they have not proffered any values or ideals in its place.  Hatred, vengeance, and retribution as motives result in a greater tyranny than anything they hope to replace.  God help us if they succeed.

The problem with Marxist idealism is that it is idealism. You cannot legislate the attitudes of the human heart. You cannot control the way people think.  The attempt to do that through government can only involve violence and threats of violence that can coerce and silence the voices of disagreement but not render any change in the heart. Through fear, as in China today or with the KGB under the USSR, you can manipulate people and make them afraid to speak, but you cannot make them perfect.  Martin Luther King Jr. realized this when he said, “…the law cannot make a man love me …”  He also realized that resentment is not a way forward: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He realized that the perfectibility of the human heart cannot be achieved through laws, government, or violence.  “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results … But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

The fault of Marxist idealism is that it ignores the reality of human nature and seeks through legislation to change human nature.  The truth is that there will always be racists and prejudice. There will always be disagreements between people, some serious and some minor. There will always be imperfections in the system and the government. But to try to create perfection on earth is the product of a distorted utopianism that leads only to tyranny, just as we have witnessed in every communist country where it has been tried. In the end, the people are enslaved and the rulers rule with absolute power and money.

We at The Scholars Corner, believe there can be no room for racism because every person is created in the image of God and that those who strive to divide us by race or religion are not working for justice. We believe that freedom is the best soil in which to grow justice and that our equal value and worth before God is our nation’s greatest message to the world.

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A Different Take on the End Times

How many of you have read “The Late Great Planet Earth” or any of the “Left Behind Series”?    Both of these books were greatly influenced by Dispensational Theology.

Dispensational Theology, most typified in the Left Behind series of books: a great apostasy will take place in the Church, in Israel the Temple will be rebuilt, Israel will be granted a temporary peace by the Anti-Christ for 3.5 years, a Great Tribulation will follow for another 3.5 years, before which the believers will be “raptured” out of this world, and then Jesus will return at the end of this 7 year period to establish a millennial kingdom. This popular theology of the end times is informed primarily by the Dispensational interpretation of the book of Daniel and Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 24 (and parallel passages in Mark and Luke).

John Nelson Darby said there were 7 Ages of the Church corresponding to the 7 Churches in Revelation.  The idea was that the last age of the Church was Laodicean, which in the book of Revelation was a cold and apostate church.

 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:15–17, ESV)

This view has been common in modern evangelism, and that we in America are in the last days. It tends toward a type of fatalism, but this theology has no biblical support other than this one guy’s interpretation to make it fit his doctrine of Dispensationalism.

In truth, the 7 churches in Revelation are representative of those churches at that time and of churches today.  No one can say that the Chinese church is Laodicean when they are going to prison, being tortured and even dying for their faith. While we might say that many churches in America are apostate and unrepentant.

Let me lay out my thesis:   Jesus is not coming back for a defeated bride, but for a victorious one. One without spot, wrinkle or blemish. Why do I think that? Because of what Jesus said: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14, ESV) In other words, Jesus is not coming back until we, the Church, have fulfilled the Great Commission. We will witness to all nations so that those who may be saved will be saved. And THEN the end will come.

It isn’t wars or rumors of wars, that signal the end, but a Church empowered to bear witness to Jesus among all nations.

Victorious Eschatology/Second Edition by

Harold R. Eberle and Martin Trench

Has a very different take on the End Times.  I don’t agree with all of it, but it is helpful in terms of showing the flaws of Dispensationalism.

Let’s dive into Matthew 24

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Matthew 24:1-3, RSV.

1) Jesus is being asked 2 questions, which he does not answer in a strict sequential or chronological order: when will Jerusalem be destroyed, and what will be the sign of your return?

First of all, this is important and critical to understanding Jesus’ answer. When the disciples asked about the sign of his coming, they were NOT asking about a Second Coming. They did not believe he was going to die, but to become the Messiah King like David who would drive out the Romans and reestablish Israel as a separate nation.

Jesus proceeds to give signs that are NOT SIGNS of the END: earthquakes, wars, false christs, tribulation, persecution, etc… during which time the gospel will be preached to all nations… but this isn’t the end. (Mark 13: 3- 13). Jesus concludes that when the end comes, like the taking of Noah, no one will know the exact day or hour… so ALWAYS BE READY!!! ( Mk. 13:32-37; see also Matt. 24:36-44)

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:6–14, ESV)

2) The second part of Jesus’ answer deals with the destruction of Jerusalem itself, of which there are significant and specific signs: desolating sacrilege (Mark 13: 14-31) and which THIS GENERATION (of Jesus’ day) will not pass away until it has happened. Lane goes on to list from Josephus’ account all those things which did indeed fulfill the very words of Christ about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem…

Jesus’ response is that they should look for signs, especially that

when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; Matthew 24:15, 16, RSV.

“For wheresoever the corpse is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” Matthew 24:28.

In Greek, the Holy Place is “topos,” which means “land” not “naos” which means temple. The parallel passage in Luke, writing for Gentiles, reveals that the desolating sacrilege is not an anti-Christ sitting on the Holy Seat in the Temple, but the armies of Rome attacking Jerusalem:

when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; Luke 21:20, 21, RSV.

It is interesting to note that the word for eagle and vulture is the same word in Greek. Atop every Roman standard was the Roman eagle. The “vultures” were indeed surrounding Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  when this army gathered to destroy it.

The corpse was Jerusalem after the people had rejected the Messiah… The vultures were gathered to eat the remains of the dead.

Obviously, this “sign” was followed by the complete destruction of Jerusalem, with a great tribulation wherein the starvation was so rampant that the citizens resorted to cannibalism, and over 1 million Jews either starved to death or were killed by the Roman army.

This was the Great Tribulation that Jesus spoke about “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:15–22, ESV)

Historical Background information from Josephus:

There were tremendous earthquakes recorded, there was smoke filling the air and a type of darkness, and the rebels installed a clown named “Phanni” as the high priest and dressed him in priest’s garments and seated him on the HOLY OF HOLIES as a Throne!!! IT was a total desecration and a mockery, the rebels (zealots) were so depraved. The ensuing tribulation was greater than anyone could have imagined. Starvation, eating of children for food, etc…

War broke out again in 68. And during late 67 and into 68 the Jewish Zealots ran riot in Jerusalem and in the Temple. Josephus tells us they allowed criminals to roam freely in the Holy of Holies; they committed murder in the Temple; they made a clown by the name of Phanni high priest. So devastated was the retired high priest, Ananus, that he lamented in tears; “It would have been far better for me to have died before I had seen the house of God laden with such abominations.”

(War 4,3,7) and defiled the temple even before the Romans captured the city. The zealots allowed criminals to roam freely in the Holy of Holies, and they even committed murder within the temple itself (War 4,5,4). These acts of sacrilege were climaxed in the winter of AD 67-68 by the investiture of a clown called Phanni as High Priest (War 4,3,6-8).

The Romans did almost exactly the same thing in A.D. 70!  Upon seizing the Temple, the Romans set up their ensigns on the eastern gate and offered sacrifices to them (Wars 6.6.1).2  The main ensign was Aquila, the eagle that carries ZEUS’ lightning bolt.  Here we see a veritable idol of Zeus like that erected 200 years earlier by the Greek army in the Jewish Temple during the Maccabean Wars.  What animals did the Romans sacrifice?  Historians believe the Roman army likely sacrificed the suovetaurilia in the Temple that day in A.D. 70.  The suovetaurialia is a ritual sacrifice of three animals: a sheep, an ox and a pig for the purpose of land purification.  The suovetaurilia was customarily performed for the purification of a Temple that had been destroyed.  Did you catch that?  The Romans set up a veritable idol of Zeus in the Temple and offered a pig in sacrifice to it

 

Jesus is COMING AGAIN.   But when Jesus speaks about the END he says that when the end comes, like the taking of Noah, no one will know the exact day or hour… so ALWAYS BE READY!!! (Mk. 13:32-37; see also Matt. 24:36-44)

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:36–42, ESV)

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

 

WE WILL BE HATED BY ALL NATIONS> That is our Destiny!

What is our response: 

  1. We shouldn’t be surprised

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:12–14, ESV)

2. We are to REJOICE:

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22–23, ESV)

Rejoice means GET HAPPY, JUMP FOR JOY! THANK GOD YOU ARE BEING PERSECUTED!

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Courageous Priest Speaks The TRUTH About Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

I am not a Catholic, but if all priests were as courageous and forthright as this one is, I could almost be 🙂  He even calls out the compromising bishops who have let this state of affairs continue.   The clearest and most articulate teaching on Christian values I’ve heard in a long time.    It is long but well worth the time. 
https://anticatholicticket.com/archives/1510

WATCH: Courageous Priest Speaks The TRUTH About Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

A must-see homily from Fr. Edward Meeks delivered at Christ the King parish in Towson, MD on 10/11/2020. This is the homily that should be preached from every pulpit in America. PLEASE SHARE using one of the social media buttons below.

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Liberty is at Stake

Are you concerned about the present political and civil turmoil? Do you want to know who is funding it, who seeks to gain, which countries are propagating it and stand to be advantaged by the destruction of Representative Democracy in the USA. Read ON.   Please distribute widely. 
http://www.libertytrees.us/apocalypse-now-the-usas-last-days/

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War over Truth Within the Church

Spiritual Warfare in the Church over the Word

Gary has been talking about spiritual warfare in the church. One of the issues we have today is that preachers, teachers and church-goers no longer consider the Word of God that Last word on matters of faith and practice.  Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church over the authority of the Word of God in the Scriptures. He found 95 reasons that the church had put the traditions of men above the Word of God.  This situation is similar to what Jesus had to deal with in the 1st C.

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:3–9, ESV)

But today, many consider God’s Word to be a good suggestion but outdated. We are free to reinterpret to make it fit our current day.  So what God said was wrong back then, isn’t necessarily wrong today.  This is the problem within the church. In the unchurched culture, the problem is a bit different. They don’t believe there is any truth, much less one truth. The universe is a product of evolution by accident and there is no ultimate purpose or plan to life.  No God who controls destiny or gives life meaning. I remember reading an article back in the 1980’s in Wired magazine where this woman was talking about avatars.  The word Avatar comes from a noun meaning:

1  a manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth; an incarnate divine teacher; an incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea. 2  an icon or figure representing a particular person in video games, Internet forums, etc.

Her point was more like the second, where people adopt characters to play games, but she was applying it to all of human life. Her point was that identity is plastic. There is no ultimate purpose to gender or identity, so we can create our own. If there is no GOD, there is no ultimate truth, there is no right or wrong, no reason we can’t decide to change our gender, no morals, no real reason that life or death matters.  So religion is just an illusion or an opinion, with no basis in fact, and can safely be ignored. We call this philosophy Relativism. All truth is just a subjective perspective. Anything goes. Do your own thing. And church leaders who have yielded to this philosophy in the culture in order to be “hip” or current, have abandoned any pretense that the Bible is true. They do not believe in any fixed form of truth, but truth has evolved as we have become more “Enlightened” and more “tolerant.” We now have “science” which tells us that the old morals of the bible are wrong. They have proclaimed “tolerance” as the highest form of love and the good, and in so doing, they have implied that because of their compassion, they are more tolerant and loving than God. On a national level, we have pastors and priests who indulge sin with a false form of grace that confuses license with love. And so have endorsed sin as if the Liberty of Christ is a license for all kinds of behaviors, and if permissiveness was actually helping rather than bringing harm. Why does God give us the Law? The law of God is there to protect us, not to punish us or bring us harm. If I put up  a sign that says the bridge is out up ahead, and you ignore it and speed on, the signpost didn’t judge your or punish you. You were punished by your own actions. Just so, the leaders who ignore the law and encourage sin in the name of “tolerance” are not showing love… it is actually hate, because they could be trying to protect you. Instead they encourage you to hurt yourself. Jeremiah spoke of this situation in Judea, when religion had become corrupted by idolatry and a disregard for the Word of God.

“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” (Jeremiah 5:30–31, ESV) “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 6:13–15, ESV)

Many pastors and whole denominations no longer preach righteousness or teach us that God requires holiness of us, but like Peter said,

“For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:18–19, ESV)

Law and Grace are not enemies. Grace is not accepting sin, it is accepting people who are sinful. It is saying yes to the person but no to the sin. We cannot restore the land without being willing to stand up for righteousness and endure persecution and hatred by those who hate truth. Jesus told us this:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18–21, ESV)

Truth is offensive and it brings a sword of division. But we are to “speak the truth in love” and love our enemies and not respond in kind, but repay abuse with kindness… This is very difficult to do. But if you know who you are in Christ Jesus and whose you are, what others think of you will not define you. And knowing God loves you, when others hate you, will allow you to look upon them with pity rather than anger. By our kindness in the face of their animosity, it may be that some will repent and come to see God in us, rather than enemies. So How do you restore those who have fallen, or bring back leaders who have turned.  If they show true repentance, we open our arms, but we are not foolish. We have seen things like Jimmy Swaggart, who after falling into sexual sin, was pronounced clean by Oral Roberts after “casting out demons” and returned to ministry in three months only to be caught in the same sin a few years later.

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:19–22, ESV)

In the same way on a personal level, we need to be able to hold each other accountable without casting judgments. But we are not to endorse sinful behaviors,

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” (1 Corinthians 5:9–13, ESV)

What? We are to judge?  Yes, we are to judge behaviors inside the church as sin. There is a difference between judging with condemnation, but if we judge someone who is unrepentant in the church, we are excluding them in order to bring them to repentance and heal them.

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Love Can Be Confrontational

From The Scholars Corner

Restoration is different than reconciliation.

Restoration has to do with restoring those who have fallen, but reconciliation has to do with repairing relationships between brothers or parties.

Restoration is not enablement, excusing the behavior, or simply being polite but avoiding the person, but resolving differences in a way that relationships are deepened in love and intimacy.

Reconciliation has to do with restoring relationships. How you reconcile with someone who has hurt you, or sinned against you, either knowingly or unknowingly?  You try to get them to see how their actions have harmed you. As in a marriage or in any relationship, reconciliation requires a willingness of others to want to reconcile. It doesn’t always work. But Jesus told us how to hold each other accountable, and even though it may be confrontational, it is still an act of love, because the goal is a restored relationship.

The Jewish sages said love is a commitment, not an emotion. Love is being committed to the welfare of another regardless of what it costs you.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “God did not call us to like our enemies, for that would be impossible; He called us to love them.”   By confronting the government and authorities with their racism, the non-violent marches exposed the evil, so that people could see what was really at stake and might repent. Loving your enemies in this case was an act of confrontation.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:5–6, ESV)

If you think you can always reconcile without entering into conflict, you are being unrealistic. Like marriage, intimacy in fellowships require us to WORK out our differences, not just ignore them until they fester into bitterness, or rejection, or indifference and avoidance.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:15–20, ESV)

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Every Life Matters

Every life matters. Everly life matters because each person is made in the image of God. To disrespect one life is to disrespect all life. After all, Jesus said, “If you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” It doesn’t matter what color, race, or nationality someone is. Born or unborn, he or she bears the image of the Creator and therefore that life matters, not only to other human beings, but also to God. Every Black life matters, just as every Asian, Latino, or Caucasian life matters. To discriminate against one race is to discriminate against all, because all of us belong to God. We are his property, and God is the Creator of all, if not Father to all. If we hate others, we hate God, who has made all men and women in His Image. 

But if you hate someone in your heart, Jesus said you are no better than a murderer: 

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is enraged with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21–22)

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15, ESV)

We are not just to NOT murder, we are also supposed to love our neighbors, and to love even our enemies! If we do not love, we are not walking with God, but walking in anger with Hate as our god. 

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19–21, ESV)

Racism is an unmitigated evil, just as is hatred of others. One is not more evil than the other. Hate is an intrinsic evil. 

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48, ESV) 

If you hate Republicans or Democrats, Conservatives or Socialists, you are not walking in love for your enemies. If you walk in hatred, you are not walking with God. You are libel to His judgment of your life. 

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:37–38, ESV)

How is your walk? Are you contributing to the hatred and violence of this world or are you healing others by showing them the love of God? You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to love them. The Jewish sages said love is a commitment, not an emotion. Love is being committed to the welfare of another regardless of what it costs you.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “God did not call us to like our enemies, for that would be impossible; He called us to love them.” By confronting the government and authorities with their racism, the non-violent marches exposed the evil, so that people could see what was really at stake and might repent. Loving your enemies in this case was an act of confrontation without retaliating in kind. It is okay to confront those with whom you disagree. Just don’t let your emotions of hatred and vengeance cause you to become the very thing in you that you protest in others. 

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