Monday, March 15, 2010

Enemies of God - Why Religion Hurts the Church

Some years ago I had a friend who was a cop. One night he got a call and responded to a domestic disturbance call. A woman let him and his partner into the house. As they were interviewing her, the drunk husband showed up. He pulled up behind the police cruiser and came crashing through the door. The two cops easily took him down and had him cuffed.

When the enemies of God come against the Christians, the church and defy God himself, like the two policeman, He can take them down without incident.

Some Christians think like the Jews did in the time of Jesus and expect the Messiah to shatter every obstacle - eventually, on the last day, He will. The question is this: is that realistic? Didn't David, Daniel, Moses, Gideon, and 13 of the 14 apostles have battles to fight? The answer is yes. Some were physical battles and others were spiritual - coming against men, organizations, governments, factions, religious folks and the unseen forces of the devil, his band of demons, and the principalities they lived under.

If you were to ask a foot soldier who was in a war or a battle that was won, they probably wouldn't tell you it was easy, or that there weren't any casualties. There is a battle between the Kingdom of God including his church, and the territory of the enemy.

Who are the Enemies of God? Those without faith in Jesus based on what is written in their hearts and Satan along with the other fallen angels:

Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.


Sin is the enemy of holiness. And sin is also rebellion and/or opposition to God. As loving as God is, as much grace as He makes available to us, as much salvation as is in the finished work of Christ on the cross, God is the king of the Kingdom which bears his name - and we are not.

For those of you that are fathers, you know that your desire is not to control your children, but for them to take responsibility for themselves, so that you can trust and enjoy them. We call this growing up. That is the very reason that God is the Father. He simply wants to enjoy us as sons and daughters. Like our earthly fathers, his love has many facets including: loving, teaching, discipline, fun times, hang out times, times of honor like birthdays and graduations, and the most painful, leaving us to ourselves so that we can learn a lesson, that for whatever reason, we have not been able to learn some other way.

He may let us throw a tantrum, amen?

Regardless of how your father treated you, God is a perfect Father and Jesus is the perfect Son; obedient unto death. I know it sounds harsh, but this life is not the end of our eternal life, it is the beginning. And God is not freaked out by death, because he is immune to it. He also has prepared a place for those of faith that is eternal.

God of course gets blamed for every plane crash, earthquake, and act of violence. Honestly, is it really his fault? The earth was handed over to the devil who stole it illegally in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that it is Satan's job to rob, kill and destroy - and he is like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. God's intention, however; is to restore it legally using the laws of Israel. It is a long story, but as the devil duped Adam and Eve into sin, Jesus (the second Adam) came as a sacrifice (as prescribed by the Law of Moses) to take back earth legally.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the sting of death has been removed. And the loving Father that he is, He does not control us. He gave us a perfect law which anyone should recognize as impossible to live up to. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, we can be reconciled as though we have perfectly lived the law.

The enemies of God are the ones that do not receive Jesus. Even the devil knows who Jesus is, but he has rejected Him. As loving as God is, our Father's Kingdom will not wait forever to be made perfect. On the last day He will reconcile those that are sealed by the Holy Spirit forever.

The Bible says that every knee will bow to the Lord (Romans 14:11 and Isaiah 45:23), either here and now by choice, or there and later. Verses like this one show the truth of God - his holiness versus the sin of the world.

Nahum 1:2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.

Sure, it sounds harsh, but he sent Jonah to preach to them and they received the word of the Lord from Jonah, and that generation was spared.

How childish is to expect God to be our spiritual bellhop, to only do what we want, and to never be held accountable for causing pain and hurting others? For parents, we all want to give our children good things, but let's face it, sometimes they push the limits of our patience.

What is entirely too bad is that people claim to be Christian and some are not, others have fallen away or only know about Jesus. They do not know Him. These are the religious folks that Jesus dealt with in his day and the church has plenty of them now. He dealt with an evil spirit right in the temple. He called the Pharisees who sought to kill him (Matthew 12:14), and taunted Him to do a miraculous sign (Matthew 16:1), whitewashed tombs. John the Baptist called them a brood of vipers.

The Pharisees were an impressive lot, well to do, ones that made big prayers and were well educated. Jesus had this to say about them:

Matthew 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The enemies of God can look just like regular church folks, but there is something wrong when they become hypocrites, laden with man made rules and traditions which keep honest seekers from finding the real God.

Matthew 23:13 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

How about you, are you on team Jesus? How do you know?

19 comments:

Nicodemus at Nite said...

Speak it big daddy! I hate religion but for some reason I cannot get away from my Baptist roots. Save me Jesus.

GCT said...

How does one know if they are on Team Jesus?

It seems that lots of people with contradictory claims are all claiming to be on Team Jesus. How does an outsider tell who really is on the team? How does an insider tell?

DebiZ said...

Excellent, David.
"By their fruits you shall know them" Matt.7:13-23

David said...

@GCT - excellent question. Yes, there are lots of contradictory things in Christianity - from the outside. The reason is that folks try to intellectually understand what can only be discerned by the Spirit. One without the Spirit (received by faith in Christ and the work on the cross etc.) cannot begin to grasp these things. The other reason is that one can simply intellectualize the scriptures. They are written to be discerned. This requires an intimate relationship with Jesus. The book Song of Songs describes it as a romance.

And your response is - "well, I could say the opposite and we couldn't prove it." But it can be proven. The fruit of the Spirit of God in a person is: Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

It is also that lack of certain types of behavior.

Galatians 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

The other way to know is that true believers manifest the "spiritual gifts" in varying degrees. 1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

So, for the serious spiritual shopper, faith is provable. Notwithstanding that there are a lot of folks claiming to be Christian that don't even believe the three verses that I've post.

Jesus was correct, Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

Anyone can be on Team Jesus - it simply takes real faith and a transformation of the human spirit. It is a lot less about what one says, than what one does.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

If you can't thank God, it's possible you haven't seen Him yet. It also might be time to some real searching.

As always, thanks for reading along. God bless you.

GCT said...

So, can you tell me how someone like Fred Phelps does not fit into your definition, or does he?

"But it can be proven. The fruit of the Spirit of God in a person is: Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control."

No one possesses all these traits at all times. Are we to assume that the Spirit only works part of the time? And, how does this constitute proof?

"Galatians 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like."

Dissensions and factions, eh? Much like the sectarian nature of Xianity?

"The other way to know is that true believers manifest the "spiritual gifts" in varying degrees."

How do we know that any of these gifts were given by the Holy Spirit and not simply part of the person, or given by some demon posing as the Holy Spirit?

"Notwithstanding that there are a lot of folks claiming to be Christian that don't even believe the three verses that I've post."

How do you know they are wrong?

"Jesus was correct, Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."

One of the more vicious remarks in the Bible.

"Anyone can be on Team Jesus - it simply takes real faith and a transformation of the human spirit. It is a lot less about what one says, than what one does."

I thought it was faith alone that brought salvation. Now, one must transform one's spirit, or do you assert that the Holy Spirit comes and transforms you, which would be a violation of your free will?

"If you can't thank God, it's possible you haven't seen Him yet. It also might be time to some real searching."

When a Muslim claims that not having seen Allah yet means that it's time for some real searching, should I do that? Why or why not?

Anonymous said...

I would not care to be Jewish in this realm, no.

David said...

@GCT - Fred Phelps seems to be somewhat of a hater to me. I don't know him, nor do I know the condition of his heart. The fruit does not look like "love your neighbor as yourself". If I had a chance to meet with him, it would be a lot easier to tell.

No one possesses all these fruits at the same time. Well, I suppose one does not know what is in the cup until it's knocked over. There are however; many Christians that have come out of difficult situations which they had every right to be angry and bitter about, and they chose to love.

Certainly faithfulness is a fruit that takes some time to see. But over the long haul, there should be a marked difference in behavior.

Dissensions and factions - do I need to clarify this? LOL As much as I appreciate folks of faith (not denomination), I detest division. But I think that you'll find that it is over intellectual matters - not truly spiritual ones. One side will be pulling for an intellectual interpretation because they don't believe in the supernatural. Once you have a seen a few healings, you get a little tired of the skeptics. OMG - did I say that?

Regarding the gifts, Paul says that one will confess Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Again, there are counterfeits, but they point to the man, not to God. The Holy Spirit is a witness to the work of Heaven giving glory and honor to heaven, not to the man with the gift. The false gifts are often used to give prideful gain and notoriety to the man and are performed like parlor tricks, not out of love.

How do we know they are wrong? Because they don't believe what is written in the Bible. That is the standard, not my opinion. You can't take your spiritual tin-snips and start disregarding other parts because they don't fit you religious paradigm.

Sorry that you find some of Jesus' statements offensive - He's God and I am not, so those you'll have to take to the Heavenlies.

It is faith alone that gives us salvation. But like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly, the Spirit of God makes a permanent change in the spirit of man - however that commingling works. I think that change is physical as well - I'm sure there are some flakey under funded studies somewhere. ;o)

I don't know what Muslims do. My job is have faith and live at peace with all men so far as it is possible, not forsaking that which I believe.

photogr said...

Am I on the "team Jesus"? I would like to hope so but I feel am not worthy of such an honor just yet. Perhaps when I am completely free of sin I will be.

GCT said...

David,
"Fred Phelps seems to be somewhat of a hater to me. I don't know him, nor do I know the condition of his heart. The fruit does not look like "love your neighbor as yourself". If I had a chance to meet with him, it would be a lot easier to tell."

Yet, Fred Phelps would say that you are not showing the fruit. That by not speaking out for god and his ways, you are helping others to engage in orgies, etc.

So, what's the point? The point is that your definition is too vague and based too much on personal interpretation and ad hoc reasoning. There is no real way to tell who is or is not a true Xian. The best we can do is take them at their word that they believe in the Xian god.

"No one possesses all these fruits at the same time."

Exactly. So, we can't really use it as a measuring stick, since all people (Xian or not) exhibit some of these so-called fruits at certain times.

"There are however; many Christians that have come out of difficult situations which they had every right to be angry and bitter about, and they chose to love."

Yet, this isn't exclusive to Xians by any stretch, nor do all Xians do this.

"But over the long haul, there should be a marked difference in behavior."

Yet, we don't see any difference between Xians and non-Xians in any meaningful sense. What binds us together is our humanity.

"LOL As much as I appreciate folks of faith (not denomination), I detest division. But I think that you'll find that it is over intellectual matters - not truly spiritual ones. One side will be pulling for an intellectual interpretation because they don't believe in the supernatural."

You can't possibly claim that Xians have divided into so many sects because one sect doesn't believe in the supernatural or that it's completely due to intellectual matters.

"Regarding the gifts, Paul says that one will confess Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Again, there are counterfeits, but they point to the man, not to God."

I have no idea how you would ever tell a counterfeit from the real thing, since all of these so-called gifts could be said to either point to the man or to god depending on your presuppositions.

"How do we know they are wrong? Because they don't believe what is written in the Bible. That is the standard, not my opinion."

Yet, they claim the same about you - that you don't believe what is written in the Bible.

"You can't take your spiritual tin-snips and start disregarding other parts because they don't fit you religious paradigm."

I don't know of a single Xian that doesn't do this to some extent, or at least imparts their own ideas of morality onto the Bible and interprets it to fit their ideas.

"Sorry that you find some of Jesus' statements offensive..."

Everyone should find it offensive that god would create a species whereby the vast majority would end up being tortured for eternity.

"It is faith alone that gives us salvation. But like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly, the Spirit of God makes a permanent change in the spirit of man - however that commingling works."

But, having faith is not necessarily linked to acting in a moral fashion. So, if the person who has faith is inexoribly drawn to act in a moral fashion, then god is forcing morality, and hence violating free will. Hopefully I don't have to go into the theological implications of this, especially in regards to the problem of evil.

"I don't know what Muslims do."

My point was that your statement that I need to seek out your god could very easily have come from any number of followers of any number of other religions. Why should I seek out your god instead of their gods?

photogr said...

The Christian God is relational. He wants a relationship with those that freely want to believe. Allah is not a relational God. He does not communicate . I will cover this in more detail after I dig into my resources.

GCT said...

photogr,
The point is this:

When someone makes an argument along the lines of, "Well, you don't believe in my god? That's because you haven't investigated enough or searched enough yet," it's equally applicable for any god in any religion. Why should I, or anyone else for that matter, choose your particular god from your particular religion instead of anyone else's? Would you accept this argument as persuasive coming from any other theist? If not, why should I? If so, isn't it possible that you have settled on your particular religion simply because you stopped searching prematurely?

Jessie said...

I think your post is very intriguing. However, I have one question, if it is Satan whose mission is to rob, kill and destroy, how come so many professed Christians commit heinous acts themselves? Is God giving them this mission? What about those that claim they hear from our Lord and commit horrendous crimes in the name of God? How do you know whether these people are truly working for God or Satan?

David said...

@Jessie - A few thoughts.

If it is Satan whose mission is to rob, kill and destroy, how come so many professed Christians commit heinous acts themselves?

Because everyone that professes to be a Christian is NOT. The 5ht Chapter of Galatians tries to explain what actual "redeemed" Christians act like.

Is God giving them this mission?

God's missions are of love your neighbor, your wife and your enemy type orders. He is into relationship building with those that want that with Him.

What about those that claim they hear from our Lord and commit horrendous crimes in the name of God?

They're idiots - umm and wrong. That does not mean that a Christian will be perfect - and everyone is welcome on the team by faith. BTW - David, Paul the Apostle and Moses were murderers.

How do you know whether these people are truly working for God or Satan?

I suppose it would be easy to say Hilter a professed Christian is in Hell, and Mother Theresa also a professed Christian, is in Heaven.

In between there are folks who are pretty good, and some pretty bad. Apparently what you call yourself doesn't really matter. It is faith (not lip service) in God that has changed the heart. That is what gets folks onto the eternal playing field. A choice that people make.

We can debate this - but in my opinion it is much better to experience God.

@GTC - I could care less what Phelps says about me. Hating is not real Christianity.

Recognizing a spirit is a gift of the Holy Spirit. One without, can't. Not a cop out - just the way it works. There is a whole gospel account about Beelzebub and Jesus that explains it.

"But faith is not necessarily linked to acting in a moral fashion." Preach it brother. This one place the church needs to buy a vowel. It is one f the problems that leaves folks thinking like you. If the church was exclusily about character and faith, there would be no question. Not good for our team.

The gift of salvation is that - you can put it to good use, or toss it. Or worse, intellectualize it so that no one could see the gift. Also bad for our team.

Why are non-believers so wigged about eternal separation from God? You don't want him now, why would you change your mind then? Just askin'

And why does everyone not want to go to Hell, but they want everyone that has wronged them to go?

BTW - Jesus did not fashion a whip. I can't find that account anywhere.

GCT said...

David,
"I could care less what Phelps says about me. Hating is not real Christianity."

The point remains as I outlined. You say he hates, he says he's trying to warn all of us. Who is correct?

"Recognizing a spirit is a gift of the Holy Spirit."

I'm still unclear as to how you would know the difference.

"Preach it brother. This one place the church needs to buy a vowel. It is one f the problems that leaves folks thinking like you. If the church was exclusily about character and faith, there would be no question. Not good for our team."

I don't reject Xianity simply because not all Xians are moral. And, the point to that was that faith alone doesn't cause moral action. There's no logical connection.

"The gift of salvation is that - you can put it to good use, or toss it. Or worse, intellectualize it so that no one could see the gift."

Which leads me to believe that god is not that interested in moral behavior. What's more important is having the proper beliefs.

"Why are non-believers so wigged about eternal separation from God? You don't want him now, why would you change your mind then? Just askin'"

Because it is cruel, vicious, and completely at odds with the alleged characteristics of the Xian god. It's also a good demonstration of the immorality of the Xian faith when torture is looked upon as not only necessary but a good thing.

"And why does everyone not want to go to Hell, but they want everyone that has wronged them to go?"

I don't. I wouldn't want anyone to go to hell, as I find the concept of hell to be infinitely unjust and cruel. I wouldn't even send Hitler there.

"BTW - Jesus did not fashion a whip. I can't find that account anywhere."

It's in John...I thought I provided a cite in the other thread? John 2:15

photogr said...

GCT:

John 2:15 . It says he made a scourge of small cords. I have also seen this in some early paintings of the incident perhaps from the 14th to 16th century?

Before I settled back into the Christian faith, I did evaluate other faiths comprehensively and non faiths included. Even Humanist manefesto doctrines.

I could not follow Islam because I did not feel it was what I could believe in. Samuel Zwemer, the so called "apostle to Islam" says Mohammed's idea of God is diestic. God and the world are in exclusive external and eternal opposition. God stands aloof from from creation. Only his power is felt. He is distant from relationships with people. This he is not relational. It is also noted that areas are also associated with monolithic and dictatorial political systems. The penalty for not believing or an infidel is being killed by believers as I understand it based on the Taliban beliefs.

I didn't base my choice on what others said. I based it on what I read from the bible and the words of Jesus. It was my own free will to choose this faith. My God gives ma a choice and it is a relational experience which was exactly what I was looking for.

Now you on the other hand also has a choice of what ever you wish to follow. I think it is called free will. I am not equiped to sway you one way or another. That is your choice. No matter what, I still have love for you and hope you will choose what fits you the best.

As a matter of fact, you have quite a knowledge of the bible so that leads me to believe you are looking for answers.

GCT said...

photogr,
It seems like you aren't getting the point.

A Muslim could easily say to you that it's nice that you looked into Islam, but since you didn't see the truth of it, you either didn't look hard enough or you didn't look objectively enough (or both). You wouldn't find that to be convincing though, would you?

So, when a Xian says to me, "If you can't thank God, it's possible you haven't seen Him yet. It also might be time to some real searching," I'm left wondering why I should believe the Xian and not any other religious follower that may say the same thing. If the Xian doesn't see the same statement from other believers as compelling, why would the Xian believe it's a compelling statement coming from them?

photogr said...

GCT:

Perhaps I am not getting your point.

No one should choose to believe on what another would say is right as far as a belief. One has to get to the facts as it is written in the Bible, Qurann, or any other book as one will interpret them.

I chose the Bible over others and this was a comprehensive study on my part. The other faiths did not compell me to choose otherwise.

We have to agree on one thing though. We will probably debate on issues till we are both blue in the face but it will not change either of our stances.

Take care:
Photogr

David said...

Thanks for the whip reference. He used that to drive out the animals, not to assault the vendors. After all, it was his house. :)

One final thought. One is only going to know God, or even know that he exists by having an encounter with him.

An encounter with God is unmistakable.

The Bible says search for it like treasure, not like reading labels on yogurt. It takes effort and the searching is worth it. If one just wants to wear badge or have business card that says Muslim or Christian or Jew or whatever, it doesn't matter. God will never be found in human mind, or in intellectual assaults on the Bible. That should be painfully true by looking at the hypocrites and the bozos who want and get media attention.

GCT said...

Photogr,
"No one should choose to believe on what another would say is right as far as a belief."

Agreed. So, you can understand why I said what I said, right?

"We have to agree on one thing though. We will probably debate on issues till we are both blue in the face but it will not change either of our stances."

No, I can't agree to that. That's an unreasonable stance to take. Given evidence of god, I would have no reasonable stance except to decide that there is evidence that god exists and change my beliefs (or non-beliefs really) accordingly. I am willing to change what I believe based on reason, logic, and evidence. Are you really telling me that you are unwilling to do so?

David,
"Thanks for the whip reference. He used that to drive out the animals, not to assault the vendors."

He came at them with a whip and acted violently. I know I would feel threatened if someone had a whip and started throwing tables around. This is called "Assault."

"After all, it was his house. :)"

No, it was not.

"One final thought. One is only going to know God, or even know that he exists by having an encounter with him.

An encounter with God is unmistakable."

In that case, who is to blame for my unbelief? It certainly can't be my fault if the onus lies completely on god and if it is unmistakable. So, all those souls who are in hell for their unbelief were put there solely because god couldn't be bothered to show himself to them. What a monster.

"The Bible says search for it like treasure, not like reading labels on yogurt. It takes effort and the searching is worth it."

If someone from another religion said the same to you, would you consider it a compelling argument?

"God will never be found in human mind, or in intellectual assaults on the Bible."

Why not? Why shouldn't we be able to employ our (supposedly god-given) intellects to reason our way to god if god is indeed true?

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