Jesus

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
~ Psalm 19:14

God not only cares about what we do and say, but our thoughts as well. Think about the 10 Commandments. Everyone knows the big ones – Don’t kill, Don’t commit adultery, Honor your mother and father, Don’t lie. But that last one is different – it’s not about DOING but THINKING! Remember, coveting is not an action, but an attitude of ungratefulness and a desire for what God has given to someone else. Not a godly desire for a better witness, but an un-godly desire for things and relationships. This is a transgression of the first commandment as you are placing something other that God as the central object of your desire, but my main point here is that this is not an outward action, but a meditation of the heart. I’ve heard over and over that God won’t condemn people for the sins they commit in their mind because “no one is hurt” by it, but this shows us that God is not only aware of it but that He judges it as well.

“Well”, some will say, “that’s the God of the OLD Testament! Jesus would never condemn me for my thought life!”. Oh really? I’m skipping the theological issues of thinking that the Trinity is at odds with itself, and let’s just look at that statement. Jesus spoke on the subject of personal, mental holiness quite a bit. Two of His statements in the beatitudes make this point clear:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. ~ Matthew 5:27-28

“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.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45

One of the most terrifying and comforting things in the Bible is a statement from God through Jeremiah where God declares that despite the fact that people thought they were getting away with doing whatever they wanted, that He would stand as a witness against them:

“…they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the LORD.”
~ Jeremiah 29:23

Who can hide from God’s sight? No one! God knows the thoughts of all mankind (Psalm 139:9,23; Isaiah 66:18; Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Luke 11:17) and knowing that he judges our thought life as well, shouldn’t we turn to Him to help us control them? It’s for that reason that I pray the quote from Psalm 19:14 nightly – because it is God who controls all things, and it is He who, through the power of His Holy Spirit, leads me to action in the daily struggle with my sins, that I ask that He keep my mind clear and that He make me a strong witness for Himself in this world. Therefore I pray that God keep my words (the revealed intention of my heart) and that which I meditate on, acceptable before Him, and I pray that you would do the same.

God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. Sometimes that plan includes my wife going through horrible seizures, confusion, lack of mobility, and struggles with changes in medication. Sometimes that plan includes a lack of available finances so that we have to trust that God will help us to meet our needs despite everything that shows us that we should search out help elsewhere. Sometimes that plan means that we lose family and friends to cancer, or people we know turn on us for no reason at all. Sometimes it means that people we trust implicitly turn out to be pathological liars who only sought their own pleasure by contorting our lives around their deception. Sometimes it means that our best laid plans, no matter how well thought out or deeply conceived, will be shut down and abandoned.

God is the author of everything in our lives. We not only acknowledge this fact but we seek to live it out. At times that means that we lose friends and alienate ourselves from family members. It prompts uncomfortable conversations when opinions are raised against the solid Word of God and we are under pressure from family to relent to the opinion of those who we know to love us, or stand firm for the God who died to save us. Ultimately, trusting in Christ without living out what you say you believe only degrades the image of Christians and, by association, Jesus Himself, to the onlooking world.

My heart is bent toward legalism in everything I do. I want rules and regulations, not a God who says, “you’re forgiven” and leaves it at that. I search the scriptures for something that will give me a guiding principle, some sort of path to perfection, but it’s not there. That means that I struggle with the concept of understanding who I am as a Christian man on a daily basis. I want to serve this God who saved me but at some point my heart always brings the cart of my works, which were meant to be in gratitude for what He has done on my behalf, before the horse of His salvation and I end up trying to wrestle control of my life from God.

What does that mean for me now? I will, to the best of my ability, trust in God to direct my life and what I do by His own wisdom and plan for what He wants me to do. I acknowledge that I will fail on the way but I know that He is the one who is ultimately in control and I hope that I will remember to release control of the reigns when I find myself trying to grab them again and live my life for God according to my plan and not His. I will seek to stop making pronouncements for grand plans and ideas that I think will lead me to some next great plateau. I do plan to finish reading Calvin’s Institutes but that will come when God leads me back into it. I will finish reading all the books I’ve set before myself, but not to put them under my belt or to become a more respectable Christian, and instead so that I will be more able to appreciate the glory of God in as many facets of His character and nature as I can perceive and understand. In the end, I will trust in God to lead me and to control my life. Why? Because I know that He loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.

Who is responsible for my salvation? God CALLED Abraham to himself just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. Both were dead in their transgressions and sin before Him and God was under no obligation to save any of them. All of mankind stands condemned before our holy and perfect Creator and God is not obligated to save any of us. WE acted in rebellion against HIM. If my daughter steals my car and drives it off a cliff, totaling it, but she herself is saved. Am I obligated to forgive her? Is there some law on the books that requires me to forgive her for this transgression of my trust? In the same way, God is not obligated to forgive anyone. He has, by His own choice and on His own terms, chosen certain people before time began to save them by sending His own Son to suffer and die in their place. Jesus willingly substituted Himself for these undeserving haters of God and God the Father accepted His sacrifice on our behalf. If God, in His mercy, has done all this work for you, then does the work necessary to bring you to true repentance and trust in Himself, imparting to you faith and love beyond measure, are you then capable of rejecting His good mercy and act of grace on your behalf? What kind of a harsh and uncaring God would allow that to happen to those whom He has forgiven for all of their sins? You are not capable of out sinning God’s grace, and you are not able to thwart the plans of a perfect, holy, and uncontrollable God who has purposed to save you from yourself to Himself.

People often talk about the streets of gold in heaven or the mansions or even seeing Jesus face to face as what they can’t wait for in Heaven. For me, it’s simpler than that. I want to be stripped of my desire to sin. I want to know that I am no longer capable of causing harm to the name of Christ through my actions, intentions, words, and thoughts. I want to know that I cannot cause harm to the God who saved me – who, upon each and every sin that I now commit, while wholly understanding what Christ had to endure to purchase my salvation, He is made to experience more pain and more suffering in my place because of my own short-term desire for satisfaction. I want to be rid of the “me” that Jesus died to redeem, and finally be able to sit back and revel in the work that He has done on my behalf. I don’t want riches, or crowns, or honor – I want peace. Peace from my self, and peace to finally be able to thank the God who saved me with a clean heart and a clear mind.

I’ve read quite a few comments on Facebook today stating that because of this vote in NC regarding gay marriage, that “God wins”. That’s true, but totally unrelated. Had the amendment not passed, God would win. If our next president was gay, God would win. If the entire country were to become the most god-hating, wicked, immoral nation on the planet – God would still win. Remember when Joshua met with the commander of the army of the Lord (many ppl believe this is a Christophany)? What did he say when Joshua asked him if he was for Israel or their adversaries? “NO.” What? That doesn’t make sense – what do you mean “no”. He then clarified the answer by saying that He’s for the Lord. (Joshua 5:13-15) God is not “FOR US” but for Himself. He is “for” those who are in His adopted family – purchased through the blood of Christ, but that’s because those who are in His family share His interests and seek to glorify His name.

The beginning of the Bible opens with God creating and proclaiming what is good, and man chooses to rebel against his Creator and plunge the rest of humanity into the effects of the fall. Death, disease, hatred, malice, immorality, pain, fear, all of these things come from the fall – all of them can be attributed to the sin of the first family – and even in this – God wins. 1400 years later, the entire earth has become wicked and hostile toward not only God but to themselves. God chooses one man named Noah and his small family to build a boat so that He can judge the whole of the earth. Noah and his family build that boat, God populates it with the creatures He chooses to save, and he then brings the flood which wipes out all the land-based animals on the planet. The ensuing flood and geologic changes transform the entire landscape, creating mountain ranges, burying vast mats of vegetation which then become our coal seams. At the end of the flood, vast inland seas are created and when those inland seas finally burst their temporary constraints they create deep and wide valleys and canyons. Days turn into months, months turn into years and the water finally subsides enough for those that God has spared to walk on dry land. Even in all that destruction, God wins.

The Israelites are God’s chosen people – born through adversity from a man of deep pagan roots. God spoke to Abraham and he trusted in God, leaving his former life and following after Him in the wilderness. His son Isaac had two twin boys, one was named Jacob (meaning “he cheats”) who later was named Israel. He had 12 boys who were the heads of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel. They, through sin and deceit sold one of their brothers into slavery and God orchestrated his path until he was the prime minister of all of Egypt. His position allowed the infant nation of Israel to find a home in a safe place. That safety only lasted for a short time and they were made to be slaves in Egypt. God raised up Moses to bring them out – provided 10 plagues on Egypt to make the Israelites (now nearing 2 million people) abhorrent to the people of Egypt and they cast them out. Through another miracle at the Red Sea God delivered them finally from the reach of the Pharaoh. God wins.

That nation, now delivered into the wilderness to learn about the proper worship of their God who had delivered them from that bondage in Egypt, saw the physical manifestation of God’s glory day and night in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. At times they heard directly from God whose first premise was that they will not worship anyone or anything other than Himself and that they would not fall into idolatry. Sure enough, in the first two years with God actively interacting with them directly they not only built idols of gold to worship, but openly rejected Him, and his ability to deliver them from their enemies into the land He had promised to them, and wanted to return to Egypt, even into slavery, because they didn’t trust the God who could split the sea and who has proven His power over all of life and nature before them. All but two of those people died in the wilderness, never setting foot in the promised land. Even Moses, whom God had chosen to lead and instruct them sinned against God and was not able to enter into the land. God still wins.

The people then moved into the land, destroying the wicked nations that were occupying it. God fought for them and led them in battle, wiping out the inhabitants and setting their borders. He provided for them a fertile land that was prepared for them – a nation that they needed to merely occupy. Sure enough, one generation after Joshua and they fall into idolatry. God still wins. God allowed nations to remove them from the land and place them under slavery again, then provided deliverance for them time after time, giving them judges to rule over the people and to bring them back to worship Him. Every time a judge would die the people would rebel. God still wins.

Finally they ask for a king to be like the other nations. God allows them to have the finest looking and most worldly qualified king they could want. He rebels against God and ultimately runs a failed administration. God provides for them the man who He desires to be king – He trains him in the wilderness, sets him in power. The people flourish under him and under his son, Solomon, who was born through sin, deceit, and murder, but Solomon can’t honor God consistently and breaks God’s laws time and time again. Immediately after Solomon’s death the nation of Israel splits in two. God still wins.

Over the next 330 or so years the nations struggle with God’s rule. There are wars and troubles, and times of great restoration, but ultimately God strips them off the land due to their repeated forays into idolatry and rejection. God still wins.

God restores them to the land and then after a 400 year silence His Son, Jesus, comes onto the scene. Jesus fulfills the law, never sinning even once. He teaches the people, heals nearly every sickness and disease in the whole region, and ultimately is killed because the people He came to save wanted a conquering king, not a humble servant. God still wins.

Jesus is resurrected, proving that everything He said was true – hundreds of followers become thousands. Thousands become hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of thousands become millions. There are deep persecutions laid upon the church. Nearly all of Jesus’ inner circle of followers is martyred in one way or another and many more follow. 300 years later the Roman emperor Constantine legalizes Christianity and that’s where the church begins to encounter even more trouble as the political battles for which is the “true” church begin to take place. God still wins.

1050 years later, God’s word is finally becoming translated into common languages so the people can break free from the oppression of the Roman Catholic church. The RCC responds by killing the translators and burning their manuscripts. God still wins. This continues until a German priest finally translates it into German and distributes it. The protestant reformation of the church begins and, along with it, the birth of thousands of Christian sects. Each one thinks it to be the “one true church” and many are good but even more are very, very bad. Numerous sects become whole religious institutions. Today we see that present in the main bodies of the church -Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. Due to issues associated with denominationalism numerous “non-denominational” churches erupt. Christian “nations” like France, England, and Germany become post-Christian and their influence wanes. America is born and now its Christian influence is waning. Other countries like China and India are beginning to eclipse the USA in their Christian influence – to the point where Christian missionaries from China are starting to hit the US borders. God still wins.

This up coming election has no influence on whether God wins or not. He is the alpha and the omega – he controls all of nature and all time. He controls nations and laws and weather and even our personal situations. God owns it all. God always wins.

An open letter to Christians who stand by gay marriage/civil partnerships, etc:

In your own words can you please explain to me why it’s important not to define marriage in the same way that the Bible states it – between one man and one woman? Also, does it matter what the Bible says on this subject and where do the limits begin for where the Bible becomes important? Basically, if the Bible is wrong in what it says about some things, who are we to determine if it is wrong in others? Who determines what is accurate in the Bible and what isn’t? Our desires? Our ‘hearts’? Our feelings? Does God have the right to tell us what is right or wrong about anything in our lives? I suppose if you don’t believe that He exists you can do whatever you want but for those who call themselves Christians and who say they believe in the Bible enough to surrender control of their lives over to Christ, at what point do you stop trusting in what He has said in scripture (where you get the information that led you to trust in Him to begin with) and say “no – I can’t believe in that”?

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about judging people. God does that – His law does that. We’re called to love everyone and we do. I do. But we are also called to be holy as God is holy. God’s view on homosexuality isn’t just an “old testament” view – read Romans 1:16-31, 1 Cor 6:9-10, 1 Tim 1:8-11 . But God offers deliverance from it as He does from all sins: 1 Cor 6:9-10 doesn’t just end at the condemnation:”Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”, but the next verse shows that He forgives these things upon repentance of them and trust in Him for salvation: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Cor 6:12”.

The scripture that I see as to why this is an issue for us as Christians is Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” God will handle those who are sexually immoral before Him, but we are to hold marriage to be a high honor, holy and pure before God. Jesus used it as a symbol of Himself and the Church (universal church of Christ to include all Christians, not members of one specific church).

We’re called to love all but not support that which God despises. I don’t want to fall into the category at the end of Romans 1: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:31”.

We, as God’s creation, on God’s planet, breathing God’s air, eating God’s food, and enjoying God’s blessings are under every obligation to listen to what God says about what He wants us to do. God is absolutely sovereign in all of His decisions and plans. His law is perfect because HE is perfect and it is us, because of our sin nature, who are at odds with Him, not Him with us. In light of that, I love my homosexual friends but I’m not going to disobey the God who died in my place through supporting them in their sin. I don’t have different rules for individual sins, but the same rule for all. I’m not going to support people who go to NAMBLA parades, or stand up for the rights of a man to cheat on his wife. I will love them and be broken for their sin, pray for them, and tell them about Jesus, but I won’t support them in their sin.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
~ Titus 3:3-7 ESV

Remember that prayer that you prayed, or the time you raised your hand during an “altar call”? Yeah – that didn’t save you. Jesus saved you. You’re not good enough to save, you’re not smart enough to have God look at you and say, “I HAVE to have THAT GUY with me in Heaven!” There’s no amount of “good deeds” that you can do to warrant God’s saving work to be applied to your life. If anything, everything you do to “work off” your salvation or make yourself worthy is just an affront to God and mock Him for His work on your behalf. It’s not you who hold onto God, but God that holds onto you. You can’t be lost – you can’t “walk away” from your faith because it’s not “your faith” to begin with. God is the one who started the ‘good work’ of salvation within you and He will not lose a single one whom the Father has given Him. You are secure because of God’s love for you, not because of God’s love of you.

How to tell when you can begin hating someone or separate them from the flock, follow this simple flowchart:

Get it? Love bears all things, even when someone is behaving really, REALLY badly. Love believes all things, even when the evidence shows exactly the opposite. Once they start living in unrepentant sin or are a disruption to the body of your local church you can follow church discipline guidelines and work on the process of reconciliation. Let’s look at this in detail: Let’s say that when you were struggling with pornography, wrestling with this between you and God, someone was watching over your shoulder and reporting all of your failings to the church. If your pastor responded to you the way that you respond to the failings of others, would there have been any hope of reconciliation between you and those in your church?

Carry this over to Perry Noble and his actions as a pastor. He has stated that he did not intentionally seek discord in his choice to play the song “Highway to Hell”, and then, when speaking with his church, he said that they thought it would be hilarious to do it because it would piss off the religious people. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, says that we should believe all things. We should put the best construction on this and trust that his actions and intent, from start to finish, were to glorify God and make His gospel known to the flock that God has provided to him.

Now, there are other revelations that make him, by all accounts, a bad servant. It could be that what he said was true and that he won’t visit the sick in his flock until they die. Again, putting the best construction on this, we need to trust that God will handle the situation and regardless of the outcome that we see, we can know that He is in complete control of this whole scenario – from start to finish.

There are three things we know about Perry Noble. First, he claims to be a Christian and to adhere to the core doctrines of our faith. Second, he is a passionate pastor who was chosen by God and placed into his role as lead pastor of the church that God has given him. Third, we are not his judge. Anyone who is within the body of believers is the servant of God and not us – who are we to judge another man’s servant? His actions, however, are going to cause a rift within his church. Those soundly saved believers are going to put up with it for only so long before they leave to find something else. Those who are drawn to controversy and publicity will seek him out and fill the remaining seats.

Let me finish with this – In my church, I would never start a sermon with “Highway to Hell”, I would never seek to piss off the “religious” people outside the church or within, and I would not want to sit under his headship. Is God using Perry Noble for His kingdom and His glory? Of course – Romans 8:28 confirms it. But to those who seek the controversy and can’t find a way to forgive them, I ask this simple question: Because Jesus suffered and died on the cross in your place to forgive your sins, when can you stop forgiving Perry Noble? Any answer other than “never” is an indication that you don’t understand the gospel.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

~ 1 Cor 13:4-8

In April of 2009 I heard Todd Friel on a Wretched Radio podcast rail against a pastor for playing “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC during their Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday for you sticklers) service. He played the clip and then railed on the man for 45 minutes, calling his worthiness to preach the Gospel of God into question because of his choice in music. I, as a good listener, agreed with this presentation, because he made some very good points about what church is and is not about and why it’s so important to take things seriously when discussing the resurrection of our Lord. His presentation taught me that Perry Noble filled his sermons and services with bad teaching and worse illustrations. He would go on in later podcasts over the last few years to state that Perry Noble is a wolf devouring the flock who loves the goats and hates Christians, that his anger and swearing problem excludes him from the role of pastor, and that he only knows how to crush the souls of growing Christians.

Fast forward to a couple mornings ago: While on the way to work I listen to different podcasts of different pastors or discussions, as well as the sermons from my church so that I can give them a deeper listen at a later date and spend more time on it. I had been focusing on a specific series that I wanted to listen to in order and, as a result, I ended up getting a few weeks behind on my other podcasts. To that end, I finally got to the podcast from 9/4/11 when pastor Mark was on vacation. They had selected a section from the Elephant Room which was attended by some of the heavyweight pastors in different corners of Christian orthodoxy to discuss a number of “elephants in the room” where there may be room for disagreement and to define the lines between them as well as to see where they share the same focus and intentional drive toward preaching and teaching their flocks about Jesus and His gospel. The podcast I listened to was entitled Elephant Room – Culture in the Church vs. Church in the Culture. Now, after hearing pastor Mark discuss this at the 20/20 conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009 (Session 1: 7 Views of Culture, Session 2: The Doxological View of Culture) so I was interested in hearing where he stood in regards to these other pastors.

For what it’s worth, and this really deserves its own post so I’ll be brief, I wholly agree with his view that all things in culture can be addressed by the three-fold view whereby we either receive that element of culture within the Church, reject it, or redeem it for the glory of Christ. If you’d like to learn more, listen to the above links.

So, back on topic, I listened as the pastors brought up Perry Noble’s use of that song to open his resurrection Sunday sermon and listened to him defend himself for most of the conversation. He seemed to me to be very arrogant in his decision. Through listening to the process by which he came to the conclusion with his leadership team that it was something that they wanted to do and the fact that they had prayed over it intently, I began to see it in a different light. The pastors all weighed in, most of which stating that they would not do the same in their services, and a couple times the conversation got very heated, but I think that he explained himself well.

After hearing the conversation between these pastors and Perry Noble regarding this incident, and listening to him defend himself and his intention, I can understand his hostility when he is approached on the subject. I know that he’s fielded angry emails and that his ministry has been attacked relentlessly because of this. In the week after the famous service he posted a four part blog entitled “Four Reasons People Attack” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) because of the intense backlash he received from people such as Todd Friel as mentioned in my opening paragraph. All of which are biblical and accurate.

So, what is my take on all of this? I do agree that he’s a Christian who is seeking to preach the gospel and to see hearts changed for the glory of God, and that is his role as a teaching pastor for the church that God has provided to him.

He may have a different approach but that’s the wonder and glory of God that He uses means and ways that we’d never consider. Of course, while I understand that God saved people from that church in that instance, not through that song or its use, but that He redeemed it for His glory in the salvation of the elect present, I’m not going to prescribe that for every church.

What I found interesting is that instead of approaching culture with his church and redeeming it, he’s created a new Christian culture in his church that desires that kind of bright display and reminder of previous sin which then is met with, what I can assume to be, a good sermon at or exceeding the same level of interest and satisfaction. In much the same way that Mark Driscoll has created a sub-culture in Christianity that seeks after his style of direct, pull-no-punches teaching, and MacArthur has done the same in his, from what I can see from the outside, stuffy and linear dispensational hermeneutic.

If pastor Perry’s sermon has been followed by, as Todd Friel alluded to, wishy-washy teaching focused on now neat it is that they sang a song about how awesome it is in Hell and how fantastic it will be to get there, then I’d still stand firmly against that message and all that it stood for. Instead, however, he spoke boldly on the reality of Hell, and used it as a tool to preach the good news that God has provided salvation for His elect from the eternal fires of Hell for those who repent of their sins and trust in Him alone for salvation. What Christian can shake their fist at that? If you’d like to listen to the sermon itself you can find it here and the study guide here.

Will he open a series on Ecclesiastes with “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, and, if so, will that be sin? After hearing him speak on the matter, I am not so sure I’d be the first to jump to that conclusion anymore. James MacDonald, in responding to the flood of responses from the people in the wake of the podcast that I listened to above responded on his blog today by saying, “Isn’t it awesome to know that Perry Noble wanted to confront and dethrone religiosity? Isn’t it also awesome to know that he has a team of people who review his ideas and pray together about what the Lord wants them to do?” There is a deep fire for the Gospel of God in the heart of Perry Noble, and a desire for intentional confrontation that brings about a change of heart and mind for the cause of Christ. While I cannot agree with all of his methods, I do agree that Jesus is the king of the universe, that He is the only one who can bring about salvation in the hearts of men, and that our job is to preach the Gospel to all men and women using whatever means are necessary as long as it proclaims Christ as the eternal victor over sin in the struggle for the souls for His elect.

So, the more I read in the Bible about faith the more it makes sense to me that Jesus “could not” do anything in his own area. It’s not that he was hindered because of their lack of faith, but because they didn’t believe that he could do it he refused to do the work. When Jesus would go to other areas they didn’t know him from anyone and only had heard of him as the great healer or prophet so they immediately had faith in him and his ability. His family and those in his area did not believe it was possible because to them he was just the son of a carpenter who had some sort of religious experience. Jesus acts in our life through our trust in him that he can do the work necessary. We are saved by that trust and, as a natural man, that kind of trust is impossible. It is the Holy Spirit who, upon his entering us, enables us to finally hope that someone CAN take away the consequences of our sins as well as the guilt and the full record of them and it is the Holy Spirit that drives us toward Jesus and presents him as the one who DID that for us. The process of salvation makes a lot more sense to me now. Realizing this, it drives me even crazier when I think of “easy believism” – it’s not about believing, it’s about trusting as if your life depended on it because ultimately, it does.

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