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Archive for the ‘works not grace’ Category

from Got Questions:

The Eastern Orthodox Church is not a single church but rather a family of 13 self-governing bodies, denominated by the nation in which they are located (e.g., the Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church). They are united in their understanding of the sacraments, doctrine, liturgy, and church government, but each administers its own affairs.

The head of each Orthodox church is called a “patriarch” or “metropolitan.” The patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) is considered the ecumenical—or universal—patriarch. He is the closest thing to a counterpart to the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike the Pope, who is known as VICARIUS FILIUS DEI (the vicar of the Son of God), the bishop of Constantinople is known as PRIMUS INTER PARES (the first amongst equals). He enjoys special honor, but he has no power to interfere with the 12 other Orthodox communions.

The Orthodox Church claims to be the one true church of Christ, and seeks to trace its origin back to the original apostles through an unbroken chain of apostolic succession. Orthodox thinkers debate the spiritual status of Roman Catholics and Protestants, and a few still consider them heretics. Like Catholics and Protestants, however, Orthodox believers affirm the Trinity, the Bible as the Word of God, Jesus as God the Son, and many other biblical doctrines. However, in doctrine, they have much more in common with Roman Catholics than they do with Protestant Christians.

Sadly, the doctrine of justification by faith is virtually absent from the history and theology of the Orthodox Church. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes theosis (literally, “divinization”), the gradual process by which Christians become more and more like Christ. What many in the Orthodox tradition fail to understand is that “divinization” is the progressive result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation itself. Other Orthodox distinctives that are in conflict with the Bible include:

The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture
Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition
The perpetual virginity of Mary
Prayer for the dead
Baptism of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith
The possibility of receiving salvation after death
The possibility of losing salvation

While the Eastern Orthodox Church has claimed some of the church’s great voices, and while there are many in the Orthodox tradition that have a genuine salvation relationship with Jesus Christ, the Orthodox church itself does not speak with a clear message that can be harmonized with the biblical gospel of Christ. The call of the Reformers for “Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone” is missing in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and that is too precious a treasure to do without.

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from Got Questions:

There are several important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been many attempts in recent years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The following is brief summary of some of the more important differences:

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “sola scriptura” and is one of the “five solas” (sola is Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish its authority and its sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16, where we see that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority undermine the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many, if not all, of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such, the Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice), making his teachings infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establish the Pope’s authority. Protestants believe that the church’s authority comes not from apostolic succession but from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority do not rest in the hands of a mere man but in the very Word of God. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born-again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

Protestants point to passages such as John 14:16–17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (See also John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27.)

A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the five solas of the Reformation is sola fide (“faith alone”), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–10). However, Catholics teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that, on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God, as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must supplement the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious works.

Catholics and Protestants also disagree on what it means to be justified before God. To the Catholic, justification involves being made righteous and holy. He believes that faith in Christ is only the beginning of salvation and that the individual must build upon that with good works because God’s grace of eternal salvation must be merited. This view of justification contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as Romans 4:1–12, Titus 3:3–7, and many others. Protestants distinguish between the one-time act of justification (when we are declared righteous by God based on our faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross) and the process of sanctification (the development of righteousness that continues throughout our lives on earth). While Protestants recognize that works are important, they believe they are the result or fruit of salvation but never the means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.

A fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after death. Both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, but there are significant differences about what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance on non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us—when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6–10 and Philippians 1:23).

One disturbing aspect about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the belief that man can and must pay for his own sins. This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic view of salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was insufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him and that even a believer must pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant. Paul wrote Galatians to combat the Judaizers (Jews who said that Gentile Christians had to obey the Old Testament Law to be saved). Like the Judaizers, Catholics make human works necessary for one to be justified by God, and they end up with a completely different gospel.

It is our prayer that God will open the eyes of those who are putting their faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is our hope that everyone will understand that his “works of righteousness” cannot justify him or sanctify him (Isaiah 64:6). We pray that all will instead put their faith solely in the fact that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24–25). God saves us, “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).

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This is what happens when individuals turn away from the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. They begin to follow fallen humanistic thinking!

The Roman Catholic Church was founded on Humanism! Bishops who became drunk with power because they were located in the ancient capital of the Roman Empire demanded that Bishops and Churches in other cities swear allegiance to them! And thus began the long slide of the Roman Catholic Church into apostasy and paganism!

from Breitbart:

One of the speakers slated for the Vatican rol lout of the long-awaited Papal document on climate change once said the earth is overpopulated by at least 6 billion people.

The teaching document, called an encyclical, is scheduled for release on June 18 at Vatican City. Perhaps with the exception of the 1968 encyclical on contraception, no Vatican document has been greeted with such anticipation.

The political left is hoping for a document that ties belief in global warming to a religious obligation. Climate skeptics have already started criticizing the document.

The choice of Professor John Schnellnhuber, founding director of the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, as one of three presenters may be giving the left added hope and giving giving skeptics severe heartburn. He has been described as one of the more aggressive scientists on the question of man-made global warming.

In a talk given to what’s described as the “failed” 2009 Copenhagen climate conference,reported in the New York Times, Schnellnhuber, who has advised German President Angela Merkel and is a visiting professor at Oxford, said of global warming: “In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something –- namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people.

Schnellnhuber is also author of what’s called the “two-degree target” that says governments must not allow the temperature to rise more than 2 degrees higher than at the start of the industrial revolution. Any higher, the theory holds, and much life on earth would either perish or be gravely harmed.

To deal with climate issues, he has also called for an “Earth Constitution that would transcend the UN Charter” along with the creation of a “Global Council…elected by all the people on Earth” and a “Planetary Court..a transnational legal body open to appeals from everybody, especially with respect to violations of the Earth Constitution.”

 

 

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God is reconciling to Himself Nero, Hitler, Stalin and the sick-o-father who, as he molested his daughter, recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang Christian hymns.(7) Even the Canaanites were/are reconciled to Yahweh. That God’s love may be discriminatory, that heaven might be limited to God’s elect (Calvinism), or to a contemporary evangelical crowd that just wants a “personal-relationship” Jesus, Bell rejects.

from Herescope:

Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (New York, NY: Harper One, 2011) xi + 198 pages, Acknowledgments and Further Reading. The back cover blurb first states and then incredulously asks: “God loves us. God offers us everlasting life by grace, freely, through no merit on our part. Unless you do not respond the right way. Then God will torture you forever. In hell.” Huh?

Recommended by a who’s who of emergent leaders, Rob Bell’s book Love Wins has, as it is calculated to do, stirred-up controversy. Recently, Time ran a front cover story on it.[1] Eugene H. Peterson lauds the book as being born out of a “thoroughly biblical imagination,” and a book “without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is most truly for all.”(Front Cover Flap). Open theist Greg Boyd calls the book, “bold, prophetic, and a poetic masterpiece.”(Back Cover Flap). Andy Crouch sees Bell as “a central figure for his generation.”(Back Cover). So much for endorsements . . .

In his own hip way and as in his previous books (Velvet Elvis and Sex God), Rob Bell has written a book contending for universal reconciliation (UR); that based upon divine love eclipsing all other attributes of God (His justice, wrath, righteousness, etc.), everybody from everywhere and from all time and from all religions, without exception, are reconciled to God.[2] As the teacher at Mars Hill Bible Church in suburban Grand Rapids, Michigan, the reader is not surprised that Love Wins is inundated with scriptural references that cite book and chapter but omit the precise verse location. This means that readers will have to make an extra effort to locate the citation to determine if it and the context really support Bell’s interpretation. I guess the average reader will just have to trust the author has got it right.

A word about tone: For writing this book, Bell knows he’ll be criticized. Some will think he’s courageous for having stated in public what many contemporary pan-evangelicals believe in private. Survey says . . .[3] Purposely, I have not read any other Internet reviews of Bell’s book for the reason of trying to retain objectivity in this review. This pastoral evaluation results from my impressions of the book, period. The eternal destiny of human beings is a serious subject and should be treated as such. Bell writes of religious people, who “shaped by their God,” become violent, a violence manifesting itself in the “toxic, venomous nature of certain discussions and debates on the Internet.”(183) Recognizing that Bell does not articulate matters of faith as I do, and as I understand the Bible to state, I hope this review will not be taken as “violent, toxic, or venomous.” The only other option for a pastor is to say nothing, and that is not an option. With this stated, we proceed . . .

After a Preface, the book consists of eight chapters, the last of which recounts Bell’s youthful conversion to the evangelical faith in his home near Lansing, Michigan, during the mid 70s. In reviewing the book, I shall attempt to follow the argument by which Bell builds his case for UR, and then comment upon it.

Preface—Millions of Us

Bell’s thesis is that the “Jesus story is first and foremost about the love of God for every single one of us . . . a stunning, beautiful, expansive love . . . for everybody, everywhere.”(Love Wins, vii)[4] This expansive love story includes all persons, from all times, from all places and from all religions . . . billions of people for whom Bell allows for no apparent exceptions. God is reconciling to Himself Nero, Hitler, Stalin and the sick-o-father who, as he molested his daughter, recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang Christian hymns.(7) Even the Canaanites were/are reconciled to Yahweh. That God’s love may be discriminatory, that heaven might be limited to God’s elect (Calvinism), or to a contemporary evangelical crowd that just wants a “personal-relationship” Jesus, Bell rejects. That’s just their “version,” he writes, a story that turns people off and away from Christianity.(viii) The idea that only a few will make it to heaven, Bell views as “misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”(viii)

In this introduction to UR, Bell plays an overwhelming numbers game—millions upon billions of souls in hell forever simply because they did not hear about Jesus. The thought is stunning. But on this point, my heart is comforted by John’s vision that in heaven he saw “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues . . . clothed with white robes” [incidentally, attire Bell derides, Love Wins, 24] (Revelation 7:9). How many people will be in heaven? Less than universalism believes, and more than what Bell thinks some of these other versions allow. . . . .

read the full article here.

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“The god of the average American church is not the God of the Bible. This god has an over-inflated and distorted sense of love, does not bring harsh judgments upon sinners, is never offensive to anyone regardless of their teachings or lifestyle, openly accepts sin, and is offended by the idea that he is sovereign over creation. He wants you to have a better marriage, a better job, a bigger car, and above all, he wants you to think he’s cool.”

from ZONICA:

His words took me by surprise. They were all at once a kind compliment and a stunning rebuke. He walked up to our booth at the conference and said, “Wes, I really enjoyed your session this afternoon. You know, of all the seminars I’ve attended at this conference, you’re the only who actually taught out of the Bible.”

Yes, you read that right. It was a Christian conference in the Midwest. There were probably a thousand people there and a hundred or more breakout sessions over the two day event.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. A few months ago I had a similar situation at another Christian conference. Again, I did several breakouts over the three day event. After my last session, which was the last speaking event of the conference, a man walked up to me and said, “That was the best talk of the entire conference. You actually quoted the Bible.”

A Devastating Trend

Across much of evangelical Christianity in America the Bible has become a secondary or non-existent source of teaching. In many places, it isn’t even referenced at all on Sunday morning. In others, a verse may be quoted to start the message, but then the rest of the time is filled with a solid dose of the pastor’s “wisdom,” either from his vast “experience” or his scholarly “learning” at some quasi-pagan seminary.

Still other churches, who claim to be “Bible-based,” avoid many of the major teachings of Scripture for fear they will offend our oh-so-sensitive culture. They’re playing the marketing game, and the total teachings of Scripture just don’t fill the seats.

And then you have those who take the Bible and distort it to accomplish their own ends, namely, building self-help clinics for personal profit.

Across the nation, the Bible is becoming less and less a part of the life of the Christian church. We are quick to rail against the Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses for using another authority for their teaching (that is, a source of teaching other than the Bible itself), but we so conveniently overlook the fact that we do the same every day.

American Christians don’t know the Bible. They know what they’ve heard on Sunday morning for years or what they think the Bible says based on their own reasoning or ideas. But the true teachings of Scripture are far from their minds and lips. Let me give you another example.

A couple of times a year a new book will sweep through the church and create a great stir. Everybody will be talking about it, and many churches will quickly put their congregations through it. “This will revive your church!” they say. “This will revolutionize your ministry!” they proudly claim. But invariably, when I pick up the book myself, I’m often left thinking, “What’s so new and revolutionary about this book? This is taught all over Scripture. Our people should already know this!”

The content of the books we rave about is content we should have learned a long time ago. And not from some new release by Zondervan or Nelson, but from the Bible itself! What we need to revive our churches and revolutionize our ministries is not another book by some clever Christian pundit, but the Word of Almighty God Himself.

One of the Major Problems for the American Church

Our churches are a mess; we’re full of sin, self-centeredness, compromise, and conflict. Most churches are failing, and most of our youth are leaving. We’re in deep trouble to say the least. However, the main cause of our troubles is not the atheists, the ACLU, the Supreme Court, or the administration in Washington (as we so like to believe); the main cause is our shallow knowledge of the Word of God.

As we face our difficulties—like overcoming sin, standing against compromise, and finding victory in conflict—we no longer have the wisdom of God to guide and instruct us. We’re left with our own wisdom, and it always fails us.

But there’s another terrible consequence of marginalizing the Bible in the life and teaching of the church: Over time we become idolaters.

In biblical times, and in fact in many places around the world today, idols were formed by taking something from creation (a tree, a rock, a bar of iron), shaping it into an image, and then ascribing to that image the characteristics of the god desired.

But today, in modern American Christianity, we have put a new twist on creating idols. We take the God of the Bible, the true God, pull Him down from heaven, and remake Him into the god both we and our politically correct culture will accept.

The god of the average American church is not the God of the Bible. This god has an over-inflated and distorted sense of love, does not bring harsh judgments upon sinners, is never offensive to anyone regardless of their teachings or lifestyle, openly accepts sin, and is offended by the idea that he is sovereign over creation. He wants you to have a better marriage, a better job, a bigger car, and above all, he wants you to think he’s cool. . . . .

read the full article here.

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from Apostasy Watch:

If you have your Bible, if you have your Bible I’d like you to turn with me to Acts chpt. 20. I’d like to read a few verses from this passage which I believe are very apropos today.

Talking to the elders in the church of Ephesus as he is preparing to go to Jerusalem where he will be bound by the Jews, and later to die. The apostle writes these words or speaks these words and Luke records them. I take you to record this day v.26, Acts 20:26. That is a direct quote from Ezek. 34 where the scripture says if you do not warn the wicked man of his wicked and he dies in his sin, I will hold you accountable for it. So we are suppose to warn the wicked of the wickedness they perform and also of the judgment of God upon them. If we don’t we become accessories after the fact of their sins.

So, Ezek. 34 is what Paul is definitely referring to. I want you to know I am free from the blood of all mankind because I am giving you the whole counsel take heed there unto yourselves and all the flock unto which the Holy Spirit has made you rulers. The Greek word episcopos- a ruler to fend or tend therefore the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood. “For I know this after I leave you savage wolves shall enter in among you and will not spare the flock.” No mercy and notice this from your own selves men shall arise speaking contrary things to draw away disciples after themselves. Therefore watch and remember for a period of three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day to the point of tears.” Now there is a twofold warning to the Christian Church.

Now we are speaking this morning on the warnings of God, the warnings of God. This passage tells you that after the apostles would leave the Church there would be savage wolves, they are characterized as wolves. Ravenous wolves who will enter in, and they will not spare the flock. Which means they will attack the flock from without, they will penetrate the sheepfold and they will chew up the sheep. Now that’s as clear as crystal right here. I know this after I leave, this is going to happen.

We have those savage wolves today. We have theologians in theological Seminaries and departments of religions of schools who literally chew up the flock. They chew up the people who are studying for the ministry and then they spit them out into our pulpits where they can chew us up. These are the savage wolves who come in not sparing the flock. Apostate’s in positions of authority in the Christian Church. Apostate’s who advocate the ordination of homosexuals, forbidden and cursed of God. Apostate’s who deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostate’s who will ordain you if you deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, and the 2nd coming. Apostate’s who dominate our denominational structures and our educational institutions. Apostate’s who have come in and are chewing up the church. That is very clearly stated here that we are to lookout for these people. Paul said I warned you day and night for three years to the point of tears. Very important. . . . .

read the full sermon here.

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from The Last Crusade:

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school
of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly
searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with
Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across
a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short
version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece
and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution;
it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and
became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19
years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand
and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding,
“An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha,
the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not
imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was
self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless,
I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked
such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be
a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going,
and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued,
“But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or
spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the
presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were
on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was,
“Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought
aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about
her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a
business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her
question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically,
is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we
love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not
know God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates
in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what
we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would
bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him
for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we
can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business,
merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded
to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ–that’s pretty
intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love
someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone,
is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or
prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered
the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?”
I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does
what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but
only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would
happen if God stopped paying me?”

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover
my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of
God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He
never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please
understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The
issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is
the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings
in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have
earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any
conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.
Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by
my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed
with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in
my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved,
but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?
There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for
that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both
places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no
substitute or unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I
mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another
look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.

-Dr. David Ryser.

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