Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

A tug-of-war at the Vatican intensified Thursday, Oct. 16th over calls for the Catholic Church to be more open to gays and cohabiting couples as conservative bishops sought to rein in or renounce language they feared might condone lifestyles not in accord with Church teachings. A final report was epitomized by the re-translation in the text that reads: “Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing them a place of fellowship in our communities?”

Many conservative Christians are up in arms over the fact that the Pope is considering providing homosexuals a place of fellowship in his churches. And yet, these same Christians seem to overlook the more dangerous aspect of this ruling—allowing unrepentant sinners to be included in the Church community.

Contrary to popular belief, homosexuality is NOT the thing that God hates the most.

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Isn’t it interesting that homosexuality is not even mentioned as one of the seven things that God hates?

The Bible tells us, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1Cor. 5:12-13)

But in the preceding verse, the apostle warns us that anyone who CLAIMS to be a Christian but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler, we’re not to even to associate with such people.

I firmly believe that those in the Church should not judge or reproach those outside the Church who are unrepentant, but I also believe that all believers should take responsibility for those who do not repent from public sin that bring reproach on the name of Christ.

The great revivalist, Charles Finney is quoted as saying, “When the Church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time for the Church to awake and cry to God for a revival of religion.”

The Church used to be an uncompromising beacon of light to this darkened world. So when did it change?

Years ago I had a conversation with some people who were discussing how to get more unsaved people to come to church. They were shocked when I said, “You don’t.”

I’m not suggesting that we place guards at the door of the church and check people for salvation, but I don’t encourage people to invite unrepentant sinners into a church service either. Here is the reason why:

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: Ask the priests what the law says: If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?  The priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.” Then Haggai said, “So it is with this people and this nation in my sight, declares the LORD. Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:11-14)

Let me paraphrase in modern terms what Haggai was saying. If a person smells fresh and clean who had just showered hugs a skunk, would the skunk start to smell better, or would the person begin to stink? And if a person was hospitalized for a highly contagious disease and a healthy person came to visit them, would the sick person get better, or would the healthy person become sick? This is what has happened to God’s Church and our nation!

It began oh so subtly. First we thought, “Let’s bring the unsaved into our church service so they can hear the gospel.” Then we said, “Let’s make them feel more part of our church and let them greet people at the door.” Then we said, “Let’s let them teach a Sunday school class.” And now we have pastors who have been convicted of sexual immorality, idolatry, slander, drunkenness and defrauding their congregation of money! It seems as if the devil himself has been invited to church!

Some have told me that they invite unsaved people to church so that they can hear the gospel. To those people I say that they need to repent of their laziness! Because Luke 14:22-23 says WE are to go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in…So that God’s HOUSE may be filled. Not our church building, but that GOD”S HOUSE may be filled.

Sermons and Bible teaching do not save people. Only God’s Spirit convicts and saves the sinner. I know of many people, (myself included) that were saved outside of a church building. I know of one man who was saved in the middle of a Led Zeppelin concert!

Realistically we can’t keep unsaved people from coming to a church service. But we need to allow God’ Spirit to bring them in and not some evangelistic program. Throughout the New Testament, the early Christians met with one another to worship together, to learn together and to disciple one another. Everywhere Paul went, he raised up churches that were eager to share their faith and zeal with one another. But nowhere in the New Testament does it mention anyone inviting unrepentant sinners to be part of the Church.

So let’s stop judging those outside the Church and start examining ourselves INSIDE the Church. I pray that God will send a spirit of conviction and repentance to His Church and give her the courage to change the world!

World population as of 2014 is 7.2 billion and growing. Out of that, there are a total of over 3 billion churches. There is no official directory for all the congregations in the county, because sociologists of religion have to rely on statistical estimates from surveys. These are often disputed, and to complicate matters even more, thousands of new churches open each year while thousands of others close. The Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States with millions of members in each congregation.

So if we are all members of the “Body of Christ” why is there so much disagreement between different congregations?

Several hundred years ago in many countries there was only one church that was tolerated. But when people began to immigrate to the United States, they were free to bring their own religious beliefs and practices with them—and they did. Many of our major denominations trace their beginnings back to their European roots—Lutherans from Scandinavia, for example, or Presbyterians from Scotland.
In spite of the differences in religious practices, all Christians should agree on the central truths of the Gospel:
• That we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
• That Jesus was born in the flesh, was crucified, died for our sins and was resurrected after three days.
• If we confess our sins God will forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life.

What do you believe?
Beyond these core beliefs, most Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man and after his death he was buried, rose again and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever. They believe that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in this doctrine.

Many Christians from mainstream Christianity consider denominations with non-Trinitarian beliefs to be cults and will not inherit eternal life in heaven; but are condemned to the everlasting fires of hell. But is this really biblically factual?

I have had many stimulating conversations with Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons as well as other Christians. I have to say that most of their doctrinal beliefs are based on Scripture. But the ones that aren’t, do not condemn them either.

In Acts 15 we read that while Paul and Barnabas were in Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the Gentile believers that unless they were circumcised they couldn’t be saved. The church sent them to Jerusalem to meet together with the other apostles to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” In the end they concluded, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to lay no greater burden on the Gentiles than to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. Isn’t it interesting that neither Paul nor any of the apostles mentioned observing God’s feast days, keeping Kosher, or even mentioned the Trinity doctrine as a condition for salvation?

Again we read in Acts 16:25-31, that after an earthquake had released Paul and Silas from jail, the jailer rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Again, there was no mention of following doctrinal beliefs in order to be saved. He only said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

We need to keep in mind that God’s plan for His Church was to bring unity to His followers—while denominations, by their very design, brings division and dissension.

If we are truly “One Body in Christ” then we should put away division and  judgment and focus on what’s really important—that we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1Cor. 12:12)

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Rom 12:3-5)