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May 12, 2020  

Faith in Christ: The Often-Watered-Down Message

May 12, 2020

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Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)

What is being in the faith? Without question, it is faith in Christ Jesus. I don’t think any believer would argue with that, but just in case, here are some verses about it: Acts 3:16, 6:7, 14:22, 16:5, 26:18; Romans 3:22, 26; Galatians 3:22; Philippians 1:27, where a parallel is drawn between the gospel of Christ and the faith of the gospel; Colossians 1:4, 23, 2:5, 7, 12, and so on. First Timothy 3:13 settles it for me: “in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

The following portion of the Scripture tells us exactly how the faith in Christ is defined. Do you want to know what the Apostle Paul called the faith in Christ? It is clearly stated when Paul preached to Governor Felix and his wife Drusilla.

24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self- control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid (became frightened, “trembled” in at least 7 translations, terrified, much alarmed) and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:24, 25 NET- parenthesis- my comment)

Faith in Christ was defined in this passage as a message that expounded on righteousness, self-control, and judgement to come. What? Really? Does that sound like most modern-day “gospel” messages concerning faith in Christ? That was the essence of Paul’s gospel message.

Some would say that there is no need to tell sinners they need self-control or to speak of judgment because that would not be very loving towards them, but Paul did that. Some may think that to speak to sinners about righteousness is a waste of time, or not something that will be conducive to their conversion, and that it may turn them off to the gospel. Tell that to the Apostle Paul. The text calls righteousness, self-control, and judgement to come a “faith in Christ” message. Have our gospel messages been missing some things?

Righteousness, self-control, and judgment as the definition of ministering the faith in Christ sounds almost identical to what Jesus said the Holy Spirit was sent to do.

“And He, when He comes, He will convict (expose, convict, reprove, rebuke) the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8 NKJV)

What Paul stated to Felix, and what Jesus said to His disciples, were both referring to the same thing. Paul used the term “self-control” when talking about “sin”. The connection between sin and a lack of self-control should be obvious. If you sin, it is because you did not exercise self-control. Self-control is control of your actions by the Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Self” does not infer that you are by yourself or that you are alone in this matter. It infers that the action starts with you. The Holy Spirit is not your enforcer, but He is your Helper. (John 16:7) In other words, the Holy Spirit will help you to do what is right. He will not make you obey God’s Word, but He will help you to do what is right according to God’s Word.

The word convict (Gr. elegcho) in John 16:8 is translated in Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon as “reprehend severely, call to account, correct, to show one his fault.” The same word is found in 2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Tim. 5:20; Titus 1:13, 2:15; Hebrews 12:5, and in the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:19:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (NKJV)

Rebuke, that is, to reprehend severely, call to account, correct, to show one his fault must come when a lack of self-control is evident. (See also elegcho in John 3:20, 1Corinthians 14:24, and Ephesians 5:11.) Sin is the result of a lack of self-control that opposes God’s Word and commandments. James 1:14-16 in the Amplified Bible clarifies the process of sin from lust or some evil desire, to conception, and to execution. 

The word elegcho in Luke 3:18, 19 is translated rebuked:

18 And in this way, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed good news to the people. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds that he had done.

John the Baptizer was proclaiming the “good news” or the gospel to the people, and it was not at all sugar and spice and everything nice. Go back into Luke chapter three and begin reading from verse three. You will see all the elements of rebuking, such as “reprehend severely, call to account, CORRECT, to show one his fault.” He called those practicing sin “offspring of vipers”! That was not your typical sermonette with all smiles and niceties!

7Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Luke 3:7-9 NET)

Then, to top it all off, he had the gall to call Herod the tetrarch to account because of his adulterous relationship with the wife of his brother. Verse 18 says that even with all of John’s rebuke, correction, conviction, exposing, and calling to account that it was THE GOSPEL, the proclamation of the good news!

And in this way, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed good news to the people. (Luke 3:18 NKJV)

Good news of the gospel? Does Luke chapter 3 sound like our interpretation of what can be included in a good gospel message? No, it does not! It makes one wonder if something could be missing from our gospel messages if it is only preaching about salvation, healing, and the blessings of God! Yes, there is something terribly missing if that is all the people hear out of their preacher or pastor. Sometimes, there must be rebuke, correction, conviction, exposing, and calling to account. These cannot be left out when necessary, that is, IF it is a real gospel message. John was a minister according to the meaning of a true gospel message.

Even Jesus was tough and no-nonsense often, and He was specifically anointed to announce the good news or gospel message. (Luke 4:18) Take a look at Matthew 23 where He viciously rebukes the hypocritical among the Pharisees, and slams Jerusalem for killing the prophets sent to it. Read the whole chapter. It's an eye opener.

Does the following sound like any "good news message" we know of today? Remember, Jesus said this, and it was not "sugar and spice, and everything nice." I say this because many think all Jesus taught was love and acceptance (tolerance), and He was always soft toned, and tame as a little lamb. Nothing could be further from the truth! Here are some excerpts from the fiery preacher and astonishing powerhouse known as Jesus:

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!... Therefore you will receive greater condemnation... Fools and blind... You make your followers twice the sons of hell that you are... “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence... For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness... " 

And, one more for the road:  "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" 

Jesus was no pushover.

In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 His rebukes and calling into account were hard and often harsh. It is true He also praised the churches when they did what was right, but He held nothing back in His messages to the churches when a sharp rebuke was necessary. 

Now read in Mathew 11:20-24 and the Master's rebuke against the cities of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum because even though great miracles were done in them, they refused to repent. He condemned Capernaum to hell (Hades)! That was good gospel preaching, but wait because there is more.

So, you want acceptance or tolerance in the words of Jesus? Here is His idea of acceptance and tolerance for those that refuse to repent and continue in their sin. Are you ready? It's a spanking for the backside!

23"And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:23, 24 NKJV)

There's your tolerance. 

I’ll never forget one brother in the Lord, himself a minister and teacher, that told me before I stood to preach and minister, “Brother, just preach Heaven to them. Give them Heaven!” I knew something was off, but it took me some time to learn from the Lord what it was. If all you do is preach “good or inspiring verses” and uplifting and positive messages without the other we have been talking about, then we have missed Heaven’s idea of good news.

It may not seem like all of what John the Baptizer preached was good news, but that would be an assessment from a human perspective. From the Scriptural perspective, and therefore from God’s viewpoint, it was all good news because it brought conviction and correction. John’s gospel message called people to account and allowed the Father to work on their hearts so repentance would come, and real change could take place in their lives! Think about that.

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (Revelation 14:6 NET)

Are you ready for a shift in your thinking? It will shock all those that think “gospel” is sweetie pie and kind preaching. It will shock all those that think we should have sweetness in our gospel message because if it gets too harsh people will leave or tune out the message. 

Next is a sample of the eternal gospel, but pay close attention to the content. It covers areas not traditionally understood as a gospel message.

7 He declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!” 8 A second angel followed the first, declaring: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city! She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.” 9 A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, 10 that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.” 12 This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:7-13 NET)

Gospel announcement included revelation, instruction, rebuke, correction, mention of God’s anger and wrath, the lake of fire for the followers of the beast, and the hour of God’s judgment! It pointed out the immorality of those following Babylon’s example. Notice that gospel preaching includes faith in Jesus, but also mentions obedience to God’s moral commandments. It even speaks of the coming judgment where believers will be rewarded for their good works.

Wow, all that and a call to the fear of God to headline that gospel message! Does that sound anywhere near to what many believe to be the gospel message? Gospel includes a whole lot more than salvation, healing, deliverance, and the blessing of God. Gospel includes more than telling people about the plan of salvation and the Lord Jesus. 

Here is more proof of what I am writing about.

9 Realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching. 11 This accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed God that was entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:9-11 NET)

What? Paul says that these are in accord or agree with the glorious gospel message. That means that within the gospel message there will preaching against these sinful lifestyles and practices. Why, because at times there must be exposing of these things. There must be correction and calling to account even before the lawless, rebellious, ungodly, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, sexually immoral, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers and for all those that live contrary to sound teaching. That means that sound teaching will teach people to live contrary to all those things mentioned or inferred. 

The references in Luke, Revelation and First Timothy reveal that the gospel includes all these elements usually not associated with “gospel preaching.” What gospel message are you listening to?

In general, many in the body of Christ have gotten away from such preaching themes. Messages have been watered down to the place they often sound like psychological hogwash and not like the Bible.

At one church I attended, they brought in some foolish person to teach that women see through pink glasses and men through blue. Could you imagine that instead of going to the Scripture, they were teaching that nonsense to couples at Church? I exited and never went back after the first few minutes of the man’s psychological talk. It was all talk with ZERO anointing! It was all an offshoot of the “women are from Venus” and “men are from Mars” psycho-babble that is really against the sound teaching of Scripture.

So many churches have moved away from real strong gospel messages, and have embraced messages of self-help, cotton-candy, sugar-coated fluff meant to “inspire” the senses instead of informing, rebuking when necessary, correcting weird and wrong ideas, exposing sin, and revealing the truth of God’s Word. Churches have often become country clubs and entertainment venues with no power from heaven, no anointing, and no conviction. Some started with an anointing, and later lost it by trying to become respectable and likeable. 

Some have gotten away from ministering to the sick through the laying on of hands (of course, dead churches don’t do that anyway), and many no longer pray in public for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in other tongues. I am speaking about so-called Spirit-filled churches or Pentecostal, Charismatic, Full-Gospel churches. Many no longer have altar calls. If they pray for people to receive Jesus, it is done without an altar call. Everybody is led in a prayer and the “saved” no longer make a public confession of their faith in Christ Jesus. Have you noticed that some churches let altar workers pray with those that stay after the service is dismissed? The pastor rarely prays for people.

Other churches, instead of teaching the saints according to God’s Word, they entertain their audience for an hour or two! Hollywood style entertainment has invaded many churches with their “broad is the way” (known as Broadway) replacing the straight and narrow way Jesus taught.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13, 14 NKJV)

So, what did Paul preach according to the faith in Christ to Felix and Drusilla? Here it is in a nutshell.

1. Righteousness:

The main points:

* It is a gift (Romans 4:23-25, 5:17) received upon initially believing and trusting in what Jesus did and provided for us when God raised Him from the dead and we confessed Him as our Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9, 10).

*The gift can be interrupted by sin, but confessing our sins before the Lord, we can be forgiven and cleansed from all un-righteousness, restoring our relation to God. See 1 John 1:7-10, 2:1,2.

*Righteousness includes righteous living according to God’s moral commandments.

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him… Little children let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous… In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (1 John 2:29, 3:7, 10 NKJV)

See also Titus 2:11, 12; and compare it with Titus 1:8, where a leader must be “righteous”. If righteousness is only a gift that has nothing to do with conduct or lifestyle (Christian character) then why bother to list it as a qualification? No, Paul taught that righteousness is also a lifestyle of doing what is right. See also 1 Timothy 6:11- “pursue righteousness, godliness” and 2 Tim. 2:22- “flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Even after our initial cleansing in the blood and the renewal in the Spirit that placed us in His righteousness, we must pursue righteous living as an everyday reality.

2. Self-control

Main points:

Self-control is “self-restraint, temperance, control of ones passions, desires, and sexual impulses.” It means to control yourself according to God’s word and commandments, His requirements.

You dominate your body’s unruly desires. The Holy Spirit will not do it all for you. He requires your personal and individual participation. He will empower you to have dominion over your body and rule over any passion or evil desire that would try to get you off the Word and holiness.

It is God’s armor, but we must put it on. God will not put the armor on you. (Eph. 6:10-17)

We are to put off the old man and put on the new man. (Eph. 4: 22, 24)

We cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, and we put on the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:12-14)

The above means that every Christian has a daily responsibility. Every day we are to take up our cross and follow Him. If we do not put on Jesus today, then we are without Him during that day. If we do not put on the armor of light daily, then it never will come on you on its own. Nothing is automatic in God’s kingdom and you have responsibilities, orders, commandments, requirements, duties, and something is demanded of you daily.

Some have said, “Oh, I just couldn’t help it. I just had to do it.” Lies, Lies, Lies! That person didn’t submit to God and did not resist the devil. (James 4:7) They yielded to the unrenewed mind, conformity to the world, and the old man. They yielded to works of the flesh. Nobody made them do anything. They did it!

Examine every time you ever did something wrong. I have and I know that I yielded to sin because I flat out desired the wrong thing. I let the wrong thing get into my mind and work on my flesh, and I sinned! It was not God’s fault but my own.

An admission like that demonstrates spiritual growth when you are willing to admit or confess your faults and receive forgiveness and cleansing from the Lord. (See James 5:16. And 1 John 1:9.) That truly demonstrates humility when you admit your wrongs and come before God in repentance. (See Proverbs 28:13.) The humble are the ones that get the grace (1 Peter 5:5, 6). Examine yourself whether you are in the faith! Isn’t that our main text from 2 Corinthians 13:5?

3. Coming Judgment

Main points:

Eternal judgment in Hebrews 6:1, 2 is one of the principal teachings of Christ. Eternal judgment is both for the righteous and the wicked. There is eternal judgment and a judgment that comes on those that refuse to repent and continue to practice sin.

*Judgment on the wicked: Revelation 20:4, 12, 13, 21:7.

*The judgment seat of Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:10.

*Judging yourself so you stay out of judgment while on the earth: See 1 Corinthians 11:29, 34.

First John 1:9 is a great and powerful gift to the followers of Jesus. It is our way out of certain judgment and our way back into cleansing, forgiveness, and the unchanging righteousness of Jesus. For forgiveness and cleansing, all we have is His shed blood for us. He is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins (1 John 2:1, 2), and His blood cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

We have much more to say about all this, but that is sufficient for today. Hear the podcast Repentance Part 10 and be mightily blessed!

 

 

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Get A Call to Return: Restoring The Roots of Our Relationship With Jesus as an ebook, softcover, or hardcover book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook, Westbow Press, or order it through your favorite bookstore.

From the Back Cover:

A Call to Return—Restoring the Roots of Our Relationship with Jesus explores the depths of the Scriptures to excavate, refine, and lift up its words of power, revealing deep truths that will radically change the lives of believers. By tapping into this rich vein of biblical insight, Dan Alan Rodriguez offers Christians the insights to enable them to set out upon paths of discipleship that follow Jesus closely and that lead to profound experiences of His presence and power.

Drawing upon the author’s study of first-century Judaism and Christianity and resting upon a diverse array of sources steeped in the foundational texts of these traditions, the twelve chapters of A Call to Return address a series of interlocking topics: a prophetic call to return; the revival of lawlessness; the revival, purpose, and preexistence of God’s commandments; the church’s commandments and their connections to faith, grace, and good works; the association of works of the law to Jewish tradition and ceremony; holiness; the fear of the Lord; each believer as a temple of the holy; and the meaning of loving the Lord Jesus.

If you have a sense that Jesus’s message and ministry are calling you to embark upon a walk with Him that might take you away from all in Christianity that requires no accountability or responsibility before God, then A Call to Return—Restoring the Roots of Our Relationship with Jesus is the right book for you to read. It will give you the keys for understanding and responding to the Lord’s call to return to Him and to follow where He leads.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:29 NASB).

The PDF of the entire book is free of charge! Use this link to go to the page and download it. Be mightily blessed!

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Faith that Receives the Grace of God is so important for you and me right now! There is an abundance of strange teaching in the area of grace. Grace has become for many a proposition "sin all you want without accountability", and a "do-nothing to receive from God." Grace for many is a rejection of Biblical moral commandments, and for others it is a denial of the words of Jesus. Grace, when it is in its right place Scripturally, is beautiful, abundant, and powerful, but it can be misused and misapplied. Unfortunately, grace is often taught wrongly. Instead of amazing grace, it has become gross, devilish, pseudo “grease” and not the Blood-bought-grace taught in the New Testament! This book was written so the Biblical perspective on faith and grace could be clearly presented by using verses in their context and according to the intent of the writers of the New Testament. If you have questions in this area, this free 266-page book is for you. Download the free PDF file here.

 

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Documento portátil (PDF) es completamente gratis.

Tres Días y Tres Noches en el Corazón de la Tierra debe ser una parte necesaria en la vida de todo Cristiano. El libro enseña específicamente acerca del sacrificio de Jesús. Esto incluye la cruz, resurrección, y especialmente lo que tomó lugar durante las horas en que el espíritu de Jesús dejó Su cuerpo, y cuando su cuerpo fue resucitado de entre los muertos. El mundo tiene sus héroes, pero lo que Jesús hizo por nosotros lo hace el Supremo y Máximo Héroe y Conquistador de todo el universo. La derrota de Satanás, y la potestad dada a la iglesia en el Nombre de Jesucristo, fueron actos sin igual en la eternidad. No te pierdas este libro GRATIS. Ninguna película ha mostrado el verdadero sufrimiento del Maestro en el Calvario y en el centro de la tierra. Prepárate para una aventura gloriosa. Descarga el libro PDF completo usando este eslabón.

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Here are some important and powerful Scripture references that teach about giving and receiving. 

Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support].(Galatians 6:6 Amplified Bible)

If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits? (1 Corinthians 9:11 (Amplified Bible)

God is able to make every good and perfect gift come to you as you give. He has abundance in mind for the generous giver because He wants such a one to be a conduit (not a reservoir) to continue being generous. Believe it! Where is that in Scripture? Look closely at 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 in the Amplified Bible version:

Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed]. Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift].(A) And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. As it is written and forever remains written, He [the benevolent and generous person] scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever!”(B) 10 Now He who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed for sowing [that is, your resources] and increase the harvest of your righteousness [which shows itself in active goodness, kindness, and love].(C) 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous, and this [generosity, administered] through us is producing thanksgiving to God [from those who benefit].

Let that sink in, and note how giving and God's blessing on the giver are revealed in those verses. Wow!

Use the following links to give into this ministry to help me expand the outreach and spread the Word:

paypal.me/danalanrodriguez

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God loves a cheerful giver; He delights in those whose heart is their gift!

Be mightily blessed as you give generously!