9

Christ And The Rich Young Ruler - Heinrich Hofmann

 

We've been poking around in the story of the rich young ruler all week, and the question comes to mind:

Why didn’t Jesus simply ask this wealthy man to give what was prescribed by the law?

I mean, Jesus took him to the law when the man asked how to inherit eternal life. Why not just walk him through all the offerings required throughout the Jewish year. I am told if you look at it legalistically it comes to somewhere around a third of your income in the various tithes and required offerings.

This is the heart of the story, if the truth be told.

Jesus was not looking for him to keep the law. He was not looking to add a rich giver to his entourage. In fact, in the end we find that Jesus invited him to first become poor, and then follow Him.

Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." - Matthew 19:21

This has been rolling around in my spirit all week, and I am sure I will be back to it again, but for today I have this short message.

God is not looking for a 10th of you – not a tenth of your income, not a half hour of you quiet time, not a segment of your social media, not one day a week.

Our Father wants all of you.

All your money.
All your time.
All your talent.
All your attention.

There – I said it. That’s the message of the rich young ruler.

Lord, help me to live fully abandon to your will and your way.

Nora and PapaThanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

If you have not read the "What Am I Lacking?" a first person account of this encounter, check it out - I think it will help.

11

question-mark

Have you ever wondered, “Is that a sin?”

It’s the wrong question.

It’s actually the question satan wants you to ask.

WHAT – I just don’t want to offend God – I don’t want to do the wrong thing – What’s wrong with that?

OK – OK – hold on there. I am not saying we should just forge ahead and do questionable stuff.

What I am saying is that the question is actually an old Covenant question.

It’s a throw back to the Garden of Eden if the truth be told.

Remember – 2 trees.

And what did satan want Eve to do?

Eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Do you see the problem with the question?

Life – eternal life – does not come through making all the right behavioral choices. It does not come through avoiding sinS. In fact it was TotKoGaE (boy – that’s an ugly acronym) that ushered them (and us) into death.

The other tree is called the Tree of Life.

Jesus, in His high priestly prayer said:

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. - John 17:3 NASB

This verse really got me thinking.

If I ask you – what is eternal life – how would you answer?

A mansion in glory?

Avoidance of hell?

Eternal life is a life of knowing the Father and His son Jesus.

The life we are called to is not one of knowing right and wrong, (though He does write all that in our hearts,) it is a life in communion with Jesus, in relationship with God.

I started by saying “Is that a sin?” is the wrong question. The right question is what I used to ask my mom all the time. It has two parts. Ready – here it is:

Father, what are you doing? Can I help?

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for coming by.

Keep shining.

Ben

5

question-mark

My wife heard a speaker the other day say:

“We say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin, but the Bible says that God hates sinners.”

This declaration was startling and unsettling to my wife and others and it got us talking. She posed the question to me, and told me the references the speaker quoted were from the Psalms.

Here is what we found in Psalm 5 and 11:

The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.**

Psalms 5:5-6 NASB

The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.

Psalms 11:4-5 NASB

In pondering this question, my first reaction was to go to the revelation in the New Testament of God’s love. We have clear teaching in the New Testament that God loved us while we were sinners:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ... For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. - Romans 5:8, 10 NASB

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:16 NASB

What do we do with this?

I want to approach this question from two sides.

First we will look at love and hate from a biblical perspective.

Then we must look at how the Father views sin and sinners.

Let me first state that when I approach a subject like this, I take the Bible to be authoritative – both Old and New Testament. If I don’t understand what is going on, the shortfall is on my side, not in the Word.

The great thing is that God has told us if we lack wisdom, we can ask of Him and He will give it liberally and without recourse. (That makes me happy!)

Love and Hate

Back to the question at hand. How can an unchanging God love sinners in the NT and hate them in the OT? Did He change? Nope. In fact you will find a reference to God hating even in the NT:

Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED." - Romans 9:13 NASB

We can’t say that the blood of Jesus made it possible for God to love us, because the blood was shed not to allow God’s love but as a result of God’s love.

Where do we go?

I believe the difficulty here is that we have broken the word love. We have taken our definition of love from Hallmark rather than the holy and pure Word of God.

I fully believe that God has emotions. He has compassion, pity, anger, sadness, and joy. But what if love and hate are not emotions? What if they were not feelings at all? What if they are actions – attitudes - choices?

What if love is a deliberate choice to behave like this:

Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

God’s definition of love is not feeling based but choice based. This is why He can command us to love. He does not command us to feel, but to do, to be loving. In a recent sermon on this topic, my friend Todd Lukas made the statement "Hate is not the opposite of Love, Pride is," which when you are working with this Bible definition of Love, makes a ton of sense.

And what if hate was a deliberate choice to exercise wrath? If you take the time to read more than just the favorite verses above in Romans 5 and John 3 you will find that each passage mentions not only the love of God but also the wrath of God.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. - Romans 5:9 NKJV

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. ... "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." - John 3:18, 36 NKJV

I can tell you authoritatively that God loves sinners, and that an unrepentant sinner faces the wrath of God even while God loves him.

I can tell you for sure that Jesus drank the cup of the Father’s wrath that was stored up against all sinners – for me – for you – for us – for them. He paid the price for our sin. He took the wrath of God – the reality of God’s hatred toward sinners – the outward expression of God’s hatred for sin – upon Himself.

I can tell you for sure that because of this – Jesus’ amazing act of love – the Father’s amazing act of love – there is no longer anything keeping a sinner from coming to the Father. The Father’s hatred was swallowed up by His love.

Sin and Sinners

I do want to take one further approach to this question. It is on the front of how the Father views sin and sinners.

Let’s go back to the common truism passed off as scripture these days – “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” We have seen that God loved us in our sin and offered up Jesus. But how did He offer Him up?

Check this out:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB

Notice here that the Father made Christ sin – He did not make Him a sinner – He did not make Him sinful – He made Him sin.

Notice also that the Father made us the righteousness of God – He did not make us righteous people, but He made us righteousness. We were not just sinners – we were sin. You have heard it called a sin nature. Your very nature was a nature of sin. When God looked at you without the blood of Christ He did not see a sinner – He saw sin.

This is why Christ had to become sin – this is the great substitution. Christ became sin and you and I become righteousness.

Now God can look at us and delight in us! He can rejoice over us! He can look at us and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” You are righteousness in human form.

Perhaps you get an idea of why I so abhor the label of sinner being applied to those of us who have been born again. Christ’s atonement is complete and effectual. It leaves nothing of the old man behind. [Tweet This] He is dead and in the grave. He was left there when Christ rose from the dead.

Let me close with this passage from Romans 6.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. - Romans 6:3-7 NASB

Talk to me about this?

What do you think?

How do you understand these things?

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

 

** As an aside - I wonder if David's understanding of God's abhorrence for liars and those who shed blood changed after his encounter with Bathsheba and Uriah? Was this written before he learned of how God would forgive and love David even after he committed these very sins?

20

question-mark

Ok – so I know that I am stepping into controversial territory here. As you can see from my home church’s statement of faith, those who formed this church and wrote this document clearly are in the 'once saved always saved' camp.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

It would be fair to say there are good solid passionate Christians on both sides of this issue.

I could (and have) argued this from scripture on both sides of this issue.

There are scriptures that sound a lot like you could walk away from faith, like this:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. - Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB

Right on the other hand there are passages like this from Romans 8 that make it seem incomprehensible that anything could ever break a relationship forged by God Himself.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39 NASB

I have known people who have been “Christians” for decades and later renounced Christ. So did they know Christ, or were they faking, or deceived into thinking they were something they were not.

Were they play acting all along, and finally just decided it was not worth playing games.

Here’s the thing. I think the problem is not with the Gospel, and the ability of God to hold onto Christians.

I think the problem is with our gospel and the fact that we are substituting lists of things to think (creeds) for relationship. We are convincing people of facts about Jesus, and they get passionate about this information, but eventually when someone comes along with better information, or a better argument, or more charisma, they finally give up and drop the argument.

Isn't that in effect what happened with Israel time and time again? At the outset God wanted a relationship with people, but the people He chose sent Moses, and said - you talk to God for us, and tell us what He wants us to do. That is the pagan approach to a deity. What He, God, wanted them to do is talk to Him and walk with Him. Over and over in Jeremiah and Ezekiel particularly God says, 'then they will be my people and I will be their God.' (Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 11:20; 14:11; 37:23; 37:27)

I am not persuaded that someone who has genuinely received a new heart from the Lord, one who has gotten a heart of flesh, with the law of love written deep within could ever renounce that. I don't see how anyone into whom the Lord God almighty has breathed the breath of life, could turn their back.

We are not good at making disciples (learners under discipline) but we do OK with making converts.

Converts can be converted, disciples are ruined for life. [Tweet This]

I understand that the Bible is ambiguous in this area, and I am ok with that – in fact – I might be a tad ambiguous here too, just to keep it fair.

My plan for life and my advise to you:
Keep your relationship with the Lord real and current. Stay in His word, and obey what He tells you. Listen for His voice, and keep His Word.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father do, and only said what He heard the Father say, and that obedience served Him well. The disciple is not above His master, so you and I need to walk like Jesus.

The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. - 1 John 2:4-6 NASB

There is grave danger in the "Once saved, always saved" attitude as I learned when I went to share the gospel with a young man who I knew to be a womanizer at the time. He was living a loose life and boldly so. When I asked him about his faith, he told me he was a Christian. He had asked Jesus into his heart as a young boy, and was counting on that "prayer" to get him into heaven.

I told him the story of Nineveh, the city that repented and was 'saved' in the book of Jonah, only to be condemned in the book of Nahum without even the briefest opportunity for repentance. They had repented of their repentance. In Jonah, they repented out of fear, but they never believed, put their faith and trust in the God of Israel.

The only secure place is in the vine. If you will abide in the vine, in Jesus, and let Him abide in you, you will do well and your salvation is secure.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Abiding in the vine,

Ben

11

Thanks to Pastor J. for the Church Photo - Check out his blog - Lillie-Put: http://josephelonlillie.com/

Today – a short discussion of why many, if not most, Christians celebrate a Sunday Sabbath, and what the Bible has to say about it. I hope you will allow me a bit of word study here.

I will preface this post as I often do, stating that I am not a scholar. My info comes from study of concordances and other reference works, and some teaching I have received along the way, but I am not a Greek expert – or even a Greek student. So please take this as offered – my slightly informed opinion.

For starters lets get the dogma out of the discussion. Paul clearly says it does not matter how you celebrate your Sabbath. I am convinced that there were Saturday Sabbatarians and Sunday Sabbatarians in the early church, and Paul addresses it this way:

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. - Colossians 2:16-17

[We will have to come back and ponder the second half of this verse soon, since it hints at my question from last week – What was this Sabbath commissioned to do in the life of a Christian?]

Back to today’s question – Saturday or Sunday.

As I have been studying the Sabbath for the last couple weeks, I found that when I search the New Testament for the word Sabbath I get  61 matches in 56 verses. On the other hand, if I search the Greek word most often translated Sabbath, “σάββατον – Sabbaton” I get 68 results in 62 verses.

The funny thing is that the word is most often translated Sabbath or Sabbaths – like this:

And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, - Acts 17:2

…but other times it is translated like this:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. - Acts 20:7

The only real difference is this little Greek word “εἷς - heis” which is translated first or one. If you will remember from our discussion last week, the names of the days in Hebrew (again – I read this, I am not a scholar) are simply numbers – first day, second day… except the Sabbath – the only day with its own name.

If you look at the word Sabbath in the NT, it is most often speaking of Jesus, or Paul doing something involving the Jews, either in the synagogue or temple, or someplace they were gathering on their Sabbath day.

So how do we get a Sunday Sabbath?

Check out this verse where it is actually used both ways in the same verse.

Now after the Sabbath [Greek- Sabbaton], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week [Greek – heis Sabbaton], Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. - Matthew 28:1

You can probably guess what is happening in the context here, can’t you. This is the resurrection of Jesus Christ! This is the day of all days, when the Father, Son and Holy Spirit collaborated in the most important event since God started the clocks running in the beginning.

This day was so significant, that the Jews who followed their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, began to celebrate The First day of the week – Sunday to us – as their new Sabbath. You will notice every time the New Testament translates this phrase “heis sabbaton” it is either referring to the resurrection or the gather of the saints.

So then this verse at the beginning of Matthew 28 is somewhat of a transition from a Saturday Sabbath to a Sunday Sabbath.

In reality, in the life of a believer, everyday is set apart for God, right?

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalms 118:24

So in one sense there is no distinction. But I think we see in these couple of verses from early Church that Sunday was the day the Church gathered to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and share in community.

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. - Acts 20:7

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. - 1 Corinthians 16:2

As we are the body of Christ, it is important that we spend time in community, in fellowship with other parts of the body. The early church ate together, they prayed together, they learned and were taught together, they shared what they were hearing from the Lord together, and they gave into the needs of the body, and to the poor together.

I urge you not to forsake the gathering of the body. Everything Christ commanded us has to do with our relationships. Let’s foster community where we can. [Tweet This]

Sorry – got off topic there.

You can celebrate a Sabbath any day you want, but I am sticking with Sunday.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Shine where you’re screwed in today.

Ben

Hey - if you enjoy these posts, and are on Facebook, would you do me a favor and click "Like" over on the side bar? Thanks!

9

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My friend Felecia from A Life Sanctified (a wonderful blog, I highly recommend you follow) asks:

Q: Ephesians 6:12 says (in the NLT) “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

As you probably know, I did a blog post on this verse and purposely didn’t address what falls after the last comma because I don’t really understand it. I’ve always been a touch concerned about the “evil spirits in heavenly places.” WHY would God allow evil spirits in Heaven? Is “heavenly places” some peripheral part of Heaven? Perhaps just outside the pearly gates where Pinkerton’s patrol to keep out the “evil spirits?”

This is a great question Felecia, and I do have some thoughts. Admittedly some of what follows is extrapolated from what is written explicitly, but I will try to document why I believe what I believe as much as possible. The executive summary is that there are three different things referred to as "heavens" in the Bible.

The Third Heaven

Let’s start with Paul’s telling of his (we assume) trip to the “third heaven.”

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a man was caught up to the third heaven. - 2 Corinthians 12:2

From his description

was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. - 2 Corinthians 12:4

I think it is safe to say this is what you and I might call heaven, where you would find the throne room of the Almighty. This is the place described by John, Isaiah and others, the location of the sea of glass, and that heavenly worship service.

This would also be the heaven we are invited to be seated in, since it is the heaven Jesus was raised up to:

which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, … and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, - Ephesians 1:20, 2:6

The First Heaven

Then there are many references in the Bible that speak of the “heavens” that are clearly that which we can see and perceive with our natural senses.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. - Psalms 19:1

This to me is a precursor to Paul’s comments in Romans 1

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. - Romans 1:20

This heaven is visible and reachable if you have the right equipment all by natural means.

The Second Heaven

Then there is another aspect that the Bible speaks of as another heavenly realm, which you have referenced here.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12

We see it in Daniel 10 where Daniel prayed in Chapter 9 and heard nothing for twenty-one days. Finally an angelic messenger makes an entrance, and describes a battle between what I take to be “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” and Michael the Archangel.

Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. - Daniel 10:13

Since this is for the most part an invisible realm, my understanding is that, to put it in natural terms (which will always fall a bit short in explanation of supernatural reality) it exists more or less in the same space that we are in. To think of it in SciFi terms – an alternate reality, that co-exists, and is just as real, or perhaps more real, that what we can touch and feel.

In this day and age of wireless communications, microwaves, and satellite signals, it is not a stretch for anyone to understand that there are things going on beyond what we can feel and see.

So – if that satisfies, you can stop reading here. I do have a couple further thoughts that might muddy it up a bit.

We do know that at least at one time, satan stood before the throne (I guess I am actually assuming it is in the throne room) and accused our brother Job. This has often complicated my understanding of God not allowing sin in His presence.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. - Job 1:6

I suppose that does not have to be in heaven – could have been on earth – or some other neutral territory, since long before Job was on the scene, satan was cast out of the Third heaven.

One last thing – my understanding – though I would not defend this to the death – is that the pit of hell is actually in heaven. This comes from Revelation 14:

…he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." - Revelation 14:10-11

Well – that’s enough unpleasantness for today. I hope that sheds a bit of light on the heaven question.

What do you think? Please jump in and add to, or correct what I have said. The conversation is the best part.

I bet Pastor Joe Lillie (@josephlillie) could shed more light on the matter. He is doing (and has been for quite some time) a series blogging through every mention of heaven in the Bible simply called Heaven. You should check it out.

Ben NelsonThanks much for stopping by. If you have questions of your own you would like to discuss, I would love to take a shot, and see what others have to say.

See you again soon.

Ben

6

question-mark

My friend Felecia Clarke posed this question on Facebook last week, and I decided to borrow it for my Friday Q&A. It’s a great question, and I would love for you all to give your insight too.

By the way, I highly recommend you check out (or better follow) her blog - A Life Sanctified
You can also follow Felecia on twitter, which is where we first met: @alifesanctified

Question:

We seem to purport a "once saved - always saved" mentality; but will that alone get someone into Heaven? If we receive the salvation of Christ and then never obey God's command - surely He will say to us at judgment, "I never knew you."

And what about most "Christians" who struggle with complete surrender? Are we doomed to Hell?

Pre-Answer:

To start, let me just say that these were the particular Red Letters from a sermon about the rich young ruler, culminating in Jesus’ strong words in the sermon on the mount, “I never knew you” that drew me from my religious darkness into the glorious light of relationship with Father. I can’t say it was fear that rose up in me, but a realization that though I espoused a personal relationship with God, I did not actually have any such relationship. Though I scoffed at “religion” as a way to the Father, I nevertheless was counting on my religious deeds and lack of bad works to gain me entrance to the Father’s house. The startling revelation that this rich young man who kept the commandments to the best of his ability, but held his life as his own, broke the heart of our Savior, and left him outside the kingdom, brought me to the realization that “I was that man.” Teaching Sunday school and leading Church groups may have been what God intended for me to do, but first I needed to know, and be known.

Answer:

That said, now to the question at hand.

I have heard more than one person defend their sinful life style and their future in heaven because they prayed a prayer in a church, which majored on assurance of salvation. One young man, who was living a life of promiscuity declared to me that he was going to heaven. I asked him how he could ever think such a thing and he told me with complete confidence of his Sunday school prayer. The only thing he had faith in was this one doctrine of eternal security. That prayer, would save him. He knew nothing of Calvary love, or being buried with Christ, and being raised up in newness of life. The breath of life had never entered his un-regenerate soul, and he had no relationship, nor did he feel any accountability to the One whose name he took in vain every time he referred to himself as Christian.

I told this young man of that great city Nineveh which repented under Jonah, and was given a reprieve, but then a little over a century later was worse than ever, and suffered judgment without warning under the ministry of the prophet Nahum. It is a striking story.

Do I believe that you can lose your salvation? No, I don't think God will ever leave you or forsake you, but much of what we call Christianity, in our culture, is nothing like the saving faith that will carry you into the arms of the Lover of your Soul.

Many have left the word “Christian” of late due to negative connotations in the popular culture, and it has been replaced by Jesus lover, or Christ follower. I am good with those, but I find myself, particularly in writing, referring to folks as in a "covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.” I see this idea of being the bride of Christ as central to my understanding of what it means to have a relationship with God.

I see this walk of the Christian walk as a progression from our first meeting of Christ, where we take the identity of “slave” or “servant” or “bond slave” or even “love slave” of Christ. I don’t think we ever leave this status, as you can learn from so many of the writers of the New Testament refereeing to themselves as servant of Christ. The next step in our progression might be friend, then son of God and brother of Jesus, and finally as Bride, and partner in relationship and ministry with the Lover of our Souls.

Those who know nothing of relationship – any stage of relationship – can really not expect to be greeted by any other words than, “I never knew you.” However, you would have to know very little of scripture to think that a faith that falters now and then excludes you from the kingdom. We see if from the earliest days of faith of any kind. From Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, David etc., right through to Peter and Paul contenting with one another, and Paul leaving Barnabas and going off with others.

So – to sum up – I do believe that once you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, it is for keeps, and I do not believe that failings of the faithful put them in jeopardy of hell fire.

Hope that helps.

Hey – do you have another opinion? I would love to hear it and consider your take on these matters.

Ben NelsonShare please

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

4

Last weekend I found myself engaged in an interesting discussion with a new acquaintance on twitter. He (or she – this fact is not revealed in the twitter profile) is an atheist and took issue with a post I put up.

I thought I would share the conversation with you all, and allow us all to toss it about a bit.

Remember, please keep the Friday Q&A rules in any comments you make or I will have to delete them. The rules are:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Here is the conversation. (@MrBnd is my twitter name – please join me over there and say Hi, if you are a twit too!) I am going to leave my new friend’s ID out so as not to antagonize him/her, but I will shoot him a note so he can join us if he wants to.

@MrBnd: But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. ~ Jesus (CEB)

@NewFriend: Oh dear (with this picture posted)

@MrBnd: Guess we best avoid derisive heart attitudes and mocking words - I sure need a Savior!

@NewFriend: Jesus seems to have blown it though! According to your tweet.

@MrBnd: I am not sure giving instruction on how to avoid foolishness is the same as calling someone a fool - i am glad for the wisdom

@NewFriend: So the people that did not put his words into practice are what? Or has everyone ever, always put his words into practice?

@MrBnd: I could tell you it is foolish to smoke, You can decide how to behave. I have not called you a fool, just shared wisdom

@NewFriend: Yes of course. Silly me. But wait! Maybe not so silly me. Given the word 'foolish' was not used. So answer my previous question.

@MrBnd: "like a fool" - aka foolish - I suppose neither of us is going to change opinions here, but thanks for the dialog

@NewFriend: exactly 'like a fool' therefore, those not "putting words into practice" are, by definition, fools. So who's right, Jesus or Matthew?

That is the extent of our conversation. I had to be elsewhere and did not come back to it later.

Here are some further thoughts of mine.

First, I don’t feel I need to defend Jesus. His words are Truth, and if I don’t get them on first pass, rather than pick at the words and set them up as reasons to be offended with Him, I assume the short fall is somewhere in my heart or mind. There is plenty that I don’t get yet, and there are depths and layers to Jesus’ words that I can not fathom.

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about the Bread of Life is a perfect example. He says to the crowd and the disciples some things in a manner which made Him sound like a crazy person – you must eat My flesh and drink My blood if you want to be My disciples. Not only did it make Jesus sound a bit crazy, anyone who would follow Him had to be suspect too!.

In the end of this discourse He turns to the boys and says “does this offend you?” (John 6:61)

A few verses farther down the page we have this

You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” ~ John 6:67-69

So I have two thoughts rumbling around in my head in regard to the conversation above.

First about the process of questioning Jesus’ words – does it make me a non-thinker because I accept something I do not understand. This is what my friends profile expounds, that because there are things that are in tension in scripture, you have to turn your brain off to believe.

To this I would have to honestly answer that the most intelligent person on the planet probably knows less than 1% of all there is no know even of the natural realm in which we spend most of our time, and I am not that guy. There is so much more to the natural that I don’t understand that I could learn new things every minute of every day and still not reach the 1% mark.

Now add to that all that goes on in other realms – i.e. in the spirit realm – and, well, there is just some stuff I don’t know.

My friend’s profile actually states “it’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” Clearly he and I agree here. Neither of us know everything, else why would we both want to learn something new every day?

Now to the second part – the actual discussion about what Jesus said, contrasting His comments:

Is it hypocrisy to on the one hand say:

Don’t ever call someone a fool.

And on the other say:

You are a fool if you …

The “don’t call someone a fool” was in the context of an outburst of anger or insult, and would be like when my mother said to me growing up “don’t call your brother stupid.” It is not that people are not stupid, or fools, it is just not your job to point it out to them. It dishonors them.

On the other hand, any time someone smarter, or wiser than I wants to point out to me what actions I might be taking – what path I might be walking that make me out to be a fool – have at it. I would love to learn from other’s folly, rather than my own.

Well – I see I have gone way to long on this post, but now it is your turn.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonThanks much for coming by today. I really appreciate you!

See you tomorrow for SoS Saturday.

Ben

Last weekend I found myself engaged in an interesting discussion with a new acquaintance on twitter. He (or she – this fact is not revealed in the twitter profile) is an atheist and took issue with a post I put up.

I thought I would share the conversation with you all, and allow us all to toss it about a bit.

Remember, please keep the Friday Q&A rules in any comments you make or I will have to delete them. The rules are:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Here is the conversation. (@MrBnd is my twitter name – please join me over there and say Hi, if you are a twit too!) I am going to leave my new friend’s ID out so as not to antagonize him/her, but I will shoot him a note so he can join us if he wants to.

@MrBnd: But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. ~ Jesus (CEB)

@NewFriend: Oh dear (with this picture posted)

@MrBnd: Guess we best avoid derisive heart attitudes and mocking words - I sure need a Savior!

@NewFriend: Jesus seems to have blown it though! According to your tweet.

@MrBnd: I am not sure giving instruction on how to avoid foolishness is the same as calling someone a fool - i am glad for the wisdom

@NewFriend: So the people that did not put his words into practice are what? Or has everyone ever, always put his words into practice?

@MrBnd: I could tell you it is foolish to smoke, You can decide how to behave. I have not called you a fool, just shared wisdom

@NewFriend: Yes of course. Silly me. But wait! Maybe not so silly me. Given the word 'foolish' was not used. So answer my previous question.

@MrBnd: "like a fool" - aka foolish - I suppose neither of us is going to change opinions here, but thanks for the dialog

@NewFriend: exactly 'like a fool' therefore, those not "putting words into practice" are, by definition, fools. So who's right, Jesus or Matthew?

That is the extent of our conversation. I had to be elsewhere and did not come back to it later.

Here are some further thoughts of mine.

First, I don’t feel I need to defend Jesus. His words are Truth, and if I don’t get them on first pass, rather than pick at the words and set them up as reasons to be offended with Him, I assume the short fall is somewhere in my heart or mind. There is plenty that I don’t get yet, and there are depths and layers to Jesus’ words that I can not fathom.

Jesus’ discourse in John 6 about the Bread of Life is a perfect example. He says to the crowd and the disciples some things in a manner which made Him sound like a crazy person – you must eat My flesh and drink My blood if you want to be My disciples. Not only did it make Jesus sound a bit crazy, anyone who would follow Him had to be suspect too!.

In the end of this discourse He turns to the boys and says “does this offend you?” (John 6:61)

A few verses farther down the page we have this

You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” ~ John 6:67-69

So I have two thoughts rumbling around in my head in regard to the conversation above.

First about the process of questioning Jesus’ words – does it make me a non-thinker because I accept something I do not understand. This is what my friends profile expounds, that because there are things that are in tension in scripture, you have to turn your brain off to believe.

To this I would have to honestly answer that the most intelligent person on the planet probably knows less than 1% of all there is no know even of the natural realm in which we spend most of our time, and I am not that guy. There is so much more to the natural that I don’t understand that I could learn new things every minute of every day and still not reach the 1% mark.

Now add to that all that goes on in other realms – i.e. in the spirit realm – and, well, there is just some stuff I don’t know.

My friend’s profile actually states “it’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” Clearly he and I agree here. Neither of us know everything, else why would we both want to learn something new every day?

Now to the second part – the actual discussion about what Jesus said, contrasting His comments:

Is it hypocrisy to on the one hand say:

Don’t ever call someone a fool.

And on the other say:

You are a fool if you …

The “don’t call someone a fool” was in the context of an outburst of anger or insult, and would be like when my mother said to me growing up “don’t call your brother stupid.” It is not that people are not stupid, or fools, it is just not your job to point it out to them. It dishonors them.

On the other hand, any time someone smarter, or wiser than I wants to point out to me what actions I might be taking – what path I might be walking that make me out to be a fool – have at it. I would love to learn from other’s folly, rather than my own.

Well – I see I have gone way to long on this post, but now it is your turn.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonThanks much for coming by today. I really appreciate you!

See you tomorrow for SoS Saturday.

Ben

A couple weeks ago, I posed a questions about what "vain faith" was, and i wanted to come back to it and bring some resolution.

I wanted to circle back and touch it one more time. I was not happy with where it all landed last time, and have a bit more light on it now. It was one of those - Oh - that makes sense moments for me, and i just thought i would share it with you.

Here is the main verse I was puzzling over:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

What I had missed was this verse a bit farther down the page.:

 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:13-14

Now in my study, I have found many who want to make the first reference one of working hard so your faith is not ignored in the grand scheme of things, but when i read this second part, i see that the "unless you believed in vain" in verse 2 is a foreshadowing of his argument in vs 14 where he comes right out and says: If Christ is not raised from the dead then your faith is vain.

Vain faith is faith that is placed in something that is worthless. Vain faith is misplaced faith or misplaced trust.

Faith in Christ is a gift of God - every man is dealt a measure of faith by God, as we are told in Romans 12:3

So how could faith that God has given in the first place, when it is place in Christ, the most secure foundations, ever be vain?

It could not.

If your life shows no fruit after a period of time, the question is not whether you have vain faith, but rather, do you have faith in Christ at all.

So - there you go.

What do you think?

Ben NelsonSee you again soon. I should be back to the pen (well - keys) next week. Thanks to you all for coming by and checking out my parade of favorites this week.

Ben