In my sermon on Sunday [you can listen here] I made a statement, and my daughter Jess who is visiting from Oregon these days with her hubby, asked me about it afterwards.
The statement I made is that repentance replaces justice with mercy, and she challenged the idea that Justice is eliminated by mercy.
I see my mistake, and she is so right. How could justice be removed? Justice is a part of our unchanging God’s character.
It is in fact God’s just nature that made the incarnation necessary in the first place.
The sense I was going after in my sermon was that repentance moves us from a place of standing guilty in the eyes of God’s judgment to a place of innocence by applying the freely offered blood of Jesus as payment for our transgression.
But clearly my words got away from me.
The couplet from the hymn we were considering had it right.
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.
[From Angels from the Realms of Glory - James Montgomery]
So, I humbly stand corrected, and am thrilled by the aspects of justice satisfied and mercy freely offered. I do love the story of the incarnation!
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. ~ Matthew 7:15-16
So we are taking a few days to see if we can figure out what bad fruit looks like.
Jude tells us this about false teachers and false prophets.
Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. ~ Jude 8 (NKJV – my emphasis)
One sure sign of a false prophet is they cannot be corrected.
Here I have to tell you, this hits way too close to home for me. Aside from the standard issue American Independence thing that springs up in many of us Yanks, I have a pretty strong grasp of what I believe.
It is way easy for me to just stir up my independent spirit, and obnoxious New Jersey attitude, and reject any correction.
I am aware that I live a long way from Christ-likeness, and yet, I stand un-correctable. I will not allow my mind to be renewed – and so I resist any possible transformation.
Sorry if this seems like a tangent, but it’s so important for our growth to be instructable, live in community, and live within an authority structure.
Of course if the authority you are living in is lording it over you, rather than serving you, hmmm, you might want to check that out too. I am not suggesting you get into some weird, co-dependent, manipulative relationship that sucks your life away. Find a community of believers and get in fellowship, where folks can speak into your life.
Do not judge lest you be judged. (Matthew 7:1 NASB)
We are looking this week at what might be a bit controversial – When should a Christian be judgmental? Today we look at the example of New Testament Church leaders.
Let’s start with John the Baptist. He may not be “New Testament” since he was murdered before Jesus went to the cross or rose from the dead, but he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. So I figure he is a fair example.
When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to hear John the Baptist this is what he said:
"O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt 3:7)
Pretty judgmental, wouldn't you say?
What of Paul, Mr. Grace himself? Surly he is not guilty of Judging, unless of course you consider what he said in the closing of his first letter to Timothy.
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. (2 Timothy 4:14-15 NASB)
Or a few pages earlier in chapter 2 he says this:
But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)
He names names, and warns people to be careful of this one, and watch out for that one. Remember the time he told the Church in Corinth to throw a guy out of the congregation?
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:5)
Church discipline, which is for the good of both the Church and the one disciplined, is missing in most of Western Christianity, and we are not better off without it. Even brotherly rebukes between men or women in close relationships of accountability have gone by the wayside, and our Christianity gets shallower and shallower as a result. But more on this later - I will be circling around again to this topic of Church discipline in a couple days. Stay tuned... - meanwhile -
Do you remember the story in Acts chapter 13 where Paul was trying to win Sergius Paulus to the Lord, and Elymas the sorcerer was trying to turn him away from the faith.
Paul (who was incidentally filled with the Holy Spirit) said this:
You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time. (Acts 13:10-11 NASB)
Can you image! Paul, in the power of the Holy Spirit, put blindness on this man.
Jude said that "certain persons have crept in unnoticed" (vs 4) He said they were:
ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Later he called them "spots in your feasts of charity" and he declared in no uncertain terms that they are not only lost, but that they were dragging others down with them.
In fact the whole point of the book of Jude is that we need to use judgment - and to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (vs 3)
We are told to judge prophecy. We are encouraged to be like the Bereans and go home and check out what we have been taught, and make sure it lines up with scripture. We are told to judge a tree by it's fruit, and if one comes to us with some doctrine that is not Christ's, not to even bid him God speed. In short we are told by example, and imperative to judge.
But wait – there is more…
Tomorrow I want to look at the one place where we are exercising judgment and should not be. Don’t miss it!