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June 2012
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New Covenant People Seem to Have Lots of Love!

I've been noticing something lately and that is that those who are getting the revelation of true Grace and New Covenant living seem to exhibit a lot of love in their lives.  I don't really know the reason why, other than, possibly, that they are aware of the fact that all of the performance pressure has been removed from them by Abba God Himself.  After all it is God Himself who said in the midst of the old Covenant, "I am the Lord who makes you holy."  Yeah... how about a shout here!  God, through Christ, did "it" for us!  (Lev. 20:8)

Then take a gander at this...."The Lord your god will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live."  (Dt. 30:7)  The Hebrew here speaks of circumcision.  Again we see God changing us and not, as religion has taught us, we changing ourselves.  This is what Christ began at the cross and continues to do as he dwells within us.  Oh yeah...God himself changing us from the inside, not us changing ourselves from the outside!

So I think that the more we become aware of these truth the more of his love we realize and that wonderful love begins to percolate within us and begins to boil over onto those we come in contact with, even to those who have hurt us!

Yeppers...that's what I think anyway.  And, Oh, By the way, I'm so grateful and thankful for all Christ has done for me, and for him allowing me to see this wonderful revelation of Grace.

Do Christians Deserve Judgment?

Hardly a week passes without me hearing some sad story about a Christian living life thinking that they deserve some form of God's judgment.  The other day our Vision of Hope worship leader, Kris, told me of a lady she knows who has a daughter dying of cancer.  It seems that this daughter has a 6 year old daughter of her own and is refusing medical cancer treatment as she feels that God is punishing her for her past wild and loose life. How sad!  Here is a young girl about to loose her mother only because of some false notion that somehow was implanted into her mother's thinking, most likely by some wrong religious teaching.

I realize that the above case is a very severe one, however, many Christians (I hesitate to call them Believers) today have some sort of the same thinking going on within them.  Some may not fully realize that this is the case, it may be a form of subconscious thinking going on within them, but never the less, they have the same thought process at work.  This type of thinking is sad in any form it comes in.  There is only one winner, especially in the case of the daughter with cancer, the devil!  Can you see him, "killing, stealing and destroying" here?

Many shout, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy," and in themselves they are correct about that.  However, the work of the Cross has made them worthy, Christ has done it all for us!  You know, even if you do not agree with me about Christians no longer sinning, you have to agree with me that living a life of condemnation is very bad!

I often hear people comparing themselves to Paul in Romans 7.  You know, "The things I don't want to do I do and the things I do I really don't want to do!" What is missed here is that people fail to realize that Romans chapter 7 is Paul describing his BC (before Christ) life.  In this chapter he sets up the wonderful truths of the New Way, of New Covenant living, Romans chapter 8 and, "There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!"

Friend I encourage you to begin thinking properly about yourself!  Take the shackles off of your life because I assure you that God did not put them there.  He gave His all, the life of His Son, so that you and I would live free, without any religious bondage.

So, if you have some bad things going on in your life, rest assure they are NOT happening because God is angry with you, judging you for past indiscretions!  OK, why do bad things still happen?  The answer is that we still have an enemy out there whose goal is to totally destroy us.  But even in this we still win, "Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world!"

Enclosed in all of Paul's letters are a couple of very important words that are the basis of all that Christ has done for us.  The two words are..GRACE AND PEACE! If you really understand God's grace you will have peace in your life, no matter what is going on.

So I close this blog by likewise pronouncing God's (Paul's) blessing on you...Grace and Peace!

Do Christians Sin?

How's that title for opening up a can of worms?  I've not even typed the blog message yet, and I can already feel the heat coming down the back of my neck!  lol

This is one of the most sensitive topics in Christianity today.  I know, because lately I've been told that I'm teaching things from the Anti-christ, propagating lawlessness, being influenced by New Age teaching, and just recently, that I'm pantheistic! One lady, who's never heard any of my teaching on this subject, recently posted on Facebook that  she knows that I'm teaching wrongly because she reads the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  I guess the implication here is that I don't read the Old Testament.  What a hoot!

You know I'm working on some teaching on finding Grace in the Old Testament.  For about this wonderful nugget?  In the midst of the Old Covenant, God speaking to Israel about His restoration for them, gives a very great prophetic insight into what will happen after Christ goes to the cross, dies for our sins, puts to death our sin, pours his blood on the  Mercy Seat in Heaven, and sits down.  By the way, I'm going to quote the KJV in this post so I don't get charged with using modern translations to prove my point.  Please read this...Jeremiah 31: 31-34,

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more."

God is speaking of the New Covenant that He would bring His people into after the finished work of the Cross.  This thing is rich!  The whole passage is so important that Paul repeats it twice, Hebrews 8: 8-12 and Hebrews 10: 16-18.  However, please note the last portion of Jeremiah 31: 34, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE!" (emphasis mine) Wow!  No more, means NO MORE!  Now the argument here is that we all agree that Christ died so that our sins could be forgiven at salvation.  But even though that sin is no longer remembered by God, the sin that we all currently commit is remembered by Him.  Humm.. I have to wonder what part of "NO MORE" do we not understand? So God does not remember the sins we committed prior to salvation, but now He remembers them?????  Do you see a problem here?

I assure you, someone will now ask me, "Larry...what do you do with I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanses us from all unrighteousness."

Number one, please note this verse a little more closely.  In the KJV, the word "our" is really "our." It is written in italics which means that the word is not found in the original language and the the translators placed it there to help the verse make more sense.  So in the Greek the verse would read, "If we confess sin, he is faithful and just to forgive sin." So, who's sin is John speaking about here?  Fellow Beliver why claim it when it's not meant for us!

Lately I've been teaching what I'm calling, "3 Rules for Correct Bible Interpretation."  Here they are: 1. Who is the verse or passage written to? 2. Be certain to keep the verse or passage in proper context. 3. Do not form a doctrine from an obscure verse that seems to contradict the majority of the passages on the subject.  By the way, the Bible never contradicts itself.  I've found that when it seems to, by applying Rule #1 to it, the matter clears up...Who is the verse written to?

So, let's apply these Rules to I John 1:9!  Who is this verse written to?  Is John speaking to you and I (I'm assuming that you are a Christian here)?  Or is he speaking to Jews who were proud of their spiritual heritage and who's attitude was, "I don't need my sins forgiven by Christ or anyone else as I'm a son/daughter of Abraham!"  How do we answer this question?  By not taking verse 9 out of context, that is for sure.  Yet the Church has done that very things for a long, long time!  Most likely you have been wrongly taught the principles of this out of context verse of Scripture.  So let's take a look at the context here by looking to the prior verses of I John chapter 1:

Verse 2...John says that he's seen the life found in Christ and that he wants to show it to those he's writing to. Therefore there is a strong implication here that those he was writing to did not know Christ.  But it gets better....

Verse 3...John says that "which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, THAT YE ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH US."  He then states what that "fellowship" is..."and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."  It is obvious that John was writing to people that were out of fellowship with him, which also means that they were out of fellowship with God through Christ!

Verse 4..."And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."  The people John was writing to were not experiencing the joy that a relationship with God through Christ truly brings!  Again...are these people Christians?  I sure don't thing so!

Verses 7 and 8...Here John states that the wonderful blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin, and that even these spiritually proud Jews could have their sins likewise forgiven by placing their faith in Christ!

Then comes Verse 9! I trust that you can see this truth about this very mis-understood verse of Scripture!

OK...let's examine a little more of John's writing here.  I realize that this Blog is becoming very long, but please believe me when I say, "It's worth reading!"

Let's look some at Chapter 3....

Now John is talking to Believers in Christ...look at verses 1 and 2...

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Then to these same Believers John goes on to state...

Verse 6..."Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth has not seen him, neither known him."  Wow...I guess some do not believe this verse...IF YOU ABIDE IN CHRIST YOU DO NOT SIN!"  If you do sin is is because you do not know Christ!  Pretty clear to me!

Verse 8..."He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning."  So Believer, if you say that you still sin, then you are stating that you are of the devil!  Pretty clear to me once again! But gets even better!

Verse 9..."Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin for his seed remaineth in him: and he CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD."  The New Living Translation, the version that Paul used, says, "Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them.  So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God."

By the way there is much more found in the Epistles on this subject that even make the case much stronger!

So, let's go back to the title of my Blog, "Do Christians Sin?"  I say a very overwhelming NO!  What sayeth you?

Religion Just About Made me Kill Myself!

"Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.  Yes what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin!" Ps. 12: 1,2 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

I surrendered my life to Christ in November of 1973.  Prior to that my life was a mess, Corinne and I were about to divorce and I was becoming an alcoholic.  What a mess!

I came to Christ during the midst of the Charismatic Renewal.  It was a special time in the Church.  Someday I may write about some found memories of those days.  There was a great Awakening taking place then, with thousands coming to Christ daily.  Our church in Holland, Michigan was taking in just about 30 new members weekly.  Soon after my coming to the Lord I was thrust into ministry, became an elder, soon an associate pastor of a very exciting church. 

Later Corinne and I felt that we were to plant new churches, and we did so, getting very beat up in the process.  God gave us so much mercy in those days!  Much of the problem seemed to stem from the fact that the Renewal, that had been so powerful, came to a screeching halt.  We soon found ourselves in the midst of spiritual dryness.  We'd seek God for anything that would resemble a move of the Holy Spirit, but usually to no avail.  After a few years of "trying hard," I began to burn out.  This was a time when Religion caved in on me, no longer able to work in my life and ministry.  Nothing was going on spiritually  and everything we tried to do in order  to make things happen fell to our feet, useless!

All of this led me into a very severe case of burn out, even bringing on a mental break down.  It happened on a Wednesday morning.  I was in my office, questioning even if God truly existed!  That evening in preparation for our Wednesday evening service at our church, I sat on the edge of my bed crying as I couldn't seem to understand what clothes to wear to the meeting.  I needed Corinne's help in even the simple task of dressing.

We went to the meeting, driving separate cars.  During worship, I was in my office, listening to the service on the speaker.   At that point I completely broke, pretty much told God where to put things, and walked out of the building to drive home and kill myself.

I remember sitting on our living room sofa with a loaded Colt 1911 laying in my lap, trying to get up the nerve to stick that gun in my mouth and pull the trigger.  At the same time Corinne had told the church what was going on, and they began to pray.  I recall like yesterday, when the spirit of suicide left me. However, I was still not free from the great depression that was looming over me.

The following day, while driving through the nearby State Forest, God came to me with a revelation of Grace.  For the first time in my entire Christian life,  I saw that things did not depend on me to get them going, but rather Christ paid the full price for me, in all areas of my life.  I remember stopping the car on a two track road, in the middle of that forest, and I began to yell, shout and cry at the same time, while running around the car.

That was my beginning on a very exciting, never ending, journey!  We have had many ups and downs traveling this road.  However, I am so thrilled that the road has brought us to this point in our lives!  I am fully convinced that Religion kills!  But Christ!!!!  He brings light and life no mater where we are!  Living in the midst of the New Covenant is just awesome!  Knowing that past, present and future  sins have been forgiven makes the "Joy Bells" ring.  Just like David, in the above Psalm, I've had joy in my life and these last few months, so have many within our great church, Vision of Hope Ministries in Hernando, FL.

I trust that you too are done with Religion as it only brings death and decay!  God has so much available to you as you press into all that Jesus has done for you!   If you want to see what God is doing in a church where we live the New Covenant, come and give us a visit sometime.  I'm sure you won't be sorry!

Grace and Peace!

Are You Worthy Enough to Take Communion?

This morning in our 10:30 "Main Event" service at Vision of Hope Ministries in Hernando, FL,  I took a minute during worship and brought some basic teaching about I Corinthians 11: 17-34.  I called the teaching and the communion we all took after, "No Judgment Communion."  Why?  Well I know of thousands of people who have "examined themselves" in the past had found that they were not worthy enough to partake in communion.  Again Why?  Well they had been mis-taught that they must look for sin in their lives prior to taking communion and that if they did indeed take communion and they had sin...well they would get sick and even die early, etc.

I have been teaching 3 simple rules for Bible interpretation: 1.  Who is it being written to. 2. Take a verse or verses in context with that which comes before and after. And 3.  Never take an obscure verse, one that seems to contridict many others and make a doctrine out of it.  By the way, if you do seem to find contridictions in the Bible, more likely than not, Rule #1 will straighten it out!

In the case of these verses in I Corinthians Rule #2 seems to really apply.  By study of the verses prior to any mention of "examining themselves" Paul lays out the problems of the Corinthian Church: 1. V.18...divisions among them 2. V. real interest in the Lord's Supper and 3. V. 21...Some ate their own meals without sharing with others and others got drunk!

We have been calling the above types of people, "sippers not drinkers" and "professors not possessors!"  In other words these people were not fully committed Christians, followers of Jesus Christ!  The original language of verse 27 hints at the following: "Anyone who eats and drinks unworthly has no idea of what the sacrifice of Jesus was really about."  These people seemed to be only interested in just eating bread and drinking wine!

Another interesting thought here...Paul or none of the other Epistle writers ever share anything even close to these Corinithian verses with any other church.  So it was a problem only in Corinth!

When Paul says that they should examine themselves prior to partaking of the Lord's Supper he's not asking them to try to find sin in their lives, rather... are they in the Faith?  That's the same question we might be asked today...Are we in the Faith or not?  By this it is meant...Do we understand grace, that God (Christ) indewells us?  Remember Jesus during that last Passover meal...He told them to eat and drink...injest the bread and wine.  This is symbolic of the fact that the day would soon be approaching when He would live inside all who believe! He then said, "This do in remberence of me!"

So my friend, this portion of Scripture has nothing to do with sin in you! Not at all! Paul's message to the Church was that of no condemnation.  That is the same message that I'm preaching!  No Condemnation!!!!  I love it!

So welcome to "No Judgment Communion!"

You might want to get a glass of wine and a chunk of bread and remember that God lives within you, making you Holy!

More Lord!