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Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.

11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.

21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.

33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;

34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.

36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

45. 45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.

52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.

53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.

55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;

61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.

62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.

67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.

68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.

71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!

73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.

75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.

76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.

77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.

78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.

79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.

81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.

82. To wit: — “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”

83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

84. Again: — “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”

85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”

86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”

88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”

89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.

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Rain in NorCal is More Urgent than Life

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Rather Be Biblical than Baptist | Death of the SBC?

As a man in my firm mid-thirties, I have been in the Baptist Church for at least 40 years. So, I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot and learned a lot. Over the past few years as a SBC Pastor one thing I have learned is that many Baptists are more concerned with being Baptist than being true to the call of God as the Body of Christ.

About a month ago I said, “Southern Baptists have replaced the ministry of reconciliation with people assimilation.” I got some harsh looks, phone calls and emails, but all-in-all, most people see what I mean. As SBC churches, we have historically been the folks who really know the scripture, advance the Gospel and proclaim the Glory of God. Recently, this is not the case; we’ve been more interested in numbers, budgets, growth and assimilation of people in ‘hopes’ or ‘wishes’ that they might find Christ through the wonderful programs and options available in a Christian safe-haven.

I recently read an article discussing this issue quoting Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.

“It is very important that your generation redeem what has been lost, strengthen the things that remain,” he said Friday at the close of a four-day conference on “Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism.”

“Make the Southern Baptist Convention what it must be in order to serve the cause of Christ … to be the kind of denomination that is known not for its name and its brand but rather for the glory of God,” he added. “Do not give yourself to the Southern Baptist Convention but give yourself to Christ.”

Dr. Mohler called young seminary students to not get behind SBC life as the ultimate or because their ‘grandmother’ was SBC, but to champion the call of God to be glorified and the Gospel to be preached unapologetically.

“The vision before us is not the perpetuation of the Southern Baptist Convention but the call of the nations to exalt in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he affirmed.

I whole-heartedly agree with Dr. Mohler and others like him who stand behind scripture and the glory of God as the ultimate purpose of life as a believer and as the body.  If the church is going to be all about the ‘stuff’ that most resembles a corporate country club, then we might as well quit preaching all together and save a lot of pastors and people their precious time at the pool.

In my opinion, if something does not happen for the better to bring the SBC and other denominations to the cross and orthodoxy, then we will see a smaller and smaller number of true fellowships of faith who will actually be the true church.  What are we doing to mature people, make disciples and glorify God in all the nations?  We better start asking these questions, finding the answer and terminating everything that doesn’t result to this end.

Staying Stupid in the wisdom of the Cross!

James H. Tippins

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Hope? Is there such… | Make much of… Mini-Minute(s)

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A Different God? | To Make Much… Mini-Minute(s)

This will be a semi-daily video thought of the day, sometimes at the house, outside, maybe even in my pajamas… My goal:  To Glorify God and preserve His grace in my heart and life.  My version of personal journaling.

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Reflection of Faith

Photo by Arkady Golod

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 (ESV)
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Photo by Arkady Golod

When I read this text this morning as an include to an email to my bride, it hit me just how focused this passage should be in the lives of believers today.  Paul is writing to these Christians primarily to show great thanksgiving to God for His supernatural work through the Gospel in their lives.  He also uses this time to stand up against adversaries of the truth and encourages the Thessalonians to continually see God’s work among them.

We reflect the light of God in our proclamation

Let’s put this in perspective of our own lives as believers.  If we truly are saved by the transforming power of the Gospel, then our lives will declare the power of God.  Paul says in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  In this power, God gives us faith, light, and the power to be transformed by Him.  If we are believers, shouldn’t our lives reflect that claim?

It seems that more and more people are continually making excuses for sinful living and apathy every day.  People who claim faith in the transforming power of Christ are daily walking further away from the image of God.  This does not make sense according to scripture.  Of course, we will struggle with the sin that fights against God’s nature, but our lives will be marked as we suffer to fight for joy and rest in the grace of God.

In the referenced text we see Paul showing amazing gratitude to God for saving the Thessalonians and reminding them in verse 4 and 5 that God did the work, not them nor the apostles.  In essence, Paul is helping them to stay focused on God’s work among them resulting in salvation.  In this, the church should pay close attention: “our gospel came to you… in word…”.  See Paul’s reminder?  He is saying, we preached the words of Christ to you, not words about Christ, or examples to follow, but the truth was proclaimed.  This is the only way that people will know the true Christ – His word.

Also consider that Paul states this is not the ONLY way the gospel came, but it also came by POWER in the Holy Spirit and with CONVICTION!  Wow, let’s think about that for a second.  How often do we look for power, conviction and the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and try all sorts of things, even teaching people who to ‘tap’ into God’s power and forsake the very real power which comes only through God’s word?  Pay attention:  The word of God will do His work!  He doesn’t need our creativity and charisma to make people see the light.

We reflect the light of God in our person

When God’s word did His work, the apostles did not need to set themselves up as experts, holy men, or men with supernatural power, the life change that happened supernaturally in the lives of the Thessalonians was proof enough.  See verse five, the last part: “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”  In context, there were those who were refuting the apostles and their teachings and even starting to say there were other ‘ways’ of knowing the truth.  This is happening today.  Men and women who claim to have an inside knowledge of God in a deeper way and they twist and use scripture to try and prove ‘their’ worth or authority.

As we live transformed, holy lives, the world we see the power of God and it will MATCH our words.  Even Jesus warned the people about the Pharisees, He said, “Listen to what they say and obey them, but do not do what they do…”  They had the right words but would stand condemned in the end without hope for their religion.

We reflect the light of God as others proclaim the truth of our changed lives

6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

See this text?  Oh, how I wish I could just pour this more and more fully into my heart each moment and how I wish I could just push it right off the page or screen into your hearts.  However, this text tells much more than I have time or the strength to write today.  The Thessalonians did not have to give testimonies of how good life was.  They didn’t have to stand up and make a big deal about what God was doing for them.  They didn’t write journals and make revival meetings and pass out fliers or preach all over the world.  They continued to live where God had planted them but their lives were marked; different and set apart.

The POWER of the preached word became TRUE in the lives of these people, they became believers by the will of God and the power of the Gospel, who is God!  Then their lives began to change immediately and their hearts were set on eternity, not this earth or its pleasures.  They didn’t live for their careers, their platforms or their future, but for the future of hope in Christ.

The power of God was reflected in their lives and the church was growing stronger in other areas.

We reflect the light of God and the church is strengthened – everywhere

Notice that Paul made mention of the fact that other cities had noticed and were striving to see that change in their lives.  The Thessalonians were examples, verse 7, to other believers in other places.  When we live as examples, the body of Christ across the world is edified and stronger.  Paul continues and says that not only has their faith and the power of God in their lives made a difference at home and in neighboring cities, but that their faith in God has become known everywhere!

When we reflect the light of God in our lives by living holy and passionately for the gospel, evangelism happens organically.  We don’t have to worry about how many events, outreaches and networks we build so that people will share their faith, true faith yields fruit.  A fruitless faith is evidence of a faith that is not saving faith!

We reflect the light of God and the Gospel goes before us

Look at the last part of verse 8, “we need not say anything…”  What?!  In other words, the faith and testimony of power in Christ for these people had reached to other regions of the globe.  When the apostles had gotten to their destinations, they just confirmed the message that had already been sent – God is light and He is the message in Christ that gives YOU salvation.  “We see it, we know it is true, we have heard about those people and want to know more!”  How would you like that to be the coffee talk at your job, school or buzz in the community?

What testimony was that?  Well let’s read it: 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…”

They had reports from around the world about the apostles ministry to them and how they had turned to God!  Not just numbers on a page or people down the isle, but lives that bore fruit from the beginning.  They turned from idols!  That’s they gave up what was ultimate and precious in their lives and worshiped what was true!  “I don’t have idols” you might say, however, we all do.  We are a perpetual idol factory and we love our church, our family, our jobs, money, stuff and self-worth.  We have love for our knowledge and our intellect and the way we communicate.  We have idols, not just graven images that we think are gods, but ulitmate things in our lives.  Our very sinful desires and the small things that we just say, “eh, no big deal…”.  These are idols.

If our sins don’t shake us up, even our small ones, then we are on a very slippery slope.  WE might have a small love for Godly things, but if we have God in us, our hatred for sin will grow deeper and our love for God’s nature, holiness, will explode into a passion that can never be quenched!

If we do not find this hope, if we do not have this ‘reflection’ of faith, we need to stop worshiping our salvation date and repent and believe.  After all, the purpose of faith is to trust in the true, the one who is faithful – Jesus Christ.

We reflect the light of God and His eternal promise in Christ

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

This is what the true church has focused in their hearts.  Not growth, mission, vision etc, but Christ and His eternal kingdom.  Friends, our sole hope is that Christ will bring us to Himself and fit us for the presence of Holy God!  Jesus is the victor, He is the elect, He is the righteousness of God – let’s make sure that we are found in Him.

Staying Stupid, James H. Tippins

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Oh No Obama | Savior at Risk…

Since before the election it seems that everyday I hear something positive or negative about President Obama.  First, I must say that I have never in my life of 35 years known of someone so famous and infamous at the same time.  People love him or hate him.  In this light, I have a few observations from a biblical world view based on some of the comments I hear.  If you are not a believer and are reading this, it was written for the ears of those with a world-view that is formed completely on scriptural truths, so it is not an argument for debate but statements for the sheep.

This post is also not a condoning of pacifism.  People should discern and stand up for truth, even protect the innocent against harm and fight for freedom as long as possible if needed.  However, our thinking must be transformed in order to fall in line with scripture, even on these matters.  As for when, and how we should stand up for truth, that will be in later posts.

I am tired of hearing that Obama is the anti-christ.  First, if you just read the scripture as it should be read, you won’t see a final world-power leader who is the incarnate seed of Satan.  Satan does not, nor will he ever have creative power, that belongs to God and to say that the enemy can do what God can do, well, that’s the spirit of the anti-christ.

Obama is not the savior of the country, must less the world.  This man, no matter who he might be, is not going to solve the problems of the world.  The very nature of people, even Christians, that have this idea and voted for him because of this hope flies in the face of scripture, violates the first commandment and makes the cross a joke at best. (If there is such a thing as best in this group.)

Scripture teaches that God is sovereign and no one else.  God himself orchestrates the saving of the world and points that salvation to the church alone.  There is no hope for the world at large less they repent and believe in faith in Christ to save them, period.  So why is it brother/sister, that we have allowed a man to take away the providential hope of our God who created the president as a person and an office in the first place? For those who hate Obama, let me let you in on a little truth:

Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Obama is God’s man for America.  Plain and simple.  If you don’t believe this, then take it up with God, not me.  It’s one thing to disagree, hold to what is good or stand for truth, but to blatantly have hatred in our heart is nothing short of evil and is not showing worship to God because it does not show faith in God’s plan and God’s man who is in the White House.  So when someone goes against the government to suit their fancy, they are actually resisting God Himself.

On a matter of clarification:  This does not mean that we are to be stupid, Christians are to be discriminating (discernment) against policies and laws that violate truth of scripture.  For example, it is murder to kill children, the elderly or mentally ill.  It is also sinful for the government to take care of people’s medical needs and/or retirement.  The Christian dependence on the government in the US is the primary reason that so many Christians have lost hope in God – so put that shoe wherever it might fit.  It’s one thing to oppose sinful things by refusing to vote for them, sharing the glory of God in light of them and refusing to participate, but its another thing to desire harm, destruction or take up arms in rebellion.  There is no mandate in scripture for this type of action.

For those Christians who love President Obama, great, we all should.  However, if your hope is in him listen to the word of in Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  This couples with the command to have “No other gods…”  So when your hope is in Obama, it is NOT in God and that my friend is idolatry.

In the essence of the ultimate purpose of America and the church in the world, let’s close with this:  America, by its very birth, is a land of sin and rebellion.  We rebelled against the King of England and declared independence which violates Paul’s teaching to the Romans.  Sorry, but this is truth to the core.  So, America being a land of rebellion and a land of ‘rights’, we are reaping the very seed we have sown from the very foundations of our nation.  Personal idolatry.

The scripture is clear that our purpose is to give glory to God by reflecting His nature.  (Matthew 6:33)  The church is to show the manifold wisdom of God and display His glory to the universe by surrendering their rights to the cross and their lives to the call of God.  We are not here in America so that we can be a people.  As Christians, we are first defined as a believer in Christ, a royal priesthood and holy nation and then can be described as American because it is where we live.

As believers, our hope is in the cross of Christ, not the government, its laws or money.  America’s purpose in God’s scheme is to show His glory and righteousness.  Either through repentance from idolatry and self-fulfilling living, or through judgment where His holiness will be vindicated.  May our prayer for America be found in Psalm 106:8 Yet he saved them for his name‘s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.  Let us pray that for ourselves and our people.  Otherwise we have this to look forward to:

“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,

Soli Deo Gloria, James Tippins

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When you think of accountability, most of the time it doesn’t ring true for your thoughts on church life. Well, that could be furthest from the truth. First of all, let’s define the term. Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. You might ask, “What actions? What responsibility?” Exactly! That is the problem with people who call themselves the ‘church’ and don’t have a proper understanding of what being the body of Christ is all about.

A true believer should have several thoughts when it comes to being accountable.

  1. A true believer in Christ should desire accountability with the rest of the body.
  2. A true believer in Christ should be a partner for others in this area.
  3. A true believer in Christ should expect to be held accountable for their lives in all areas, not just ministry.
  4. A true believer in Christ does not shy away from biblical mandates.

So, are you in the right ‘frame-of-mind’ for this issue?  If not, then let’s fix that by using the final authority of scripture to answer what and how accountability is to be in the church and most importantly, why.

Being accountable as believers to each other is a requirement of the changed life.  Without someone to ‘view’ us in our living, how will we know for sure if we are even believers?  John states in his first epistle, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”  These are strong, deliberate words that show a true condition by which one will have the full knowledge of their salvation.  Notice he did not say, ‘gain’ salvation, but that we ‘know we have come’ to salvation.  What is it?  It’s obedience.  What is that you might ask?  It means doing what is required for holy living in Christ.

Obedience is not the means by which we are saved, but it is the primary fruit of a saved life.  It doesn’t mean that we are going to never sin or that we are not going to desire to sin, however, a believer does make WAR against this desire and sinful living.  If we don’t, we are not true believers.  This is where accountability is so important.  If one is a believer, then he or she will desire holy living and desire help in the journey.

Accountability also helps us evaluate our focus and gives us a real picture of our motives.  If we are to live a life of grace by faith in Christ alone, then our lives must be producing fruit of that change.  This is not something that we do but something that God does in us.  God is the giver of life and He does the work of regeneration, as Paul states, we are saved by faith not of works so that no one can boast.

So this grace does its work through the power of God and in turn, we see the work of God in our lives. Which is a desire to be like Him!  So regularly talking and being open about our journey in Christ performs its duty by making sure our faith is for real and not just head knowledge, but that God has truly made us into a new creation.

Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

In the end, the purpose of our lives together is to glorify God in all that we do, especially our daily lives.  As we live together in this world to do this, we must exhort, encourage, rebuke, teach and plead with each other to run, fight and make war against the sin in our lives.  Failure to have the heart to repent shows that the Spirit of God was never truly active but that we, for a moment, just wanted to live better lives in our own power.  This is why we must work together for the fight to finish the race.  Otherwise we will fall away having never known Christ who is the advocate for our Holiness.

Accountability as a believer with someone gives you the privilege and the power to stay focused on Christ-centered living.  We have the ability to be truthful about our struggles, tell someone to pray for us and  to pray for others.  We are able to see how God is growing us as others will see that fruit way before we do and we will begin to learn that partnership in the body is a sign of health in Christ.

When we practice accountability willingly in our lives, there is never a reason for church-wide discipline or the removal of someone from church membership.  It’s only when we turn from truth and being truthful in our lives together that requires the body to purge one from its ranks that sits to uphold the flesh and its desires which is the nature of Satan rather than the nature of the Father which is light!

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Sermon Updates

I have an automated system now to house the weekly messages. So instead of posting a new post each Sunday afternoon, you can just come to the site and click on the messages tab for the newest sermon.

Grace and Peace to you.

James

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Holiness: 1 John 1:1-10 Week 1

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