Rotten Fruit, Rotten Faith!

What is the fruit of my faith? (Grasping “good works” as dynamic and insufficient) This question is hard to analyze without a ton of presuppositions. For the sake of simplicity, I have already addressed evidence of faith as “FAITH ALONE”, I am going to talk about some of the things we will see in our lives as Christians. True believers are have been born of God.

Rest well and as always, we’re here to discuss with you the truth of the Gospel.

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Boy, you better be holy!!!!

What is holiness? (defined by the Lord, not us.) For most people, it is an adherence to the Decalogue (ten commandments). For others, it is a list of regulations and rules set forth by historic cultural standards. Even more, it is an idea of sinless perfection. But what does Scripture say?

Next AYL’s:

  • What is the fruit of my faith? (Grasping “good works” as dynamic and insufficient)

These daily podcasts will most likely be a little longer than normal. Rest well and as always, we’re here to discuss with you the truth of the Gospel.

Go listen to our weekly hour-long podcast “Theology Answers” that can be found over at “TheologyAnswers.com” and is a part of the Christian Podcast Community

 

“You are safe in Christ. Be sure of Him, not you.”

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Being holy and sanctified is not what you think.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. – Ephesians 1:3-10

 

Just a short search reveals that there are a plethora of articles written about the pros and cons of social media. And there’s no lack of commentators on the concept that social media and mobile living have negative consequences. The purpose of this writing is not to revisit these issues nor is it to actually add to the conversation, but to look at the use of social media, text messages, and non-personal communication as un-biblical and most applications.  What I mean by that is this, that the word of God regulates all that we do as Christians, and because of this the word of God must regulate our use, our language, and our communication when using technology. Without such thinking the Christian community finds itself much like the world when it comes to the use of Facebook or twitter and even the use of text messaging. As a pastor of the local church, I’m finding more and more conflict and sin arising from the fleshly assumptions that are inferred from the non-communicative use of these platforms. After all, if we are to do all things for the glory of God into the honor of his name, and we are to at all times be considering how we are to spur one another on toward  love and good deeds, then we must be very critical and discerning on how we speak, what we share, and how we look to the outside world and to each other when laying our words into public view. The church of Jesus Christ is the light of the world, that means that we reflect his nature, his heart, his words, and the fullness of the glory of God in reflection as his body. Therefore to say and do something that is contrary to the heart and nature of Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the God who created all things and to his holy and above all, is to bring shame and reproach upon the name of Jesus. There is much I would like to say, but I feel it vital to stick to the matter of most importance.

Anonymity in Consequences reveal the Truth of the Heart (Matt 15:18)

In reality, the heart of man is revealed in his words above many things. Those words are a product of his true nature, and if the words on social platforms are not reflective of Christ, then they are devoid of Christ. This goes from the type of things we “like”, “share” or discuss and most importantly, it moves into our conversations and engagements. If our interaction with people is small bits of online trivia or even spiritual memes or bible verses then who are we really talking to? The ‘one’ or the whole? And when we speak on the web, why is it that we are able to say things in such a manner that seems to provide no shame or restraint? This happens because there is really no consequences for our words online. No frowns, no harsh looks, and no real empathy of having to see someone else who is hurt by what we say and how we say it. Now there is a point where sometimes people just read wrongly what we mean but even in that, we ought to consider the fact that we may cause someone else to stumble due to our “freedom” of expression.  It is better to remain quiet and “seem” wise than to speak and be shown an idiot. (Proverbs 17:28… look it up.) So, I believe that the church ought to employ policies that incorporate social platforms and text messages because it is our words and it is our hearts. So, if I offend you in person or online, it is a matter of gospel proportions to which the word of God commands reconciliation. Imagine being brought under public discipline in the church because of your facebook page. Remember out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks – or types.

Mission of Social Voice conflicts with Message of the Savior (Mark 16:15)

While it is true that Christian should be concerned with issues related to justice, social problems, economics etc.; we should relate to these things as they are presented in scripture: temporal and certain. And at times we should cry out when injustice prevails and wickedness reigns so that we are lights pointing to and shining out of darkness. We are not to be so dominated by these matters that our light just becomes darkness. We are not to mis-engage the culture with culture but we are to confront the culture with the gospel. There is NO HOPE in government but there is MUCH HOPE in Jesus Christ. So, when we spend all of our waking hours promoting our views, our desires, our opinions or even our platforms we have missed the boat and left the gospel out. There is not to even be balance on these matters because we should be known for the gospel so that when we speak of other things, it shocks people into listening. “Wow, he said something about _______, all he ever talks about is Christ, we better see what has taken his time from Jesus and pay attention.”  Just a thought…

Communication is Thought Flowing not Sound Bites (Col 4:6)

When we communicate, there are many ways to do so and much of communication is non-verbal. So when words are heard the hearer must judge what is being said in the context of SYNTAX and COUNTENANCE.  So, a small bite of information on a page, phone or computer is not communication worth considering. Who can explain a theological position in 140 characters? Who can expose all the points of view on an issue with a “share” or “like”? What text message is not going to be read from the emotional state of the recipient? See the point? We are called to communicate truth and engage the world with truth while we engage each other with truth. When our life consists of continued sound bites, that’s all we are; a pundit talking head with no meaning. So, when using sound bite technology, it must ALWAYS point people to a real relationship that is going to suffer and grow as it matures.

Judgment is Made from a Part instead of Knowing the Fullness in Wisdom (Prov 1:5 & Jas 3:13)

Recently I responded publicly to a private request to review some material on a very controversial subject. I did so because I typed the word “done” in the comment section instead of the reply section to the private post. In doing so I was bombarded by people from all across the nation accusing me of things that they “assumed” the word “done” meant. Then they began to pass judgment on my character, my faith and my purpose. While I first took these things personally, I realized how quickly such things can devour the church, so I have decided to do no more comments other than personal engagement in a public way. (Like, “Great job son….”) While there may be exceptions, for the most part when we speak personally online or via text, it is misunderstood because there is no context. We need to stop this stupidity and learn to talk on the phone so we can explain ourselves as the LORD commands us to. Oh yeah, it does BEHOOVE each of us in Christ to answer biblical rebuke to our character. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be warned. The Bible is in authority over us. (that’s a period)

Breeding of Trivial and Temporal Mindsets oppose Making Disciples of all Nations (Matt 28:19-20)

I guess breeding may be a poor choice of words but it’s how I view it. One places text for view and then another reads it and at the end of the day we know our personality type, our favorite food, have seen three people set themselves on fire and read 100 memes about how God is so good. So what? It’s silly and worthless and has no eternal value at all making it a huge waste of time. It would be different if it wasn’t a continual factory of nonsense, but it’s constant. Let’s be intentional in our disciple making. Leave a legacy not a laughing stock.

Pride of Opinion defuncts Precious Gospel-Powered Affection (1 Cor 13:7)

This one speaks for itself. The ultimate sin of such things is that we lose sight of Christ and our love for each other because the wickedness of our world consumes us and for some strange reason we feel that it is worth divorce.

Idolatry of gods vs the Incredible God of Truth (1 John 5:21)

Time is spent somewhere… and boy it surprises me sometimes when I log onto the web in the evenings to see people who have shared everything under the sun starting at 9PM and continuing until 2AM. Where would these people be if they prayed that much? Where would the nation and the church be if the people of God spent more time praying than spraying silliness across the “interwebs”? Let us repent of such idolatry. If it isn’t time then maybe it is ZEAL. That’s right… I see people walking around with their phones never to have a moment without it open. I learned years ago that I hated technology in my face when I don’t want it there. So, I leave my phone at home or else I would be subject to the same aggravation. It’s time that Christians get out of touch because honestly, we are not in touch in ANY good way. And even if we are, the side views and other things that catch our eye to see the good far outweigh the worth of the good. Maybe it’s time we just go back to connecting with no public profiles at all, no smart phones and no wasted lives.  We must put Christ at the center of our lives if He is indeed our Savior. If He cannot be the center, then He isn’t the center and our profession of faith is a lie and we do not practice the truth. So, utilize social media as if Christ is seeing it, because He is, because He is the Lord of Facebook, Twitter, Texts, Youtube and all!

There is a place for things. I just don’t think it is what it should be for holy people. I will be posting my own journey on this road and the steps I am taking to secure not just my witness but intimacy with my family and friends for the sake of growing in grace instead of growing without a face.

Seriously Engaged by the Grace of God for your Good.

Pastor James

1 John 2:28-3:3 shows us the full glorious reality that we have been adopted and given a certain hope in Christ Jesus whose righteousness we bare and who by His grace are able to walk in the light of holiness, not perfectly, but continually without fear of judgment or wrath. We abide in Christ because He abides in us and the anointing of Christ in us affords us an eternal hope of preparation (sanctification) as we await to see Him face to face we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another! Grace upon Grace! Amen.

Our pursuit of holiness is the outcome of our position as children, not a constant war of helpless expectation. Repentance is the state of the believer who then is able to abide forever in the finished work of Christ, striving in the power of Grace to rest in Christ who has prepared for us good works to walk in before the world began. (See Eph 2)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus because God is satisfied in Christ who paid the penalty of our sin. While we do grieve God the Spirit when we sin, we walk bold before our Father in forgiveness because our debt to sin is satisfied in the body of Christ.

Rest well saints!

Last Saturday as the elders and those in training for ministry gathered, the continued discussion on sin the life of the believer launched itself into a new puddle.  As we splashed around for a bit an object lesson jumped into my mind.  Writing on the board a list of sins from the brothers in the room gave a clear picture as to the measure of our depravity but also to the evidence of God’s grace in our lives.  One of the brothers made the comment that for many professing believers that continue to sin actively and openly, it seems they hide behind the scripture and use the bible for an excuse for their sin.  This comment opened a door of great dialog and here is how we landed our plane that day.

  1. Sin is always sin and it is an abomination to God because God’s worthiness is His holiness.  Holy defines God.  God is LIGHT John says and in Him is no darkness at all.  (1 John 1:5)
  2. Sin is always in the life of all humans.  Although we grow in grace and are sanctified more and more, there is always sin. (Romans 7)
  3. As one grows in the Lord, he or she sins less, but is never sinless. (1 John 2:1)
  4. The sins of the “saints” are not purposefully visible but for the most part are the root sins of the heart and mind. (James 1)
  5. As a person acts on the sin of the heart and mind, it gives birth to more sin that compounds. (James 1:15)
  6. For the person who claims fellowship with God but continues in active and open rebellion, it is hard to see regeneration through grace in that life and thus, the reason for church discipline in the scripture – to prove the work of the Lord. (1 John 1:5)
Here’s the point of this.  Sin hides within the flesh and often times one likes to abuse Romans 7 as an excuse to just keep on sinning because God will use the sin to show His grace.  Well, Paul says that we should not sin so that grace may abound, so that type of thinking is anti-christ at best.  Furthermore, if one desires to use Romans 7 as the proof text for continual rebellion in the life of the believer, then let us look at the sin that Paul says he struggles with inside his members.  Paul’s sin is clearly stated in verse 8; covetousness.  So now we must look at how this is seen in his life.  Well, it really isn’t.  Had Paul not confessed this sin, it would have never been known.  Now, he could have envied others and talked about it and pursued the path of covetousness, however he fought by grace through faith to stand in righteousness outwardly.

The outcome of our discussion:  We must never give an excuse for sin.  Never in the life of a believer must we abuse scripture to prove that we are just normal.  Paul’s sin was contained within his heart.  It did not diminish the severity of sin, however, Paul lived as a slave to righteousness and exhorts all believers to do the same.  It’s like the mobile in the picture, the gears and controls are all hidden, but then when they are wound and let go, the little animals spin around very visible.  My thoughts on this issue is that our internal struggle with sin is enough, as saints, let us fight and make war with the word of God as our sword to fight the visible and active sin in our lives.  Let’s cut the animals off the mobile and quit winding up the spring.  Repent and trust in Christ.  That is the daily command of the called of God.

Thank God each day for His grace and let us live as though He has truly done a work in us.
For His Glory by His Grace

James Tippins

When I began writing online many years ago I had one honest goal: to be heard. What a joke. As I have been peeling through the layers of my life over the last few months, I remember what a wise-fool I have been through the years. The irony of this is that when I started this blog, I named it Being Wise and More Stupid as it was during a life-changing moment for me.

I had discovered that although I thought I knew so much, I realized just how impossible it was for my wisdom to have any effect on life at all. I discovered at that time that I was really only becoming wise in the wisdom of my stupidity, or at least the acknowledgement of it. Looking back over the last five or six years (just a short breath), it has hit me again that humility has not always been one of my strong points. However, God has been faithful to break and mold and measure my heart against His holiness and in turn, I find myself yet in another low but joyous point in my life.

It’s a low point like never before. Not a lowness of spirit or a low point emotionally where I have no hope. It’s not like my depression season where I could not determine any good from anything, it’s a lowering that results from God’s affection and my realizing just how unworthy I am of His grace. This low point, I pray, will get lower and lower, because I truly believe it is where the children of God are supposed to live; broken and humble. Not to say I am humble, which I wish I could be more, but to say that God’s humbling of a man is something that no one can accomplish on his own. Praise be to God for His infinite grace which lowers each of us in His timing.

In this low point I have discovered several key things that might be helpful for others to consider, they surely are for me:

  1. That all that we learn and glean is never enough to place us as experts or “wise” because all true learning and wisdom comes from God so that we have no boast except in the work of the Lord.
  2. That no matter how God uses us in His work, we are not the one’s who deserve the glory or the crown, but rather our lives are owned by Him even before He saves us so there is no boast except in the Lord.
  3. That all believers, no matter how God uses them are His children and are where He desires them to be for His timing.  We are never “better” than another child of God because we have all been given the same grace.
  4. Our affection for the “least of these” is not an obligatory affection because of God’s commands, but a true supernatural love that only God can give.  Maturity is truly measured by our worship to God in all things and our affection toward each other with humility and honor for the Lord.
  5. Just because we understand something does not make us wise, it is only God using that knowledge in His glorious way does it become wisdom and even when it is wise, our hearts try to accommodate room for pride which is of the flesh, so we must be in a continual state of reflection and of course repentance.
  6. As I write and you read this, we might agree with this wisdom in our souls, however, we must always be aware that tomorrow, we might be allowed to see, by God’s grace, just how foolish we are today and thus have relied once again on His never-ending grace.
  7. That there are much more lessons and reflection that could fill the world from God’s people, but we must also go into the world and make disciples of each other for His glory.
  8. That our affections, as much as we “think” Christ is our highest, are often shown differently, even our ministries and worship can become idols.
  9. … for God’s future grace.

As for this low place, I embrace it and look forward to how God might humble me in the next 60 years if I live that long.  As for now, I also stand in the place of JOY because all the growth that God does is a reason for joy.  He is the treasure of our souls and nothing, absolutely nothing can stand in His way nor the way of our affections for Him.  A broken and contrite heart you do not despise oh Lord!

May God continue His plan as He promised He would.  For His Glory,

Pastor James

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.