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Tag Archives: Legalism

Verse of the Day

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Our church website has a verse of the day generator.  Every day it selects a random Bible verse and puts it on our home page next to the hit counter.
I got up this morning and today’s verse is:

“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.” (Psalm 149.4)

I just read that and was so excited – it is such a beautiful verse.

The Lord takes pleasure in His people.  That means every sermon telling you that you are not good enough, that you are horrible, that you are a filthy sinner, that you have to do A, B, C, (and D and E and F and G) to please God is nonsense.  God is pleased with you – all you have to do to please God is have faith!  It is that simple.  God is easy to please and easy to live with.

Not only that he will beautify the meek with salvation.   The meek are those people who know that they cannot do it themselves.  There is nothing inside me that can fulfill God’s plan in my life – it has to be Him.  When you realize that God makes you beautiful with salvation – with soundness and abundance.

Wonderful!  Selah!

Galatians 3 (KJV)

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1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Three Waves – The Second Wave, a Wave of Financial Integrity

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As the people cast out demons, healed the sick and had the most phenomenally accurate words of knowledge and words of wisdom, two things happened

Firstly, there was a backlash of persecution from cessationist Christians.  Not from the world, not really – much more from Christians who denied the Scriptures and the power of God.  This persecution took the form of exclusion from meetings, people were forced to stand down from leadership positions.  Some pastors were removed from their churches, other pastors virtually expelled their entire churches for speaking in tongues and laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.  This caused a few people to back off and stop their new life of faith and miracles and joy.  However, far more people were galvanised by this and it caused them to dig into the Word to understand the Biblical basis for seeing miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It caused them to spend much more time with the Holy Spirit as their comforter and friend, and the wave of miracles grew more intense.
In the places where the persecution was strongest, often involving creative miracles of limbs re-growing and organs being restored.

The second thing that happened is that some people who had been involved in the most religious, non-charismatic churches realized that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit was free and completely by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  At the same time, many of the people moving in the gifts were very young Christians, some only being Christians for a few weeks or even days.

Some of these people started – or continued – in some of the vilest sins.  Some of these started to be exposed and revealed.  It threatened to derail the revival spreading through London and at this stage had started to affect churches in the home counties and in some areas in north England, Wales, France and eastern Europe.

Just at this time, several Christian ministers started to preach on purity and integrity in a powerful way.  Thousands flocked to hear sermons on holiness and purity throughout London.  People started to learn how to think on what is right, how to form pure and wise relationships and how to be honest in all their dealings.  It was a beautiful move and it dovetailed into the healing wave that had just past.  People started to learn how to live their life on the Word, not just on their gifting or anointing.  A small group went into an excess and said they could live how they like and started swapping partners, but this group stopped almost as soon as it started.

I have referred to this wave as a wave of financial integrity because that is how I saw it.  All the things I described above happened in my vision, but the crest of the wave was this: churches started to deal with money in an open and honest way.  I saw Christian leaders weeping before their churches because they had operated the church finances as an extension of their own bank accounts.  I saw elders apologize for manipulating people into giving to their causes.  Some people were repenting of making up causes to raise offerings and this was revealed.

Now, I know for a fact that there is excesses like this inside the charismatic church, but what surprised me when I saw this happen was that it was as much the traditional churches that had leaders repenting and making restitution as the charismatic churches.  Several pastors had raised money for an orphanage that did not even exist, and they were getting right with God and returning double the money to everyone who had given.

It was wonderful to watch.  And as it happened, as people – especially leaders – were honest, were owning up – there was a new level of trust across the body of Christ.  A Pentecostal minister would admit his folly, and instead of shooting him down, the local Anglican church would love him and reach out to him and restore him.  The Baptists were praying for the Assemblies of God, and the URC were praying for the Elim, and this opened up a number of joint meetings which led to many people being saved, healed and delivered.

The irony was that when this was dealt with, people actually became more generous with their money.  People who had never given more than a token amount to the church were giving 30-40% of their income into offerings for their churches.  Money was being distributed to the poor in London like never before.  A number of churches were getting together in different localities and buying buildings to use as shelters for the homeless and as soup kitchens, and places where people could be cared for and supported.  In many areas, one church was organising the whole project but would be amazed when other churches in the area would just send huge offerings with no strings attached.

As this wave started to subside – and I don’t mean that the integrity had ended, any more than the healings and miracles had ceased at this stage, but rather that this as a focus was ending – there were so many Christians who were fellowshipping with people they never thought they would fellowship with.
This is when the third wave I saw hit.

Run Through Romans (4.9-13)

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This is some beautiful teaching here from the apostle of grace, Paul:

9Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

Paul is taking here about the blessedness of not having your sin held against you.  As I said in the last post, the is the most remarkable blessing.  Because of what Jesus did on the cross in becoming your sin, if you put your faith in him then you will never have your sin held against you.  God will treat you as if you never sinned.  I have heard people say it like this: justified means just-if-i’d never sinned, and that is 100% correct.  If you have your faith in Jesus, you can relate to God as if you never sinned.

Now Paul is asking the question: does a person have to be circumcised to have this blessing?  Some people, often called the Judaizers by scholars, were visiting the new churches that Paul was planting and telling people that they could never be right with God, never enter heaven and never enjoy heaven on earth until they were circumcised.

Now I have never in the 21st century heard someone make such a claim: that unless someone is circumcised that they cannot enter heaven when they die or enjoy heaven on earth.  However, I have heard many equivalent claims and so have you.

How about: “if you quit going to this church you will never succeed on earth”.  Anyone heard that?  It is a lie.  You are righteous by faith and you will succeed on earth because of what Jesus has done.  I was in a church once where people were told they were going to hell because they were wearing sleeveless tops.

What about you have to speak in tongues to go to heaven?  What about you have to not have a certain amount of money?  You have to wear certain clothes to fit into the church?  You have to do certain things on a Sunday, or not do other things?  I remember back when I was a brand new Christian, I went into a B&Q with a friend to buy a screwdriver for a model I was building.  I was only about 17, and it was a Sunday after church.

We were walking in the store chatting away when my friend suddenly grabbed my shoulder and pulled me behind the shelving and into the next aisle.  I was a little shocked to say the least.  When I demanded an explanation, he told me that he had just seen a deacon from our church walking down the aisle we were in.  We were absolutely not allowed to let him see us in the shop!

Even my teenage mind was lightning fast to realize that for him to tell the pastor we were in the shop that he would have had a very obvious question to answer himself, so  I really wasn’t concerned!  But that is the attitude of very many churches.  The fact is that being right with God, being accepted has nothing to do with our actions.

There is actually in several churches a movement to go back to the “Hebrew” roots of the church.  People are dressing in Jewish clothes, celebrating the passover, and adopting Jewish customs and practices.  This is absolutely unnecessary and can be spiritually very dangerous.

If all you are doing is keeping a passover to examine the typology of Jesus and marvel at how the Lord accurately portrayed the death of Jesus to the Jewish people hundreds of years before it happened, then that is fine and may actually be beneficial.  But the second you start to judge people on the days they keep, the festivals they are involved in, the second you think that these things contribute to your righteousness, you are stepping away from the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

10How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

Paul is pointing out that circumcision cannot possibly be necessary to be righteous because Abraham was declared righteous BEFORE he was circumcised.  This principle is an excellent principle if you want to know if I have to do something to be accepted by God.  All you have to do any time someone says you have to do A, B or C before you are right with God is ask yourself if Abraham did it before he was declared righteous.  If the answer is no, then you do not need to do it before God declares you righteous.

I was in one church that said if you did not read your Bible EVERY DAY, God would not accept you.  In other words, your righteousness was not dependant on the complete work of Jesus but on your ability to read.

Ask yourself the question: did Abraham read his Bible every day before he was declared righteous.  The answer is an obvious no because there was no Bible in Abraham’s day.

The fact is this: Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised, hundreds of years before there was a Bible, hundreds of years before the first church service (yes! you don’t have to go to church to be right with God!), before he tithed, before he saw a manifestation of God’s goodness, before he did anything.  All he did was believe.  It is that simple.  We overcomplicate it, and there are always people who will tell you that you have to pray this long, fast this long, read the Bible this much and go to church this many times to be right with God.

It is the same error Paul is dealing with in Romans.  You do not have to do anything to be right with God.  It is only by faith alone in grace alone.

11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Abraham’s circumcision only happened after he was declared righteous.  We like to put the cart before the horse.  We like to tell people: quit smoking and you will be right with God.  It’s nonsense – quitting smoking cannot make you right with God.  You will just smell a bit nicer and have a bit more money, but you won’t be righteous.

What we should tell people is: you are right with God.  They will then quit smoking.  They were only smoking because of fear and anxiety.  Now they know that they have peace with God and they are enjoying heaven on earth, they forget about the cigarettes.

(Obviously cigarettes is just an example, this works with every situation!)

12And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

And to be like Abraham it is not the outward thing you need to do to be like Abraham, but the inward thing.  You don’t need to look like Abraham, be circumcised like Abraham, but you need to believe like Abraham.

We still copy the externals of people not their heart.  We miss it by so much.  Years ago I loved Derek Prince more than any other Bible teacher.  I listened to him every day.  I started to try and be like him in the pulpit, I would lecture and adopt his mannerisms and his phrases.  I even bought myself a three piece suit because that is what he always wore.

Now I realize I should have followed his faith: the fact that he always simply accepted the Word of God over any tradition and any circumstance, the fact that he was a man of humility and integrity.  I should still preach like me (if you have ever heard me preach, I am not like him in the pulpit at all… well, not in style, I hope in substance I am like him), should still dress like me, and still be me.

If you have spiritual heroes, and there is not a problem with that, we were designed to have heroes, don’t emulate their external behaviours but emulate their faith and their spirit.

13For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Abraham was told by God that he would inherit the world!  If you believe in Jesus, you are going to inherit the world.  Blessed are the meek, because they will inherit the earth.

If you realize that because of Jesus that you are going to inherit the earth, you are going to be promoted, you are going to prosper, you are going to be wealthy, and that your actions will not change your righteousness, that your sin is not and will never be held against you, then you will be a happy person!

Blessed are you forever,

Ben

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