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I had a really rough night at work; or, “Why heresy sends you to Hell.”

For those of you who don’t know, I wait tables for a living. This is not what I want to do for the rest of my life, although it’s not a bad way to live and I think I’ll be working as a server for a while. But it’s what I do right now. And let me tell you something about service jobs, be they food and beverage or retail: They suck. People, in general, suck. They think that they’re the center of the universe, and that you don’t have anything to do in the entire world but take care of them with your magical super powers that allow you to conjure up an entire meal in a matter of minutes. I’m being facetious, clearly, but only a little. There are some incredibly rude people out there.

But here’s the thing about those rude people: Jesus doesn’t love them any less, and that means that I can’t either. And that hit me really hard tonight, because I had a particular table that I got really frustrated with, and I said some nasty things about them. I was rude and angry and hateful toward them behind their back, and why? Because they don’t understand what exactly my job entails? How did their self-centeredness or their rudeness give me license to speak ill of ones for whom Christ died? This is a weighty realization to come to. 

These people, regardless of how rude they were to me, are still the object of the affection of the Creator. I don’t get to decide that they don’t get good service. Paul said in Colossians 3 that we do everything as unto God; everything we do, it’s as if we’re serving or working for Jesus Himself. Tonight, I wasn’t doing that. I was serving myself; worried about myself and my money and my feelings and my time being wasted and my, my, my how selfish I can be. And that’s what heresy is.

Heresy is selfish theology.

Heresy is a theology that says “this is all about you.” Christ’s death on the Cross? He did it because you were worth it. The universe? Created because you needed it. You’re justified by your works; you’re sanctified by your strength; you were regenerated by some merit of your own. Heresy is anything that detracts from the glory that God receives when He brings your dead soul to life. 

The Pharisees are a shining example of this. In Luke 18, Jesus tells of two men praying at a temple meeting. One is a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. Some quick social context: The prayer would likely have taken place during the time that a priest went back into the temple to offer a sacrifice for the atonement of the people. The Pharisee thanks God that he is righteous, based on what he has done for himself. After all, he tithes, fasts, he’s a just man, he’s faithful to his wife. He has earned himself the right to look down on others. It’s all about him and his self-righteousness.

The tax collector, though, is grieved over his sins, and refuses to even lift his eyes to heaven. Instead, he beats his breast, which is a form of mourning usually only practiced by women in the Ancient Near East, and asks God’s mercy on him. He doesn’t trust in himself for salvation—he denies himself and relies solely on the mercies of God. He hurls himself headlong after the grace afforded to him; the Greek reads “may [this sacrifice] be propitious toward me.” Father, I have no hope other than your goodness and grace: Please show mercy to me, even when I have shown no mercy to others. This is the prayer of the sinner. And Christ said that he went home justified, and the Pharisee did not, and I am so like that Pharisee. 

I am like the man to whom Christ said “how will you escape hell?” Tonight I looked at those children of God sitting at my table and thought “thank the Lord that I am not like them.” I stood in my self-righteousness and I passed judgement on them; I committed the sin of partiality, or at least some permutation of it. And why? Because I have a wicked heart. Because I can be nothing more than a whitewashed tomb when I fight the Spirit who gives me life. I can clean the outside of the cup, but I’ll leave the inside dirty.

All I can say is “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” May the sacrifice that the Son made on the Cross be propitious toward me, because God knows nothing else can save my soul. Lord help me to love those for whom You died, because my heart is hard and cannot do it on its own. 

In Christ,

Jonathan.

Tags: Exposition



Anon asked: (PG-13: I talk about sex).

A few questions: From a biblical standpoint, do you believe women are inferior to men? How are women different from men as humans? What do you think a woman’s deepest fulfillment is aside from Christ? Another thing is that I feel like the Bible, and Christianity in general, is setting completely unrealistic expectations of women. Especially sexual expectations. Any thoughts?

Yes, anon, I do have some thoughts. 

Biblically, men and women are 100% equal. Each gender has sinned equally, and each gender has equal opportunity for repentance and salvation. Galatians 3 teaches that in Christ (and His salvation) there is no distinction between slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female, but that anyone who has been baptized into Christ has put on Christ. This was written to the Church in Galatia who had been struggling with the Judaizers—a Jewish sect of Christians trying to mix Law and Grace. Paul here explains that you don’t earn favor with God based on your race, gender, or social status, or how you keep the Law. All humankind is equally guilty in the eyes of God, and all humankind has been granted equal opportunity for Salvation by Grace in the eyes of God.

So the Biblical distinction is not one of equality. Men and women are not of differing value to God. The distinction is one of authority. Women are not called to the same authority within the Body of Christ as men (1 Tim. 2:12-13). Women’s authority is different: They are to train the younger women (Tit. 2:3-5). This is due, in part, to the federal headship of Adam. You’ll notice, in Romans, that it is Adam, not Eve, who is responsible for death’s grand entrance to the world (Rom. 5:12; cf. 1 Cor. 15:22). 

I would like to take a moment here to examine Ephesians 5:22-33. You should read this passage quickly, and come back to this post. First, look at the proportion of verses written to wives (3) and to husbands (8) with the last verse being a summary of the responsibilities of both sexes. The responsibilities of men are much more detailed in relation to the mystery of Christ and the Church being expressed in marriage (v. 32).

Now look in some more detail at the commands: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (v. 22). Notice the phrase “to your own husbands.” Here, we see God protecting the family. A woman is not simply to be under the headship of all men, but is submitting to the protection and care of her husband. Now why does God give the command to submit? An easy question: God has designated the spiritual and familial authority in a relationship to the men, and in these matters, wives are to submit. We see from the Genesis account what happens when the wife takes on spiritual authority. Keep in mind, of course, that the man is held responsible for what happens, regardless of whether or not he took up his appointed mantle. 

The next command is in verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her[.]” For some reason, no one ever has a problem with this verse. I know there are exceptions, but most men struggle with lust. Here again God protects the family by commanding us to go against that which we as men desire, and love our wives more than ourselves. We are to nourish and cherish our wives as a direct extension of our bodies (vv. 28, 29). This is not as a matter of ownership, but as a matter of unity: A husband and wife have become one flesh (v. 31). 

This brief exposition of a beautiful passage of Scripture does not even begin to reveal the depth of truth contained therein. This passage reveals not only the practicality of God’s plan for marriage, but the overwhelming love that Christ has for the Church. I hope it helps to answer some of your confusion about the Biblical view of women.

Outside of Christ, there is no fulfillment. However, I believe that anyone should be content to live the life that Christ has given them, whether they be married or single. If a woman is married, her greatest joy should be her husband, and thereby she honors the work of Christ (that’s what Ephesians is getting at, ultimately). If a woman is single, her greatest joy should be living as Christ has called her to live, whether that be in ministry at her church, her career, her schooling, or what have you. As Christians, we should be content with what God has called us to do.

Now, on to sex.

So many people have twisted the Biblical view of sex. There’s the hyper-conservative crowd, who can’t even say the word “sex” without feeling dirty. There’s the Catholic view that contraception is wrong (and to those who ask, I don’t agree with that view). There are those who respond to the hyper-conservatism generally associated with Christianity and sex by adopting a shock-and-awe approach: “Our Church is trendy and hip because we talk about sex! Come to our sermon series “How to do it better in the bedroom (and everywhere else): A walk through the Song of Solomon!” And then, there is what the Bible actually has to say about sex. (By the way, the Song of Songs [by Solomon] is a beautiful story of two lovers, but it’s not a guide for better sex. It’s partly a typology of Christ and the Church; a narrative of God’s love for Humanity. It’s beautiful, and should you ever have the chance to hear a good sermon on it, do so! There’s so much to learn from that book.)

The Bible doesn’t honestly say a whole lot about how to have good sex. It commands against sexual immorality such as fornication (sex before marriage) and adultery (sex with someone who’s not your spouse), and it gives us a few other warnings about sinful sex, but it doesn’t give us many “do’s” when it comes to sex. What does that mean? It means that sex, in the context of marriage, is something that Christ has given us great freedom in. Inside of marriage, there aren’t unrealistic expectations for women. Sex gets to be something that you and your spouse have incredible freedom to explore and enjoy for yourselves.

I said the Bible doesn’t give us many “do’s” when it comes to sex, but there is one passage that needs to be brought into this discussion:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

—1 Corinthians 7:3-5. 

In a Christian marriage, your spouse has a holy mandate from God to learn all about you and to push every last one of your pleasure buttons; likewise, you better spend your time in the bedroom learning as much as you can about them! If sex gets to be a distraction, cool off, take a few days to get your focus right, and then come back to it so that your sexual passions are being spent on your spouse as God intended, and don’t give rise to adulterous relationships. 

Now, this passage could be twisted to say that consent is not required for sex in marriage, resulting in atrocious sexual abuse and a perversion of one of the most beautiful gifts that God has given us. First, the great context of Scripture that we explored earlier in Ephesians does away with this idea: If you love your wife, you won’t abuse her for your selfish sexual gratification. Secondly, the verb translated here as “have authority” denotes authority given by consent. In other words, sexual conduct within marriage has been authorized both by God, and by both participants. Mutual consent to sexual activity within a marriage relationship is inherent in God’s plan for sexuality. 

So there you have it, anon! A survey of some of the things the Bible has to say about men, women, marriage, and sex! I hope this cleared up a few of your questions, but if you have more, feel free to ask away! 

In Christ,

Johnny.

(Source: johnnyis)



Isaiah 53:5

Things Jesus didn’t die for:
  • Your space in heaven.
  • Your nifty Christian t-shirt.
  • Your right to vote Republican. Or Democrat. Or to vote in general. (He was more concerned with the Kingdom of Heaven than the kingdom of America.)
  • Your Cadillac.
  • Your billfold.
  • Your big house.
  • Your purpose-driven life.
  • Your feelings.
  • Your family life.

Things Jesus did die for:

  • Your total depravity.
  • Your inability to control your lust.
  • Your insatiable desire to cut yourself.
  • Your propensity to hate others.
  • Your propensity to hate Him.
  • Your obsessive devotion to any part of creation rather than a single thought of the Creator.
  • Your sin.
  • You.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.



Colossians 2:13-15

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Praise God for His infinite mercies and grace, whereby He has saved a wretch like me. Praise God for His love, and His steadfastness in His promises! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us to make us alive in Him (Rom. 5:8)! While we were yet enemies of God, still He extended mercy to us and completely wiped out the demands of the law against us! He poured His holy wrath out on His Son, nailing the record of sin that stood against us to the Cross with Christ, and disarming every accusation that our Adversary could make against us. Who now can bring a charge against the Elect (Rom. 8)? Can Satan accuse the brethren any more, when God Himself has no record of our wrongs? 

We stand before God righteous, not because of what we have done, but because of what Christ did. This is why our salvation is sure: Because the work of Christ on the Cross was enough! This is the Gospel! Believe it, repent of your sins, and be forgiven! Believe it and be saved from the wrath to come!



Isaiah, Jesus, Christmas, etc.

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

— Isaiah 9:6

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his stripes we are healed.

— Isaiah 53:5

For to us a child is born. These words ring in my head every December. To us. We always look at the Child at Christmas, and I am by no means downplaying the birth of our Savior, but tonight the purpose of that birth has been weighing heavy on my mind. That same Christ child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, was born to be stripped naked and beaten. There was no room for Him in the inn, and there was no room for Him in our hearts. That Christ child was born to die; raised a sacrificial Lamb, spotless, to propitiate the demands made by a just God on an unrighteous world. And He did just that.

He hung, broken and bloodied, in excruciating agony, saturated in God’s burning wrath toward my sin. He took the guilt of the world onto His back, that His righteousness may be imputed to all who will receive it, reconciling them to the Father. By taking our punishment, He brought us peace with God. And from the start, the angels declared it to the shepherds: “Peace on Earth!” The Christ has come to bear your guilt, that you may share in His righteousness! God is demonstrating His goodwill to men! Do not founder in sin any longer, but repent, turn to God, and live! That is the message of the Christmas season: That God is calling all men to repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus name. 

All men being you and I.

Our sins required the payment that child endured on the tree. It was His love for us that held Him there, but it was our sin that led Him there. Every vile, contemptible sin that we committed in the private places, where no one saw, where no one heard. Every lustful thought that I’ve had—you’ve had. Every time you’ve reviled God, elevating some part of His creation over Him as an idol of your heart. Every lie that’s been told, every blasphemy uttered, every impure thought: Jesus Christ hung on the cross, laid bare before the fury of God Himself, crushed beneath the mutual weight of the sins of the world and the rage of a Holy God, and He screamed out “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

And we really don’t know. We don’t understand the depths of our depravity. We don’t understand how our very nature can grieve the heart of God. We make up all sorts of excuses for our behavior, but we never repent.

Repent, come to the Father, and be forgiven. Find grace and love as you have never known it before. Please, do not ignore the weight of eternity that has been written on your heart: I beg you to come and find life at the throne of God

(Source: johnnyis)

Tags: exposition



Psalm 35:1-3

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler
   and rise for my help!
Draw the spear and javelin
   against my pursuers!
Say to my soul,
   ”I am your salvation!”

David’s prayer was ultimately answered by Jesus Christ, the son of God, come to lay His life down for sinners. Who has contended for our souls like Christ has? What god of this world has laid their life down for our sake? Which of the pagan gods has freely given us salvation?

We preach Christ because there is no other name which saves. We preach the Gospel because it is the power of God to the salvation of those who believe. We preach Christ because He loved us, though we were unwilling to recieve that love; He pursued us, though we were unable to pursue Him; and He saved us, because we could not save ourselves. We preach Christ, or we preach nothing.

(Source: johnnyis)



Things Michael Gungor is wrong about.

First, go read his blog post here. Otherwise, you’ll be pretty lost.

Really, I only want to respond to one section of his post. I agree with his point about the zombification of the Christian music industry, and the general marketing of a “Jesus Lite,” etc. However, I take exception at his treatment of the Scripture in regard to alcohol usage.

Read More

(Source: johnnyis)



The commanded prayer.

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (Jn. 15:7).

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(Source: johnnyis)



Click here to follow along with notes!

This is the sermon I delivered tonight at Faith Assembly of God’s young adult ministry. I pray that God speaks to you from His word as you listen. Follow along in James 2:14-26. 

In Christ,

Jonathan.

(Source: johnnyis / johnnyis)



A Kingdom unshakable.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28-29

Our faith is sure: That the kingdom of God is unshakable.  The Christian life is founded in the absolute work of Christ on the Cross.  Our faith in Christ makes us heirs of that immovable Kingdom.  We are adopted children of God.  Do not take this lightly, however!  Reverence and awe are to be our attitude toward God.  Do not be flippant about the work of Christ.  Do not forget the great work that God has done for us in Jesus’ death on the cross.  If you are serving God, your life will be consumed by Him, “for our God is a consuming fire.”  This is our worship.

(Source: johnnyis)