En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for the ‘holiness’ Category

Holiness…new concept to many, but older than the Scriptures!

Posted by Scott on September 12, 2009

In todays selfish climate even in the evangelical movement of the day “holiness” is a new thought to many. Holiness seems not to enter into the thought process of masses of those calling themselves “evangelical”.

I started reading back through a book I read through a few years ago to touch base with someone who was passionate about the subject as I am. JC Ryle, born in 1816, died in 1900. He had a life long ministry to the young and old of the day in and around England. However, Ryle could see a movement, mostly coming from America, that greatly disturbed him. This movement was taking away the holiness found in our sanctification. The mantra was just believe and you are justified, which is the requirement to trust in Christ, however, they were taking this further to even say that sanctification was merely to believe and the sanctification was given to us. This is the rub between the two and holiness was then as it is today being pushed out of Believers lives and thus people could see no real change between those calling themselves Believers and those than admittedly denied Christ.

Quickly and briefly:

1) Justification is only to trust in Christ, believe

2) sanctification must be to guard, pray and fight against sin in our lives on a daily basis.

From Ryle:

“There is an amazing ignorance of Scripture among many and a consequent want of established, solid religion.”

Willowcreek church in Chicago experienced this recently as they admittedly have been wrong for twenty years in their “seeker” focus without establishing among the congregants solid biblical growth…in other words, those true Believers were starving to death for real biblical meat from the pulpit of the church.

Ryle says further after quoting Eph 4:14:

“There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular and in the beaten path of our forefathers.”

Again, I can show you contempt after contempt from so many young, Scripturally ignorant pastors today that viciously preach against the old, established religion of the day. This is not completely unfounded of course, but overall it causes their listeners to distaste all, when really the focus should be on the few unholy older established religions that are NOT true to the Word of God, but are pretenders to the faith.

Ryle continues:

“Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true. There is an incessant craving after any teaching with sensational, exciting, and rousing to the feelings. These are an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram-drinking, and the “meek and quiet spirit” which Peter commends is clean forgotten (1 Peter 3:4). Crowds and crying and hot rooms and high-flown singing and an incessant rousing of the emotions, are the only things which many care for. Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is “clever” and “earnest”, hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully “narrow and uncharitable” if you hint that he is unsound!”

Sounds like much of what we see today going on the “Seeker-sensitive” & “Emergent” movements.

Ryle starts out the book:

“Sin is the transgression of the law.” -1 John 3:4

Ryle “…to attain right views about Christian holiness must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high.”

I compare this depth as we must build a faithfully true theology as we build a faithfully holy life. Unless we get our mind right on sin, we will do little good in building a Christian life. Think of a 100 story building. Do they just set it on top of the ground? Absolutely not if they intend the building to last and not sink into the ground. The first activity is to go down deep into the earth to set up the foundation and then they start building above the ground. The same is true of the Christian life…dig into the Word of God deeply, developing the truths of God’s Word in doctrine and theology. Then a holy life can be built. Remember, the holy life is not built over night or with a little prayer. The holy life is built over our lifetime by being on guard against the adversaries lies and distortions that cause sin, by spending great moments of time in prayer with our heavenly Father, and fighting against sin at every turn which is the mortification of sin…the murder of sin in our lives daily is required.

One final note from Ryle on what thoughts and actions about sin can cause:

“Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies, and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies.”

The danger the church faces today and the problems the identity of the church has today from centuries of not viewing sin as serious is our witness has diminished to the point people do not take Christians serious anymore. The dim view of sin in the Believer’s life has been tampered with to the point that many cannot even recognize their sin as being sin anymore. I can assure you that sin is still prevalent today as it was 200 years ago….even more so. The internet has brought far more filth and sinful opportunity into peoples homes and lives than one would have ever thought. So, the need to be on guard, pray and fight sin is all the more necessary.

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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Purity and Holiness Seen as Legalism!

Posted by Scott on February 21, 2008

In my quest to be sanctified and pure before my God is often looked upon as being legalistic.  I am far too serious about my Christian walk to be bothered by such snotty drivel.  This is such a tragic way of looking at the sanctification, holiness and purity of a believer.  We are to be a direct reflection of Christ who is a direct reflection of the heavenly Father.  So many of the church body today think that in order to “win” the lost they must look like the lost in order to attract them and their churches reflect that of a movie theater or entertainment center starring the latest worship leader and bebop worship singers on stage.  This is far from the biblical example as it should be and is a sham service.

I can say definitely that I will not put aside my faithful walk with Christ in order to resemble the world in order to believe I am “winning” the lost by living my life in that manner…we do not “win” the lost….the Holy Spirit does this work by drawing them to the Father by the word of God being proclaimed.  We are to deliver the message, period!  The Holy Spirit then does the work, period! 

 The kind of worship services I see today is heresy in the first degree.  To put it another very loving and delicate way, I do not have to have religion, the churches, life, or any other “thing” in this world, for I will not now nor ever water down the holy word of the living God and back away from calling “sin” what it is….”sin” in order to attract more people to a very entertaining message of feeling good about ourselves.  I am not perfect by a long shot and fall far too short of any marker within God’s word, but when it comes to the holy scriptures I must make my stand and expound on it as I see it…when I am wrong it will be admitted and corrected.  It is the perfect word of God that can and will direct each of Christ follower’s life if we will allow it.  God’s holy word does not need any help by making it more “relevant” to today’s life….guys, God’s word has never lost it relevancy….ever!!!!  It has always been relevant….what has not been relevant is the people trying to read it, interpret it, and live by it…..God’s word has and always will be relevant to the end.

Now, why is it that holiness or sanctification (set aside for God) today is looked upon by those within the church and outside the church as legalistic?  If we as parents choose to home-school our kids we get those arrogant looks from Christians and non-Christians alike.  If we are training our kids to remain pure in their sexuality until they are married we looked down upon as being naive.  If we stress the importance of not dating as our society today sees dating, but wait upon the Lord that is looked upon as stupid.  Spending time in God’s word on a daily basis, dressing conservatively, going to church more than once per week, serving our church and neighbors is all called being “to serious”. 

 People, back off and worry about that huge bulging log that is your own eye and my family and I will worry about ours.  You raise your kids as you see fit, but do not tell me how to raise mine.  You worship as you see fit, but do not tell me how to worship.  You send your kids to a godless public institution and we will educate our kids as we believe God has called us to do.  In this world that rotten to the core we need more people that call themselves “Christians” to live like it rather than just wearing a t-shirt saying it.  Authentic Christianity permeates the mind, heart and soul not just a shirt sleeve.  The old saying that many people are just “Sunday Morning Christians” is so true and is an absolute mockery to Christ death on the cross.  Do not call yourself a Christian any longer until you start living like one….better to be in the closet living in sin rather telling people you are one heading to heaven, but living like you have one foot in hell.  Make your testimony one that God can use and bring others to Himself with it.  I would dare say that most Christians testimonies are useless, because at the first sign of trouble we crawl under a rock, start acting as the world acts, or simply turn our backs on Christ.  The Christian life is lay-ed out for us within God’s word and I pray that each of you reading will find yourself in a church that has a pastor that expounds on God’s word each and every week. 

I pray you are not in a church that entertains you each week, rarely opens the word of God, or has a cooking show as your weekly message…..how sad it is to see and hear these types of services….this is a trampling of God within a church that claims His name.  Ministers, please, get back to expounding on God’s word from the pulpit!  Please, get back to biblical preaching and worship.  Stop this watered down lovely drivel that the likes of Joel Osteen spews from the stage each week.  The world is watching how the church handles the changes that are so quickly upon us today.  How we react to world events says volumes about who our God is and how big our God is.  Right now the emergent church has Him caged in a little bitty box.  The emergent church movement is creating a new god that does not exist because the God of the bible may be too harsh for the world to accept.  Stop this kind of drivel and sham Christianity.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

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-Can We Be Holy?

Posted by Scott on January 5, 2008

Can I be frank with you, Guys?  God is calling His people back to holiness.  Our families are looking to us as husbands, fathers, and leaders to usher in this holiness to our homes, churches, and even the workplace.  Are we inadvertently losing our desire to be holy?  This is not the direction the majority of the churches are moving today either.  As a matter of fact, the church in general is moving as far away from holiness as it can all in the name of progress in winning the lost to Christ.  We see the great hymns that testify to His holiness and sovereignty pushed aside for more upbeat, rock style chants.  Such old hymns as “Take Time to be Holy” by William D. Longstaff of 1882 with such words as

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always, and feed on His word.  Make friends of God’s children; help those who are weak; forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek”

are missing within the walls of churches of today.  Preachers are not standing in the pulpits anymore with the Holy Scriptures in front of them proclaiming God as holy and that we should be moving in that holy direction ourselves as the Spirit of God prompts us.  We cannot embrace success until we have successfully embraced the suffering of Christ as a part of Christianity.   

Here in Micah 5:1-15 we find a special treat as the coming birth of Christ is foretold.  The coming of Christ was the great hope for the oppressed people of this day and time.  This is not much different than the hopes we have today of Christ second coming.  My concern is the condition of “the bride of Christ” when He returns.  The task at hand for us is a return to the holiness of God.  Micah 5:4 states “He will stand to lead His flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God”.  Verse 5 “He will be the source of our peace”. God always uses a remnant for His purposes.  As the Israelites of this day and time were captured and hauled off to captivity, God promises to keep a remnant for His use.  He promises to restore and redeem this remnant for His greater glory.  This remnant is a people with little significance to the world from an earthly point of view.  These are people God strips bare and purifies with His mighty hand deep into the core of their being, and rebuilds them to accomplish His work here on earth.  The remnant is a people striving to live a holy life before God with little regard for the opinions of the masses including those within their on Christian circles.  As we look around, so many “play” at Christianity with little power in their lives.  For some reason it is “hip” in the Bible-Belt of America to tag yourself with the label of “Christian”.  To live this life out with a holy humble calling does not enter their thought process.  The church wonders why it does not have an effect on lives in their communities.  The church has left its first love, Christ, for a false doctrine of prosperity and feeling good.  The church has become in many circles the Oprah or Doctor Phil show with a Christian twist.  People are entertained by rock bands, skits, and celebrity preachers into the pits of hell, but are convinced in their own hearts that it is the work of God.  Holiness is not an easy task nor is it an easy topic to explore.  This will not be a deep search into holiness, that article will come later. 

This is a holiness called out by God from the prophet Micah years ago to a people that had been warned to turn back to God and seek His holiness in their lives.  This same holiness is welling up again within the groaning’s of this fallen world.  Being purified for His holy calling on our lives requires a painful, sometimes stressing, and bloody process.  God wants absolutely nothing between Him and us.  I am convinced that He will not stop short of destroying each and every security we have on this earth in order to achieve the holiness in us He intends.  Our finances are of no concern to Him if that must be taken in order to get our attention.  Many of us find great security in our jobs and family, yet that is not safe from this purification process.  Our toys are certainly at risk of rust and disaster if any chance exists they would get in the way of our walk with Christ.  As we see His awesome work in Micah and His people as he purifies His remnant by destroying the idols in their lives.  He was destroying anything that they may have held in greater confidence than His Majesty.  He will banish all items and concepts that pushed them away from His work within their hearts.  God would not allow anything to be left of their old life within them.  Any education that penetrates our mind and heart on the contrary to Him must go.  Micah 5:13 “…never again worship the work of your own hands.”  

In order to rebuild something you must gut it out.  Have you ever seen a home that is being remodeled?  Typically, if it is a complete remodel you take the inside of the home down to the studs of the walls.  You get rid of the old countertops, the old kitchen cabinets, the old flooring, the old musty walls and ceilings in order to restore the home and update it for better use.  In the same way, the Lord guts us out inside and rebuilds us to His specifications. 

I found in this passage of Micah 5:7 that this remnant of God is like “dew sent by the Lord or rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back”.  I can picture thirsty, parched, brown grassland that once the dew or rain has touched it comes back to life.  Within a few days that grass greens up again and becomes vibrant and healthy for cattle, sheep, or horses to eat.  Today, I read all over the internet and listen to people I am around moan in thirst for God’s truth.  These dry, parched, famished people look at everything for the truth that will satisfy their void for truth.  They long for someone to drench their tongue with the dew of God’s holy word.  Yet what they find is a message that merely tickles their ears and is little more than a mist that evaporates before than can even swallow.  For ministers that are trusted with the word of God to water down this gospel of Christ or only deliver a message that never requires anything of God’s people is a sinful act of their own will.  This is having tragic effects on the people that God is calling to His holiness, but how can they understand His holiness when they are never told how to be holy?   

In an act of obedience I deliver this message that God is calling us as layman and leaders of the church back to “holiness”.  I am not speaking of perfection here, but holiness.  This is a life that is lived for Christ against every possible oddity that can be found.  This holy life is one that mirrors God Himself.  This is a life that is not lived out for ones self, but surrendered to a Holy God that is majestic in every way.  God deserves nothing less than our entire lives and the best the Holy Spirit can wrench out of us. 

This is the straight forward truth.  This is the rain that revives and helps us to grow.  His holiness is found within the pages of the bible.   God is looking for obedient followers that march forward to His calling and His instructions, and sense the calling to be holy and work at it with every ounce of energy they have.  Disobedience will be met with God’s vengeance and stamped out.  It is better to obey than to sacrifice, however, in the quest for holiness sacrifice is also a large part of it as we rid ourselves of selfish desires and selfish activities. 

C.S. Lewis has written: 

“If I have read the New Testament right it leaves no room for our ‘creativeness’…Our whole destiny seems to lie in the opposite direction, in being as little as possible ourselves, in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed, in becoming clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours.” 

Just remember that God does not usually work through the majority in order to accomplish His work, but a special few called “His remnant” that are set aside for His special use.  How will those of us hearing this call respond?  Will we pursue God and His holiness in order to be of greater use to Him?  Again, this is not a call to perfection…this is a call to change and bend at the will of our holy God in unabashed obedience to Him. 

-Scott Bailey © 2007

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