Belief, Behavior, Belonging

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Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff

Belief, Behavior, Belonging

“Repent.” – Jesus (Matthew 4:17)
“Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” – Jesus (John 5:14)
“Go now and leave your life of sin.” – Jesus (John 8:11)

Jesus’ first word in ministry was, “repent.”  Jesus consistently forgave sins and then called those who had “ears to hear” to stop sinning. This is love in action. This is the love of a God who cares so much for us that he is willing to send his Son to die for us in order that we might live.

To think we can be saved from God’s wrath and continue to sin with impunity is to misunderstand the cost of sin. Sin always leads to death. If we are in Jesus, we will live. But while even in Jesus our sins will lead to pain, for our hearts will hurt each time we realize that Jesus had to die for that sin.

When we sin again and again without feeling or expressing any remorse we crucify Jesus again and again.  (Hebrews 6:6) Do this too long and we prove that we were never in Jesus. (Hebrews 6:4-6) We may know a great deal about Jesus and even think he was God’s son. But if we never crucify our flesh (Galatians 5:24), surrender our life to him (Galatians 2:20), and accept a new reborn life in Jesus (John 15:4), we may one day hear him say to us, “I have no idea who you are. Go! Get out of my sight!

This is how Jesus speaks of those who are exposed to the truth of his good news and who perhaps make a profession of faith, but never demonstrate genuine saving faith.

Some seed fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But because the seed never took root, when the sun rose and grew hot, the plants were scorched and withered.” Matthew 13:5-6

The seed is God’s word, the words of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit reminding us of all that Jesus said.

In the book Five Practices of Fruitful Living the author cites an “emergent church advocate” who describes how for many in the modern church move from “belonging to behavior to belief.” They seek congregations where they feel welcomed as they are. They seek congregations where they are affirmed. They seek congregations where they are not judged for what they believe or how they act. This group seeks a community where there is no call to change and no need to repent. Sin is rarely, if every, discussed and when it is, the conversation is in general terms, not with regards to our specific sins. This group joins the community and comes to behave as the community behaves. In time they believe as the community believes—for the community comes to believe as the new members believe.

The author writes that this is in contrast to how those in past congregations moved from “belief to behavior to belonging,” and yet this is the core message of Jesus. For me, for you, for all we might say:

  • “I believe I need help—a savior to rescue me. Jesus calls me to repent.” I agree that I am on the wrong path and need to turn around and towards him.
  • “Jesus and the Father call me to stop sinning. Only the Spirit of God can change my behavior. Through the work of His Holy Spirit I will become more like Christ.
  • “In time no matter where I am in the world, I will recognize I belong with those who behave like Jesus and believe what Jesus and the Father believe. This broad community of individuals—even if we meet as strangers—will become my new family.

To pull those who are drowning into a sinking boat helps neither the man in the boat or those who desperately wished to be rescued from the increasingly hot water on which the boat floats. How can you tell if there are holes in your boat of beliefs? Check to see if your boat is filling up with the water around you. Here is but one example of how an individual or congregation can slowly sink into the hot water of the world.

  1. In 2007, the Church of Norway, part of the Evangelical Lutheran denomination, voted in favor of allowing members in same-sex partnerships to serve in ordained ministry.
  2. In 2015, the Church’s General Synod voted in favor of accepting same-sex marriage.
  3. In 2016, the Church voted to allow gay people to be married in church.
  4. In 2022 the Church announced that they are open to allowing ordination of unmarried, cohabiting individuals. The Norwegian news outlet Vart Land reports that bishop of Oslo, Kari Veiteberg, has been ordaining cohabiting priests, cantors, catechists and deacons since 2017.

In fifteen years this denomination has moved from expressing their love for God by practicing and teaching his commands (1 John 5:3) to breaking and teaching others to break his commands. (Matthew 5:19) Jesus says to us, “Unless you repent, you will perish.” (Luke 13:3) If we wish to become fishers of men let us cast our nets the way Jesus cast his.

  1. Start with the problem: accept that we are all sinners in need of rescuing. (Romans 3:23)
  2. Offer the solution: Jesus pulls us from the hot water saves us from God’s wrath. (John 3:16) (“Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.)
  3. Offer the benefit: Once in the Jesus boat we are filled with his Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8)  (“You will receive power. You will be my witnesses.”)
  4. Present the future: In time, as we are changed by his Holy Spirit, we will express the character of God. We produce Holy Spirit fruit. We will love God and our neighbor more than ourselves.  In the Jesus boat everyone wins except the enemy.

If you seek to belong to a group that demonstrates love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, start with this one belief: you are lost in a sea that leads to darkness and you cannot escape on your own. Then seek a boat skippered by someone who acts like Jesus and believes the things Jesus believes. Wave your hand and someone will swing by to pick you up.

Blaspheme: to Speak Irreverently and the Unpardonable Sin

Less Jesus

Blaspheme: to Speak Irreverently and the Unpardonable Sin

“The Unpardonable Sin—to blaspheme: to speak irreverently and with disrespect, disdain . . .  to be impolite, flippant or show contempt for the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus.”

Perhaps you ‘ave heard a feller or lass say sumpin’ like this:

Scripture was not dictated by God but rather written by men seeking to express what they believed was God’s will. They were writing in a given time and culture, and they were writing to address the needs of the people of their time. While they generally wrote under the prompting of the Spirit, this does not mean that every word of scripture was chosen by God or equally inspired by God.”

Blaspheme: to Speak Irreverently and the Unpardonable Sin

If you ‘ave heard such talk and believe the Bible ter be a compilation of writings by men based on thar best guess of what Skipper wished ter say, consider these words from the Son regarding The Unpardonable Sin

“I cast out demons by the Spirit of God.” — Jesus (Matthew 12:28)

“I cast out demons by the finger of God.” — Jesus (Luke 11:20)

Thar be a subtle shift in accounts between Matthew and Luke. In one the Son declares his power comes from the finger of God. In ah tudder, the Son’s power comes from the Spirit of God.

Give Credit Whar Credit Be Due

Accordingly if the Spirit of God and finger of God be the same, then ter give credit ter men as the authors of Scripture be ter accuse the Holy Spirit of plagiarizing the works of men, fer we also read:

When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the FINGER OF GOD. (Exodus 31:18)

The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written by the FINGER OF GOD; and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. (Deuteronomy 9:10)

Paul says:

All Scripture is God-breathed (Spirit filled). (2 Timothy 3:16)

Jesus affirms the authorship of Scripture on the road to Emmaus.

Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

Peter affirms the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture.

Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

The angel spoke at length to Moses on Mount Sinai, and he received living words to pass on to you. (Acts 7:38)

Those in the early church affirmed the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture.

You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David. (Acts 4:25)

Consider This Warning From Jesus

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” — Jesus (Mark 3:29)

Men, as scribes, may ‘ave written down what the finger of God, Spirit of God spake. However ter assign credit ter a scribe, editor, or proofreader as the author and source of the Holy Spirit’s work seems ter be nothing short of grand theft. Far be it from us ter steal the work of the Holy Spirit and claim it as our own.

Rather, let us act in love with grace towards all who don’ ‘ave the revelation of the Son we enjoy. Ne’er ferget that we also once walked in darkness.

Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus

Lubber OpinionLubber Opinion

Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus: “The views and opinions expressed by this lubber do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the crew. Reader discretion be advised.” – Staff

Bond of Peace

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)

Attempting to keep peace with those who disagree with us is not simply a good idea but a command. The Apostle Paul understood that there would be differences among believers. On at least one occasion Paul and Peter disagreed over a key doctrinal issue: salvation by grace or salvation by works.

After some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I confronted Peter in front of the others. We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles  know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:12-16)

Though Paul found it necessary to confront Peter, he did so in love. Later we find that Peter came around to Paul’s understanding of salvation by grace and declared this same message to the a gathering of the Christian Apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 11-13).

In time Paul and Barnabas would disagree over the role of John Mark in their ministry, but in love they agreed to part ways. As a result four, not two, (John Mark and Barnabas, Paul and Silas) carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:36-41).

Unity of the Spirit and Less Jesus

Some claim that division among believers is destroying the modern church and its testimony.

“One of the greatest problems in our churches is the breakdown of church unity. It is insidious, debilitating, and destructive.” – Church Answers, Thom S. Rainer

Mr. Rainer’s comment reflects many of the calls from pulpits to present a united front for both believers and seekers.

And yet, even Jesus did not sacrifice the truth of the gospel message for the sake of unity. When Peter challenged Jesus over the doctrine of salvation by grace, Jesus rebuked him—and perhaps with less love than Peter expected.

“Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mark 8:33)

Truth of the Gospel Message

Rather than seek unity on all matters we would be better served to follow the example of Paul and advocate for the truth of the gospel message. What we say matters. And what we teach and preach matters a great deal, for our words carry the power of life and death.

A man shall be satisfied by the fruit of his words. With the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:20-21)

Every word of Jesus and the Father are true. And every careless comment in conversation and declaration carries consequences.

Jesus says, “I say unto you, that every idle word a men shall speak, he shall give account on the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

What We Say Becomes Our Future

What we say today becomes our future tomorrow.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Jesus (Matthew 18:18-20)

Let our words carry life not death. And if we find ourselves tempted to speak doubt and death—to promote the agenda of the enemy—let us follow the advice of Jesus to Jairus and remain silent.

When faithless doubters told Jairus that his daughter had died, Jesus said:

“Ignore them. Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” (Mark 5:21-32)

When faithless doubters question, deny, and skew God’s word, let us rebuke them in love with grace and the whole truth of the gospel message—from Genesis to Revelation. Let us have in mind the concerns of God and love of Jesus. In time we may find that our love through the Spirit of Jesus and the power of his living word has changed hearts, leading some to repentance.

And that’s always our Lord’s will.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)