Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Solo Scriptura

I want to begin this segment of "Ponderings" with a confession.  I have often failed to live up to the standards Scripture holds for a follower of Christ.  I find myself rationalizing and even justifying my sin. However, I know that I have an Advocate with the Father who convicts me and leads me in confession and repentance.  And while there can be no justification for sin, I rest in the veracity of His Word.  I often marvel that God continues to use such a weak person as I am, but I take solace in His Word that when I confess my sin, He is faith and just to forgive that sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.  It is upon the basis of that forgiveness and cleansing that I continue to preach, sing, write, and witness.  It has nothing to do with any inherent "goodness."

I believe the Bible is "God's Word."  It is not a book containing words about God.  It is His revelation of Himself to man.  That conviction is a faith position and what keeps me focused upon Him and His plan, even after I go through a time when I'm distracted by the world's attractions.  I pray that each Genuine Believer will learn that God's Word is sufficient for living effectively and victoriously in this and any age.

The five "Solas" of the reformation are generally affirmed by contemporary Evangelicals.  However, the effective application of these truths often seem to belie that belief.  Should genuine revival be once again experienced, the church must purposely, and deliberately, examine practice in light of these five basics all must believe in order to call herself Christian.

The foundation upon which every doctrine of the Christian faith stands is "Sola Scriptura."  While reading recently from a Catholic theologian's arguments against this doctrine, I was once again impressed that Roman Catholicism stands completely on the fallacious belief in "Apostolic Succession," which claims that each Pope is the lone extant apostle and that his utterings, ex cathedra,  have the weight of apostolic authority, co-equal with Scripture. 

Evangelicals, and until the last few years, Protestants in general, understood the fallacy of that position.  "Solo Scriptura" has, in fact, been called the formal principle of the Reformation.  They understood that the misinterpretation of Scripture and elevation of tradition gave rise to the "Dark Ages," and evangelical abandonment of this doctrine today in order to provide a "meaningful emotional experience" is no less harmful than was that of the bishops of the fourth and fifth centuries.

Secular humanism's philosophical inroads into society through mandated early childhood education has diminished the respect for Holy Scripture, and wrought an emphasis upon quantity rather than quality in contemporary churches.   The result is that competition for those with a bent toward "religion" requires more and more extensive weekly presentations in order to attract a larger and more diverse following. 

Should "Solo Scriptura," or the complete sufficiency of Scripture in order to accomplish God's plan be enough, the entire nature of evangelicalism would change dramatically.  God's purpose of "seeking and saving" a people whose bent is not toward religion by telling them the "Good News" would be sufficient.  However, few seem to believe the sufficiency of proclaiming that while all men everywhere are born the enemy of God, God has sent His Son into the world that the world might be saved, not in order to condemn the world, but in order that a world condemned already might be saved. The preponderance of Evangelicals are too immersed in the numerical church growth movement to believe that the Bible's simple plan will work today.
One man has said that Evangelicals are simply "keepers of the aquarium," shifting fish from one tank to another.  That happens when man made devices and techniques are utilized to attract people to a fellowship, with no corresponding change in one's lifestyle other than church attendance.  These church hoppers are constantly looking for the next new thing, or most entertaining group. 

Once the members are attracted, seldom is systematic Scripture study the basis for spiritual growth.  Encounter groups based more on psychology and and psychiatry are seemingly more often used than is Scripture.  In fact, personal guided Scripture study seems to have almost disappeared, even among the fundamentalist groups.

More and more "Solo Scriptura" is being replaced with extra-biblical signs and miracles which seem to supersede Scripture.  "Experiential religion" carries much more weight in many circles than does the clear teaching of God's Word.  An "it seems to me religion" is rapidly replacing the "Scripture Teaches" Christianity of days gone by.   At one time, the phrase "God said it, that settles it, whether or not I believe it," was the watchword of Christianity, but alas, I fear the situational ethics of secular humanism has obliterated this tenet.

James Montgomery Boice in his book, "Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace," wrote the following:
"Unfortunately, it is possible to believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, as many if not all evangelicals claim to do, and still effectually to repudiate it because we think that it does not work today and are convinced that other things need to be brought in to accomplish what the Bible cannot do.
My prayer is that God will raise up an army of followers who will  look to Scripture and trust God's Word to be sufficient in all matters upon which it touches.  I do not despair for I'm certain God has reserved unto Himself multitudes who have not yet bowed a knee to the prince of this world system. 






Friday, April 17, 2015

Usefulness



                   The crude arrow displayed in the photo was given to me by an Indian man when I was on a preaching mission in Mexico’s interior.  It is hand made with a flint head tied to the shaft with leather strips.  The feathers are carefully tied at the notched end and the shaft has clearly been shaped by a sharp knife.   Contemporary archers, with their precision made equipment, would find little usefulness in such an arrow.  However, for millennia, hunters and warriors have used such instruments effectively. 

Perhaps there is a lesson in this arrow for you and me.  Time and again I’m told by genuine Believers that they don’t know enough, or they’re not versed enough in Scripture, to witness.  They seem afraid their inexperience, or lack of knowledge, will harm an unbeliever and keep that one from coming to Christ.  However, God uses those of us who are inexperienced, who still have rough edges, and who have not yet become precision instruments.  He seems to delight in using the weak and those deemed foolish by this world to work His wonders and His infinite Grace. 

In 1 Corinthians 1:26ff, we’re told, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—  that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.

Certainly we should study, and learn, but we must not wait until we know every thing, or until we have been polished, and machined to near perfection to become useful in God’s service.  You and I are useful, if we love Him, and are willing to be used by Him.  Let your usefulness in His Kingdom’s work be utilized today. 


©                Mike Rasberry              2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Abiding In Christ

I hear much lamenting today about the condition of Christ’s Church and consequently the world in which we live.  Though not intended as an exhaustive list; among the plethora of supposed causes these are usually included:
    •    Ineffective Government
    •    Ineffectual Parenting
    •    Purposeless Education
    •    Self-indulgent Living

At the risk of being branded simplistic, I believe the answer to the quandary can found in John’s Gospel, Chapter fifteen.  Jesus is there speaking to His followers, about whom He says in verse three, “...you are already clean...,” meaning I suppose that they are saved by faith in promise He has proclaimed.  However, He does not stop there.

Jesus, in verse four, issues a warning that should His followers not abide in Him, they will be fruitless.  Thus it is self-evident that one can be a genuine Believer while living a fruitless life.  It is also obvious that such a condition is a choice because Jesus, though not issuing a command, is seemingly warning them of the consequences of the failure to so abide.

He continues in verse five with the same theme saying that those who abide in Him will be fruitful, while those not abiding in Him can actually do nothing.  In fact, He says in verse six that one’s usefulness for Kingdom work is determined by the choice he makes in this particular matter.

If you and I are genuine Believers in Jesus Christ, we must purpose to abide in Him, thereby becoming fruitful and useful to His Kingdom work.  Such fruitfulness will result in untold numbers coming to faith in Christ, and just as those called Christian at Antioch were instruments of worldwide change, so you and I can become world changers. 

Would you purpose, with me, this day to spend time with Christ in Bible Study and Prayer, submitting your will to His and allowing Him to use you for His glory?  You can abide in Him, even as He abides in you.

©             Mike Rasberry                 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Peace Jesus Leaves Within


The African Proverb reflects man’s greatest battle–to be at peace with one’s self.  The problem one faces in that battle is that the enemy is an unseen power with great influence.  He is called the prince of this world system, and while he is not omnipresent, he has untold numbers of minions to assist him in his nefarious purpose. 

Man is unable to even recognize this spiritual enemy, much less defeat him with the finite resources innate within humanity.  But, Glory to God, a resource has been provided so that man can not be cognizant of the devious workings of this enemy, but can be triumphant over them.  Jesus, the Christ, left the glories of heaven and taking upon Himself the cloak of humanity, effectively and irreparably destroyed the power of man’s enemy by paying man’s sin debt and purchasing him with the precious blood of Himself.

Jesus did more than deliver man from the clutches of this once powerful enemy, He gave man the possibility of personal peace as he travels through life’s journey.  Those who, by faith, have consciously become the Children of God by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are also promised this great peace of John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

You and I need not fear anything this world can throw at us because, if we are His true followers, the enemy within has been defeated and Jesus Christ reigns in our hearts.  Trust Him to do what He says, He will give such peace that the world can do us no harm.



©                      Mike Rasberry               2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wasted Years


This morning my heart is heavy because people I love are struggling with the challenges of life, and cannot seem to trust God enough to simply let go and let Him have complete control of their lives.  They continue to act as if The Heavenly Father is not willing to lead, direct, empower, provide for, and protect them in this life.

     "Said the robin to the sparrow, 'I should really like to know
    why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.’

    Said the sparrow to the robin, 'Friend, I think that it must be
    that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.'"

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

These for whom I grieve are not unbelievers.  Were it so, I could approach them with the truth of God’s Word, and perhaps they would be convicted of their lostness and be converted to a new life in Christ.  Rather these are those who are wasting the precious years of their lives wandering in the wilderness of doubt and fear, failing to cross over Jordan to appropriate the abundant life awaiting in the land of promised rest. 

The greatest tragedy I know is that of those who have come out of Egypt by the supernatural working of God’s Spirit, but fail to enter into His rest.  Perhaps the manna and quail of the wilderness satisfies their palate and they fear they might lose even that if they attempt to take on the giants and fortified enemies of yonder promised land.

Wally Fowler wrote a song which I believe is as appropriate for these Believers living beneath their privilege as for the unbelievers.  This is what it says: 

        Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
        As you walk on in darkness and fear
        Turn around, turn around, love is calling
        Keeps calling me from a life of wasted years.
       
        Have you wandered a lot on life's pathway
        Have you lived without love, a life of tears
        Have you searched for a great higher meaning
        Or is your life filled with long wasted years?
       
        Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
        As you walk on in darkness and fear
        Turn around, turn around, love is calling
        Keeps calling you from a life of wasted years...

Dear Friend, If you are a Genuine Believer in Jesus Christ, please stop wasting these years of your life and purpose to live out His will for your life every day.


©                 Mike Rasberry                2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

True Revival In These Days


True revival in these days might mean more a willingness to suffer reproach for the cause of the cross, than a great awakening of unbelievers who have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s Word.

Genuine Christian Believers in The United States should not be surprised at the plethora of attacks against Indiana precipitated by the recent Religious Freedom Acts in that state.  As wannabe Bible scholars trip over themselves in vain attempts to show that Holy Scripture does not condemn homosexuality, or sodomy; celebrities and political leaders are casting ignorant aspersions on the honorable citizens of this country who understand the consequences of calling sin righteousness, and righteousness sin.

Athletic Director Pat Haden of USC stated that he would not attend the NCAA meetings in Indiana because he is the “proud parent” of a homosexual son.   One is left to wonder if he’d be proud of his son if he were a bank robber, child molester, or murderer.  The willingness to excuse, rather than mourn those imprisoned in the homosexual lifestyle, is but one more nail in the coffin of America’s greatness.

Throughout the past week I have engaged numerous individuals in discussions concerning this matter, and the vast majority seem bent on limiting religious freedom in order to empower people living the abhorrently aberrant lifestyle of homosexuality.   That homosexuality is sinful, morally degrading, and socially destructive seems beyond their ability to comprehend.  Otherwise relatively intelligent people, become inexplicably devoid of logic, and act as if the synapses within their brains are misfiring at an astronomical rate during such discussions.

This phenomena should be expected by Genuine Believers as the end of the age grows closer and closer.  Scripture indicates that men’s hearts will become hardened and they will be unable to recognize truth as the time for Christ’s return approaches.   Let then all who genuinely hold to the faith once delivered stand firm against the tide, knowing that He who purchased us with His own blood will undergird and sustain us during the harsh and terrible days which are surely to follow.  True revival in these days might mean more a willingness to suffer reproach for the cause of the cross, than a great awakening of unbelievers who have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s Word.


©        Mike Rasberry          2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God



Jonathan Edwards preached this message on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut after having already preached it to his own Massachusetts.  History records that the Enfield church was not responding to the moving of the Holy Spirit and that the Pastor invited Edwards to preach with the hope that his congregation would be stirred to take hold of God.

The sermon’s theme, "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God,”  was central to the Great Awakening and permeated the sermon in its entirety.   We are told that Edwards was interrupted several times with people crying out such questions as, “What must I do to be saved,” and “Mr Edwards, is there no hope for me?”

Beyond the central theme, Edwards put forth ten propositions to prove his theme.  I think today’s culture needs be reminded of these important issues:

    1.    There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment.
    2.    They deserve to be cast into hell.
    3.    They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell.
    4.    They are not the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God that is expressed in the       torments of hell.
    5.    The devil stands ready to fall upon them and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him.
    6.    There are, in the souls of wicked men, whose hellish principles reigning that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire if it were not for God’s restraints.
    7.    It is no security to wicked men for one moment that there are no visible means of death at hand.
    8.    Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment.
    9.    All wicked men’s pains and contrivances which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment.
    10.    God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise, to keep any natural man out of hell one moment.

I believe that Edward’s sermon ought be declared across the depth and breath of America during these dreadful days we are entering.  God has given us a period of mercy during which time He is calling out to sinners to come to Him, however, He is under no obligation to extend that call one moment.  Should you sense the realization within yourself that you are in need of His mercy and grace, turn to Him with He still calls, lest the time be past and you enter eternity without Him, and as the eternal subject of Satan, whose abode is the lake of fire.