preachthecross.org Blog

September 22, 2009

The Falling Away Has Begun

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 2:27 pm

It has become very apparent that the “falling away”, forewarned in scripture (I Thessalonians 2:3) to occur just prior to the return of the Lord, is in full swing. This reality is bittersweet, as it only could be.

Sweet, because it is evidence of both the power and sovereignty of God, in that He possesses the foreknowledge that such an incredible paradigm would happen. Sweet, that it is proof that the promised return of Jesus Christ, and our reunion with Him, is very near.

However, it is also very, very bitter that so many who have tasted of the grace of the Living God, and received the blessed forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, have so soon “walked backwards” (John 6:66) to return to the world and its familiarity and false promises. The expression of this is rampant in popular “Christianity”; even among the so-called non-denominational, “evangelical” churches, which are rapidly sinking into the mold of the popular, worldly culture; characterized by the so-called “emergent” church and “seeker friendly” emphasis on psychology, environmental focus, social justice, and humanitarian programs and activities. NONE of this has anything whatsoever to do with spiritual growth and being led of the Spirit of God.

The problem lies in the refusal of Christians to truly YIELD themselves to God and His Word, and to be led of the Spirit. Even as they read this, their pride rears its ugly head and merely asserts “Oh, that’s not referring to ME; I’m yielded to God and His Word, and I’m led of the Spirit!” But just wanting it to be so, doesn’t it make it so. A good beginning is a first reaction that says, “I am carnal, and the first instinct of my mind and pride is more often than not contrary to God and the Spirit. So, what can I learn here, and what is God trying to teach me?”

The lesson is this: God’s Word and His Spirit are the TRUE reality; all else that we experience in the temporal; that is, our “reality”, is in fact a corrupt reflection of that reality. This INCLUDES our natural reasoning process: our minds are inclined to interpret everything we read in the Word of God from a temporal, worldly viewpoint. This is only “natural”, as it is the only experience we have to drawn upon. Unfortunately, it is NOT the true essence of what God is attempting to communicate to us. This is what is meant by the scripture: “But the natural mind cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto it, neither can it know them, for they are spiritually discerned”. Only once we grasp that, and humbly ask God to reveal the true impact of it upon our thinking, can we begin to be “led of the Spirit”.

Yes, it really does require FAITH. Even the notion of “faith” is much deeper than our natural mind presumes when it shallowly thinks in terms of merely “believing in God”; that is, that He is a real, living being. That is the entrance, the first step, but the more complete essence of Godly faith is that of comprehending and believing the full extent of everything God says in His Word. Few can honestly say their “faith” is that thorough or extensive. To the degree we believe SOME parts of the Bible, and don’t know or don’t fully believe others, we are not completely “led of the Spirit”.

Again, the key is the Cross. Once a person begins to fully grasp (and “believe”) what Paul (God) is saying in the first 3 Chapters of 1 Corinthians–and which is echoed throughout scripture–one can begin to “stand in the Holy place”, and begin to be eligible to be truly led of the Spirit.

For the preaching of the Cross is to them which are perishing foolishness; but to us which are [saved, being saved, and to be saved], it is the power of God” 1 Corinthians 1:18

Mark Harris

March 24, 2009

THE CROSS–THE POWER TO SAVE, THE POWER TO MATURE US AND GUIDE US

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 3:01 pm

              "The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish (regressing) foolishness, but to us which are saved (Gr. "sozo"–eternal context; past, present, future/eternity) it is the Power of God"  1 Corinthians 1:18       Think about it, the message of the Cross–Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection–has the POWER to accomplish the most amazing miracle of all creation: translating someone out of the kingdom of death and darkness and an eternity of separation from God, and into an eternity WITH Him in the Kingdom of Life and Light.  The only "WORK" required on our part is FAITH in GOD’S WORKING at the Cross.   He does it all; which is why the scripture says he "sat down" and rested from all His works, and why He alone gets all the glory and the honor.  We cannot add to it; just accept it by faith.         Yet the Church today is NOT "resting" in that work, and it is not exercising FAITH in the cross (after the initial confession of faith) and is, in fact, trying to add to God’s work at the cross: the inner sanctification or spiritual maturation process.   Gone is even the ability to apply common sense to understand that if God is able to perform the greatest and most difficult miracle–the eternal saving of one’s soul in the instant of one’s SINCERE confession of faith in the Cross–then surely He must be able to control and direct the on-going sanctification process.  Surely we TRUST that He will perform the miracle of ushering us into His presence at the moment of our physical death, right?          Anyone know what they are going to "do" when they die to help bring about  our hope of eternal life at that clearly helpless moment?  Didn’t think so…       We certainly did not "do" anything in the past to be born physically, right?  …didn’t  "do" anything in the past to be born spiritually, right?  …and certainly  won’t "do" anything in the future to be glorified after death, right?   Then WHY do we think we have some ability to "do" anything in the present to take pro-active control of the sanctification process?  Why do we let our natural mind rise up–right now as you just read this–and scream "No way!; that’s preposterous, we have to "do" something!"            Of course, I’m not referring to the outward activities of reading the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, and worship, which we can "do".  I’m referring to what the Bible refers to as the INNER work; the renewing of the mind, and in becoming truly transformed in one’s inward nature.    That is GOD’s work, and He has a "way" that it is accomplished, with HIM FULLY IN CONTROL.  It is the same "way" that He started with, and will finish with: the Cross.  That is why the eternal tense word "sozo" is so important to bear in mind when reading 1 Corinthians 1;18.  That is why Paul chastized the Galatians Christians in saying "O, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you (literally allowed demons to control one’s thinking), having begun in the Spirit (faith in the Cross), will ye now be made perfect (complete spiritually) in the flesh (human reasoning and works).          God has indeed finished the ENTIRE work.   We are the ones who don’t believe it, and believe we must somehow add to it and help Him.  God has indeed rested, and calls us to enter into that rest.          The focus of this ministry is instructing people in HOW to "labor", in faith, to enter into God’s Rest, and allow God to perform and complete the "work" in them.  

February 26, 2009

You Can’t Lose What You Don’t Have—A response to William Lobdell’s book “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting On Religion In America”

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 2:24 pm

You Can’t Lose What You Don’t Have—A response to William Lobdell’s book “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting On Religion In America”

Articles like the one on journalist William Lobdell, as well as his book, come at a very prophetic time in human history (Orange County Register; “He’s Un-Born Again”, Front Page, Feb. 24, 2009). His book (which he acknowledges the publisher paid him a “generous” advance to write) tells of his struggle with religion (Episcopalian/Catholic), “born-again faith” (Mariner’s Church), returning to the Catholic Church (which his non-believing wife chose), and the ensuing doubts which ultimately led to his renouncing his “faith” and God.
One of the primary “proofs” of the infallibility of the Bible, God’s Word, is that it foretells history, and has NEVER been wrong (which there is ample secular evidence to support, if anyone cares to do the research, as I have).
In this case, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 foretells that the “last days”—which we are very much in—will be characterized by a great “falling away”. While there will be varying manifestations, it primarily refers to a departure from any sincere reverence or “accurate” faith in God. I say “accurate” in terms of how God defines, and grants, the gift of faith. That’s right; true, Biblical faith is a gift from God which he grants according to the both the sincerity and the commitment of one’s heart.
A key aspect of the “falling away” is the shift from a reliance and focus on God (through Jesus Christ) to reliance and focus on self. Accordingly, “faith” for many people today is something they vainly imagine they have to create, sustain and manage; as evidenced by Mr. Lobdell’s characterization of his having “clung” to his faith as long as he could. This is self-effort and really self-worship. This is NOT Biblical. But it is certainly very religious. And it is precisely what the institutionalized religions he claims to disdain feed on to make them popular, powerful, and materially wealthy.
That said, and with all heartfelt regard to Mr. Lobdell’s predicament, he cannot lose what he never had. He also cannot criticize what he falsely labels. I wholeheartedly share Mr. Lobdell’s criticisms of religion, and religious institutions, along with the error and sacrilege they naturally foster (also forewarned and foretold in the Bible). However, it is wholly disingenuous for Mr. Lobdell, and all others, to pursue a false religion, label it “Christianity” (born-again or otherwise), disobey the Bible they claim to “believe”, and then arrogantly renounce “Christianity” when it “doesn’t work for them”.
Mr. Lobdell’s vanity is evident in his cavalier statement that he “gave Christianity his best shot”. Self focused individuals “give it their best shot”. True believers empty themselves into Christ, trusting completely on His ability and His work; at the Cross, and in the life of each believer.
By simple definition (and simple logic), God is perfect, and CANNOT fail. God never fails anyone. People fail God. More to the point, they fail, or “oppose”, themselves, as Mr. Lobdell has clearly done; something I prayerfully hope he gives the more earnest heed to.
Mark

February 8, 2009

TEMPORAL vs. ETERNAL; NATURAL vs. SPIRITUAL

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 6:01 pm

TEMPORAL vs. ETERNAL, NATURAL vs. SPIRITUAL

“Human eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, neither have entered into the mind of man the things God has prepared and reserved solely for those that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit…No one knows the things of an individual to the degree which that individuals knows within and of himself. Likewise, no man knows the things of God, except the Spirit of God…We have received not the things of the world, but from the Spirit which is of God…and not in or through the words or teachings from the reasoning and worldly wisdom of men; rather we compare Spiritual things with Spiritual…but the natural mind of man receives not the things of the Spirit of God…neither can he know them…”

1 Corinthians 2:9-14

Any approach to the study of the scripture is going to fall into one of two categories: temporal or Eternal. As expressed in the above verses, humans can only reason out or deduce the things of God, but cannot truly know them. Deduce means to infer or draw a conclusion based on the knowledge which is readily available and that one possesses. The Bible says Spiritual Truth is not readily available to humans, and that we do not innately possess such knowledge; that is, it must be granted directly from the Spirit of God. God provides such understanding by divine inspiration or revelation; the phenomenon in which God EDUCES an understanding within the heart of a person, meaning establishing an understanding which does NOT draw upon the knowledge and constructs one naturally possesses (the “wisdom of this world”).
Unfortunately, driven by a fallen, prideful nature, the majority of humans persist on deducing the things of God, which is, of course, the reason there are so many contradictory spiritual “truths” about “god” and spiritual things, which, in turn, give rise to so many thousands of “dead” religions in the world. Most tellingly, these religions always reflect the limited, humanistic traits of the adherents rather than anything truly transcendent, eternal or divine.
Furthermore, just because the Spirit grants a Christian believer the gift of understanding in one thing, that revealed information does not give the person the ability, nor the authority, to now reason out the rest of scripture. It is a step by step, gift by gift process. Unfortunately, most Christians obtain a few revelations from the Spirit, then rush ahead and attempt to reason out the rest. That reasoning, or “worldly wisdom” will always be temporal and therefore limited in its essence and spiritual efficacy, and creates what the bible refers to as “leaven”. The Bible warns that even a little leaven in one’s doctrine taints or corrupts all of it (Galatians 5:9).
The end result are ministries and churches which reflect the flawed, shortsighted, and self-centered interests of finite human beings, rather than the infinite and Eternal interests of God. And merely proclaiming they are “doing the work of God”, and referencing selected scriptures, does not make that work divinely inspired or empowered.
On the other hand, the Spirit of God will only and always reveal the meaning of the scriptures in an Eternal, infinite context that is aligned with the Eternal Purposes of the One, True, Living God. The capitalized, superlative word “Eternal” here is used to distinguish it from merely an infinite continuum of time, and refers to the spiritual and infinite nature of God Himself. That is, God inspired every Word of the Bible, and thus every precept of the Word has an Eternal basis and significance.
That basis is what each “believer” must set as their heart’s desire and goal in spiritual growth.

February 4, 2009

About Preach the Cross.org

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 5:41 pm

In addition to the unwavering and complete devotion to the preaching of the Cross; Christ and Him crucified–this ministry is very unique in its approach to studying scripture. Scripture commands us to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”; (2 Corinthians 10:5). What is “the obedience of Christ”? Philippians 2:8 tells us it is Christ’s becoming “obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross”. Thus, we are to likewise bring all thoughts about scripture–reading, studying, interpreting, discussing and, most importantly, teaching–captive to; that is, rooted and fixed upon, the Cross.
If one pictures a target; the “bulls eye” is the preaching of the Cross and the complete Work God did there. The concentric rings which move out away from the bullseye are all other contexts, reasonings, perspectives, and opinions on scripture. Not surprisingly, the bullseye is the one central precept which defines True Christianity, and which all Christians agree upon. It is when we allow our minds to wander away from the bullseye in the wilderness of human reasoning that we begin to encounter divisions and strife. It is out there, in the rings, where Satan operates, and where he is able to pervert the scriptures and muddle one’s thinking. Wisdom and discernment are at the bulls eye.
“…But we preach Christ crucified…the power of God, and the wisdom of God” 1 Corinthians 1:23,24
Why do believers leave that “holy place”?
This ministry brings every thought and utterance captive to the obedience of Christ and, as He did also, to the Work of the Cross. What I will be writing about in my postings are some of the foundational precepts and awesome revelations of scripture which arise from the Cross, and which we stand upon, and which we preach in every home, every forum, every church, and from the mountaintops.
Mark

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