Showing God’s Love in a Hate-Filled World


If you are reading this site. I hope that you have paid attention to the exchange between myself and the Heal the Land blog. I think it opens up an important issue for the church– how are we to live in this land. Here is a sermon that I have prepared on this topic and will be preaching tommorrow 3/25.

Editor’s Note– Follow this link to hear the sermon.

I. Introduction—

My Questions

1. Why does the world hate us?

2. How did Jesus handle the situation?

3. How are we expected to handle the situation?

II. Why does the world hate us?

The passages state the world hates Christ and by extension His Church. Why is this? Let us allow scripture to interpret scripture. Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians,

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”

Likewise Paul when discussing Christ states,

“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

The “world” is not mad at us per se (although we take the brunt of it).They are mad because of the message of the cross, and that message is this “come and die.” In their natural minds they cannot understand that the only way to truly live is to die.

They hate the fact that we have something (hopefully it is a peace and joy) that they do not. They hate the insinuation that they must come to the cross and die. They hate us for the weakness and strength that flows from our lives. ONCE AGAIN I WLL SAY THAT THEY DO NOT HATE US PER SE, BUT THE LIFE WE LEAD. This is not much of a comfort, but we must understand it. They hated Christ and will always hate Him, and we as his representatives take the brunt of that hatred. This realization begs the point then, if Christ was and is hated, how did he respond, and what does that tell us about our own situation.

III. How Did Christ Respond to this hatred?

Listen again to the words of Paul (this time to the Church of Rome)- “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.”

God responded our hatred and animosity to Him in this way—HE LOVED US, AND SENT HIS SON TO DIE FOR OUR SINS. God’s reaction to our hate was self-less love and sacrifice.

There is a song that I really like that has this line and I’m paraphrasing here- “it’s really hard to argue with you when you keep making sense…” Have you ever tried to pick a fight with someone and they wouldn’t fight back? Isn’t that frustrating? Yet that is what Christ has done. And if this is how Jesus has responded, then what does that say about us?

IV. How Should We Respond:

Listen once again to the words of Paul- “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

God put it this way when speaking through the prophets: “what is it that I require of you, O’ man, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.” What does all this mean? It means that God expects us to be merciful to our enemies, to love those around us, to walk with humility, and be known for our loving demeanors. In other words we are to love sinners, pray for our enemies.

But wait you might be saying, “this is all well and good, but is only how we are to be living as individuals. This says nothing of our responsibility to the collective world.” What about John 15 which states that we are not to be of this world? Or what about the passages that talk about our being strangers or aliens in this world? Doesn’t that mean that we to love our lives in opposition to this world. We are to live as enemies of this world.

Paul is also instrumental in understanding the point at which I am getting. He describes the characteristics of elders and deacons to both Titus and Timothy, he mentions that both should have a “good reputation” and be well-thought of in the community. Furthermore he tells the church of Corinth “to seek the welfare of the city.” That means to be involved in making the communities better, and to be proactive in taking a stand for justice. Another interesting study here would be to study the responsibilities and qualifications God lays out about resident aliens in the Mosiac covenant and then again in the Davidic kingdom. In short God allowed for aliens to be involved in the membership of the local community. Of course this full access was limited in the case of the Gentiles (some of this based on the Mosiac law, most of this based on the torah law development within the exile period. I would argue that the midrash and other developments of this period are closely akin to the sharaii law within the Muslim community. But that is another argument for another day. The important point here is that this separation was never meant for the long-term, a closer reading of the prophets along with an understanding of how the works of Acts 10, Acts 15, Romans 11, Galatians, Hebrews, and Ephesians play into this concepts.

In the late Middle Ages, Christian philosopher Peter Abelard created no small controversy when he put forth an idea that the most important aspect of Christ’s salvific work was that by his life, and death Christ presented a model that we are called to emulate. This was not a new idea, the Eastern Orthodox Church has always placed more emphasis on understanding and emulating the life of Christ, than the Western church has. Likewise many of the so-called mystics have emphasized these points as well. I would argue that this idea is what set(s) John Wesley apart from the other reformers. In the past 100 years, many important scholars and writers (first in Latin America and then in the continental U.S.) have taken to emphasizing the sacrificial nature of Christ’s work and its importance in understanding the church’s relationship to the world. As Christ lowered Himself, even to death, so we, too are called to lower ourselves (even to death). Our relationship to this world is not one of entimy, hatred, and opposition; but one of humility, and self-less love. We are called to the great and awesome task of reconciliation. To quote Paul, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

That does not mean that we are not in a battle; even the battle of our lives. However to quote Paul again “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and rulers of darkness.” Our enemies are not presidents, politicians, teachers, and Hollywood suits. We are not called to seek their downfall, but seek their welfare. At this point I think that we need to discuss what this love looks like, but this is a point of misunderstanding for many good and honest people.

V. Conclusion

Illustration– Brian Stanley Lecture—1910 World Conference on Missions

— Problem was that Church Missions had spent the past hundred years forcing the world to believe—Quote from African Bishop (Bible and Land)—

This is not the way to go, so they began to talk about how to draw out the similarities of the cultures that might lead them to Christianity. Yet when you read the notes and papers put out at this conference you find something just as troubling. The conference tried so hard to fit things into this new scheme that their analysis got stupid. And yes that is the technical term for the situation. What happened was that they so focused on attempting to fit the world into a Christian perspective that they minimized sin and religious thought. This actually was even more insulting to the world at large.

So what is the answer. We are called to love, but in loving the world we cannot overlook the issues and problems within our communities and cultures. Yet we are responsible to interact (and I mean that word) with the world in humility and in love. I believe that like everything we are to be supremely ethical about our practice of speaking the truth. Here is my understanding of our ethical responsibilities: we are to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons in the right way. To just do one of these is not enough. To do two of these either. A truly ethical act is meant only when all 4 of these categories are met. How does that apply to our dicussion. For speaking the truth to another person to be right, then we must speak truth (real truth) at the right time for the right reasons in a kind and loving manner. That means that if we speak the truth in love, but the time is not right for our outburst then it was not done appropriately. If we speak the truth at the right time but do not do it in love then we have not acted rightly. If we speak the truth at the right time in love, but we speak up out of anger, hatred, or frustration then we have not acted appropriately. Now we are imperfect people and we do imperfect things. I have actually found that the times in which I am acting perfectly are very rare. I speak falsely. I speak when I ought to be listening, and / or acting. I speak out of anger, bitterness, and frustration. I do not speak with sympathy and empathy. Yet that is the goal. That is what I am striving to achieve (with God’s help and only God’s help).

Christian author and scholar James Houston has said to me that you cannot know God without knowing yourself; nor can you know yourself with knowing God. Methodist theologian Fuschia Pickett would add that you cannot do either with knowing others. “God is like a jigsaw puzzle,” she writes, “and each of us is a piece.” Likewise you cannot love God without loving yourself, and loving others; nor can you love yourself or others without loving God. This has been the journey of my lifetime and will continue to be my journey. I hope to grow in grace and the knowledge of God that I may also grow in knowledge of myself. That means several things for me. I have learned (but do not always practice) to listen first. To seek to understand first. To seek God’s timing. To examine my heart and mind to determine what my motivations for speaking are. To examine how I am not only speaking, but coming across. It has meant allowing God to bring healing to my hurts, and required me to forgive an enormous amount of people. People who did not mean to hurt me, and some that did. People who did not realize what they were doing, and those that did. People who are just like me. People who are feeling their way out of the dark corners of their lives, and those content to stumble blindly in the dark.

Closing— As Nathan comes up here to lead us in one last song, let me tell you why I am here today, my hope and prayer for this sermon. My hope is that you will join me on this journey. That you will find peace and joy in Christ’s redemption of your life. That you will seek to join in laying down your life for this world. That you will seek to listen first, and act second. That you will join me in the very hard task of seeking true righteousness- doing the right thing for the right reasons in the right ways at the right time.

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3 Comments

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  1. Here is a new comment from Heal The Land:

    Dearest Brother Matthew:

    Supersessionist? There is no such thing. Why? Because the Old Covenant was never given for man’s salvation. The Old Covenant was given for the purposes of setting apart Israel as a distinct nation so that when God brought Yeshua HaMashiach in the world, no other nation, which means on other religion, could claim Him as their God. The Old Covenant was fulfilled when Yeshua HaMashiach died and was raised again. Now you were promised BLESSINGS for obeying the law under the Old Covenant, but not salvation, for salvation was impossible under the Old Covenant because none could keep it. David and everyone else who was saved under the Old Covenant was saved by grace just as people are by the New Covenant. So there is no such thing as “replacement theology” because there is nothing to replace, really. People who claim that God has cast aside His people and that the church has replaced Israel, those are merely lies that came out of the Catholic Church, who have rejected the Bible their own doctrines and traditions, in other words doing the very same thing for which Yeshua HaMashiach denounced the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Book of John and elsewhere.

    And yes, I said that Yeshua HaMashiach upbraided them. You claim that I am enamored with the Old Testament prophets, well the same Holy Spirit that spoke through them speaks through me. Except that I, under the New Covenant, have an advantage over them, because unlike them, who required direct revelation from God, all I have to do to speak as they is to speak the words of the Bible. And these are the words of the Bible, which directly contradicted your own words when you claimed that we are not to hate and be at war with the world: “James 4:4 – Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” And I did not only list Old Testament prophets. I also listed Paul, Peter, John, and Yeshua HaMashiach Himself. They all spoke as I did. They all spoke the truth. Yeshua HaMashiach told the woman caught in the act of adultery to go and sin no more. Well, why cannot I do the same as did He? Why should I deceive people into thinking that their sins are OK? Why should I allow people to think that friendship with the world is OK? Why should I allow a person who rejects Trinity that false doctrine is OK? Why should I allow someone who violates Psalm 1 by having “homosexual friends” (yes, it is the Old Testament, but its principles are restated in the New Testament in the “from such as turn away” verse) to think that the Bible supports what they are doing?

    It may be that I am preaching in the wrong spirit. Hey, I am not denying that I do not still have problems. But you know what Paul said about people like me? “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:14-18. You know what that means? THAT NO HARM IS DONE BY SPEAKING THE TRUTH, NO MATTER WHAT THE PROBLEMS ARE WITH THE TRUTH – SPEAKER! And why is that? BECAUSE ONE CAN ONLY SPEAK THE TRUTH IF THE SPIRIT IS TRUTH IS IN HIM! IF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH IS NOT IN SOMEONE, THEN WHAT THEY SAY WILL BE A LIE! So there you have a verse right there that proves unconditionally that there is nothing wrong with speaking the truth. Now show me a verse that justifies withholding the truth from people, speaking only a partial truth, or tolerating, praising, or justifying sin and sinners. Again, even the woman caught in the act of adultery and called Jesus “Lord” (meaning that she believed upon Him and was automatically saved) had to be told “Go and sin no more.” Why? Because God is not mocked. God is righteous, and cannot look upon sin. And so that we would be like Him, God told us “Be ye holy for I am holy.”

    As far as “forgiving those who hurt me” … I have long done that. If it was about me, I would not be doing this. I have a good job, a comfortable life, a loving family. But this isn’t about me. This is about others. This is about people who are being destroyed for the lack of knowledge. How can I love God whom I have never seen and not love my brother whom I see daily? And if I am not telling my brother that his sins are destroying his flesh and setting him againsgt God, how can I love him? If I am not telling my brothers IN THE CHURCH that on judgment day, they are going to be held to a higher standard than some Buddhist or Hindu who lived his entire life and died without hearing the gospel, because he had the truth and rejected it in order to go after a false doctrine that allows him to think that he is god whom God must serve, worship, accommodate, and bow to, how can I love him?

    My friend, judgment day is coming. When I stand before God on judgment day, I do not want him to ask me “Son, you knew what was in the Bible. You read your Bible every day. My Word was the greatest gift ever given to mankind, to creation. Why didn’t you share My Word with people? Why did you withhold my Word from them? Why did not you tell them that they were sinning? Why did not you tell them that they were going after idols, false doctrines, and false teaching? Why did you allow them to substitute their own words and the word of man for My Word without a challenge?”

    And this is what a lot of modern Christians fail to understand regarding the New Covenant. Yes, we are saved by grace, but in order to receive that grace we must understand grace. Grace came at a price ( 1 Corinthians 7:23, 1 Corinthians 6:20). That price was the Word of God not only being rejected and dying on a rugged cross, but taking on humiliation by being wrapped in flesh so that He could be rejected and die in the first place. Do you know how OFFENSIVE the notion of God taking on flesh is to Jews and Muslims? The very thought makes their skin crawl and causes them to want to vomit! So my friend, a lot of people think that they can call Jesus their savior and receive grace. And sadly, that is not true. You only receive grace if you call Jesus CHRIST your LORD and Savior. Before Jesus Christ can become your personal savior, He has to be your personal Lord. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you are either going to do it in this life and go to heaven or do it after you die and burn for eternity in the lake of fire. And in order for you to bow to Jesus Christ who is your Lord, you have to hate and reject all that is not in and of Him. Sin, this world, and the desires thereof? They are not of Him, they have no part in Him, and in order to bow to Him, then you have to reject them.

    And if you have bowed to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as your LORD, then why do you mock and profane His Name by calling yourself “unsanitaryjesus”? I am serious, don’t you know what you are doing? Do you not know of whom you speak? This is GOD we are talking about. This is your LORD we are talking about. This is not some president or king that you can put up a mocking disrespectful website about. You are taking The Name that God the Father has elevated above every name and made it common and base by adding a disrespectful qualifier to it. Now sure, Jesus Christ went into the gutters, went into the bars, and laid hands on the leprous and the prostitutes with venereal diseases, and during that time probably got some vomit and excrement on Him. But let me tell you something, fella. At no time was He unsanitary. His Spirit was clean the whole time, and unlike you even His Flesh was clean, and His Flesh was clean because His Blood was clean, and His Blood was clean because it was not the blood of a man but the Blood of the Father. So even while He was dying naked and unrecognizable (not because of the beating but because of the sin that He took on) on the cross, He was still your God. Even when He was dying on the cross, He was still worthy for you to worship and bow to. That was what one thief understood but the other rejected. The one thief who understood said “Do you not fear God even now?” One thief saw a man that he could mock, whose name he could make lower and degrade. But the other knew better.

    I am like the other thief. I will not mock, degrade, or lower the name of MY LORD, not even to make a point. And this is serious business. The Name by which you are saved is not unsanitary. The Name by which you cast out devils (as I have done) is not unsanitary. The Name by which you heal (as I have done) is not unsanitary. So sir, while you are casting aspersions at me because I preach the Word boldly not because I am so perfect (I am not, as a matter of fact I sinned just the other day) but because I love it so, have you examined yourself? Jesus Christ is your savior? Well Mormons call Jesus their savior. But Mormons reject Trinity, so they will never call Him their Lord and worship Him as such. So, you call Jesus Christ your savior? That is only true if you call Him your Lord first. If you call Jesus Christ your Lord, then you need to act like it by giving His Name the honor and glory that it deserves, the Honor and Glory that God gave it. Create a new weblog named GLORIFED Jesus CHRIST (by the name “Jesus” He is just another man, a common name not only at that time but even now in other languages, but by the name JESUS CHRIST or His Hebrew name YESHUA HAMASHIACH is He Lord) and import your weblog to it so that you would commit the sin of blasphemy no more. Do you know what blasphemy means? “impious utterance or action concerning God, an act of cursing or reviling God, irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.” That is the ORIGINAL definition of the word from dictionary.reference.com. The current MODERN definition of the word, “the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God” was created by MAN, NOT GOD. ( Dictionary.reference.com prefaces that definition with “theology”, meaning that it came not from old, but from MAN, from RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS.) And because people are following MAN’S DEFINITON OF THE WORD, THEY THINK THAT IT IS OK TO MAKE SPORT OF AND TAKE IN VAIN THE NAME OF GOD. WELL JESUS IS THE NAME OF YOUR GOD AND YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE IT IN VAIN! NOW BY DOING THAT YOU SIN! WHICH MAKES YOU NO DIFFERENT FROM THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN THE ACT OF ADULTERY! SHE CALLED JESUS CHRIST LORD, WHICH MEANT THAT SHE WAS SAVED, BUT SHE STILL SINNED! AND THAT IS WHY JESUS CHRIST TOLD HER TO GO AND SIN NO MORE!

    So right now, full of the Holy Spirit which is speaking through me to you today, just as Your Lord told the adulterous woman, go and commit this sin no more. For you will stand before Your God one day, and He will ask you: “How can you say that you loved me when you did not even respect my name?” So yes, brother Matthew, I might have problems that at times cause me to speak not as I ought. But why try to pull that speck out of my eye when you are blinded by two logs, one which prevents you from hating the world and the other which causes you to blaspheme? My fellow, I knew that you had real problems not only when I saw your blasphemous handle, but when you claimed that “Christians think that our enemy is the world.” Now your problem is not after that of a great many people who come to my blog who are ignorant of scripture, for you are a man of scripture. Your problem is actually more serious: you read the scriptures and deny not only its meaning, but its explicitly stated text. You would be in better shape had you simply never read James 4:4 before. But you have read James 4:4 and either spiritually forget it (and three guesses as to what causes that to happen) or you have decided that it is not true or applicable. Now for your sake, I hope that it is the former, for evil spirits (the door of which is opened by things like BLASPHEMY) are evil to deal with once they are acknowledged and renounced. But if it the latter, I must ask you: when was it that you came to decision that the Bible wasn’t true, or wasn’t good enough for you, thereby causing you to deny it?

    Thank you.

  2. Here is my response:

    Once again. You have missed the point. There is a tab there to the side that explains the name. The term unsanitary jesus is not a term for God. He is in no way insanitary. He is and was and will be perfect. He is clean. He is good. I am none of these things (except by the grace of God). That is why the name is or me. It is taken from the Eastern Orthodox idea of divinization and Wesleyan idea of the reclaimation of the imageo deo in the life of the believer. As Paul writes “we are being remade in his image.” In this sense I am taking about how in this land (what CS Lewis referred to as the Shadowland) we are but poor copies of Him. The term is actually meant to show the majesy of God, not the other way around. Once again if you would take the 5 minutes to get to know me, and understand me (and the others you defame) you would know this. I continue to find it interesting that other than a rhetorical pot-shot in the title of my first post (not meant to be demeaning just a stab at attention, to get someone reading the article), I have tried to treat you with respect and generosity. I have tried to understand your point of view, and have tried to be complimentary when I thought you were going somewhere good. Yet your responses have never been in kind. You continue to personally attack my faith and devotion to Christ. You have not shown any interest in understanding my points. Why is that? Would God strike you down for taking the 2 minutes it takes to really hear where someone is at before responding to them? Would God be so displeased that you took the 2 minutes to show care, concern, and compassion for another, before saying what you need to say? In response to several pages of biblical dialogue I get this rant. Where I have wished you well being and growth in the Lord, you berate me for a a belief I said I did not hold (and stated was wrong). I got news for you, you are not an OT prophet or a son of a prophet. You have not been receiving the divine writ from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may quicken your mind, and show you things, but you are not like them, and never will be. I mean this with no disrespect, because none of us are. We are guys trying to do what God tells us. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. There has always been a side of the Charismatic movement that pretended to be such, and they have always been wrong to do so. I have tried to argue this viewpoint from scripture in the last point. Christ alone is the final judge. Christ alone reserves the right to condemn. What Christ has called us (His Church) to be is the ministry of reconciliation, just as He was.

    Now about this Hebrew name thing, calling God by his Hebrew name is no different that calling Him by the translation of his name in my own language. When I am ministering in the US I use my given name in English Matt. When I am in Mexico I go by my name in the language of their country Matteo. Same name, same meaning (“Gift of God”). It is simply a matter of culture. Likewise in Mexico I talk of Jesu Christo. God has given us many names for Himself in the Scriptures (and no I am not one who would say that Allah, and the Jehovah of modern Judaism are the same names), and to use any of them is right and proper. I have many names for my earthly father: dad, daddy, mt father, Bob, etc…. To use various of his names is to denote what sense of him I am hoping to get across. Same with my heavenly Father. Calling my Lord Jesus Christ is acceptable (and 99.9999999% of the church past, present, and future would back me up on this).

    Now, you and I are not so dissimilar. I struggle with the “sinfulness” of our culture and my life as well. I address sin as sin in my life, the lives of my friends, and in the life of my congregation. Yet for me there is right and wrong ways to deal with people and situations. There are times to speak and times to stay silent. There are times for a pat on the back, and times for a kick in the butt. Being a man of God is about learning to know when it is right to act and when it is right to hold back. your tongue. Paul says much the same thing in 1 Corinthians 8-10. The difference between us is simply this: I believe that the love of God is paramount in all my actions. I believe in living a life of peace, grace, and love. I chose to show grace and mercy to those around me. Do I go to far, probably, definitely. Like Paul I speak when I ought to stay quiet; and stay quiet when I ought to speak. Yet my goal is to be perfect in grace and love as my Father is perfect. Is that attainable in this life? No (hence the name which is a stupid name designed to draw in readership, and make a point at the same time- it’s like a metaphor or parable really– I mean do I believe that the Kingdom of God is a field with a pearl in it? No. That is just an image for what God’s Kingdom is. Once again like the name). To sum up, I take seriously the scriptural impositions that we are responsible for presenting a good face to the community at large, and to live a life that is an enticement to Christianity. Christ, himself, said that the world will know us for our love one for another. Its a pithy statement but true. The single greatest cause of atheism today is those who confess Christ with their mouth, and deny him with their lips (a sin if you will). We do that not just by being no better than the people around us, but also by being so rude, so uncaring, so uncouth, so imflammatory, so arrogant, so obnoxious that we leave a bad taste in people’s mouth. Does all this mean that we do not address sin and we mealymouth sin like many are wont to do. ABSOLUTELY NOT. We can address the sin in our lives, our friends lives, and our communities in kind, generous ways. Much like a doctor deals with a sick patient (even one who has brought their sickness on by an unhealthy life), we can and are called to tend to the wounds and brokenness around us. A smart alec response would be that on American Idol you would be Simon and I would be Paula. Don’t be Simon. Everybody hates Simon, and it really isn’t OK to be universally disliked (if one person dislikes you that is just one person’s fault, but if no one likes you then there really is only 1 constant in that equation- you).

    If you want to have a sincere discussion of our beliefs, and philosophies, then I am game. I will not stand by being called names (particularly a blasphemer of God, that is just about the worse thing you could say, and I think you know it. I bet you don’t even care). Where I have responded to your last post in anger please forgive me. I mean no harm, but I do have my limits.

    I once again sincerely hope for your growth in grace. I sincerely hope that the anger and bitterness you feel will be healed (your tone reveals that you have not). I sincerely wish you well. I hope that if this conversation does not continue then we meet in Heaven, and can there hug. and laugh about just how wrong both of us were about what this life really meant.

    God Bless,
    Matt

  3. Here is a new response from Heal the Land (Job King):

    Hello Fellowservant In Christ:

    First off, I never intended to say that you were doing any wrong by calling Yeshua HaMashiach Jesus Christ. Doing so would be legalism, which is sin, and also would be so completely idiotic as to be unjustifiable in any context. So I apologize.

    God told my wife to tell me to read the Frank Peretti novel “The Visitation.” Now after about page 50 or so, I finally began to understand you. I am still thoroughly convinced that you are wrong, but I understand you. And that helps. But I honestly do want you to understand ME. It seems that you desire for me to exhibit the, what’s the word, nuance that you have. Well let me explain to you that the reason why I lack such nuance on religious matters is that I come from a very sheltered background (a town of population 700 PLUS an extremely strict insular family) and a church background that is much closer to snake – handling than anything resembling actual religion, theology, or what have you. My education and profession are engineering and computer science, not religion, philosophy, literature, etc. And I attended low rated public schools from K through university, and cannot pretend to be anything close to adequately (let alone well) read. Therefore, I lack the capacity for any sort of nuance or context, because the Bible is quite honestly all I have and all that I believe, because all else that I have had and believed have been proven certifiably false, while the Bible has to me been proven certifiably true. So please, do not misunderstand my refusal to engage you or otherwise communicate in any other manner as my being deficient in humility, compassion, patience, understanding, empathy, etc. Instead, I speak the way that I do because it is the extent of my capacity. Why?

    Please, you understand that you are talking to a deeply flawed person that has made a lot of mistakes, things that are so utterly grotesque that they are painful to imagine, let alone recall. Therefore, I have no confidence in myself whatsoever: not my own intellect, judgment, morality or values, capacity for reasoning, or anything like that. And why is that? It is because my very life has been the fulfillment of Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Therefore, Philippians 3:3 – For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh must apply to me at all times. And I see no reason why that should change. Why risk it and take the chance of misleading someone, of messing somebody up? And instead of seeing my limitations as deficiency, I embrace them. I mean, who needs the pressure of having to be right or wrong? So that my own intellect, morality/values, reasoning, competence, worth, or goodness might be validated or justified? God forbid! Look, even if I choose right this time, big deal, how is that going to help me next time? Even if I get two, three, or even ten things right in a row, number eleven is still required of me. So, I have given up speaking and doing for myself and of myself and am committed to just letting God speak through me. How do I do that? Well, what is God’s inspired, inerrant, literally true (as well as also being allegorically and metaphorically true with tons of dual and multiple references that all confirm the literal meaning, but that is another topic for another day), completed, and final authority in all matters revelation to man? THE BIBLE. So all I do is apply the Bible to every person, to every situation. If I do it any other way and a person has an issue with it, then their problem is with me. But doing it THIS WAY, then if a person has a problem with it, then their problem is not with me, but with THE BIBLE and with THE GOD WHO WROTE IT.

    And Matthew, you really do have to cut me some slack here. Absolutely nothing that I write is on the weblog can me mistaken for being any major profound intellectual or theological leap. Every single thing that I say is plainly given in the Bible over and over again. A person doing a public striptease? That is called harlotry in both Testaments. Jennifer Hudson’s having homosexual friends and tapdancing over whether she considers it sin or not? Well, both Testaments call homosexuality sin AND choosing to fraternize with homosexuals sin unless it is for the purpose of gaining them for Jesus Christ, and Jennifer Hudson’s own comments and actions make it crystal clear that her dealings with homosexuals is about her social life and career and not Christ, and since only God knows her heart what else do I have to apply the Bible to other than her own words and actions? Matthew, it is not ME judging these people, it is THE BIBLE judging them, and since the Bible is God’s Word, it is GOD judging them. So as to your words: ” I have tried to argue this viewpoint from scripture in the last point. Christ alone is the final judge. Christ alone reserves the right to condemn. What Christ has called us (His Church) to be is the ministry of reconciliation, just as He was” no, that just cannot be true. If I cannot apply all people to the Bible in all situations, then how can the Bible be inerrant? How can it be the final authority in all situations? How can it be the Word of God? If I cannot judge according to the Bible, then what is God going to judge by? Because if anything in the Bible is untrue or inapplicable, then what makes John 3:16 applicable? What makes John 14:6 applicable? It is true that only God knows a man’s heart, but we know their ACTIONS. If we speak about man’s ACTIONS according to the contents of our own hearts and minds or according to man’s laws, traditions, values, and motivations, then we commit the very same sin that the men who were going to stone the woman caught in the act of adultery did. See, it was not that the woman did not deserve to die, because her death was required by the law, and Christ had not yet died and hence the law was not yet fulfilled. It was because the people who were desiring to stone her according to the law had that desire out of impure hearts and motivations, which made them unworthy to work the law. But if we speak about man’s ACTIONS according to the BIBLE with the desire not to justify any flesh or anything of this world but rather the God who wrote the Bible, then how can that be wrong? See, the difference between you and me is that you say “Give people a chance.” And you know what? That just might be the right thing to do. But I say “Give the BIBLE a chance.” And how can that be wrong?

    Yes, I am new and awkward at this. Yes, my “holiness or hell” background still very much influences me no matter how much I try to fight it off. And yes, I have a personality that is both pugilistic and provocative. God is not finished with me yet, and He will make me far better at this with time. But do you know what? Out of all of the responses that I have gotten from those who do not know Christ (including some who claim to know Him but honestly do not, and their own words reveal that fact about him) it has not been my words that have caused them harm or injury. Rather, every last one of them have been harmed by their own desire to remain sinners, to justify their sin, and to deny everything in the Bible that talks about judgment of sin. A lot of these people are like this because they obviously have been allowed to go through life – and this includes church by the way – without ever being confronted with the Truth of the Bible and the reality of judgment, and when they encounter it on my weblog for the first time, most of them honestly do not know how to act. So from a few people I have elicited “You know, I have never heard or thought of that before, and that really opened my eyes” responses, but even the vast majority who reject my words have been given something to think about – the Truth of the Bible – that they really aren’t getting anywhere else. I mean seriously, where are they going to get it? The educational system? Nope. The media? Not a chance. Entertainment? Get real? Politics? They are part of the problem. The workplace? Ditto. The church? Well if these churches were doing their jobs, I wouldn’t get so many folks proclaiming “Jesus is my Savior” (funny how they never say Jesus is their LORD as you do) acting as if I am from another planet. Keep in mind: everything that I say comes right from the Bible! Even my own opinions represent my best attempts to express what I believe the Bible to say or how best to apply the Bible to an event or situation. Which means that even if I am TOTALLY WRONG, it is not as if anyone can pretend as if they are completely unfamiliar with where I am coming from, because if they had read their Bibles and believed it to be true, then they would be able to correct me in my error, as many have done! So for all these professed Christians to come and express total shock at my words clearly indicates that whatever the churches that they are in are doing, they are not teaching them the Bible. And while that fact causes me great grief and distress, nonetheless I absolutely cannot be deterred, dissuaded, or discouraged by it.

    When it DOES start to get to me (and it does), the only thing that I can do in order to “keep from going soft” is to redouble my efforts and energy, with my only motivation being to represent the actual contents and meaning of the Bible to people who are thoroughly unfamiliar with it because they have been systematically denied it, and I have to be honest one of the main forces out there that withholds what the Bible actually says and means is this little church/religious system that we have here, and let me tell you brother this is something that I know firsthand because I PERSONALLY LIVED IT. And before you start wondering if that’s my “anger and bitterness over the people and things that hurt me” manifesting again, well let me be the first to say I DO NOT TOTALLY DISCOUNT THAT. I am on my knees every night after finishing my work on my blog or my other websites asking God if I am serving Him or succumbing to any anger, rage, aggression, or desire to punish, persecute, hurt, or crush people, because brother let me tell you if you had met me a mere two years ago that is what I was all about! But you know what reassures me? You know what picks me up EVERY SINGLE TIME? When I encounter someone else WHO HAS GONE THROUGH THE SAME EXACT THING AS I HAVE in having been denied the truth. At my job, at doctor’s offices, at the grocery store, on the Internet, listening to the call – in Christian TV and radio shows, it is all the same: people sick, tired, and frustrated of the lies, and of the Christians who A) make them and B) who are unwilling to liberate themselves from and oppose them EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE LIES! And these are CHRISTIANS that I am talking about. You can walk right up to them, tell them “Hey man, that opposes scripture”, get a Bible and show them the scripture, AND THEY GET MAD AT THE PERSON WHO IS TRYING TO SHOW THEM THE TRUTH! THEY GET SO MAD THAT THEY DON’T WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU ANYMORE! AND THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN GOING TO CHURCH ALL THEIR LIVES, AND EVEN HOLD POSITIONS OF POWER IN THEM! So my dear man, what am I supposed to do with people like that? Withhold the truth from them lest I offend so that I can remain in their good social graces? By doing so, what good am I doing them? What good am I doing MYSELF? You might tell me: “You are pushing them away before you can gain them.” Well how am I going to gain them except with the Truth that they reject? And let me tell you: I was on the other side not so long ago. There is this coworker of mine that I used to continually persecute with my charismatic Word of Faith/prosperity heresy that I was immersed in until VERY RECENTLY. And that fellow didn’t spare me in any way whatsoever. He stuck his Bible to my nose, told me what was in it and what it meant, and not only would he not budge but he wouldn’t allow me to budge either; he would not suffer any lie from my lips, and he would not “agree to disagree.” I am still going up to this fellow telling him “You know that dispute that we had two years/one year/six months ago … well you were right, and thanks.” It is always extremely awkward, so he always replies “You don’t have to keep coming to me saying that” and I reply “Yes I do.” Now what good would it have done me had this guy allowed me to believe a lie? What good would it have done HIM?

    So dear Matthew, I only ask of you two things. First, I really do want you to consider my comments regarding blasphemy. Understand that it is nothing personal, I am only applying to you what I have read in the Bible, and in that way I do such to you no different from what I do myself. I spoke to you in such a manner not as some attempt to accuse you, hurt you, or set myself over you but rather out of a legitimate concern for you. I know that some people use the Bible as a weapon to hurt people. Well, I have to be honest, I use the Bible as a physician uses a scalpel to remove cancer. The scalpel hurts, but leaving the cancer in hurts more. I am not always right, but my motivation is always to show people what the Bible says about what they are doing. I am not saying that to try to claim that it exempts me from responsibility, I am not “hiding behind the Bible”, but the fact is that the Bible says what it says, and moreover people as intimately familiar with the Bible as you are going to be held most responsible for what it says. We can disagree about the interpretation and application, and you do not even have to take me at face value when I say that I did not say those words to attack or hurt you, but if you were to claim that my charges against you were not based on a very reasonable and fair interpretation of scripture, then I cannot see how that would be honest. The most that I can be accused of is having high standards, but where is the harm or wrong in that? Now please do not misunderstand me, I know very well where you are coming from, as though I have absolutely no concept of ” It is taken from the Eastern Orthodox idea of divinization and Wesleyan idea of the reclaimation of the imageo deo in the life of the believer” (because as I told you before I have no education whatsoever concerning such things) it might surprise you to know that in the past I have actually written thoughts very similar to what you are trying to express, and still adhere to those thoughts. But let me relate to you an anecdote which relates to this very topic. As recently as about two years ago, I was an extreme right wing conservative Republican, and proud of it! So, I got caught up in this Natalie Maines/Toby Keith nonsense over his song “The Angry American” and you can tell which side I was on. So I was surfing the Internet just stalking anyone who would dare disagree with the great American Toby Keith and side with the commie traitor Maines so I could verbally tear that malefactor to shreds! But I found the site of a fellow that I regarded as some little wimpy limpwristed liberal who opposed our “God – given right” to vent whatever words we felt like and then go over to whatever country we would and do whatever we felt like to any and every man, woman, and child over there, because we were AMERICA and WE WERE ATTACKED. But instead of indulging in some great articulation concerning the crimes of Keith and virtue of Maines, this fellow’s entire comments on the whole matter was simply “words mean things.” And like those men who had taken the woman caught in adultery before Jesus Christ in order to accuse him, I was left speechless. Don’t get me wrong, I still thought that Keith was a great American, Maines a commie traitor, and this fellow a wimpy limpwristed liberal, but I had no recourse against the truth and power of his three word statement, and hence I went after several other Maines defenders with my hateful words, but as for him I had to leave him be. And that statement stayed with me, burned into my conscience ever since: “words mean things.” It has actually become a motto of mine of sorts! So I entreat of you to ponder upon that, and then based upon it consider after the manner of I Corinthians 10:23 that your moniker, while lawful, may not be expedient, if only for the sensitivites of people like me who either have no concept of ” It is taken from the Eastern Orthodox idea of divinization and Wesleyan idea of the reclaimation of the imageo deo in the life of the believer”, or perhaps better yet those who do and simply consider the Eastern Orthodox and Wesley to be wrong, or your attempted application thereof to be wanting. Or failing that whether God ACTUALLY WANTS to be referred by you to in such a manner. The gospel artist Tonex depicted in his concert DVD “Out The Box” an image of him on the cross. His intent was not blasphemy (in either definition of the word), but rather to illustrate A) Christ in us, Emmanuel, and B) how Christ was the substitutionary payment for our sins and even C) how in a sense WE ARE CHRIST. I fully agreed with Tonex’s doing so at the time, feeling that it was an excellent way to represent the personalization of Jesus that comes through a true spiritual relationship with him, and also to represent what He is to us, what He did for us, and what we are in Him. Actually wrote an essay or two inspired by it! But then the poor fellow went and literally cracked up and lost everything. At that time, I was forced to acknowledge that Tonex A) was extremely worldly, B) was extremely vain, C) was dealing with some strange and false doctrines, and that D) the fanatical devotion that I had to him and his music at the time was not in spite of but rather PRECISELY BECAUSE OF all of those things (that and the fact that he IS an exceptionally talented musician, singer, and preacher, which made what happened to him all the more tragic). So upon hearing of his downfall, IMMEDIATELY my mind went back to the image of Tonex on the cross, and I began to think “yeah, I know what he was trying to get across, but was there a better, more appropriate way to do it? Was God pleased with Tonex depicting himself on the cross in the place of Jesus, even in an attempt to communicate and cause others to adopt for themselves deep (AND TRUE AND OFTEN MISSED, DENIED, AND MISUNDERSTOOD!) spiritual truths? IF HE HAD JUST NOT TAKEN THAT PICTURE, WOULD HE HAVE STILL LOST EVERYTHING?” If nothing else, it is worth thinking about, no?

    Second, consider this. You have read my details of my painful, sorrowful, shameful past. But you know the amazing thing? If you were to ask me if I could change ANYTHING about my past, you know what my answer would be? That I wouldn’t change a thing! Why? Because I know that my future is secure with the Triune God, and that my present is also. Now go back in time, back in my life to change any little thing, to remove any little heartbreak or humiliation, to set right any little failure and disappointment, and would I still believe? Or would that be one less thing that I would regard GOD as having delivered me from and given me the victory over, and instead consider that deliverance as coming from my own hand, and it be one more opportunity for me to set myself in the place of God, to doubt God, and ultimately deny God? Well, I just don’t want to take that chance! I do not regret that I am the product of my circumstance, I REJOICE IN IT! For that reason, I want you to reconsider what I stated to you earlier: that you and I are simply different members of the same body (“good cop, bad cop” maybe?), and I just need to learn how to do my job better. I am fully open to the idea that God sent you to my weblog to communicate just such a message to me, especially since I know that God had my wife tell me tp read “The Visitation” in order to cause me to think of you. Now despite the fact that you are obviously more advanced, mature, experienced, and successul in your ministry than I am in mine, I want you to consider just the slight possibility that God is using me to get the same message across to you? If that was God’s intention, then I rejoice, because I have faith that despite my many faults, God’s Will was nevertheless somehow done, for God is more powerful than all of my faults. That may not be a perfect definition of grace, but in my estimation it conforms to this circumstance quite adequately.

    And in conclusion:
    I am aware that Paul said that the greatest of attributes for a Christian is charity. That is what I am certain that you were trying to express in “The single greatest cause of atheism today is those who confess Christ with their mouth, and deny him with their lips (a sin if you will).” Well where I am right now, the best way that I am capable of showing love to someone is telling them what the Bible says about their sins, and then give them what the Bible says about how to be forgiven, delivered, and set free of their sins. Perhaps it will just take time before my words are suitable expressions of the love that I do feel in my heart. For brother in Christ, just as I do love God, I also love you. I just need to say that more often and better to all who might come across my weblog and my other websites. Thank you, and God bless, keep, and be with you and yours.

    Job King

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