Friday, February 18, 2011

The TRUE Prosperity GOSPEL

WHAT is the plain Gospel truth, the Good News of old that is now touted by the likes of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Myles Munroe, T.D. Jakes, et al (of the Word-Faith Movement), as the crowd-pleasing, get-rich-through-JESUS "prosperity gospel"?

But first -- the bad news -- and it is that we've all eaten of that "apple" called sin that so enticed Eve... that fruit called pride which caught her eye with its delectable appearance, whetting her appetite so that she lusted to satisfy her covetous desire (deceitfully persuaded by the father of lies -- satan); and Adam in lame agreement by his silent acquiescence, both rebelling at the Owner's prohibition against picking fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil... resulting in separation from GOD, banishment from the Garden, spiritual death upon all of Adam and Eve's descendants --

Paradise lost. (Genesis 3)

That bad news is still in effect today -- we're still barred from the Garden of Eden.


We repent and turn to GOD for His gracious gift of pardon through the only Way provided by Him -- via the Cross of CHRIST JESUS, who is Himself Truth incarnate and eternal Life manifested in the flesh. For as it is written in the Holy Scriptures, whosoever believes in the Son of GOD shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

CHRIST holds the heavenly key which swings the door wide open to GOD's heart -- Owner of the Garden of Eden -- in fact, Owner of everything on earth and in the entire universe. (Job 41:11)

GOD the Father so loved the world that He commissioned GOD the Son to be the Savior for us lost sinners. The Son of GOD was the Substitutionary Sacrifice who paid for our sin-debts against a thrice-holy GOD. The Son so loved the Father that He willingly relinquished for a time the infinite riches in glory (though not His deity) that He equally shared with the Father and the Holy SPIRIT so that He may glorify the Father's name -- His perfect holiness and righteous justice, and His incomprehensible love and abundant mercy to us undeserving rebels.

CHRIST JESUS accomplished the inconceivable. On the Cross, the Father's holy justice and merciful love met in the Person of CHRIST. JESUS' own shed blood was the only sacrifice infinitely worthy to satisfy the Father's holy wrath against all of mankind's sin, all of which JESUS bore upon Himself. With CHRIST's death as the Propitiation (Appeasement) for our sins, GOD can then be a just Judge to the unjust because He poured out all His holy wrath on His own Son. JESUS, the perfect and righteous sacrificial Lamb, drank to the very last drop the cup of GOD's unfathomable wrath that we, sinners all, deserve. GOD's holy justice was satisfied, His name glorified by JESUS' incomparable work on Cross -- the ultimate act of supreme love and amazing grace.

The Good News -- CHRIST died an excruciating death on the Cross; and worst of all, He suffered the ultimate mind-boggling wrath of the Father -- an infinitely holy GOD who hates with a deep-seated righteous anger the wicked of the world, whose sins since the beginning of time until the end of the world, GOD has stored up for punishment -- and this WRATH He unleashed upon GOD the Son on the cross, to save condemned sinners, the whosoever of John 3:16 -- you and me and whosoever calls on the name of CHRIST. When we cry out to GOD, LORD, be merciful to me, a sinner! with a genuinely repentant heart, trusting in CHRIST as the Son of GOD who has supreme authority to forgive all our sins, believing in the historical fact of His resurrection, and receiving Him (through faith alone in GOD's unmerited grace) as Savior and LORD of our body, heart and soul -- MASTER of our lives -- we are made spiritually alive In CHRIST, born-again of GOD.

Receiving JESUS as the CHRIST -- Savior and LORD -- of our lives is the Truth and the Way to a prosperous Life! JESUS Himself is the Key to the eternal prosperity that begins when we confess that He is LORD. In CHRIST dwells the fullness of GOD; therefore, in CHRIST are the TRUE riches that will never fade or rust or get moth-eaten or stolen or lose their value -- they're imperishable and priceless.

And we don't have to die the physical death to receive this prosperous eternal life! It is ours immediately -- the instant we receive redemption through our faith in CHRIST, GOD's eternal gifts are provided for those spiritually born-again into His family. The following is but a short list of the abundant blessings freely given to the children of GOD:

** the Holy SPIRIT and His almighty supernatural power, enabling us to accomplish the good works that the Father had planned for us even before He began time (John 7:38-39, 2 Corinthians 9:8)

** the new birth -- regeneration... our spirit made alive to the things of GOD... no longer stiff-necked, hard-hearted rebels, but new creatures in spirits divine -- children of GOD (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 1:12)
** justification -- all our sins forgiven... past, present and future! Redeemed -- guiltless before the holy Judge... saved from His judgment -- saved from Hell! (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 4:25, 5:1, 9)
** daily cleansing from sins of the flesh (forgiveness of sins directly from JESUS who is our High Priest... no need for a human mediator to mete out penance in the form of mindless repetitive prayers) (1 John 1:9, Matthew 6:14-15)

** adoption into GOD's family... we are granted the honor and privilege of calling the Almighty Creator -- Father, Abba...DAD! and JESUS -- who is Lord of lords and King of kings -- our Elder Brother, Faithful Friend, Perfect Husband (Romans 8:14-15, Galatians 3:26, Ephesians 5:25-30, John 15:13-15, John 20:17)

** a heavenly inheritance with JESUS and all the saints (Romans 8:16-17, 1 Peter 1:3-4, Colossians 3:23-24, Ephesians 1:13-14, Revelation 21:7)

** bold access to GOD's throne... bringing to Him our petitions and prayers with childlike trust and loving reverence (1 John 3:21-22, 5:14-15, Romans 8:31-32, John 14:13-14, John 15:7, Matthew 7:7-8)

** no Judgment Day... rather, we are given rewards for the good works which were done with pure motives -- for the love of JESUS, to the glory of the Father, for the advancement of His Kingdom (Jeremiah 17:10, Matthew 5:11-12, Colossians 3:23-24, Matthew 10:42, James 1:12)

** resurrection in glorified bodies (John 11:25-26; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 15:51-53; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Revelation 22:12)
** answered prayers... GOD's promises guaranteed to His children who are IN CHRIST (John 14:13-14, 15:7; 1 John 3:21-22, 5:14-15; Matthew 18:19-20; Mark 11:22-24; 2 Corinthians 1:20)

** communion (fellowship) with the Father and Son through the indwelling SPIRIT (1 John 1:3)

** illumination of GOD's Word by the Holy SPIRIT... heart-to-heart communion, wise counsel and life-direction from GOD through His written WORD (John 16:13, John 14:17)

** no Hell... no outer darkness... no gnashing of teeth... no fire and brimstone, where the worm does not die (no 72 virgins!) (Revelation 20:11-15, 21:4; Matthew 25:30; Mark 9:43-48)

** no boredom in Heaven, no wasted time... since GOD is infinite in CHRIST, it will take all of eternity to discover all the gazillion facets of GOD's infinite perfections (Revelation 19:7-9, 20:4-6, 22:3)
** supernatural peace from JESUS that surpasses understanding, the kind the world cannot know (Philippians 4:7, 2 Corinthians 13:11)

** settled peace with GOD... no longer under the condemnation of His wrathful judgment against our sins (Romans 5:1)
** indescribable joy of JESUS... experientially -- not imagined or manufactured, but through daily grace from GOD (Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 16:11, John 15:11, 16:24)

** reconciliation with GOD the Father (Romans 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:18)

** fruit of the SPIRIT: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, righteousness, truth (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:9)

** the perfect righteousness of JESUS in exchange for our filthy rags of self-righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30, Philippians 1:11, Romans 3:22, 5:17)

** sanctification, positional and progressive CHRISTlikeness (1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:2)
** meaningful and purposeful life serving others for GOD's glory (John 13:35, 14:12, 15:8; Matthew 28:19)
** no more sin in Heaven -- no more tears... no more pain (Isaiah 25:8, Revelation 7:17, 21:4)

** unconditionally loved as precious and valuable (1 John 3:1, John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4)

** security... GOD will never, ever -- no, NEVER ever leave or forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9)
** constant Companion -- Counselor, Helper and Comforter in the Holy SPIRIT (John 14:16, 26; Matthew 28:20)

** wisdom for the asking, which our heavenly Father will give in abundance (James 1:5)

** citizenship in Heaven... we are in this world, but not of this world (Philippians 3:20, Ephesians 2:19, )

** intercessory prayers... JESUS Himself praying for His followers, and the Holy SPIRIT communing with the Father as to our deepest desires (Romans 8:26, 34)

** strength from CHRIST to endure all things (Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:31)

** the reality that GOD causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, to those who are the called, according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

** protection from satanic forces (Psalm 91:4-6, 9-10, 14; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Psalm 121:7-8; Matthew 6:13)

** contentment in all situations (Philippians 4:11, Matthew 6:31-33, Hebrews 13:5)

Truly born-again followers of CHRIST are the most spiritually prosperous souls on the face of the earth!

Though i'm no Bill Gates -- i am by far richer than he because i have all of the above -- extravagant blessings now, some in progress, and all that my finite mind can't even imagine waiting for me as my inheritance in Heaven as a child of the Almighty GOD, guaranteed by CHRIST JESUS for those who have put their faith in Him. But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which GOD has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Ultimate prosperity then -- here on earth and in Heaven -- is in the Person of JESUS CHRIST. For in Him all the fullness of GOD was pleased to dwell... (Colossians 1:19)

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) Seek first the Kingdom of GOD and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33) Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10) The LORD is my Shepherd, in Him i shall not lack. (Psalm 23:1)

And yet, for me, to know JESUS Himself, with heavenly blessings or none, materially prosperous on earth or not -- He is enough! To know Him supremely, to see with the eyes of my heart His indescribable perfections, to delight in His Person, to exult in His Presence -- that is enough for me.

For what would heaven be without JESUS? Just another pretty place... Without JESUS' precious presence in Heaven -- a Paradise without His Life, without His Light, without His Truth, without His incomparable beauty and glorious holiness -- eternity would be dull and lifeless and boring as the infinite number of years roll on and on, forever and ever and ever...and evermore!

Eternal prosperity -- real success and true wealth -- is knowing and having JESUS Himself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Truly SAVED -- or Truly DECEIVED?

This blog entry is for those who profess to be Christians -- those who claim CHRIST JESUS as their LORD and Savior, those who say they believe in GOD the Father-Almighty Creator, those who think they are Holy SPIRIT-regenerated and indwelled, born-again children of GOD.

i myself thought i was saved in 2003. i claimed CHRIST JESUS as my heroic Savior (my Knight in shining armor) who rescued me from the evil dragons of life. i proudly labeled myself Christian, not knowing what that meant, then i proceeded to sanctify my own self with much self-effort, which was a doomed endeavor from the onset. Was i truly saved or truly deceived in 2003? i don't know. But last year i got the fullest sense that i am indeed truly saved -- the Holy SPIRIT granted me assurance of my salvation, for the SPIRIT Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of GOD. (Romans 8:16)

GOD providentially provided many sources to make me aware of the reality that false converts abound. From Ray Comfort's Hell's Best-Kept Secret and True and False Conversion, to Paul Washer's "Shocking Youth Sermon," to John Piper's Desiring GOD Resource Library and his sermons on "Christian Hedonism," John MacArthur's Study Bible and his verse by verse exposition on the First Epistle of John (Grace To You) and C. H. Spurgeon -- the "prince of preachers -- making much of CHRIST.

The following are excerpts from John MacArthur's book Saved Without a Doubt.

Jonathan Edwards concluded in A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections that the supreme proof of true conversion is a zeal for holy things and a longing after GOD and personal holiness -- "holy affections." He wrote, "As the principle evidence of life is motion, so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy living."

The New Testament's First Epistle of John was written specifically for professing Christians:
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of GOD, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

The Epistle is a series of tests to determine whether the professing Christian truly possesses eternal life. MacArthur, from his expositional sermons on 1 John, posed the following questions as a means to test the professing Christian so that he (or she) may examine his salvation and be assured that he is "Saved Without a Doubt." So test your spirit -- may you pass with triumphant hallelujahs!

Have you enjoyed fellowship with CHRIST and the Father?

We have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us -- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and His Son JESUS CHRIST. (1 John 1:2-3)

Are you presently enjoying communion with the living GOD and the living CHRIST? Do you sense His presence? Do you have a love for Him that draws you to His presence? Have you experienced the exhilarating joy of talking to the living GOD through prayer? Does the Holy SPIRIT continually illumine new truths to you through the reading of His Word?

Are you sensitive to sin?

GOD is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of JESUS, His Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Do you realize that to have a true relationship with GOD, you have to live a holy life -- that you can't walk in darkness and claim fellowship with Him? Are you willing to confess and forsake any sin in your life as you become aware of it? Do you realize you can now choose not to sin? Like the apostle Paul (Romans 7:14-25) -- are you weary of the burden of sin in your flesh?

Do you obey GOD's Word?

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. (1 John 2:3)

Do you desire to obey the Word out of gratitude for all CHRIST has done for you? Do you obey GOD's commandments not only out of reverence for Him as Almighty Creator, but also out of love and delight in JESUS?

Do you reject this evil world?

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15) All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)

The "world" is today's system encompassing false religions, errant philosophies and damning ideologies, crime, immorality, materialism, godless living, vain pursuits. Do such things repel you? Instead, do you love GOD, His truth, His kingdom, and all that He stands for?

Do you eagerly await CHRIST's return?

Dear friends, now we are children of GOD, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord JESUS CHRIST, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Is your blessed hope and supreme joy found in seeing CHRIST JESUS face-to-face at His return and being made like Him? Does your hope of Christlikeness compel you to act more like CHRIST in reaching out to others and fulfilling all that GOD has set out for you to do? Do you find yourself longing for the return of CHRIST?

Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life?

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of GOD appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

No one who is born of GOD practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of GOD. By this the children of GOD and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of GOD, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)

Do you see a new pattern of holy affections (love for the things of GOD) in your life? Though you are still in the flesh and therefore not sinless, do you sin less -- do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Do you practice righteousness (even if imperfectly) -- righteous motives, righteous desires, righteous words, righteous deeds? Do you see victory over sin in your life?

Do you love other Christians?

By this the children of GOD and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of GOD, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:14-16)

JESUS said, By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

Do you characteristically love other believers? Do you have a desire to reach out and meet their needs? Do you sacrifice your time, treasures and talents for other believers? Do you intercede in prayer for those in need? Do you enjoy fellowshiping, studying the Word and praying with the brethren? Do you see the love of GOD in your life through your words and actions to others?

Do you experience answered prayer?

Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:22)

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

You know you are a believer if GOD answers your prayers. The only way that can happen is if you keep His commandments, and the only way you can do that is if you belong to Him. Answered prayer is evidence that GOD hears you, which is evidence that you live in Him and He in you.

Have you had your prayers answered? Is that a pattern of life for you?

Do you experience the ministry of the Holy SPIRIT?

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His SPIRIT. (1 John 4:13)

Do you experience the SPIRIT illuminating Scripture to you so that when you read the Word, its meaning is clarified to you? Does He convict you when you're sinful? Is your life manifesting the fruit of the SPIRIT (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)? Has He enabled you to minister to others? Has the SPIRIT drawn you into fellowship with GOD through prayer and praise?

Can you discern between spiritual truth and error?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from GOD, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the SPIRIT of GOD: every spirit that confesses that JESUS CHRIST has come in the flesh is from GOD; and every spirit that does not confess JESUS is not from GOD; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

When you are exposed to the false teachings of cults (Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.) which attack the Person of CHRIST and then postulate a substitute or addition to the Bible (Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures, The Book of Mormons, or The Pearl of Great Price) -- can you discern their lies with the enablement of your resident truth Teacher in the Person of the Holy SPIRIT? Has the SPIRIT of GOD convinced you about salvation through faith in CHRIST alone and the veracity of the Scripture?

Have you suffered rejection because of your faith?

Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)

Have you experienced animosity, hostility, rejection, bitterness, alienation, ostracism, prejudice, or outright persecution from representing and advocating what is right?

John MacArthur formulated the above questions from the apostle John's tests, as given in his first epistle. A true believer may receive a Biblical basis for confidence in his salvation if he can answer truthful affirmatives to the tests posed in 1 John -- so you may know that you have eternal life... (1 John 5:13) Saved without a doubt -- possessing 14-karat faith!

As for me, i can truthfully and gratefully say "YES" to the questions above, and further evidence of my salvation are the joy and delight that the Holy SPIRIT has poured out into my heart so that i am loving JESUS with more experiential abandon and heartfelt sincerity. Today, by the work of the Holy SPIRIT in magnifying the LORD in my spirit -- CHRIST is my ever precious Treasure, my ultimate Joy and everlasting Delight.