An Apostolic Father Shares About His Son
Romans12:1 Present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 Be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind... .
After the second chapter of Acts, this is a pretty fair composite of the scriptural plan of getting saved, and staying saved.
I am not trying to outline Gods salvation plan here, I just have something to say, and its been a long time coming. I am basically talking to Apostolics here, but anyone else who wants to come along, hop aboard. This is part testimony, part sermon.
Let me say that the greatest institution on the planet, is Gods church. There is no higher calling anywhere, than to serve Christ. There is no greater joy anywhere than knowing you are saved. The peace that Jesus gives you absolutely, "passeth all understanding." What God can do among the vilest of sinners is positively awesome. What man cannot do, His grace, thru faith in that greatest of names, can and does do.
His blood washes away every sin. Not just normal sin, but the most filthy and twisted, vile, ugly......all of it can be washed away by the shed blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Praise God!! Friend, if you are truly saved, you are HOLY!
The whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Just as the lamb was sacrificed, for the sins of the people, The Lamb of God was sacrificed, for OUR sins; so, we present ourselves, a living sacrifice, daily, before Him. As He died, we die in repentance. As He was buried, we are buried with Him in Baptism; as He rose again, so we rise to walk in the newness of life, thru the Holy Ghost. Just as that lamb had to be spotless, and without blemish, Gods perfect lamb, without spot or blemish, sinless, shed his blood, that we could be without spot or blemish, on that great day to come.
We walk in the spirit, like the 8th chapter of Romans says. Living for God is not a thing where we get saved, and then walk away to live in the same mire that we were in. This is a new walk. Here is where I get down to where the rubber meets the road.
The Bible says that old things are passed away. Friend, if you are in Christ, you are a new creature. This means that your total focus from now on should be to please Christ....please him in everything you do.
It means on the job, at school, out on the street, and at home, when no one else is around. It does not mean, just in church.
What am I really trying to say here? I am talking about being a Christian. I am sick to my insides of what the Pentecostal movement has denegrated into. You can have any flavor you want. According to one group, you can live anyway you want, marry as many times as you please, commit all forms of moral degeneracy, but as long as you "Shicka Mo Shi," and "SHA-LA-LA-LA," a little, everythings ok.
Another train of thought takes us to the opposite end of the spectrum. The hair on a women has to be uncut, done up just a certain way, no jewelry, not even a wedding band. Sleeves to the wrist, collar to the chin, skirt to the floor. For a man, its hair cut down to the scalp, long sleeves, no jewelry, in some instances, not even a wrist watch. Aint it funny, though, they can wear silver-tipped cowboy boots, and a belt buckle half as big as Texas. Aint it funny, that men and women, can gossip all they want, as long as its about someone whos not linin up.
Look, I am not trying to put down holiness; all Im trying to do is get us to look at it for what it really is. I have submitted here before, and with this kind ladys permission, I want to do it again, from time to time. I know where I am going here, even if it seems a little disjointed, so please bear with me. Sin, is SIN! It must be made to appear as sin. (Rom. 7:13)
I do not want to appear to be just harping on one thing, but I have had experiences in my life that have taught me a few things. One of them is that when it comes to compassion, when it comes to loving sinners, we Apostolics have come into a sore lack of Christ-likeness. Is it any wonder that the world, Christian and otherwise, have come to regard us as a cult?
I have my Bible before me, as I write this, and I have a very good set of references concerning sin. I have a very good set of references concerning compassion, too. I know that the Bible does teach that we are to abstain from the very appearance of evil. (1 Thess. 5:22) The Bible teaches discipline in the church. I had to search to find it, but it does. It also teaches us to "bear the afflictions of the weak" (Rom. 15:1) It wouldnt hurt to read the whole chapter.
Need I quote the scripture to bring forth the lesson, that God in his righteous wrath, would have spared Sodom, if it had contained just ten righteous? Yet this same God who sent his Son to die for our sins, slew Annanias and Saphira just for lying? Oh, how many of us have lied to a preacher?
"Oh, I paid all my tithes!"
"Oh, Ive neeeeeevvver got mad at God!"
"Oh, Brother so and so, I dont cut my hair."
"I wouldnt have a TV in MY house."
I can go on with this, but you get the picture. Folks, I am not trying to be snotty here; I'm not trying to jeer or ridicule. I am trying to get the message across that we are letting unscriptural rules and man-made by-laws, rule. What does it matter, if we obey the 'letter of Apostolic law' to the nth degree, if our sons and daughters, our mothers and dads, our brothers and sisters are lost?
LOST! Can you comprehend this? We strain at the gnat of whether long hair for women means just long, or uncut. I am sorry, my brother, but there are some things that that book leaves to individual conviction. Do I have to quote every scripture concerning sin for you to know what I mean when I say sin? The Word of God is plain on the subject.
Folks, dont you understand that the God who condemns sin, LOVES the sinner? Dont you see, that God has been so very kind, and not given up on some of us? Dear God, how can we do some of the things we do, then condemn someone else?
O Please, Jesus! Give us a real old fashioned revival of love and compassion! Help us to lay down the barriers to it. Help us to continue in holiness, true holiness. Let us lay down our sins, leave them at your holy altar; but open our eyes, to the hurting, the wretched, the lost, the hopeless. O help us to remember that we were so wretched until you found us, and had MERCY!!
This past weekend, I was made to see my precious, young son as he should have been. A family of evangelists came to our church, and ministered to us, for three days. They preached and sang, and ministered in the spirit, with such love and compassion. The youngest minister in this group, the son of the evangelist and his wife, preached and sang. He is just a young man. He so reminded me of my son. This young fellow had a soft way about him; a tenderness. He reminded me of me at that age. I am writing this with tears in my eyes.
As I watched this young man minister with such love, and such confidence, and such joy in the Lord, I thought of this; Why does everything have to be so pat? Why can we not see the beauty in Gods handiwork? Why do we see tenderness, and soft spokenness as something ugly? Just being a little soft is not being effeminate. Some of us do battle with things that others do not, but thru Christ, we can, and do win. JESUS is the focus here, not whether someone is a little less masculine than others.
Listen to me. God destroyed Sodom because he hates SIN. He killed Annanias because he dared to think he could lie to God, that God was too ignorant to know what he was doing. God knew. God knows every time we sin. Sometimes we cannot tell a man everything we know, but we can tell Jesus. HE ALREADY KNOWS!!!!
The sins of Sodom were many and they were grievous. Homosexuality was not all there was to Sodom and Gomorrah. The first sin that they committed was their refusal to acknowledge God. Had they done this, had they put God first, they would not have been destroyed. (Read Romans 1) Listen, sin is rebellion against Gods sovereign authority. The cure is the blood. HALLELUJAH!!
O how can we save souls if we are so holy that we cant approach the sinner? Are we so weak that we are afraid that their sins are going to jump on us? Isnt the blood we are covered with stronger than that? Maybe some of us arent under it, if we are that scared. "Perfect love casteth out fear."(1John 4:18)
Listen, if God does not judge this world, and dont think, self-righteous saint that you are going to be excluded, Hes going to have to call up Sodom and apologize because our sins superceded Sodom, long, long ago. I got scripture for this.
Before I came to Christ, I was ridiculed, even physically abused at school. When I came to Christ, some of my tormentors actually apologized and became my staunchest allies. O praise His Name for love and forgiveness.
My son was ridiculed, made fun of...At Church....at church! I watched helplessly as it happened, because I dared not cross the ministry. I saw what happened to those who crossed that line. I sat horrified, one night, as a preacher said from the pulpit, and I quote, "If there is a boy in this congregation that is weak acting, or effeminate, you other boys need to stay away from him. I wouldnt even sit with him."
To a man, the boys on the front two rows got up and went to sit with their parents, and left my little eleven-year-old-son to sit by himself. Right in front of a congregation of two or three hundred people. My son got the Holy Ghost, at Chapel service, in a Christian A.C.E. School sponsored by our church. He was just nine years old. If God could accept the boy, why couldnt they?
He was a sweet, very talented young boy, with a call on his life that anyone could see.
To his credit I will say that our pastor did make an effort to encourage our son. When he was in his late teens, he was very active in the music department, and considered going to Bible college. The older folks loved our boy. But there was always that undercurrent among certain ones.
I understand it is important to preach what we feel is right and scriptural, but does every sermon have to deal with just one issue? When someones trying to live for God, cant the preacher have a little love and compassion? Do we have to continually harp on something we think someones doing, until, with nothing but condemnation, they feel like, "If I have the name, I might as well play the game?" What happened to the loving, compassionate, Godly church where I met Jesus? Where are you?
Why, behind Gods pulpit, do they have to use words like Faggot, or, Queer? I guess, for the same reason some of them still say Nigger?
I have listened to young people for years. They have always felt they had an ally in me. Even though they treated my son so rotten. (Not all of them.) I have heard horror stories about what goes on among Christian youth.
We have come to believe, in certain Apostolic circles, that as long as we dont watch TV (at least out in the open), as long as we dont wear jewelry, as long as our hair is long (girls) or clipped to the scalp (boys), as long as I aint Queer, (Oh god, I hate that word), anything else we do is OK. When you ask the bulk of Apostolic youth why they believe like they do, their stock reply is, "Because our Pastor teaches it."
With this mentality in the Pentecostal movement, no wonder people think we are a cult. In some instances, we are. (Deut. 4:6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.)
Bottom line; SIN IS SIN BUT YOU WONT WIN THE SINNER BY RIDICULING HIM!
Come ye sinners, lost and hopeless,
Posted March 13, 2003
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August 23, 1997
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