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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Refresher Course

1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.”
This morning I spent a good ten minutes looking for my keys. It had only been a few hours since I had laid them down somewhere, after spending the evening with a couple brothers visiting from Wisconsin, but for the life of me I could not remember where I had placed them.
I have long believed man is a forgetful creature, and as I hunted desperately for my keys this morning, it became all the more apparent. There are certain things in this life that are worth keeping fresh and at the forefront of our mind on a daily basis. All of us vaguely remember having known certain things, that have somehow slipped from our mind, a certain passage from the Word, a certain lyric of a song, whatever it may be there is not a person alive on this earth that has perfect recall of everything they ever heard throughout their lives. There are even things we might have known very well once upon a time, over which the cobwebs of every day life have slowly grown until they are but a faint memory.
I know it might sound morbid to some, but I enjoy spending time in cemeteries, especially really old ones. I like reading headstones, seeing a life that once was encapsulated in a few words, whether they be loving husband, beloved mother, or adoring son. The older the grave markers, the harder they are to read, often shrouded in grass, weeds, and flowers. I think our memories can sometimes get that way, overgrown with the passage of time with the grass weeds and flowers of yet another season that has come and gone.
Whether we are just beginning our journey on this earth, or nearing its end, there are certain things that must be kept ever fresh in our mind’s eye. There are certain truths that can never be forgotten, over which the worries, fears, and uncertainties of this life can never be allowed to grow and consume. Even the most seasoned of Christians sometimes need a refresher course in the basics; they need to be brought back to the simplicity of the gospel and the pillars that hold up the entire weight of the Christian experience.
The Christians in Corinth were no different than many of us, and they needed a refresher course on the Gospel that the apostle Paul had preached to them. They had started to forget what was most essential and important in the scripture, that Jesus was crucified, that Jesus died, and that He rose again. It is in the cross and the resurrection that we must always dwell, it is these two essentials that can never be forgotten or allowed to lose their relevance. The Corinthians, like many Christians today had started chasing after miracles, after signs and wonders, and had forgotten the cross and the resurrection.
Theoretically the Christians of Corinth were in the Gospel, but practically they were far removed from it. We must continually and ceaselessly be refreshed and renewed in the gospel of the cross and the resurrection, for only in this way are we able to live a life in Christ.
Unfortunate as it might be, the practice of the church of Corinth is alive and well in the modern day church. Many who call themselves Christians, and children of God no longer believe in the resurrection, because they no longer live the Gospel of the cross in a practical manner. Yes, they perform certain religious formalities with great precision, but they no longer believe the promises of God’s Word, nor do they live within the shelter of the Holy Lamb’s blood, which is the cross. They have become separated from these truths, and strangers to them.
Salvation is a present work of God’s sovereign grace in the hearts of those who truly believe. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he did not say that the gospel that he preached to them would one day save them, but rather the gospel had saved them. We are saved by the gospel presently, and the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of righteousness, the nature of Christ must be visible in us.
A perverted gospel, a gospel absent of Christ, the cross, and the resurrection, does not save, but merely soothes the burdened conscience. When men preach salvation by any other means but by Christ and the cross, they are preaching a perverted gospel that does nothing to unshackle the imprisoned soul, which does nothing to bring freedom and peace to the hearts of their hearers. I liken such experiences to a man who suffering from leprosy goes to the doctor, and after being consulted, the doctor tells his patient that he is healed. Awestruck by the doctor’s remarks, the man looks at his broken body, and tattered flesh, and says, ‘but there is no evidence of my healing, my flesh is still as it was, my disease is still present.’
Only through the gospel of Christ, only by way of the cross, by way of repentance and obedience to God’s Holy Word are we able to see the evidence of our being renewed, transformed, and brought from death unto life.
Galatians 1:6-8, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

4 comments:

Bonny said...

I relate to losing the keys!!! Persecution will come to the West, and in fact even now, if we stand up and admit in mixed company ('christians' and unbelievers alike) that there is a hell, a judgment and that the nature of man is basically evil and sinful, and that only the Cross of Christ can save us we will be unbelievably hated. We will be labelled such things as....bigots, terrorists, judgmental etc. If I stood up and spoke this truth openly even in my workplace ( a supposedly 'christian' organisation) I would most likely be cautioned and told not to offend others. The Gospel is supposed to offend, though. One day, anyone mentioning these truths will be prosecuted, and even imprisoned. We will have our property confiscated, and even receive the death sentence. It will come, dear saints, it will come.....

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother Michael,

Thank you for warning so earnestly against chasing after signs and wonders, which is so common these days. People need to know that these phenomena occurring in so-called "Christian" churches are also quite common in pagan gatherings.

For more than 20 years I was an enthusiastic New Ager, essentially living as a pagan and an occultist, although New Agers do grudingly include Jesus in their lineup of "ascended masters" (however, this fictitious Jesus is placed far below the top of their venerated hierarchy). I want Christians to know that the phenomena occurring at the hands of Todd Bentley and other false ministers also occurs in paganistic New Age gatherings.

In 1986, I lived in a New Age community in Oklahoma, which also had a seminary that trained ministers according to New Age philosophy. One can go and live there and earn a master's degree or Ph.D., which was my intention. Dear brothers and sisters, the head of this community, also the dean of the seminary, was a woman in her 40s who could "slay in the spirit" as easily as a Todd Bentley or a Benny Hinn. She also practiced witchcraft, along with her followers (which included myself; since it was "white" witchcraft, I thought it was innocent and went along with it for awhile).

Also, I recall a guest minister from Africa who would visit the community occasionally, renowned for being able to "slay in the spirit"; never mind that he was a notorious lecher who tried to seduce some of my women friends. I firmly believe now that this "slaying" phenomenon is NOT of the Holy Spirit, but rather of unclean spirits who are manifesting false signs. In the scriptures, we see no such practice among Jesus and His apostles.

As for "healings", these can be feigned quite convincingly by demonic spirits. My experience as a New Ager combined with later experience in deliverance ministry proved to me that, in order to produce an apparent "healing", all that a demon needs to do is simply release his hold on the victim. Later, the demon takes hold again, resulting in a "false healing". Curiously, I never observed any lasting healings among New Age people, similar to the fact that I cannot seem to find any genuine, documented healings by Kathryn Kuhlman, Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, and the like. I have searched out this subject quite thoroughly, because I wanted to know the truth. In any case, I am far more concerned these days with the healing of our souls than with the healing of our transient flesh.

I don't enjoy mentioning names and certainly don't do so out of malice, but I need to be specific here. Christians need to be aware of the truth, in order to avoid being enthralled by the false ministers that abound in our times.

I want to add that New Agers often talk of having visions of glorious-looking "angels", as do some of the false "Christian" ministers. Visions of angels certainly can be real, but from now on, I want to know that a visionary is trustworthy before I take him seriously.

Michael, I thank our heavenly Father continuously for giving His sheep a true shepherd to lead them who is also a true prophet and true visionary. Believe me, I have searched and searched for years, and have found no other living minister that I trust as much as I trust you. Dear shepherd, please continue boldly to lead us in precious simplicity. Let the goats have their circus churches, and let us pray that the deceived sheep will come out of them and join us.

Praying for you, your family, and Hand of Help,

Melanie

Holly said...

Thank you for the reminder. A very timely word.

a seed sower said...

Wisdom beyond your years, and i to in the past have found it interesting to read grave stones. I think we should all take up the practice, lest we forget how fleeting life really is, how unimportant the things of this world are, and how we can take nothing with us other than what has been done for the Glory of God.
Yes, and there are many preaching a false gospel, and they are acursed.
Thank God for a young man who preaches the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your works shall follow you into eternity!