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Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Bird's Eye View of the End Times Part 3

3. The State of the World!
As far as I am personally concerned there is no passage in the Bible that better describes the events and the state of the world during the end of days than Matthew 24. The same passage is also relayed in Mark 13, as well as Luke 21. When combining the three scriptures, and comparing them, one may see a difference of nuance, but the same focal points and main themes.
The reason I believe that Matthew 24 is one of the most important, and overlooked passages in God’s word, is because these words were spoken by Jesus Christ, and they were of a prophetic nature. Part of this prophecy has already come to pass; actually it came to pass some 37 years after Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. I will explain shortly, but for now I must point out something obvious yet profound: If part of this prophecy has already been fulfilled, is there any doubt that the rest of it will be fulfilled as well?
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples some truly troubling things. In so many words, He had informed them that the temple would be destroyed, and not one stone would be left upon another. To the disciples who were with Him, this must have been some truly disturbing information. It was after all the temple that Jesus was speaking of, the place of worship for all the Jewish people.
Matthew 24:2, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
The amazing thing to me is that none of His disciples doubted, or questioned Jesus as to why He would say such a thing. They believed Him at His word, and their only questions were:
Mathew 24:4, “Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
So the two things the disciples desired to know were when the temple would be destroyed, and what would be the signs preceding Christ’s return and the end of the age.
What follows in Christ’s discourse, are two separate prophecies concerning a future time that is relatively near, and one that is further out in the time stream.
First we are going to cover the prophecy that has already been fulfilled, that of the destruction of the temple. Although it is detailed in Matthew 24 (verses 15-20), the gospel according to Luke describes it more clearly.
Luke 21:20-24, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
In 70 A.D. Cestius Gallus, president of Syria marched at the head of a powerful army ready to sack Jerusalem and bring it under his submission. They had surrounded the city, and everything seemed favorable for an immediate attack, the Jewish army was on the point of surrender, when suddenly and without explanation, Cestius abandoned the siege, withdrawing his armies for no apparent reason.
It was during this brief respite that the followers of Christ remembered His words, that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, desolation was near. They obeyed the admonition to flee to the mountains, and journeyed to Pella, a city beyond the river Jordan, some one hundred miles away from Jerusalem. As a result of their obedience, not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place upon the siege and subsequent sacking of the city and the destruction of the temple by a man named Titus.
Just as Jesus gave a detailed account of what would occur in Jerusalem, and how the temple would be destroyed, He also gave a detailed account of the events that would take place during the end of the age.
Before we get into the actual text, and study what Jesus said concerning His return, and the end of the age, I must say something that some may find offensive, but it must be said nonetheless: Novel writers, and movie director make for bad theologians.
When we believe men over the Word of God, and come up with fanciful new doctrine that we’ve fashioned out of thin air with no scriptural backing, we run the risk of disobeying Christ’s first command, and thereby rejecting the rest of what He has to say concerning the end times.
Matthew 24:4-5, “And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many.”
Before He could go into a detailed description of the last days, Jesus had to forewarn even those closest to Him that many would come in His name saying they were the anointed ones. Not only would they come in His name, but they would be so convincing that these men would even deceive many. There are countless examples of men offering new paths to heaven, even as Jesus unequivocally asserts that He is the only path to heaven.
I pray we can at least agree on the following premise as we continue with this study: If the Bible has an opinion concerning a certain thing, then we as followers of the Bible are not allowed to formulate an opinion contradictory to it.
The fundamentals of the faith that the Word of God set forth are unchanging. They worked for those two thousand years ago, as they worked for those a thousand years ago, as they work for those whom today are willing to submit to the authority of the Gospel.
There is so much deceit floating about, that unless one is tethered to the Word, unless they filter everything by Scripture, they will be stained by some doctrine or another, or draw certain conclusions that have no Biblical basis.
The first thing that Jesus points out, is that the last days, will be days of great deception. It is somewhat superfluous for me to point out the fact that abomination is now mainstream, that sin is widely embraced within the house of God, that preachers and teachers fearing for their paycheck and the reputation and relationship they forged with the world are being brow beaten into silence, but these things must be pointed out, that we might understand the times we are living in.
The truth has become a rare commodity indeed, and those willing to stand for the truth are shrinking in number on a daily basis. The words of Jesus echo to this day, warning and pleading with those who would hear, ‘take heed that no one deceives you.’
Matthew 24:6-7, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be various famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”
“But there have always been wars and rumors of wars, there have always been famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.” True, but the signs of the end times have to do more with frequency and intensity than they do with the actual events taking place. During these last days, what was once known as the exception becomes the rule.
There have always been wars, but they will increase in frequency and intensity as the last days draw near. There have always been famines, but they will increase in frequency and intensity, as the last days draw near. There have always been natural disasters, but once again, they will increase in both frequency and intensity as time as we know it breathes its final breaths.
Other than the deluge of deception, and the warmongering of the last days, Jesus points to three distinct areas that will foreshadow the end of the age. He speaks of material disasters, biological disasters, and natural disasters.
First on the list are famines, which in my view is the material disaster. We all know that famine is caused by poverty, and what we are beginning to see on a global scale is the first stages of what will most likely be an implosion of the financial systems the world over. This is by no means an isolated case, having to do with the economy of America, but every nation in the world is feeling the strains of an economic meltdown. Because Jesus said it, I believe things will get markedly worse, and the famines that we are seeing in such isolated places as Darfur or Somalia will become a common global theme.
Second on the list are pestilences, or biological disasters. I believe these will focus largely on diseases, new strains of known or unknown viruses that will sweep the globe leaving much death in their wake. As I write this, the big story on the news is swine flu, a couple years back it was bird flu, but whatever these pestilences are, keep in mind that Jesus spoke of them in the plural form. It was not one pestilence, but pestilences, that would ravage the globe.
Third, when He speaks of earthquakes, He is referring to what we would call natural disasters. It’s not just earthquakes that will grow in frequency and intensity, but all manner of natural events, that even the scientific community will have a difficult time explaining. It would seem that as of late, we are seeing an explosion of seismic activity all over the globe. Almost every week there is a new earthquake, whether in Italy, Mexico, Romania, Pakistan, Indochina, the Philippines, America, and the list goes on. One disturbing trend that I heard a news anchor comment on is that they are growing both in frequency, and intensity.
I need to make something perfectly clear. These signs that we are beginning to witness, and will continue to observe for the foreseeable, indicate the certainty of Christ’s return, not the timeline of Christ’s return. Because we witnessed the destruction of the temple as Jesus foretold, because we are witnessing the signs of the end time as Jesus foretold, we are also certain of His return as He foretold. The ‘when’ is a different matter altogether.
Throughout all these things, throughout the wars, and rumors of wars, natural disasters of varying kinds, through the famines and the pestilences Jesus encourages His followers by saying, ‘see that you are not troubled.’
‘But how could we not be troubled by what our eyes see, how could we not react as the world reacts?’ Because we have a hope, and a sure foundation, we are Christ’s and He is ours, and He watches over those who are His. We are at peace in the palm of His hand, and under the shadow of His wing. Our lives are not our own any longer, so come what may, we rest in the knowledge of His omnipotence.
Matthew 24:8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
I’ve heard it more times than I can count, and it always leaves a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach: ‘Thank the Lord we’re not going to be here for those things!’
‘Says who?’
‘Well apostle, prophet, doctor so and so.’
But did Jesus say it? Did Jesus say we’re all going to sprout wings and fly away at the first sign of these things coming upon the earth? Did Jesus even hint that we’re not going to be here for these events? Newsflash, we’re still here, and we’re beginning to see the thing of which Jesus warned coming to pass.
Why is this important?
Because if we don’t understand the times correctly, and are living every day with the expectation of being swept away, caught up, beamed home, then our hearts will be troubled with every event that unfolds, and our faith will be shaken with every fulfillment of end time prophecy.
The escapism mentality is keeping many believers in a static mode, giving them a false sense of security, which in turn keeps them from truly seeking the face of God, truly repenting, and truly building up their spiritual man.
‘Why pray for strength, why pray for direction, why pray for protection, we’re not going to be here anyway.’
It is a lie that’s keeping countless souls in a state of spiritual stupor, and it is a dangerous condition to be in. To use a term that headshrinkers like to use, ‘the perception of a thing will determine your reaction to the thing.’
Matthew 24:9-10, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.”
Throughout history the pattern leading up to persecution has been evident. First you marginalize, then you criminalize, then you are free to persecute to your heart’s content. The Christian church has already been marginalized in this country, and due to the willingness of some so called preachers and pastors to compromise the truth, and dismiss the Word of God, those who choose to cling to Jesus, those who choose to stand for truth, will soon be criminalized.
‘Why can’t you be like those preachers on television? Why can’t you just have a positive outlook, and beg off any hard hitting questions with the ever resourceful answer, ‘I’m not into doctrine all that much’, or ‘I think it’s just foolish bickering over things like sin and repentance because we’re all going to end up in heaven anyway; God loves everybody; He loves you just the way you are, no change required.’ Why can’t you just know your place, don’t hit on controversial topics, be spineless in the face of any opposition, and mimic the chameleon like tactics of politicians to such a degree that the two become indistinguishable?’
What seemed like the mere rants of a conspiratorial mind as little as two years ago, are no longer so impossible, but due to new legislation currently being churned out, it is highly probable. We are on the road of mandating the betrayal of the doctrine of Jesus.
We are witnessing the changes, and the march toward persecution throughout the world, yet we cling to our worn out mantra ‘that could never happen here.’ Wake up! It is happening here! Persecution is coming, and not because of your denominational affiliation, not because of your ethnicity, but because of Jesus. You will be hated by all nations for His name’s sake. Just remember these three steps, marginalize, criminalize, and persecute, and check them off as you see them coming to pass. There will be a catalyst that will turn hatred into open persecution, and that time is not far off.
So who will be offended? If you’ve read this far, please bear with me a little further, and suspend your preconceived notions for just a little while longer. I know of what I speak. During the communist regime that had a chokehold on my country for forty five years, there were numerous cases of those who were offended, and who betrayed and hated, and it was not the persecutors that were guilty of these things, it was believers who in the face of torture and death denied Christ.
It is these selfsame gutless wonders that pollute the minds of the sheep with visions of rose petals and butterflies that will be offended, that will betray and hate the true believers. Why offended? Because in their twisted understanding of God’s word, they were never meant to endure hardships, they were never meant to endure persecution, they were only meant to prosper, and have abundance. Never mind the fact that every generation in the history of the Church has had to endure persecution, never mind the fact that today, at this moment in time, there are brothers and sisters throughout the world willingly laying down their lives for the cause of Christ, we’re special, we’re exempt.
2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
All! Not some but all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. We are not exempt just because we live in America. If we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, it is inevitable that our desire will be viewed as counterproductive, incendiary, and outright criminal by those who are deceiving and being deceived. The noose is tightening, but we are too busy to notice; the harbingers of what is about to descend upon the world are evident to those who have eyes to see. Rather than stand for truth however, many who have risen to Christian prominence in this country are doing everything they can to blend, and keep their followers in check by homogenizing their messages to such an extent that one would have a hard time discerning between what passes for a sermon, and a self empowerment seminar.
I have no respect for men who see compromise as a viable option. I have no respect for men who are more concerned with their own reputation than with standing up for the truth. I have no respect for men who are unwilling to stand for anything that might be deemed controversial even though the controversy in question is Jesus. We are worse than those who spat upon the face of the Christ, we are worse than those who mocked Him as He carried His cross to Calvary, because we knew Him, and still we betrayed Him!
Matthew 24:11-13, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
When sin becomes relative, when there no longer remains a right and a wrong, then lawlessness is given free reign. Lawlessness, is being unrestrained by law, and much of today’s church has succeeded in being unrestrained by the laws of God.
When we have the temerity to look into God’s Word, read the clearly defined guidelines of what is just and unjust, what is righteous and unrighteous, what is lawful and unlawful, then shake our heads and say ‘that’s not what God meant’, we are no longer on the road to lawlessness, we’ve already reached our destination. Jesus speaks of lawlessness in the context of the church, not of the world, and due to the lawlessness that we’ve allowed to creep into the house of God unopposed, the love of many is growing cold.
“What do you mean? The mega churches are still full, and the happy preachers are still drawing a crowd. How can the love of many be growing cold?”
The love of which Jesus speaks is not self love, but rather love for God. Yes people are more enamored with themselves than ever before but fewer than ever are demonstrating true love for God, by their unwillingness to obey, and do His will.
So what are we to do in the midst of this lawlessness, what are we to do as we see love growing cold? Endure! Not only for a season, not only for a time, but we must endure to the end, because he who endures to the end shall be saved!
Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
I realize this verse is pretty much self explanatory, but I have a question. If we’re not supposed to be here for the unfolding of the end times, who pray tell will be doing the preaching of the gospel all over the world? If we are not supposed to be here, who pray tell will be doing the enduring until the end? These are just a couple logical questions, in a long list that should get us thinking and which require an honest and reasonable response.
My hope today is that we don’t start packing just yet, that we understand the times we are living in, and our place in them. May we not shy away from our duty, from our calling, and from our commission to be the ambassadors of Christ, the light of the world in this season of darkness.
Although I could continue with the second coming of Christ, which is also described in Matthew 24, this article is already longer than I had intended, and I know how the attention span of most can be a fleeting and fragile thing.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Bird's Eye view of the End Times Part 2

2. The State of the Church!
The Bible speaks allot about the end times, and especially the church, or the body of Christ, in relation to them. Throughout the Word, we are forewarned that these end times, will be troublesome, turbulent times, seasons of great upheaval and persecution toward the children of God. The Word also relays the spiritual condition that many who call themselves Christians will be in as these times unfold.
For some unexplained reason, since it has no Biblical foundation, many are living with the expectation of a great outpouring of repentance and brokenness on a global scale in these end times, when in reality the Bible paints a very different and somewhat disturbing picture of what these times will be.
2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But know this that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
There is much to process in these five verses, but the first thing we must come to terms with is that Paul is not referring to the unsaved, he is not referring to those of the world, but to those within the church.
Why would I say this? Because the world has always been evil, the world has always been enamored with money and self, it has always been filled with boasters and proud men, but all these things plus many more have only been evident recently within the house of God. Preaching greed from the pulpit, making money a substitute god, associating pride with righteousness, boasting of one’s accomplishments, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof, all these are new phenomenon only in relation to the church.
I will delve deeper into these verses, but for now I want to make one more observation to back up my assertion that Paul was referring to the church when detailing what men will be like in the last days.
After listing all the signs that will accompany the last days, Paul gives a stern warning, and admonishes those who would hear that from such people we should turn away!
If Paul was speaking of the world when detailing the heart conditions of the time, then there would be no need to warn believers to stay away from such people, because they already knew they were to be separate and set apart from the world. The only way this scripture makes sense, is if these things were taking place, and easily visible within the house of God.
The first words Paul uses in the context of this scripture are ‘but know!’ It matters not what my opinion is, it matters not what I think; the Word admonishes me to know, and not be ignorant, not be caught off guard or surprised.
It is with great clarity that the Holy Spirit speaks by way of Paul and other writers concerning the last days. Just the thought of the last days causes one’s heart to race a little faster, because what we understand by the last days is in essence the end of time as we know it, the return of our beloved Lord, and the fulfillment of all that God has promised.
Throughout the Bible we are forewarned that the last days will be perilous, stressful, full of deception, the Word will be mocked, Jesus will be rejected, the believers persecuted, and the love of many will grow cold.
2 Peter 3:3-4, “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts and saying, ‘where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
1 John 2:18-20, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
Jude 17-19, “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are worldly persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”
Why would God, in His all knowing wisdom include such passages in the Word if they did not apply to the believer, if we were not to take them as a warning that we might prepare, cling to Jesus, increase our faith and strengthen ourselves?
The reality of the times is sobering to say the least. Not only is the Church under attack from without, but also from within, by men who readily deny the preeminence of Jesus, the need for Jesus, and the fact that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. Whatever one might call them, from emergent, to progressive, the reality of these men is that they walk according to their own lusts, and imaginings, denying the Christ, and forging new paths, which although lead to nowhere are made to seem like the shortcut to heaven.
Going through each dark sin of the heart that Paul mentioned would be an exhaustive study in and of itself, but one thing I need to point out is that all the other sins, from the love of money, to pride, to disobedience to absence of thankfulness or holiness, to slander, to absence of self control, are byproducts of love of self.
When men are lovers of themselves, then there is no room for the love of God in their hearts. Just as all good things are birthed out of love, all the sins of the heart are birthed out of love of self.
There have always been men who were lovers of themselves, and lovers of money, the proud and the blasphemers have always existed, but never in the history of mankind have so many been found within the church. We have lowered God’s standard, we have stopped being the watchmen He expects us to be, and the darkness has overtaken the citadel, it has invaded the house of God, and is now attempting to destroy it from within.
A great many pulpits are no longer preaching Jesus, at least not the Jesus of the Bible. We preach the self, we worship the self, we praise the self, and we still wonder why the church no longer has a voice, and we wonder why God isn’t showing up in our meetings. We have become lovers of self rather than lovers of God, and every time anyone has the courage to preach Jesus, they are verbally stoned by the masses because the ugly truth is that the masses love their lethargy. Mention anything that challenges the individual and you will be labeled an intolerant bigot, mocked and ridiculed, because rather than facing their sins most would rather simply silence the messenger.
The end result of allowing these sins into a heart unchecked and unopposed, is twofold. First, men will become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Second, they will have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
Egotism or self centeredness will always end in hypocrisy. These two sins are like the bookends of the devil’s work, with all the other vices and sins finding a home between them.
True godliness is both beautiful and necessary in the life of a true believer, but a form of godliness is ugly and dangerous. True godliness leads to life, fulfillment, sanctification, peace and joy, while a form of godliness leads to death and despair.
Although a form of godliness seems very similar to true godliness at a cursory glance, often so much so that absent the Holy Spirit and the gift of discernment one is unable to tell, one has its origins in darkness, while the other has its origins in the light of God. The great danger for many Christians today, is receiving the form, while denying the reality. A form of godliness is often more appealing to the masses than true godliness, because the form is often dressed up in fine attire, it is well organized, the religious ceremonies, and traditions providing an easy to follow plan, absent of self denial or self sacrifice. The only problem with the form is that it has neither power nor life. Having a form of godliness can be likened to having a painting of a loaf of bread, and staring at it hoping to get filled. As realistic as the portrayal of the loaf of bread might be, it will not satiate your hunger; it will not provide any nourishment to your body.
A form of godliness might be pleasing to the flesh, it might even impress those with whom we come in contact, but it will not feed our spiritual man, it will not help us grow in God, and when we need strength, when we need substance, the form becomes utterly useless.
A form of godliness is more dangerous than no godliness at all, because the form deceives souls into believing they are fine, thereby keeping them from seeking true godliness.
As an elderly preacher I once heard so succinctly put it, ‘true godliness is a lifelong pursuit and a lifelong struggle. We grow in God, and as we grow we desire to grow all the more. The more we grow in God, the more God grows in us, and the flesh is systematically expelled. Now the flesh doesn’t want to go, but it must if God is to reside in us, and have preeminence in our hearts.’
So why the command to turn away from such people, why would Paul be so adamant on this point? In short, we should turn away from those with a form of godliness because good health is not communicable, but diseases are.
True godliness is simple in its definition. In its essence true godliness is being wholly surrendered to God, and perpetually submitting to His will, allowing Him to mold us and chisel us.
A form of godliness however, presupposes that one can have a divided heart, and that one can walk in the world, and walk with God at the same time.
Having a form of godliness is deceptive, and contagious, and this is why we are admonished to turn away from such people.
True godliness presupposes a life of prayer, a life of sanctification, a life of continual mortification of the flesh. True godliness is not flashy, it is not entertaining, it is a walk of constant humility and obedience.
The form of godliness however, is all flash absent of substance. Why would you spend time in prayer, why would you spend time studying the Word, when you can go and witness people getting kicked in the face, gold fillings growing in people’s mouths, fully grown adults barking like dogs, and the list goes on. When we associate with those possessing a form of godliness, the temptation is always there to sacrifice our intimate time with God, and go witness the train wrecks that have become our charismatic congregations.
The house is on a corrupt foundation, and nothing substantive and lasting can be sustained on a fractured and inconsistent foundation. Anything not built upon the Word of God, anything not built upon the truth of Christ, will inevitably crumble into the dust of the earth. It is not a matter of if; it is only a matter of when.
In broad strokes we are already beginning to see the implosion of many doctrines that had nothing to do with Christ, but had everything to do with the self. We are beginning to see in very real terms that a form of godliness is only sustainable for a season, because you can only go so long without feeding your spiritual man before you either starve altogether, or seek out spiritual nourishment.
True godliness is clothed in humility and obedience, while the form of godliness is clothed garments that sparkle and attract the eye. One give you true power, true faith, true strength, true peace, while the other offers nothing more than an illusion placing a flawed, impotent, and vain self upon throne of the heart that ought to be reserved for Christ and Christ alone.
If we look at the list that Paul laid out, at all the sins that would not only be evident, but would multiply exponentially during the last days, we see that to the last they are alive and well within the churches today.
Our constant hope rests in the knowledge that God knows our struggle, God sees our obedience, and that he who endures to the end will not only be saved, but also receive the crown of life as just recompense.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Bird's Eye View of the End Times Part 1

We look at the prophetic landscape today and see many pieces of the same puzzle. We are seeing the fulfillment of some prophecies, the partial fulfillment of others, and events are progressing with such unprecedented speed, that by the time we process and understand one thing, three others have already occurred. Before going any further, I need to stress that although we are seeing the fulfillment of end time prophecy, and I discuss it from time to time, our focus must continue to be Jesus, and a relationship with Him. We cannot be so consumed with the prophetic that we miss out on knowing the giver of prophecy; we cannot be so consumed with end time events that we miss out on a relationship with the One who is to return in these end times. We can know the times and the seasons, we can know the what, the when, the where, the how, and the who, but if we don’t know Jesus, all our knowledge amounts to nothing, a handful of dust swept away by a strong breeze.
Some have accused me of not being faithful to end time prophecy, since I don’t talk about my grandfather’s dreams or visions, or even my own too often, and my response to that is that my primary concern is to be faithful to Jesus, not to prophecy. Jesus is more important than prophecy, and prophecy is given to God’s children that they might not be ignorant of the times they are living in, and that they might prepare spiritually for the dark days ahead.
Today we are going to be discussing three major pieces of the end time puzzle. The first piece is the state of prophecy in the end times, both true and false. The second piece of the puzzle we will be discussing is the state of the church during the end times, and the third piece is the state of the world.
1. The state of the prophetic!
For the past few decades, self appointed and self anointed prophets have been attempting to redefine the nature of God. Each time God sends a warning, each time God attempts to awaken His people by sounding the alarm, these men come out of the woodwork, and in soothing voices tell the Church that it wasn’t God that allowed these things, it was mere chance, and happenstance.
“God doesn’t do that anymore!” is the cry of the modern day pseudo-prophets, dismissing the fact that we serve a God who changes not, who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Apparently for the past twenty years God has no longer been concerned about holiness, righteousness, sanctification and obedience; His primary focus has been blessing, and prosperity and self-esteem. “Do what you want to do, establish your own level of morality, and as long as you sow a seed into this ministry, God will bless you abundantly, pressed down, shaken together.”
Soothsayers are nothing new among the people of God. They have been around for millennia, and the true servants of Christ, the true followers of God have had to contend with them throughout the centuries.
The reason soothsayers are so successful is because human nature likes to hear good things. We do not like being confronted with our own sins, we do not like being confronted with the righteousness of a righteous God, we like to be told that God understands, God overlooks, God glosses over, and that there is no consequence to sin and disobedience.
We hear a word of coming judgment, and the first thing we do is seek out the contrarian position that tells us God only wants good things for us, and abundantly so. For every one servant that speaks a true message from God, that receives true revelation, there are ten who tell the people what they want to hear, so by sheer numbers alone the true messengers are at a disadvantage from the start.
“But brother so and so said that God’s going to continue blessing us, and we will prosper again, and no judgment will come upon us, why do you still hold to your position?”
Well, because I stand on what God showed me, and on what the Bible says. No matter how good a ‘word’ might sound, if it contradicts the Word, it is not of God. The Word says God punishes sin, the Word says judgment begins in His house!
Jeremiah 5:12-13, “They have lied about the Lord, and said, ‘it is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword of famine.’ And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them.”
God cannot contradict Himself. God cannot overlook sin simply because it is taking place in a nation that has ‘in God we trust’ on its money, although if some people have their way even that may soon be a memory.
Often we allow our sense of patriotism to cloud our reasoning concerning the righteousness of God. Just as some in Israel of old did not believe God would send judgment because they were His people, some today do not believe that God will send judgment because we are a Christian nation. Whether or not we are a Christian nation is debatable, but for the sake of argument let’s say we are; the only thing that would mean, is that God will hold us all the more accountable for our disobedience and sin.
I’ve used this analogy once before in a sermon, but I think it might serve to bring understanding, and shed some light on why the churches in America will not be spared judgment, but rather be the first to experience it.
Imagine being a parent who sees their own child, and a complete stranger’s child doing something truly horrible. They were both doing the exact same thing, whatever the horrible thing might have been, and the question that begs to be asked is which child do you discipline? Do you go to the stranger’s child and proceed to give him a spanking, or do you go to your own child and do likewise?
Those of the church are the children of God. Those of the world are not. God disciplines His own children first and foremost.
Jeremiah 5:30-31, “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?”
The ‘prophecies’ of a tolerant God, a God who is indifferent to the sin in His own house, the ‘words of knowledge’ heralding a new season of prosperity and a transference of wealth, are only sustainable for a season. Yes, the people love to hear the good words, they love to have their ears tickled, but the question that we must individually ask ourselves, is what will we do in the end? If we trust in the pillow prophets, and the soothsayers rather than the Word of God, if we believe their imaginings over the truth of scripture, what will we do in the end? How will we react to the times and the seasons of which the Word clearly forewarns?
It’s not that God is not speaking, He is! Whether through His word, or His chosen vessels, God is speaking to His people, but a great majority is dismissing and rejecting His words, because they do not line up with their preconceived notions of what the world will be like in the end times.
If we choose to believe a lie, just because it is temporarily soothing to the flesh, and accepting of our fleshly pursuits, we will have no one to blame but ourselves for these times coming upon us, and finding us unprepared.
Jeremiah 6:10, “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. “
We have become addicted to the superficial comfort that words which originate from men’s bellies rather than the throne room of God offer us. We are temporarily encouraged when we hear the words of peace and safety, only to be plunged into hopelessness upon seeing the truth with our own eyes.
We revel in flattering revelation, because such revelation bolsters our flesh, and we mock and belittle those who would speak the truth, who would hold up the mirror of the Word that our true self might be revealed. We hate the truth, and the word of the Lord has become a reproach to us because the truth is uncompromising, unyielding, and it judges without partiality. I know this will offend some, but it must be said, we have to stop believing we are somehow more special than everyone else in the world, just because we are Americans. God does not see nationality, He does not see skin color, He sees the heart, and He weighs the heart and more souls than we would like to admit have been found wanting.
We have marginalized the Word because it is offensive to the sensibilities of sin and transgression. We no longer love people enough to tell them the truth, and so we turn a blind eye to the filth, ruination, and darkness they call home. What’s worse, is that we strengthen the hands of the wicked, by encouraging them to continue in their sin, while at the same time make the hearts of the righteous sad, because we readily label them intolerant, backward, or the big word, fundamentalist.
In this brave new world, God no longer has a standard, sin is no longer sin, hell no longer exists, and disobedience is no longer punished. Welcome to the new paradigm; welcome to the new god that this present generation of deceived souls calling themselves oracles of the one true God have created.
Ezekiel 13:8-9, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,’ says the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies.”
For the love of God, for the love of all that’s holy, for the love of our very souls, let’s grow up already and stop the foolishness! Rather than chase after gold dust, and rubies, and oily hands, let’s get on our knees in true repentance of the heart, and seek fellowship with the eternal Father; rather than chase after personal words of prophecy, let’s crack open the Bible and do what it says first and foremost, because if a ‘word’ contradicts the Bible, it’s not from God no matter how much you might ‘bear witness’.
We’re looking for shortcuts, when there are no shortcuts to the holy of holies. We’re looking for ways wherein we can skip a few steps, you know just the time consuming stuff like praying, fasting, and reading the Word, and still be all that we can be in Jesus.
The church is to blame for the influx of false teaching, false prophets, and false doctrines that abound therein, because we reject the truth, and embrace the lie. You can read passages from the Word itself, and there will be those within the church today that will say in their hearts ‘that’s not the God I serve! My God wouldn’t do that! My God is love, my God is not judgmental, my God accepts everybody just the way they are!’
‘But it’s in the Word’, you retort. ‘It may be but that’s not the way I see it.’ And that is the theological and doctrinal foundation of today’s nominal Christian. They believe only what they want to believe, they make it up as they go along, and they accept only those parts of the Bible that tells them good things, that do not challenge them, that do not compel them to change, or be born again.
Challenge their flawed beliefs, challenge their superficial faith and they will label you unloving, uncaring, and go to the church with the smiling guy that tells the jokes, and makes them feel good.
By all means, feel good, chase illusions, prophecy good things, profane the name of God for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, and believe that God’s only desire is that you prosper in this life, I can’t stop you, but what will you do in the end?
Whether we believe it or not, whether we accept it or not, it does not change the fact that we are living the end times. How can I be so certain? I can be so sure of the times we are living in because of the state of the church today, and the state of the world that we are currently living in.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Comfort

If we are honest with ourselves we can all think back to a time when we needed to be comforted and strengthened. Chances are there are some who are reading these words that are in need of comfort and strengthening. Even the most though skinned and hard shelled individuals among us have been in need of comfort at one point or another. Even the righteous have moments of grief, of sadness, and of loneliness, and if you don’t believe me, read Christ’s experience in Gethsemane, and consider the fact that an angel came down from heaven to strengthen Him in the throes of His desperation. We all need to be comforted! We all need to be strengthened sooner or later in our lives.
I can think back, whether to a month ago or years ago, and pinpoint not only the moments I needed to be comforted, but also the means by which my comfort came. Yes, there are multiple sources of comfort, just as there are multiple reasons for why someone would need to be comforted.
I am not one of those people that believes the children of God shouldn’t feel their emotions. I do not believe that once you give your life to Jesus, you’re supposed to live out the rest of your days with a perpetual smile on your face. Great men of God felt grief, great men of God felt sorrow, great men of God mourned and needed to be comforted.
We all know the story of Job, the man who had everything, then had everything taken from him. From losing all of his possessions, to losing all of his children, to breaking out with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, Job was a man who had experienced so much grief, that he needed to be comforted.
Job had three friends, who upon hearing of the adversity that had come upon him, decided to go and visit him, mourn with him, and comfort him. If anyone wants to know what not to do when trying to comfort someone, the actions and conduct of Job’s friends are a perfect example. That however, is a teaching for another time.
When we experience grief, when we experience sorrow, when we experience loss, we need to be comforted. We can’t simply plaster a smile on our faces and pretend we are not going through heartache, we must seek out the necessary comfort, that our wounds might heal, and that our sadness would dissipate.
There are many reasons why one would need comforting, from grief, to sadness, to going through trials, to suffering depression, the list is almost endless. More important however than the reasons why one would need comfort, is where we can find comfort, and how we can discover the sources of comfort in our lives.
The source of one’s comfort can be divided into two categories. There is human comfort, and there is divine or sovereign comfort that comes from God.
Within the category of human comfort, there are five primary sources of which the Bible speaks.
First, for those who are married, a person’s spouse can be a great and ever present source of comfort. One of the first examples of one spouse comforting another in the Bible is Rebekah, comforting Isaac after his mother’s death.
Genesis 24:67, “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
There are also examples in the Word of husband comforting their wives, such as David comforting his wife Bathsheba. A spouse can choose to be a comfort in times of hardship and distress, or they can choose to take the path of Job’s wife, who provided no comfort for him, but on the contrary encouraged him to curse God and die. Of all the things I am thankful for in this life, the fact that God gave me a comforting wife is very high on the list. Whether it’s just the fact that I had a bad day or something far worse, she is always there with a kind word, and an encouragement.
The second source of comfort is the comfort one receives from their children. When Jacob was confronted with Joseph’s bloody tunic, the Word tells us that all his sons, and all his daughters arose to comfort him. Although some parents might have a hard time seeing it once in awhile, children can be a source comfort.
There are three other sources of human comfort with which I hope to dispense quickly, because I want to get to the sources of divine comfort. Human comfort can also come by way of friends, pastors, and other believers.
As a leader, or a pastor, Paul writes to the Corinthians, and encourages them to comfort even those that have caused grief within the body, and have been punished for their transgressions.
2 Corinthians 2:6-7, “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.”
My encouragement to you today, is if you see someone grieving, if you see someone in sorrow, be a comfort. Too many today are so obsessed with self, they fail to see what others around them are going through. We are so focused on our own lives, on our own goals, aspirations, and wellbeing, that someone sitting next to us might be in the worst kind of pain, and we don’t even notice it. Be sensitive to the hurts of others, and God will in turn be sensitive to your hurts. Comfort a brother or a sister in Christ, and when you will be in need of comfort God will either comfort you Himself, or send a vessel to comfort you.
Since we should already know that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, the means by which we receive divine comfort should not surprise us.
Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”
We receive divine comfort by God’s correction, and God’s guidance. He loves us enough to discipline us, and for this we are ever thankful.
We also receive divine comfort through the promises of God. In one of the Psalms, the writer pours out his heart and states, that the comfort in his affliction is remembering God’s word to him. Remember the word of God, remember the promises of God, and you will be comforted in perpetuity. He is a comfort to all who receive Him. Blessed be His name!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Believer's Portion

It is a well known and often discussed chapter in the history of Israel. Their time in Egypt was behind them, Israel had been freed from the shackles of oppression and slavery, they had successfully crossed the Red Sea, seeing the power of an omnipotent God parting it, and witnessing as it returned to its full depths covering the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that had come into the sea after them.
They were well on their way to the Promised Land, when on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt the whole congregation of the children of Israel began to murmur. Long forgotten were the miracles that they saw with their own eyes, long forgotten were the beatings and the ill treatment they suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, they actually began to look back on their time in Egypt with fondness.
Selective memory leads to some very foolish reasoning on man’s part. Never mind the fact that they were slaves, no, that had somehow been stricken from their memory, all that they remembered was sitting by the pots of meat, and eating bread to the full. They even went as far as accusing Moses and Aaron of leading them into the wilderness to kill the whole assembly with hunger.
Being the merciful God that He is, He informed Moses and Aaron, that He would rain bread from heaven for them, and that the people should go gather a certain quota every day. The reason for being given the specific instruction of gathering only a certain quota every day, was so God could test them, and see whether they would walk in His law or not.
Today the manna with which the children of Israel were fed, symbolizes the word of God for those of us who have been circumcised of the heart. Just as the manna was necessary for Israel as they journeyed through the desert, the word of God is necessary for us, as we journey through this world. Just as the pots of meat in Egypt were no longer good or comestible for the children of Israel, the things of this world are no longer good for our spiritual well being. When we come to Jesus, He is our portion; He is the bread of life, and the living water that nourishes our souls. If we look back on the world with fondness as Israel looked upon Egypt, it is only because we choose to use selective memories of what it was to be a slave of sin. We remember the seconds of pleasure, but readily forget the years of hardship, travail, disappointment and hopelessness. Another correlation that can be drawn between the Israel of old an God’s people today, is that we need to be fed of God, just as they needed to be fed of God. There is no food in the desert! Absent of God’s sovereign provision, our spiritual man is sure to starve in this spiritual desert through which we are journeying. As God did for Israel, He will do for His elect and beloved today, He will feed us with His manna, if only we are willing to submit, and trust Him for our spiritual food. Our Promised Land is still afar off, just as Israel’s was, and we have far to journey through the desert of this world, and with the knowledge of this truth at the forefront of our minds, we must establish some truths concerning the believer’s portion, and the nature of the manna with which we feed our hungry souls.
First, the manna comes from heaven. Man cannot duplicate the authenticity of God’s spiritual nourishment, and although we’ve tried to sustain spiritual life by other means, other teachings, other sources of nourishment all we’ve really ended up doing is becoming a comatose and incontinent church, that cannot muster enough strength to feed itself, and so must depend on the kindness of strangers to spoon feed it.
John 6:32-33, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
The second thing we must understand is that this bread from heaven, this spiritual nourishment for the soul, does not come from man, but rather from God. It is not a new practice that men will take credit for the things of God. Since the beginning of existence, men have tried to elevate themselves, by refusing to give God the glory, the honor and the praise, reveling in it as though they had done something, as though they had accomplished what God had.
John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
God sends the manna, our only responsibility is to distribute it unaltered, and give it to those who are hungry for the truth of His word. Yes, I said give it, because another aspect of the manna that we must understand is that it is free. How can one charge for something that is not theirs in the first place? How can we put a price tag on something that God has bestowed upon all men freely? Such practices can be likened to the men of old who attempted to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Statue of liberty. It is not mine to sell, it is mine to distribute, it is mine to shout from the rooftops that I not only know the source of spiritual nourishment, but that I know where you can find it if you hunger, free of charge. All we can do, is say as Paul said, ‘thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’
The believer’s provision is also filling. It satisfies, and it satiates, it causes the spirit to grow and mature giving it what is necessary. He is sufficient! There is all sufficiency in God, if we are diligent in pursuing Him.
The people of Israel had to gather their manna every morning. They were not allowed to store up for the next day, and when they tried, it spoiled. We are instructed in God’s word to daily renew our minds, to daily eat of the word, and drink of the living waters, to daily crucify our flesh, so that we might daily grow in grace and mercy. Just because we read a passage of scripture a week ago, it does not mean our soul is full, it does not mean that we are satiated. We must daily endeavor to know more of God, and learn of His wondrous works. Be diligent in your seeking of God, and He will reward you, be diligent in reading His word, and you will have wisdom.
Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.”
If we will trust in the Lord, and accept no other nourishment for our souls than that which comes from the hand of God, we will walk boldly in the knowledge that He will provide throughout our journey home. His hand is not short, and He can feed his people in the desert as long as they look to Him and are diligent in seeking Him.
Do not look back to the meat and the bread of Egypt, because they are as poison for your soul. That which the Lord has prepared is so much better and more nourishing than anything Egypt has to offer, and He freely gives it to all who ask it of Him.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Preaching The Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
For some two thousand years the message of the cross has been the object of both scorn and adoration. It is a rare thing indeed to see such diametrically opposed reactions to the same object. Men either hate the cross, or they love the cross; they either fall to their knees in repentance, or turn their backs in anger.
Today I want to analyze the reactions of both believers and unbelievers to the cross of Christ, and see what we can glean, how we can grow, and what we can learn.
To those who are perishing, the cross is foolishness and an insult. Yes, the cross is an insult to human understanding, and to the wisdom of man, because the beauty and importance thereof has been hidden from them. Men have a tendency to despise that which both challenges them, and is beyond their realm of understanding.
Matthew 11:25, “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”
It is difficult for the world to grasp that neither wisdom nor prudence are a prerequisite to understanding the cross. What is required for understanding the cross is the sincere and childlike desire to know the truth, and the willingness to receive it even if it conflicts with one’s preconceived notions on the matter.
The cross is also an insult to individual merit, because it proves that good works in and of themselves cannot save. The cross nullifies the ideology that if we just strive to be good people, to neuter our cats, and recycle our plastics, and hold the elevator for the lady with the shopping bags, then by the nature of our goodness, we can somehow obtain salvation. For those who are perishing, for the unregenerate, this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the cross they have to contend with. They can’t get past the fact that their good works are meaningless in the sight of God, absent faith, the applied grace of Christ and the cross.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
There is one last segment of people for whom the cross is an insult and an offense, and that is religious people. The reason the cross is an insult to religious people, is because the cross refuses to play favorites, it refuses to be a respecter of persons or personalities. The cross sees no titles, the cross sees no office, the cross sees no bank account, and the cross sees no social standing. The cross only sees the heart, and for many religious people the heart is the one thing they desire to keep hidden. Ceremony has replaced true worship in many hearts, and a false piety has replaced true humility.
Acts 10:34-35, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”
Romans 10:12, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.”

I’ve met people who have a difficult time accepting the fact that they are not special, simply because they get to preach a sermon once in awhile, or run a ministry. If you have been called to ministry, it does not make you better than your brother or sister, it only makes you more accountable to God in performing the tasks and duties that He has set before you.
To God, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, between rich and poor, between young and old, between male and female, the only distinctions that God holds to are saved and unsaved, regenerate or unregenerate.
Those who are being saved perceive the cross very differently than those who are perishing. To the saved, the cross is wisdom, and the wisdom of the cross reveals four major themes to us.
The first thing the cross reveals to the saved is the wisdom and knowledge of both God and of Christ.
Colossians 2:1-3, “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
At one point in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul makes what would have been an astounding claim to those who were still lost and perishing, ‘Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.’
It doesn’t matter how many diplomas one might have amassed, it does not matter how many degrees, if they consider the message of the cross to be foolishness they have no wisdom.
The second thing the cross reveals to the saved is the love of God. Yes, love compelled Jesus to hang upon a cross, love compelled Jesus to endure being mocked and ridiculed. By way of the cross we begin to understand the true magnitude of God’s love for us.
We are also shown salvation by way of the cross. Yes, the message of the cross, for those who are being saved is the power of God. If Jesus had not hung upon the cross, you and I could not have been redeemed. If Jesus had not bled, you and I could not have been healed. If Jesus had not died, you and I could not have life.
1 Corinthians 1:30-31, “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification – that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
The last thing the cross reveals to those who are saved, is the power of God. We serve an omnipotent God, a God who is able to provide, to strengthen, to encourage, and to save.
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
The way in which we perceive the cross, will betray the condition of our hearts. May we look upon the cross and see the wisdom, love, salvation and power of our God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

But I'm A Good Person!

You know how you hear something so many times it just doesn’t register anymore? Like the one car that still has an alarm in the entire parking lot of your apartment complex that seems to go off at all hours of the night, that alarm that would drive you up a wall the first few days but then just faded into the background somewhere?
I am the same way with commonly overused phraseology. It just doesn’t register anymore until I hear it one time too many and I have to bite my tongue in order to keep from saying something. There is no camel; there is no straw; just a very intense desire to shake the person until they snap back into reality.
My moment came, oddly enough as I was standing in line at the grocery store. Two ladies whom I assumed were friends were ahead of me, and as they were talking one said to the other, ‘but I’m a good person, I really am. Why can’t he see that?’
It was all I could do to keep myself from blurting out, ‘by whose standard? By whose standard are you a good person?’
If an individual establishes the standard of their own morality, then in their own eyes they are good people. It would be like me going into a class of second graders, and establishing my level of intelligence compared to theirs. I would have every right to say I was a genius wouldn’t I? But put me in a room with Nobel laureates, and the prism through which I viewed my intelligence level suddenly shifts. I’m no longer the smartest guy in the room, but rather the dumbest guy in the room.
There is a danger in establishing our own standard of morality, just as there is a danger in establishing our own standard of faith. It is easy to possess a faith for which we establish the standards. If we establish the standards of our faith, we look at ourselves and say, ‘I am so good, I am so righteous, I have so much faith’, just as by her own estimation the lady in the grocery store believed herself to be a good person.
However, when God establishes the standard of our morality, and the standard of our faith, the story is very different indeed. By viewing ourselves through the prism of how God views us, we soon discover that we need grace, we need forgiveness, we need to be reconciled unto God, because our own goodness, our own so called merits, our own wisdom, is nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of God.
Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away.”
Sure compared to some infamous criminal the lady might have been a good person indeed, however the standard is not my neighbor, my father, my sister or my brother, or the guy on the news who got arrested for kicking kittens, the standard that I must hold myself to is God’s standard. In and of ourselves we cannot hope to reach the standard that God set forth, in and of ourselves, we will continually fall short. I guess the one point I am trying to make today, is that Jesus is the good in us, not some of the good, but all of the good in us.
I have met some unfortunate souls in recent months that have fallen into the trap of reveling in their own self righteousness. Whether it’s because they hold to a certain ceremony, or they practice a certain tradition, there is this sense that they are righteous because of these practices. Please understand for the love of your soul, there is nothing on this earth, above the earth, or below the earth that can wash and make you clean, that can reconcile you unto God, that can redeem your life from destruction, other than the blood that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God shed upon the cross.
Philippians 3:8-9, “But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
When we attain the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus as Paul did, we come to the realization that our righteousness, can never compare to the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, that righteousness which comes from God.
Our purpose on this earth is not to be able to look in a mirror and think to ourselves how good we are, or compare ourselves to others and their shortcomings thereby elevating our own self worth, but to attain the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Once attained, we begin to see the worthlessness of not only everything that the world holds in high esteem, but also the worthlessness of our own self righteousness.
If there is any nobility in me, I assure you it is Jesus. If there is any nobility in you, it is the selfsame Christ. To think ourselves good people, to think ourselves better than, is to fall into a snare of the enemy wherein we start to believe our own hearts when they tell us that being good is good enough.
‘Why would you need Jesus? You know you’re a good person, and you try to live a good life, and you return your movies on time, always tip the mailman on Christmas, and you even recycle. That’s a definition of a good person if ever I heard one!’
Yes, by the world’s standard, by your standard, by your grandmother’s standard that always pinches your cheek and pats you on the hand and tells you what a good boy you are, you might be well, good. We will however, one day, all of us, to the last, stand before a great white throne, upon which the Creator of the universe will sit.
He will not ask what your grandmother thought of you, or if your neighbors believed you were a good person. He will not judge based on your standard or my standard but based on His standard. If Jesus is not found in us, wholly and completely, He will utter the dreaded words ‘depart from Me, I never knew you!”
What we need to understand is that if we plan to stand before God in our own self righteousness, there will be men and women who by their estimation were more righteous than us. They will stand before God, resume in hand and check off all the things they did on His behalf, from preaching, to casting out devils, to prophesying in His name, and all that they did will amount to nothing at all if Jesus was not evident in them throughout their existence.
Time is short, and it would be wise for us to disrobe ourselves of our own self righteousness, of this idea that we’re good people just because we go to church once in awhile, and put on the righteousness of Christ, which shines like the sun in the darkest of night. May we walk in His righteousness, that we might be approved of God, and welcomed into His eternal kingdom.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Filled!

The most effective kind of deception always has a grain of truth at its center. Taking a grain of truth and wrapping it with deception has been elevated to an art form in many Christian circles, and the danger of such a practice is that each time one notices the extra biblical doctrine they are summarily pointed to the grain of truth and told that fundamentally, it is biblical.
When I was younger, actually when I first arrived upon American shores, I was acquainted with cream stuffed donuts. There was a donut shop near the apartment we rented, (as of last March it is still there since nostalgia caused me and my brother Daniel to revisit it), that made the best cream stuffed donuts in the world. They had chocolate cream, strawberry cream and vanilla cream donuts, which in essence were just a mass of gooey goodness, surrounded by a thin donut layer. What made them so out of this world good, was the fact that they stuffed allot of cream inside the donut. After moving away, I would try the cream stuffed donuts in other shops, but there always seemed to be too little cream to notice it. Just as I got sick of playing ‘where’s the cream in my cream stuffed donut’ and finally gave up eating them altogether, allot of Christians are playing ‘where’s the truth in modern doctrine’, and are getting fed up with not finding it.
There is a nugget of truth in some of today’s teachings, but not nearly enough to warrant consuming them. One of the teachings that I’ve had to contend against most often is the teaching that God wants us to be full, and be filled but rather than with spiritual things, with the things and desires of this world. They take that nugget of truth and extrapolate it to mean that God wants us to have full wallets, full stomachs, be filled with what amounts to naked greed, be full of ourselves, and be filled with love for the things of this world.
So if God wants us to be filled, what exactly does He want us to be filled with?
Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The first and most essential thing we must be filled with is the Holy Spirit! If we are filled with the Spirit of God, then all the other virtues we are encouraged and admonished to be filled with are possible in our lives. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are transformed by the power of the living God, to desire what He desires, and aspire toward those things which bring us eternal reward, not just temporary pleasures. I’ve been working on a study of the Holy Spirit, which was meant to be an issue of the Prophetic Times but it has gotten so voluminous, that I am toying with the idea of just putting it in a book form. The Holy Spirit is one of those overlooked necessities in the life of the believer, and from the promise of the Spirit’s coming, to the day the Spirit descended, to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to the need of being filled with the Holy Spirit, it is an amazing, humbling, and eye opening study.
Another virtue that the Word encourages us to be filled with is the knowledge of God’s will. To know God’s will and to walk in it is to live a life of victory, a life of steadfastness, a life of faith and obedience. The knowledge of the will of God is not difficult to attain, because it is written in His word. It is when men attempt to impose their wills upon the will of God that we venture off the path of righteousness and holiness. God meant what He said, He has established His will, and just because we feel as though in our own minds we would not perceive an issue in the same manner God does, it does not negate His will. What God calls sin, we must call sin also! What God calls righteous we must call righteous as well. It is tragically laughable that so many are able to reconcile the ideas that they can disobey God, reject His nature, and yet somehow still be His. Those who are God’s have been imprinted with His nature.
Colossians 1:9-11, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.”
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, when we are filled with the knowledge of God’s will we are to also be filled with joy. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he described the reasons he was filled with joy, and it had nothing to do with someone making a faith pledge to his ministry, or purchasing that new carriage he’d had his eye on for so long.
That which filled Paul with joy was the remembrance of the genuine faith that he saw in Timothy, and the two generations that came before him that were also filled with faith, namely Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice.
As children of God we find our joy in the things of God. We are filled with joy when we see a soul repent and turn to God, we are filled with joy when we see the hand of God working mightily in the midst of the congregation, we are filled with joy when we see faith in the lives of our brethren and we are filled with joy when we feel His presence in our prayer time.
The Word tells us that we must also be filled with kindness. As those who were called of God, as the elect of God, as those who are holy and beloved, we must put on kindness. When we are filled with kindness, it is evident. The nature of Christ is not something that can be hidden or camouflaged, it is evident and ever present, and as those being filled with kindness, we show it not only toward those that are deserving of it, but even to those who we may deem undeserving.
If we are to make an impact in this world, if we are to draw men unto Christ, then we must also be filled with faith and power. We have an abundance of scholars, theologians, teachers, preachers, evangelists, men specializing in prophecy, deliverance, and a multitude of other niche topics, but what we are lacking in the church today is true faith and the power of God.
Acts 6:8, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”
So who was Stephen, and why was he filled with faith and power? Stephen was a man who was appointed to serve food to widows, and even for such a menial task, it was required that he be a man of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom. Where has that standard gone?
Today, men who have no business being behind the pulpit have hijacked God’s house, and in so doing have presented their own versions of the nugget of truth wrapped up in a well crafted lie.
They cannot encourage men to be filled with the Holy Spirit, or with the knowledge of the will of God, with joy, with kindness, or with faith and power, because they would be seen for the hypocrites that they are. No, they cannot encourage men to be filled with Godly virtues, because they do not possess them themselves. And so, what can they encourage people to be filled with? The selfsame things that they are filled to overflowing with, namely the things of this world, and the pride of life. God help the modern day church!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Contrasts

The church of America is in trouble. It seems we’ve gotten a running start toward the dark abyss of homogenized doctrine, and the end result of our pursuit is readily visible wherein one cannot distinguish the difference between a churched world, and a worldly church. We employ gimmicks and tricks to get people in the door, but once we get them there we offer them nothing of substance, nothing of relevance, nothing of the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
From the pastor who promised to spend three days in a glass box atop his church if they exceeded a certain attendance ala David Blaine, to offering Ultimate Fighting on Easter Sunday, to the ever growing number of billboards that are deep and unique only in the minds of the infantile minds who penned them, we are doing everything in our power to draw people to churches, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
The reason why it isn’t working, the reason more and more people are tuning out, and refusing to turn out, is because substance is sorely lacking, and even if you can manage to get someone to attend by promising a new and exciting series on intimacy in the bedroom, they leave scratching their heads wondering to themselves if that’s what church is really supposed to be. We are running ourselves ragged trying to promote ourselves, our ministries, our churches, we are going to extremes, compromising, making concessions, hiring public relations firms, just to keep up, just to keep growing, just to continue believing the lie we’ve been telling ourselves, that we can be relevant in and of ourselves.
As much as the evidence substantiates our nagging feeling that we cannot do it on our own, but rather we must let God do it, we are stubborn and hard headed, impatient and unwilling to submit to God’s timetable. Waiting on the Lord was for the people who had time to spare! We are progressive and upwardly mobile, we have a purpose, we have a plan for growth, we have projections and pie charts, and we won’t let something as trivial as God’s will stand in the way of our vision.
The focus has shifted in this modern age from winning people to Christ, from seeing the spiritual growth and requisite discipleship transform a person from what they once were to what God desires them to be, to the number of people that show up for service on Sunday morning. We are so consumed with numbers that nothing is sacred anymore in our pursuit of filling the new sanctuary we’ve managed to build.
When we attempt to grow a work on our own, rather than allow God to grow it in His time, we are likened to someone who runs out of gas, and proceeds to try and push the car to their destination. Eventually exhaustion sets in, eventually your muscles give out, and you end up sitting by the side of the road sweating profusely, and bitter at the fact that you bought a car in good working condition, and it failed you, never once acknowledging your own foolishness for not fueling it. Jesus is the fuel, the word of God is the fuel, and if we have fuel, the ministry will run, and the church will run.
If we are to understand how God can grow a work, we need look no further than the ministry of Jesus. He was born in a Middle Eastern country, grew up in a village until the age of thirty, working in a carpenter’s shop, then for three and a half years traveled as an itinerant preacher. He had no home, no family, no public job; He did not study in any university, He had no diploma or degree, and never set foot in any of the major cities of the world. In fact he never traveled more than two hundred and fifty miles further than the place where He was born. From early youth, public opinion set itself against Him, His friends left and rejected Him, and one closest to Him betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver. He was given into the hands of His enemies who mocked and ridiculed Him, then summarily condemned Him to die on a cross between two thieves. While He hung upon a cross dying, his enemies cast lots for his only possession, a tunic, then he was buried in a borrowed tomb.
Twenty centuries have passed, yet today He is the cornerstone of human existence. All the armies that have ever marched upon this earth, all the ships that have been built, all the kings, princes, and presidents of the world, have not affected the lives of men in such a profound and impacting way as He has. He never wrote a book, but no library in the world can contain the writings that have been penned about Him. He never wrote any poetry, but is the subject of the most songs and poems ever sung or uttered. He never founded a university, He was never dean of any college, but no learning institution in the world can boast of so many disciples as He has even to this day.
He studied neither physics, philosophy, medicine nor psychiatry, but no one in the history of the world has healed as many people as He did. He never commanded an army, yet no general in history won so many rebel hearts without a shot being fired, nor have any enjoyed the astounding number of souls marching under their flags as Jesus has.
We remember the names of philosophers, of rulers, of kings and kingdoms but only for a season. Countless names have been relegated to long forgotten memories, their names no longer whispered either in anger or in love, yet somehow His name shines with every generation, the name of Jesus is still on the hearts, minds and lips of countless souls.
Pontius Pilate could not kill Him, the grave could not hold Him, death could not conquer Him, and now He sits at the right hand of God, the object of the saints’ adoration, the angels’ veneration, and the devil’s fear.
We scramble to find new programs, new gimmicks, and new means by which to draw people to the church, all the while dismissing the one sure way to bring people to the house of God that has stood the test of time. We dismiss Jesus, and this will be our own undoing.
If Jesus is not the fuel, if Jesus is not the object of our worship, teaching, exposition, and praise, whatever work we have constructed, whatever ministry we have established will come to ruination. It may work for awhile, it may be successful for a season, curiosity might make men walk through the doors once, maybe even twice, but eventually, the curiosity will fade, and the once booming congregation will wither back to a handful of souls that rather than change their attitude and the means by which they present the Gospel, will simply keep on keeping on, doing the same old thing, expecting a different result and outcome.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Christian Wardrobe

No, this is not a post complaining about people wearing cargo shorts in church. Personally, I choose to show a little more reverence when I enter the house of God than wearing flip flops and an ‘I love puppies’ shirt, but that’s just me. I guess at my core I am old fashioned, but I do not begrudge anyone’s choice of attire. As long as you don’t give me a dirty look for wearing a suit in church, I won’t give you a dirty look for wearing board shorts.
When speaking of the Christian wardrobe, most believers can readily quote the passage in Ephesians that encourages us to put on the armor of God, but there are other accessories that we are encouraged to put on and have on our person at all times. An incomplete Christian will have a walk of frequent failures and defeats, and although we might like to pass the buck and blame it on God, it is not His fault. If we do everything He commanded us to do, we will experience all the victories He promised we would experience. It is not God’s fault that we choose partial obedience; it is not God’s fault that we consider certain things unnecessary or outdated. Too often it seems we act like spoiled children who after being told over and over again not to put their tongue on a nine volt battery, blame their parents for getting a shock when they do it. God has laid out His instruction; our duty is to follow the aforementioned instruction.
So what is the Christian wardrobe and accessories that we not only have access to, but are encouraged to pursue and appropriate?
In the context of talking about the end times and describing the day of the Lord, Paul writes to the church of Thessalonica and after encouraging them that they were not in darkness that this Day should overtake them as a thief, he admonishes his readers, and those who follow after Christ to do one more thing.
1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
While many put on the breastplate of faith and love, I have witnessed firsthand the disturbing trend of many a soul forgetting or neglecting to put on the helmet of the hope of salvation. When the helmet of the hope of salvation is firmly placed upon our heads, the circumstances of this present life do not dictate our attitude or the way we view our present trials. Because our hope is not tethered to this present earth, because the source of our hope is the risen Christ, we are able to have joy in the midst of tribulation; we are able to have hope even when hopelessness covers the earth like a foreboding storm front.
Another necessity in the wardrobe of every Christian is the armor of God. There are multiple benefits to not only having the armor of God, but being faithful in putting it on every day. Whether it be to withstand in the evil day, stand against the wiles of the enemy, or quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, the armor of God must be put on in order to be effective.
Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Twice within the context of this passage we are encouraged to put on the whole armor of God. Not just gird our waist with truth, or only put on the breastplate of righteousness, but the whole armor of God. From the helmet of salvation, to the sword of the spirit, to the shield of faith, to the breastplate of righteousness, to having shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, to having girded our waist with truth, a Christian must be in complete armor that he may withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
There is also a great need today for every believer to put on the armor of light. It is an undeniable fact that light repels the darkness. Wherever light is present the darkness must retreat. It has no choice in the matter, for even in the darkest of night a single candle has its say, a single candle in the darkness can neither be denied nor dismissed.
Romans 13:12, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
Since the fall of Adam, everyone is born in darkness. It matters not how noble a lineage one descends from, it matters not how righteous or godly one’s parents were, when we are born into this world we are born in darkness. The Word of God is straightforward on the matter, when it says that we must cast off the works of darkness before we can put on the armor of light. I repeat it often, because it is an overlooked and readily dismissed teaching within Christian circles today; light and darkness cannot coexist, truth and deception cannot make a home together, the children of God and the offspring of this world will always be at odds.
One of the enemy’s greatest deceptions is convincing those of the house of God that they can live in the gray area of duality and duplicity that they can somehow put on the armor of light without having first cast off the works of darkness. Jesus said it could not be done, and every God inspired servant who penned books of the New Testament echoed this sentiment over and over again. What makes us think we are wiser than Jesus? What brings us to that point of denying scripture and forging our own path toward the darkness, all the while comforting our conscience with the thought that we are journeying toward the light?
When we come to Christ, we are given a new garment, a garment that is spotless and without wrinkle. We are clothed with the robe of righteousness, the garments of salvation; in essence we are clothed in Christ.
Isaiah 61:10-11, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
If we possess the entire Christian wardrobe, and are wise to keep it clean, spotless, and without wrinkle, we will walk in light, we will walk in victory, we will walk in faith, we will walk in hope, we will walk in joy, and be in the perpetual fellowship that the soul so desires. Be clothed in Christ, and you will know true peace, be clothed in Christ and you will know true victory. The victory will not be simply a sporadic and infrequent experience, but a constant, because when one has cast of the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, they are renewed, and reborn to the unshakable knowledge that Jesus is our all in all.
Galatians 3:26-27, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Strange Fire

Nadab and Abihu were the sons of Aaron. From early youth they were witness to the inner workings of the priesthood, having their father as an example of what it was to be consecrated unto God. Granted Aaron had some growing pains along the way, he didn’t always make the right decisions, building a golden calf from the gold and jewelry of the Israelites while Moses was up on Mount Sinai springs to mind, but since God received him as a priest, it is self evident that he repented, and learned obedience in his older years.
Their uncle was none other than Moses the servant of God who led the people of Israel through the red sea as though they were walking on dry land; the selfsame Moses whose relationship with God was so intimate that God allowed him to see His glory, and glimpse His back as He passed by, for no man could see the face of God and live.
Nadab and Abihu were not lacking in godly examples, nor were they lacking in hearing the Word of God, yet they made the fatal error of bringing strange or profane fire before the Lord, and as consequence were devoured by the fire of God.
So what is strange fire, and how can we keep ourselves from offering it before the Lord? It is indisputable that bringing strange fire before God is punishable by death, because the God who changes not, demands that those who come near Him regard Him as holy, and that He be glorified before all the people.
Nowadays the fear of the Lord being what it is among professing Christians, certain men and women who have reached the heights of Christian fame, seem to have no qualms about replacing the fire of God with their own fire. If it is ignorance that is causing them to offer God strange fire, I hazard to submit that ignorance is not an adequate excuse.
Offering God one’s own fire, rather than insisting on His fire, amounts to nothing less than the sacrifice of Cain that was brought before God absent of obedience. There is this sense of going through the motions in today’s church, following some ceremony, or program, simply to placate God. Just as Cain of old, we do not bring our sacrifice of praise, our sacrifice of worship, our sacrifice of reverence before God out of a pure and undefiled heart, but we view these things as necessary burdens we must carry to get God to bless us.
Some consider the path too narrow, some consider the ways of God too intolerant, some consider the standard of God too rigid, and so they take it upon themselves to replace the ways of God, with their own ideas and doctrines. Make no mistake, it is strange fire that many are offering before the Lord, and it was not at His command. They are wise in their own eyes, making straight paths crooked, and by so doing heap up for themselves the wrath and judgment of a righteous God.
Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
The second means by which the modern day sons of Aaron offer up strange fire, is by dismissing the commands of God. The Bible was given as a guide and a lamp unto our feet, not as a means by which we can find loopholes for less than total submission and surrender to God. Rather than search the Word for instruction and truth, there are men today whose entire purpose is to scour the Word of God in order to find justification for sin, to find an obscure passage a solitary verse that can then be butchered and twisted to mean something it clearly does not mean. We may think we can play games with God, but God is not mocked.
God’s instruction for us today is as clear and straightforward as it was for those who handled the censers of God in the olden days.
Leviticus 16:12-13, “Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.”
1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.”
So what led to the sons of Aaron offering strange fire before the Lord? I believe the holy things of God had become common and routine for Nadab and Abihu. They had witnessed their father bringing sacrifice to God so many times, that they no longer had a reverence for it. Experiencing the presence of God, bringing sacrifice to God’s temple had become a common thing for them. The entire ceremony had become something they got used to insofar as they came to believe that if they wore the priestly robes they would be spared judgment.
Wearing a suit on Sunday morning as one stands behind the pulpit does not make them right in the sight of God! I have seen, on occasion, men absent of reverence as they treat the word of God as just another book, as a prop that looks good in their hands as they look into the camera and ask you to make the biggest sacrifice you can like that widow with the pancake.
It is a dangerous thing to treat the work of God with indifference and disregard, to set aside the standard of God, and just go through the motions, or worse yet, play it by ear and hope it all works out in the end.
Be in constant awe of God. Make standing in His presence a precious experience. Be reverent and come before Him with a clean heart, and a humble spirit. We learn what not to do from the sons of Aaron, we learn how not to take the things of God and the word of God lightly, we learn that God is righteous and just, and does not play favorites.
Yes, Aaron had done allot for God, but this did not exempt his sons from being obedient, but rather required them to live up to the expectation that God set forth.
The Word tells us that fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. What I find worthy of mentioning, is that Aaron held his peace, accepting the righteous judgment of God even as his two sons were being carried by their tunics out of the camp.
Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.


With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Old Leaven in New Molds

Well, I'm back. We had four meetings, in the same church, and I got to do something I don't get to do very often, I preached a series. Four different messages, interconnected, and their one common denominator was Jesus. I even met someone that reads the blog!
We stayed in someone's home, since they were away for the weekend, and it was in a lovely area, surrounded by mountains, and nothing but lots and lots of quiet. I even got to see a herd of elk, but the novelty wore off after a couple hours. I didn't realize how much I needed some quiet time until I was there with nothing to do but read and meditate. So, we made it back, safe and sound, with all limbs still in place. Thank you all for your prayers, for our safety.
Matthew 16:6, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
I am often stunned at how readily the modern day churches are able to dismiss the warnings of Jesus. Because so many are no longer willing to spend time in the presence of God, to be fed and nourished of the Holy Spirit, to receive their inspiration from a divine source, we have adopted this lemming mentality wherein we will mimic anyone and anything that the world might deem as successful. Why spend time in prayer and supplication, why study the word of God, when for an annual fee of some three hundred dollars, you can have your Sunday sermon delivered to you via e-mail, every week of every month? Why take the time to grow in Jesus, to mature as a Christian, to stand for truth, to preach the Word, when a pre-sermon joke, a catchy mantra, and a thinly veiled spiritualized humanism are enough to get you the biggest church in the country?
That whole idea about spending ten hours in prayer before preaching for ten minutes is antiquated anyway, and if you do spend time in prayer, chances are the sermon God puts on your heart isn’t really what the crowd wants to hear, even though it is most assuredly what they need to hear.
Any rational person with an ounce of objectivity can readily surmise that much of what we call the church today is nothing more than old leaven in new molds. We talk like the world, act like the world, live like the world, want what the world has, and revel in their acceptance, but still manage to keep a straight face when we call ourselves children of God, elect, redeemed, and sanctified.
When Jesus warned us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, He knew of what He was speaking. He recognized the dangers of just a little leaven, and its ability to spoil the whole lump, and so was adamant in the gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke to warn against our indifference to it.
There are three primary types of leaven that I would like to discuss today, and I believe all three are equally dangerous for the body of Christ.
First is the leaven of the Pharisees, or what I like to call the outwardly alive, but inwardly dead condition. There was no one better than the Pharisee at external religiosity. These were men who knew the scriptures, who tithed, who fasted, who prayed, who by all outwardly appearances were upright men of character and integrity, righteous by earthly standards. I believe one of the reasons they hated Jesus so, is that He was able to see past the fa├žade, He was able to see past their exterior shell, and when He peered inwardly, when He searched their hearts, he found them to be unclean and hypocritical.
If they saying that you can fool some of the people some of the time has any veracity if applied to humanity, Jesus was the exception that proved the rule. You cannot fool Jesus!
Jesus saw the wretched condition of their hearts, and had no qualms about speaking His mind, calling them whitewashed tombs, hypocrites, and warning those who truly desired to know God’s grace and mercy, to experience the love and beauty that is a relationship with Him, to stay away, and beware of their leaven.
It is easy to fall into formality, into a systematic ceremonial tradition of sorts, absent of true fruits of righteousness and repentance. “If I just say a certain prayer a certain amount of times, if I just memorize so many Bible verses, if I just give something up for forty days a year, than I’m alright!” This is the definition of the leaven of the Pharisees that can pollute the heart of man, and keep him from discovering Christ in all His glory.
The second form of leaven I want to discuss is the leaven of the Sadducees. Yes, the leaven of the Sadducees is different than that of the Pharisees. The leaven of the Sadducees is often referred to as the leaven of false teaching, or false doctrine.
Of the three, the leaven of the Sadducees is most prevalent in the American church today. The Sadducees believed only what they could see with their eyes, and touch with their hands. They did not believe in the resurrection, they did not believe in angels, because these were things that they had never witnessed for themselves. We have, in our modern age, reduced the gospel, the cross, the Christ, and the blood, to nothing more than means by which we obtain possessions and material excesses. If we can’t see it in the form of a new car, more money, a new house, or a boat, then we consider it irrelevant. I submit to you, that the most important things in this life are things not seen by the eyes of men. They cannot be touched, they must simply be believed.
Last but not least, we have the leaven of Herod. This particular leaven can also be called the leaven of using worldly methods, and worldly means.
Yes, the leaven of Herod is mentioned in the Bible, and it is something I believe Judas suffered from. The leaven of Herod leads one to believe that one can blend the power of this world, and the power of God, the kingdom of this world, and the kingdom of God, in order to achieve a certain objective.
Judas believed that Jesus would march on Jerusalem, and become the physical king. So blinded was Judas by the leaven of Herod, that He betrayed his Lord and Master in the hope that he could force Jesus into taking action, and becoming king.
Mark 8:15, “Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
During the time of Jesus, there was a group known as the Herodites, who had spiritual authority but used it in a worldly manner. It was the Herodites that supported Herod, and the Roman powers of the time. One could say that they had political influence, and they wielded it to impose themselves on the people. Because their influence became more important to them than their worship of God, they compromised their beliefs, they compromised their standards, and they did whatever it took to maintain their political power.
If we are true followers of Christ, than the idea of achieving our objectives by any means necessary, must be stricken from our consciousness. If we are no longer of the world, then we cannot behave as the world, we cannot adopt the same principles and methods of the world.
“Well it worked for the world, why don’t we try it?” This is the first chink in the armor, the first thought that will lead to compromise, and to an inevitable ruination of our principles. There are examples of this leaven, even in our modern era, but since this is not about politics but about Jesus, I will refrain.
The message is clear and straightforward, to those who still have ears to hear. We must at all cost keep away from the leaven of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the leaven of Herod. Even a little will spoil the entire lump.
1 Corinthians 5:7, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.