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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scribbles

I'm a scribbler, always have been. Today I noticed that my Bible was getting a little on the thick side, and so I decided to clean it out. I discovered I had accumulated allot of pieces of paper, old church bulletins from churches I've spoken in, gas receipts, napkins, and oddly enough one wedding invitation, all scribbled on with thoughts or ideas I had at a certain moment in time.
Since tomorrow I will be going away for a few days, to see the Romanian countryside and spend some alone time with my wife, sans laptop, cell phone, two way radio, telegraph machine or any other form of technological distraction, I decided to type up a few of the notes I'd found in my Bible and make them into a post.

These are just my thoughts. If offensive in any way, I apologize in advance....

We are so busy lamenting, bemoaning and decrying the effects of our disobedience, that we fail to see the cause. We have become cold and blind to our own sins as a nation, and as such cannot hope to right ourselves. The glory of what was will be a memory still for we refuse to do the one thing that would turn the tide. We refuse to repent!

The fact that we seek out points of egress before we even consider fighting for truth testifies to the weakness of our character, and the lukewarm state of our commitment. We will not commit to confrontation unless we’ve already mapped out an exit strategy, unless we’ve formulated a means by which we can backpedal and retract what we proclaimed, making our original statements void of conviction or validity. We are pretending to fight a war, with no true intention of winning it! We are pretending to oppose the enemy, with no true intention of shedding one tear or drop of blood for our convictions!

It is a tragic thing watching the downfall of a nation. My heart can’t help but weep.

I relish the idea of how simple my life would be if I would have never left my homeland. Chances are I’d be a farmer; chances are I’d know how to milk a cow by now.

I have discovered a sure way to keep from getting discouraged in ministry. Every morning, look in the mirror and remind yourself that it is not your battle it is God’s. Do what you were called to do, do it faithfully, do it diligently, do it wholeheartedly, do it passionately, and let God do what He promised He would, namely draw all men unto Himself.

God never promised He would spare us from trials; the only thing He promised is that He would be with us in our trials.

Can there be any hope for the next generation when we so vehemently idolize the functionally retarded?

Being incapable of desiring wisdom is a sure sign of mediocrity.

Be certain that what you are living for, is worth dying for.

A day absent of prayer is a day absent of blessing; a life absent of prayer is a life absent of power.

Perceive your sadness as the shadow of the blessing that is on its way.

Make your heart the temple of the Holy Spirit, so much so that every sacrifice you make upon its altar will be well pleasing to God.

We have come to expect men of God to boast of their works, to glory in their own fame, and seek the honor and reverence of men. It was not always so, and we are the worse for it, for having lowered ourselves to praising men.

We live in a material world, all the while being granted the privilege to peer into the immaterial, the spiritual, that which eyes of flesh alone cannot perceive.

What measure of tragedy must befall this nation, what cataclysmic catastrophe must we be witness to, that we may be compelled to repent?

We influence all that surrounds us, every minute of every hour, of every day.

Those, whose desire is to be in one accord with the world, deny Christ.

We cannot be in one accord with God and with the world; with the law and with grace; with scripture and traditions that have no scriptural basis.

There cannot be a dual harmony with God and with mammon. We can only be in harmony with one, subservient to one, and the choice is left up to us.

It is neither what man thinks himself to be, or what others consider him to be that is of any relevance. In the end all that matters, the only opinion of any relevance is God’s. How does God consider you?

Men give themselves titles and positions, things that are worthless in the eyes of God.

You are only what the grace of God has made you; aspire to nothing more than to do His will.

How can one block out the sun? How can one deny the existence of fire as it burns and blisters? How can we reject life, when it beckons to us with every breath?

There are certain realities that exist, which are so powerful that man has no choice but to acquiesce to them.

Truth must be rediscovered by every generation. The search for truth continues unabated to this day, and it will continue as such until the end of time.

What a savage enemy the fear of men can become when in pursuit of truth.

Fear destroys the fiercest of warrior, and the most devoted of servants.

The truth of the gospel is not a religion or denomination, it is not a system or a philosophy, it is not brittle morality, but it is life and heavenly light, it is power and joy, it is Jesus Christ, in the fullness of His sovereignty.

Give heed to no man that would seek to teach you something other than the words of the Holy Scriptures.

No authority on earth, no power of this realm has the right to modify the word of God.

Man’s earthly origins are of no relevance to God. He judges without partiality.

When Christ came, the one and only reality, the one and only truth, there no longer remained a need for shadows, symbols, and empty traditions.

God has seldom chosen the great men of this world, for it would seem, high places and faith in Christ do seldom well agree.

There is much to sadden us in the view of the ruins of our race. What we once were, and what we have become is beyond tragic, and truly lamentable.

Fear is a useless emotion; its only benefit from the flesh’s point of view is to justify our inaction.
Only in the light of the gospel can we see what an utter tragedy sin is, and the blinding beauty of what God’s grace is.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Compromise Campaign

It began a few hours after the resurrection of Jesus, and it has been going on ever since. The campaign to compromise the truth, to cast doubt on the person of Christ and God’s holy Word is not some new insidious idea that the enemy came up with as a last ditch effort, but something that the devil and his minions have been actively pursuing since the very day that Jesus rose from the dead.
Three days had passed, the stone had been rolled away, and the tomb was now empty. Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, and by uttering one single word, ‘rejoice!’ He had rekindled their hope, strengthened their faith, and caused their faces to shine with joy.
Baffled and not knowing what to do, having seen the empty tomb, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.
Not wasting any time, wanting to get ahead of the situation, the chief priests and the elders began a campaign that would span two thousand years, a campaign that has in recent times gathered more steam with the releases of such pseudo-intellectual drivel as the gospel of Judas, or the Da Vinci code.
The elders and the priests knew that they couldn’t let the truth get out, they knew that they couldn’t allow the masses to hear the news that an angel had appeared and rolled away the stone, that Jesus had risen from the dead, that all that He claimed would happen happened as He had said, because it would undermine their authority and power, and cause even more people to follow the Christ than before His crucifixion.
Matthew 28:12-15, “When they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept. And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure. So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
This is how it all began. A council of elders, a large sum of money, some soldiers willing to lie, and the campaign against truth was born. This campaign rages to this day, and it has two major targets. There are people in this world that will do anything, and say anything to discredit either a risen Jesus, or the Bible, for these are the two great thorns in the side of the godless.
The enemy has not masked his purposes, and his intent is very clear. He has invested vast resources, and those who do his bidding have even attempted to infiltrate the house of God and sow doubt as to the divinity and sovereignty of Jesus, dismissing the Bible as nothing more than a noble book of moral imperatives, rather than the divinely inspired Word of God.
As well financed, streamlined and diversified as the campaign against truth is, there are some major flaws, and insurmountable obstacles that will keep it from being the success the enemies of the cross envisioned it would be throughout the centuries.
The first major flaw, the first weakness of the compromise campaign is ignoring or dismissing truth itself. Truth, simply defined is an affirmation or information that corresponds to a reality. There are two major reasons we receive something as truth, the first of these being that the person relating the information to us is credible. We receive something as truth because the person we are receiving it from, is worth believing, of good character and above reproach. If the person from whom we hear something is not credible, then it casts a shadow of doubt on the very thing they are attempting to disseminate.
If however the person is credible, then we have the tendency to believe them at their word. When Jesus stood before Pilate, He was asked a very direct and poignant question: ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus simply answered, ‘it is as you say!’
Jesus then continued saying, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
I submit to you today, that there has never been a more credible individual in the history of mankind than Christ Jesus. He testified of Himself, saying ‘I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.’ If we take anyone’s words to heart, if it ought to be the words of Christ, for He is above all, worth believing.
The second reason we receive something as truth, is personal experience. There can be a thousand voices denouncing something, but if we have felt it, known it, seen it, or tasted it, it is truth to us, and the voices of the naysayers have no effect.
When Jesus healed the man that had been blind from birth, his personal experience dictated his response to the accusations the Pharisees made against Christ. The Pharisees had said Jesus was a sinner, and this man who had been healed, simply replied, ‘whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’
This man’s personal experience made his faith and ensuing conviction unshakable. He had been blind, of this he was certain, and now he saw.
The second flaw and weakness of the compromise campaign is the motivation behind this endeavor. Why do we do what we do? The answer to this question is the motivation that drives us. Whatever action we choose to undertake, whatever endeavor we choose to pursue, there is a motivation behind them that drives us.
What motivated the Apostles of Christ to preach the truth, what motivated them to preach a risen savior even though it had been forbidden by the high priests, was the fact that they had seen Him, they had spoken with Him, they had dined with Him, and their lives were forever transformed by being in proximity of Him.
What motivated the guards to go about the city and lie, what compelled them to tell all who would hear that Christ’s followers had come in the dead of night and spirited his body away, was nothing more than personal interest. A man, who pursues a certain course of action out of personal interest, will only do so while it is profitable to him. A man who pursues a course of action out of deep conviction and personal experience however, will continue to pursue it even in the face of great opposition, physical affliction, persecution and even death.
The third flaw and weakness of the compromise campaign against the truth, is the utter lack of any proof. Those who would deny the sovereignty of Christ, those who would deny the divinity of Christ, those who would deny a risen Christ, are quick to grasp at straws, from forging etchings on ancient tombs, to highlighting and pronouncing as firsthand accounts, manuscripts that were written some three hundred years after Christ’s time on earth. They know they cannot disprove Christ with evidence, and so they must manufacture it, conjure it, and twist it to fit their agenda.
In two thousand years, there has never been an ounce of proof to support the fanciful story that the Disciples of Christ came while the guards slept and took his body away. As even a first year law student will rightly tell you, ‘no evidence, no crime!’
While the men who made these extraordinary claims had not an ounce of proof, or a shred of evidence, the body of evidence supporting a risen Christ is undeniable. From seeking out His disciples, and encouraging them to put their finger in His wound, to some five hundred souls having seen Him until the ascension, there are witnesses upon witnesses who testified to a risen Christ.
The last flaw and weakness of the compromise campaign against truth, is the defying of logic. There are many things in this world that defy logic, yet God created us with the ability and the need to process, to use reason, and reach logical conclusions.
By the very words the soldiers were commanded to speak concerning what had transpired at the tomb of Christ both the elders and the men who dutifully repeated their words defied logic.
His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ What’s wrong with this statement? What absolutely and unequivocally defies logic in these twelve words? If they were sleeping, how did they know what had happened? How could they testify to the fact that the Disciples of Christ had come and stolen him at night if they were fast asleep? Can you tell me what the rest of the people in your home were doing while you slept? Of course not!
The entire campaign against truth is based upon the false assumption that if we as followers of Jesus are fools for Christ, then we must be fools in every other area of our lives. It’s not so much the enemy that has a low view of believers, as it is his minions. With every generation they attempt to sneak one by, hoping to pervert the gospel and cast a negative light upon the sinless character of Christ, hoping that we are asleep at the wheel, that we would not employ logic, and expose them for the fools and liars that they are.
What is disconcerting is that whether due to indifference or just outright exhaustion, many within the house of God have stopped defending Christ; they have altogether ceased standing up for the truth, allowing the enemy to gain a foothold, to sow seeds of doubt, and causing some of the sheep to question the veracity of Biblical doctrine and absolute truth.
Be bold dear friend in defending the truth of Scripture, in standing for the cause of Christ, encouraged by the knowledge that the entire foundation of the compromise campaign is based upon an unabashed lie.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Empires of Dust

The town I live in when I am in the States is undergoing a makeover of sorts. As you drive down the main thoroughfare leading into the old downtown, on the left side of the street there are bulldozers and cranes, heavy duty trucks, and a handful of people cleaning up the rubble of what once was.
Since I’ve been living in Watertown Wisconsin on and off for the past nine years, I remember the glory days of what once stood on that spot. There was a major chain clothing store that some years ago moved outside the city limits, a small shop that sold greeting cards of all kinds, and a camera store. If one drove by today, you would never know those edifices once stood in what is now a large square of scarred cement and concrete.
The buildings had stayed empty for some time, until one day as I was driving in to work I saw the bulldozers and the wrecking ball hard at work.
By the time I got the idea to stand across the street every day and take a snapshot of the progress, to see the march of time and the steady destruction of what was once a thriving business it was already too late.
For some reason seeing those buildings disappear before my very eyes on a daily basis made me sad inside. Apparently all it takes for the memory of a place to forever be erased is some heavy duty equipment and a few gallons of diesel fuel. Who will remember that once upon a time a clothing store stood on that very spot two generations from now? Who will reminisce about the time some long forgotten relative bought their first camera at the camera store that once stood there? No one!
We build empires of dust with every passing generation, refusing to acknowledge that the winds of time will blow them asunder sooner or later. We labor and we toil for things that have no permanence, believing that we will leave our mark on the world if we can just amass so much, and build so much. Although the words of Solomon have proven themselves true, that all is vanity, we do not take them to heart, and follow in the footsteps of those that came before us thinking that we will be the exception to the rule, that we will somehow cling to that which we have amassed beyond this life.
Even among the children of God there seems to be little contentment. We want more and more, and we don’t care how we get it. We dismiss the warnings of God’s Word that love of possessions rather than love of God leads to ruination, believing that we will find a balance between desiring God and desiring material things. There can be no balance; there can be no armistice between two opposing forces so hostile toward each other such as love of God and love of flesh. We either love God, or we love the world. We are either content and thankful for that which He gives us, or we give ourselves over to the lust for power and opulence, that the world has elevated to an art form.
Sooner or later every man comes to the conclusion that Solomon came to, that in fact all the works of our hands and all our labors are vanity and vexation of spirit. There is someone close to me; in fact he is family by marriage who recently came to this conclusion. Ever since I married my wife he didn’t quite understand what I did, and why I didn’t try to build to amass, to hoard and to store up.
Whenever this particular topic of conversation would come up, I would ask him, ‘why should I try to store up and build? I’m not taking any of it with me anyway.’
‘So you could be happy’ he would answer.
‘But I’m already happy’ I would retort.
Some years ago, this man started a company that went on to do very well. He built the big house, bought the fancy new car, and during dinner in his new home one night I asked him, ‘so did all this bring you the happiness you were looking for?’
He gave me a sad look and said, ‘not even close.’
True joy, lasting joy, that ever illusive happiness the world is searching for can only be found in Christ, at the foot of the cross, in humble gratitude and submission. This world is passing away, and every generation builds upon the rubble of the last, reaching ever higher, hoping to acquire that which can only be acquired on our knees in worshipful supplication.
If you know Jesus you are already blessed beyond measure, having acquired that which is priceless and eternal. If you do not know Jesus, then no matter how much material possessions you might have acquired, you are still a lamentable soul worthy of pity, for all that you possess will not be able to lengthen your life by one second, or give you that sense of fulfillment you are so desperately searching for.
It is human nature to desire more, to want to possess, to own, to have, but our nature has been transformed and we are no longer the slaves of human nature, but have attained a divine nature that knows intuitively that our treasure is not of this earth, nor is this our home.
We journey toward eternity, toward the home that Christ has prepared for us, and though the world continues to build empires of dust, as children of God we must continue to keep our eyes on the kingdom that is to come, that kingdom that is eternal and everlasting.
Jeremiah 17:11, “As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Heart of Man

There is a chasm wide and deep that will forever separate the way God sees the hearts of men, and the way men see their own hearts. We have so romanticized the heart that in the eyes of most in our day and age, the heart of man can do no wrong. We’ve all heard the flowery one liners, from ‘follow your heart and you’ll find your bliss’, to ‘trust your heart it will not lead you astray’, to ‘if your heart tells you something’s right, then how can it be wrong?’
Now all these sayings make for great bumper stickers, but they are among the vilest of lies that have ever been uttered since the genesis of human existence. In order to understand the true nature of the human heart, we must take into account the One who created it, and what He thinks of it.
Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
Ecclesiastes 9:3, “This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
I don’t know about you, but I get the distinct impression that God sees the hearts of His creation, very differently than how His creation sees their own hearts. There is a great mass of humanity today that is following their hearts right into hell. There was no way to sugar coat the previous statement, no way of making it more palatable, because this is the reality that we must accept and deal with.
Yes, it is true, the heart wants what the heart wants, but absent of God, the heart wants your destruction, your hopelessness and your death. Beware the heart of the unregenerate man, for in it there is much wickedness.
There is only one way by which your heart will not continually deceive you, there is only one way by which your heart will not be full of evil and filled with madness, and that is by God being ever present on the throne of your heart.
So what is it that God does in the hearts of men?
The Word tells us that one of the things God does with the human heart is He tests it. The God who sees all and knows all, also sees and knows the condition of our hearts. He is also aware of the intent with which we perform certain tasks or functions. The human heart is the wellspring of intent, and by it and through it God knows if something was done out of love or bitterness, out of mercy of a vested interest, out of love for Him, or love for self.
Psalm 7:9-10, “Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just; for the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. My defense is of God, who saves he upright in heart.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4, “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.”
God is continually testing the hearts of men, even the hearts of believers, and those we consider mature in the faith, and the constant hope of God’s faithful is that He saves the upright in heart. God tests the heart, because in it He finds the answers to such questions as ‘is what we do for the glory of God, or for our own? Do we serve Him because we love Him, or because of the things we think He will give us if we feign service? Is He the preeminent priority in our lives, or do we have other gods before Him?’ All these questions can only be answered by testing the heart.
God also touches the hearts of men, that they might be sensitive to His guidance, and fulfill His purpose. There was much division in the land of Israel when the first king was chosen to rule over the people. Just as it is today, no matter who is chosen to rule over a people, there is never total consensus, or unity regarding that person. When God chose Saul to be king over Israel, not all the people were excited or even accepting of him. In fact there was a number who despised him, and wondered to themselves how one such as Saul could save them.
There was however a group of men, whose hearts God touched, and they went with Saul as his protection detail. These were valiant men, and because God touched their hearts, they followed after their newly anointed king without murmur or complaint.
1 Samuel 10:26, “And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched.”
When God touches a man’s heart, his perception, and his perspective are transformed. He does not see as he once saw, but as God sees a given situation or circumstance, and as such follows after God’s guidance.
When we come before Him with repentance of the heart, and a humble spirit, God also cleanses the hearts of men. God will not build upon an existing foundation. God will not accept anything less than our whole heart that He may do the work of sanctification and regeneration required for us to be able to call ourselves His children. We can give of our time, we can give of our possessions, we can give of our talents, but God requires the heart. In fact God demands the heart, for if our hearts are not His, nothing is His, but if our hearts are truly His then everything is His.
Hebrews 10:19-22, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
This is a work that God alone can do, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Once our hearts are His, God also establishes, or strengthens our hearts in holiness. No words can describe the tragedy of believing that God is up in heaven, looking down, but remains wholly uninvolved in our lives. So many live with the belief that when we suffer, God turns a blind eye, when we need strength He simply shrugs His shoulders, and when we need direction, He remains silent. God is ever present in the lives of His children, and strengthens them when they are weak, binds their wounds when they are hurting, and speaks to them when they need to hear His voice. We serve an engaged God, a God who is involved in the lives of His beloved, whose presence is plainly visible if only we had eyes to see.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming o four Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
God also guides, or directs the hearts of men. I realize many today have adopted the idea that everything is chance, happenstance, a chain of events that lead to a chain reaction, absent of any external or divine influence. To me that just sounds depressing, but it is also unbiblical.
Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
“Are you saying that God stirs nations against each other? Are you suggesting that God puts animosity in the hearts of men for their neighbors? Are you implying that natural disasters whether earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornados, or typhoons are divinely ordained?”
I’m not the one saying it, the Bible says it, and I believe what the Word of God says. I believe one of the most destructive things to take place within the house of God over the past century, is that we’ve attempted to reshape God, and remake Him into what we would like Him to be. It’s like all of a sudden, within the past century God has undergone a major makeover, and He no longer judges sin, He no longer gets angry, He is no longer holy, righteous and just, He’s just a harmless white haired deity, sitting up in heaven, weighed down by the passage of centuries, just hoping we do the right thing, so that He could bless us by way of material excess.
We have attempted to strip God of His omnipotence, we have attempted to strip God of His omniscience, because to say that God allowed something to happen would offend the world, and compel them to point out, at least from their skewed view, that God is unfair, unloving, unjust, and unmerciful.
Because our focus is more on being politically correct, than pleasing in the sight of God, we have taken the one true God, the God at whose name entire nations trembled in fear, and relegated Him to the position of a magic genie who grants us wishes if we say the right words at the right time.
Since we’re on the topic, this is also largely the reason there no longer remains a shred of the fear of the Lord among many of today’s churches, because in their estimation even if God wanted to do something, even if He did want to punish sin and separate the wheat from the chaff, He just doesn’t have the power to do it anymore.
Not only does the world perceive the God of the Bible as being powerless, but many Christians share the world’s view concerning this matter.
Yes, the heart of man is a complicated thing, for it can either be a host of peace, joy, righteousness and devotion, or a host of sin, darkness, madness and death. Whether God is present in our hearts makes all the difference in the world, as striking a difference as that between noonday and midnight.
Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In Name Only

I have come to the conclusion that being seated next to someone on a fully booked transatlantic flight, is the closest you can come to holding someone hostage without being charged with a crime, or criminally prosecuted. I was on my way to Romania, via Munich Germany, and for the first time in a long time I was excited. Usually, I get seated between the two mothers with the crying infants, and listen to screaming in stereo for the better part of eight hours, but to my surprise an older gentleman sat in the seat next to mine and nodded his head at me smiling.
Seeing as I had dodged the crying baby bullet, I pulled out my copy of William Gurnall’s ‘The Christian In Complete Armor’, and found the bookmark I had put there, a ticket stub from another flight, at page 560. Although the book can be found in three different volumes, the copy I have is the complete and unabridged version, which comes out to a little over twelve hundred pages.
I saw the gentleman seated next to me arch his eyebrows when he saw me pull the book out of my bag, but since he didn’t say anything I just started reading.
This was my third reading of the book, and if there is one thing you should know about me concerning my reading library, is that I abuse my books. On almost every page of a good book I own you will find highlighted passages, thoughts scrawled on the outer edges, and folded pages that I want to reread at a further date. About an hour into the flight, I felt the gentleman was looking at me, and as I raised my head, my suspicion was confirmed. He smiled and said, “Did you buy the book used? It looks like the previous owner wasn’t very kind to it.”
“I bought it new” I answered, “it’s just something I do when I read, I highlight and scrawl. I’ve done it for as far back as I could remember.”
“Is it a good book? What is it about?”
I informed him it was a Christian book, penned by a man who lived in the sixteen hundreds, and that yes, it was worth a read, or even two or three.
“So what do you do if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I’m a preacher”, I answered.
“Are you going to Germany to preach? Do you speak German?”
I explained that I was headed to Romania, and that my family lived there, and the orphanage our family built was also located in Romania.
We talked for awhile longer about our work, and about what I did, and then I asked him if he believed in God, and whether or not he was a Christian.
He smiled and said something that he meant as a joke, but nevertheless got me thinking. He said, “Well, I’m a Baptist but only when it suits me.”
Tragic and unfortunate as it might be many people today share this man’s beliefs when it comes to God and their faith in God. They are believers, or at least purport to be, only when it suits them. Throughout the rest of my flight, and for some time after arriving home I kept returning to the questions, ‘what has caused this spike in nominal Christianity, and why are there so many Christians in name only?’
I have concluded that there are four major reasons why the number of nominal Christians has multiplied exponentially within the span of a generation.
The first of these four reasons has been the enemy of true faith in Christ since the beginning of the early church. Although throughout the centuries it has gone by different names, such as Gnosticism, Agnosticism, Universalism, Humanism, Ecumenicalism, and Mysticism, today it is most widely known as liberal theology. The simple definition of liberal theology is the removal of Scripture as final authority in matters pertaining to Christianity, and the practice of selective application of Scripture. What I mean by selective application is that we pick and choose only those verses within God’s holy Word that suit us, those verses that do not challenge us, that do not compel us to righteousness, and that require nothing of us.
Of the sixty six books, 1189 chapters, and 31,103 verses of the Bible, we appropriate a handful of them, some not even in their entirety, which give us license to do as we wish when we wish if only in our own mind, and discard the rest of God’s Word as either irrelevant for our times, or absent of the contextualization required of us to fully receive them. These are just veiled excuses for disobedience, and justification for a hard and unrepentant heart.
Liberal theology is on an upswing, especially in America, because it offers all the benefits of being a Christian, without those pesky requirements such as repentance and sanctification. Men deceive themselves into believing they can have the best of both worlds, and that they can serve two masters, not realizing that Jesus said no man can serve two masters because well, they’ve conveniently discarded that part of the Bible along with all the other verses.
Blinded by their own perceived intelligence, such people live their lives fully assured that they’ve found a way to bypass repentance, to bypass holiness unto God, to bypass righteousness, and jump the fence into heaven.
To the theologically liberal God’s dictates and mandates are no longer things to be obeyed without question, but merely suggestions to be debated, and subjectively analyzed.
“I know that’s what the Bible says, but that’s not the way I see it. I know that’s what the Bible says but in my heart I don’t feel that’s right.”
No offense intended, but who are you, or who am I for that matter, to contradict the Creator of the universe? Justified disobedience, is still disobedience, and the reality is that man can only justify disobedience in his own mind, not before an omniscient God. Will anyone be able to stand before God’s judgment seat, and say “I know that’s what You commanded, but I knew better.”
The arrogance of some men is baffling to behold. I cannot fathom the level of pride it would take to place our own thoughts, ideas, and feelings above the very God we are purporting to serve. The Word of God is not subjective, it is absolute! The flesh however, rebels against the idea of obedience and servitude.
The second reason nominal Christianity has become so pervasive is loss of purpose. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve lost sight of that which is most important, being distracted by worthless and temporal things. The primary purpose of the church was to be a witness, to evangelize, to go into the entire world and preach the gospel of Christ to every nation. We seem to have forgotten that every generation needs to be evangelized, every generation needs to be instructed in the ways of Christ, and every generation needs to have the love of God birthed in their hearts.
We see the dangers of not passing on the love of God to our children in the lineage of Abraham, specifically the difference between his relationship with God, Isaac’s relationship with God, and finally Jacob’s relationship with God.
There is a very telling progression, or rather descent into disobedience with every passing generation, because the Word of truth and life is not passed on, nor are the fruit of the Spirit many are saying they have visible to their offspring.
If we study the Word diligently we see that there is a lessening of both faith and devotion in Isaac than that which was in his father Abraham. We all know the exploits and the history of Abraham, the patriarch, the friend of God, but from Abraham being God’s friend, we turn our focus on Isaac who viewed God as one merely to be feared. From Isaac, we turn to Jacob, who possessed even less faith than Isaac, who referred to God only in the context of being the God of Abraham.
Genesis 31:42, “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”
This verse is in the context of Jacob’s labors on behalf of Laban his father in law, and the unjust manner in which he was treated, but I wanted us to see the first part of this verse, and perceive how Jacob viewed God. He did not say, ‘unless my God’ but rather, ‘the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac’. Essentially, at that point in his existence, Jacob was removed from a personal and intimate relationship with God.
If we fail to evangelize the next generation, if we fail to put in the time and raise our children up in the ways of the Lord, the pattern will simply continue to repeat itself at infinitum. The pattern has existed since the time of Abraham, and its course as well as its causality is as evident as it is tragic. The pattern always follows these three steps: The first generation experiences a spiritual awakening, the second generation maintains its integrity because of its parents’ faith, and the third generation falls by the wayside altogether.
This is the pattern that became evident in the lineage of Abraham as well, wherein the patriarch was close to God, and had a relationship with Him, his son Isaac was blessed in large part due to his father, and Jacob referred to God merely as one who his father served.
Genesis 26:24, “And the Lord appeared to him that same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”
We need to consider two big ideas in this verse. First, when the Lord appeared to Isaac, He introduced Himself as the God of his father. He did not appear to Isaac and say, “I am the Lord your God” as He often did with Israel, but the God of your father. Isaac had no intimacy or relationship with God, and because love for God did not reside in his heart, the only emotion he showed toward the God of his father was fear. Second, it was due to the bond God had with Abraham that he promised Isaac he would bless him. It was for Abraham’s sake that God would bless Isaac, and for no other reason.
We see the perfect portrait of the dangers of not continually and fervently planting the seeds of God’s Word in our children’s lives and hearts. We have the tendency to forget that every generation needs to be pointed to Christ that the pattern might be broken, and that the next generation will be as faithful and obedient to God as the present generation.
The third reason I believe there are so many Christians in name only has more to do with the church as a whole, than the individual. It is due to a combination of hierarchal structure, as well as inflexible and irrelevant formalities and ceremonies.
The primary church understood that in order for the body to function properly, every body part had to function. The nominal church has forgotten that if one body part is not functioning, then it inevitably atrophies. A good example of this is my little brother Daniel. Some time ago he was in a major car wreck, and due to some severe damage he suffered to his left leg he had to have multiple surgeries. Because of the surgeries, he was bedridden and unable to walk for a few months. Inevitably, his leg muscles weakened, they began the process of atrophy, and so before he could walk again, he had to undergo physical therapy to strengthen his legs again. It is the same within a body of believers, where the prevalent mentality is ‘it’s the pastor’s job, he gets paid to labor; he gets paid to be close to God.’ As such the rest of the body grows indifferent, ever weaker, ever colder, and begins to wither becoming powerless and largely irrelevant. In order for the whole to be strong, the individual members must be strong, and as such must grow spiritually as individuals. A church body must function as a single organism, each performing its duties and tasks that the entire body might grow in God.
There is also the danger of inflexible and irrelevant formality. What I mean by this, is that we have so programmed our services, down to the last thirty seconds, that we no longer leave room for the move of God, we no longer leave room for an extended prayer service or for true worship of the heart. Many churches, and I’ve sat in such services, are like a well scripted three act play, beginning with the praise and worship, followed by the taking of the offering, concluded by the fifteen minute sermon and the requisite dismissal. I’m not saying there should be no structure, but not one so rigid that it prohibits interruption or deviation from the set parameters.
The requisite honesty and objective analysis of the modern day church will cause us to conclude some very harsh truths. In most cases, throughout the world in fact, the average churchgoer is older. I have been in churches where people well over sixty were considered the youth of the congregation. This is alarming given the fact that in large part young people want nothing to do with God. The reason for this rebellion is because the youth of today need examples of what it is to be a godly person, and nominal Christians just don’t do it for them. Some who still come to church once in awhile dragging their feet, are merely following in the footsteps of their parents, themselves becoming nominal and indifferent seat warmers, with no passion for God or the things of God.
It would be easy for me to wax poetic at this juncture, to sugar coat the truth and say that there is still hope for the church of tomorrow, but the simple truth is that unless the older generation returns to prayer and fasting, to knowing and living the Word of God, to being examples worthy of emulating, to showing the love of Christ, and having the answers to the questions the younger generation so often poses, there will be no church of tomorrow.
The ‘so what if I choose to be a nominal Christian it doesn’t affect anyone but me’ mentality is a fallacy, and an outright deception. There is always a chain reaction that goes far beyond what human eyes can see, that spans generations and sows bitter seeds that lead to destruction.
Yes, there is a heavy burden on the shoulders of every individual believer, for the life or death of the church of the future, if the Lord so chooses to terry, will largely be decided by our actions, and reactions to the Word and will of God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Enemies Within

Made it home safe and sound. It's been an interesting experience trying to get an internet connection. Luckily I have a friend who actually knows what he's doing when it comes to computers and after reconfiguring something, and as he put it, 'taking down a few firewalls', I'm able to get on the internet. I find myself eerily uncomfortable realizing how dependent I've become on technology. Not that I'm a big gadgets guy, up until a few months ago I still had a Nokia that couldn't text message, but it's amazing how easy it is to miss something as common place as an internet connection when you don't have one.
I am my own worst enemy! Likewise, you are also your own worst enemy. Why do I say we are our own worst enemies? Because it is through the self that the enemy is most often able to attack us, and in the flesh he has a faithful ally.
I realize it is hard to fathom, it is difficult to process the reality that there is something within us that wars against righteousness and sanctification. There is something within us that is wholly corrupt, wholly defiled, that is rendered inanimate when we come to Christ, yet still retains the spark of life, waiting and hoping to be resuscitated and resurrected, brought back to power and full life that it may commence its journey toward destruction and death.
I speak of course, of the enemies within the heart of every man, woman and child, who are ever patient, but also ever vigilant, waiting for an opportunity, a foothold, a crack in the armor that they can exploit and use to their advantage.
It is incumbent upon every believer to make war against these enemies of the soul, and be ever vigilant and watchful so that what was mortified will continue in its mortification, that we might daily continue to be transformed from glory to glory, into the image of Christ. There are four major themes that I want to focus on today, all equally destructive, but some more visible and active than others.
The first great enemy that strives for the hearts of men is pride. It is an old sin, and a formidable foe. The destructive power of pride cannot be underestimated, for when we underestimate our enemies we are sure to fall victim to their snares. Pride is one of those sins that only believers can be aware of in their hearts. The world names it by different names, whether self esteem, or a positive self image, but the world does not classify pride as a negative, it does not see it as a destructive and corrosive power, but rather as a positive attribute and something to strive for.
One of the most sinister aspects of pride is that it compels people to keep two sets of books, to have two different standards, one for themselves, and one for the rest of the world. What one might see as a weakness, a shortcoming, or a vice in others, he sees as a virtue and a strength in himself.
Pride also blinds men to their own impotence. There are few things sadder and more worthy of pity in this world, than a weak man who thinks himself to be strong and invincible. When God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel, in their pride, they cried out, Lord, we will do as you command; we will follow your precepts to the letter, only to break all ten of the commandments on their first day. Only when viewed in the context of humility, can pride be seen for what it is. Only when we compare the two, can we see the stark contrasts between pride and humility, and conclude that they are indeed diametrically opposed. Humility bends its knee, and cries out for help, humility trusts in the strength of God rather than self, humility is dependent on what Jesus did on the cross rather than in its own good works. Pride believes that it can do all things in and of itself, while humility cries out, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!’
Contrary to popular belief, pride does not worm its way into a heart only after an accomplishment or a success, but is there far before that in the form of potential. I have known countless individuals who gave into the pride of potential, of what they might be able to accomplish if they really tried and applied themselves, only to see them go nowhere, and accomplish nothing of substance, because the pride of their potential blinded them to the reality that much potential in the world today goes wholly unrealized.
I realize this may sound contradictory, but many believers today are having to contend with the pride of humility, or as it is more widely known, the pride of false modesty. Any time you hear the words ‘in my humble opinion’, coming out of someone’s mouth, it is almost certain that you’ve just encountered the most prideful person within a stone’s throw. True humility is not aware of itself, it simply is.
I remember an encounter I had with a brother, who thought himself humble because he never wore a necktie. We had a long and belabored conversation about humility, and how he believed that wearing a necktie was a sign of pride, and throughout our conversation I kept trying to get him to understand, that thinking himself humble just because he didn’t wear a necktie made him more proud than those he looked down upon for wearing a necktie. As he was an older man, and very set in his ways, he became exasperated with me, and finally said, ‘you can try to talk me out of the way I think until you turn blue, I’m proud of my humility, and I’ll never wear a necktie. Whether it was a Freudian slip or he really didn’t see the irony in what he said, I simply responded, ‘Exactly! Thank you for making my point for me!’
Whatever it is we attempt to do in order to accentuate our humility, whether refusing to wear a necktie like the aforementioned brother, or a wrist watch, or a wedding band, because we are doing it to make ourselves seem more humble, we are in the very truest sense of the word practicing pride.
The second great enemy of the believer is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy has often been called the twin sibling of pride, and for good reason. Every time we see an ardent and vociferous champion of all that is good and just fall into the selfsame sins he was condemning everyone else of, we see the definition of hypocrisy live, and in living color. Hypocrisy is such a vile and detestable practice, that even the world has an aversion to it.
There has never been a clearer example of hypocrisy than that of the Pharisees during Jesus’ time. Their motto was always, ‘do as we say and not as we do’, and Jesus Himself had a very harsh and merciless reaction to such practices. It was not merely an indictment but the worst kind of insult to tell a Pharisee that ‘the prostitutes and tax collectors would see heaven first.’ These were men who thought themselves to be the highest religious authority in the land, these were man who had most likely memorized the first five books of the bible, and it was to these men that Jesus said, the worst kind of sinner would see heaven before them.
A sure defense against hypocrisy is always practice what you preach, and if you’re not practicing it, stop preaching until you are. We have seen the outcome and the end results of men who like the Pharisees of old thought that they could preach one thing and do another too many times for us to be ignorant of the dangers of hypocrisy.
I realize that the image of a holy warrior, riding a white horse, swinging his sword valiantly and felling anyone in his way is an exciting one, but if it is just an image we are projecting while the reality of our hearts is different, we will one day be counted with the Pharisees of old, and commanded to depart from before God’s holy face.
The third great enemy we must be ever watchful of is that of being overly sensitive, or what I’ve termed Christian egotism. Every one of us has encountered at least one such person in our lifetime, and if you haven’t, you just might be that person! When one is infected with Christian egotism, they feel slighted by everything and everyone. Whether the handshake in church was too long, or too short, or you didn’t spend an adequate amount of time conversing with them, such people read into everything, and do so to the extreme.
“Aha, he turned his head while he was speaking to me; I have a right to be offended!” Or maybe, just maybe, you needed a breath mint! Even kid gloves are too rough for such people, and if they find no reason to take offense, they’ll make one up in their own mind. If such a person happens to be reading this essay, well they’ll probably take offense at the tone of it.
Easily bruised, and unwilling to forgive, self pity is a constant companion for such individuals, because they always see themselves as victims and objects of scorn within the house of God. The underlying cause of Christian egotism however, is nothing as noble as being persecuted for the cause of Christ, but rather the unwavering belief that they are not getting the attention or the honor they deserve within the body of Christ. This is the reason for the umbrage, this is the reason for the protests, and this is the reason for the feelings of being slighted in so many cases.
“Don’t they know who was in their midst? Don’t they know the contribution I could have made to the fellowship of the brethren? They’re just jealous of my talents and that’s why they don’t use me in a greater capacity.”
If you’ve ever been guilty of these proclamations, I urge you to repent. It is when we humble ourselves that God raises us up, not when we raise ourselves up. Have any of your toes ever protested that they are not a nose? Have your eyes ever protested that they are not your ears? When looking at the body of Christ, we see a whole, and each member, each body part works in unity and complements the whole.
The last great enemy of the soul within the hearts of men is isolation. One of the glaring differences between the primary church, and today’s modern church is the fact that the primary church shared their joys and their hurts, their victories and their defeats with each other. They were united, a family, a body of believers, and they opened their hearts to each other in a most noble and glorious way. Today’s church is very different. In today’s church, you hurt alone, you experience joy alone, and you die alone. There is no cohesion, there is no unity, there is no openness, because too many are living duplicitous lives, and fear that if they open up, their true selves will come to light. Isolationism is not healthy for the spiritual man. We are encouraged time and again in the Word, to fellowship with one another, to bear with one another, to encourage one another, pray for one another, to correct one another, and even rebuke one another when it is required.
I realize it is difficult in times such as these to find a fellowship of believers that believe and preach the truth, but something as small as a Bible study in your home, with three or four people is better than never having fellowship with anyone. There is a reason we are called the body of Christ, and not the body part of Christ.
More often than not it is the unseen things that harm our spiritual growth rather than the visible vices and sins. Knowing this, our only recourse is to strive in guarding our hearts, and to be weary of the ever present and ever lurking enemies within. We have the power to overcome them, for our power is not in and of ourselves, but in Christ Jesus who conquered Satan, sin, and death.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Fool's Betrayal

Well, tomorrow I'm off to my homeland. Yes, I'm going to Romania for a little while. My wife has been there for almost a month, and it will be good to spend some time with her. It may be awhile before I post, but I will do my best to keep it as regular a thing as possible. Thank you all for your understanding.
I’ve had discussions concerning this topic with many friends and fellow brothers in Christ. Did Judas betray Christ due to greed, or was it something foreordained? Was Judas just a misunderstood saint, or was he in reality a greedy man and a thief who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?
We can assume, but we all know where assumptions can lead, plus the Word is very clear on the character of Judas, and who he really was. Judas liked the shekels. Judas liked to have the money box, he liked to be in control of the finances, and it was no accident that of the twelve, he ended up carrying the money.
Like any malignancy, the love of money did not spring up in Judas’s heart fully matured, but it grew slow and steady from the seed that had been planted there by the enemy at an unknown season in his life. The love of money began to influence Judas’s character, and from there overcame him to the point of betraying his Lord.
There is a very telling occurrence that takes place some six days before the Passover, as Jesus travels to Bethany, and dines with Lazarus and his sisters that reveals the true colors of Judas, a revelation that only an uncontrolled outburst can bring to light.
A man’s true character is not the image he projects on television, a man’s true character is not the image he projects behind the pulpit; a man’s true character is revealed in those unguarded moments, those moments when they don’t think anyone is watching or listening. We’ve all seen examples of this in some politicians, who seemed by any standard to be the salt of the earth, until not knowing that their microphones were still on proceeded to blurt out a list of expletives that would make even the most hardened of sailors blush.
Then of course there is always the mandatory retraction an apology, with their designated representative explaining with a straight face and a furrowed brow that ‘it’s not what he really meant; you know he doesn’t really feel this way; you misunderstood; or if they are marginally honest, ‘you weren’t supposed to hear that.”
Just for your information, that’s exactly what they meant, that’s exactly how they feel, and no, you did not misunderstand it.
Unguarded moments reveal the hearts of men, more readily and thoroughly than spending a year in their company.
Judas had one such moment, when Mary took a pound of very costly oil, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.
John 12:4-6, “Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.”
The only reason Judas feigned umbrage, was because he had done the calculations in his mind and realized he’d be out three hundred denarii. Taking into account that a denarius was one day’s wage in those days, the fragrant oil with which Mary anointed Jesus’ feet was worth almost a year’s worth of wages. It was not out of tenderness of sympathy for the poor, he was a thief, and because he had the money box, he also took what was put in it.
The love of money continued to eat away at the heart and conscience of Judas, until it was all he could desire, and all that he wanted to possess. Finally, he went to the chief priests and asked what they were willing to give him if he would deliver Jesus to them, and they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 26:16, “So from that time on he sought opportunity to betray Him.”
Surely thirty pieces of silver must have been worth allot back then. Surely Judas would not have betrayed Christ for anything less than a veritable fortune. Well, thirty pieces of silver was equal to about one hundred twenty denarii, which would have been a little over a third of what the oil in the alabaster box was worth. Thirty pieces of silver also happened to be the price one paid for a slave.
So for the price of a slave, Judas betrayed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Would it astonish you if I were to tell you that today men are betraying Jesus for far less? Would it surprise you if I told you that men today are betraying Jesus for worthless, trivial, and temporal things?
Yes, today men betray Jesus just as readily as Judas did, and for far less!
There are four major things for which men have betrayed Jesus throughout the centuries, and still betray him to this day.
First, is the sin of Judas, the love of money. Yes, men betray Jesus for the love of money, and like a cancer eating away at the major organs, the love of money eats away at the vital and fundamental principles of a man’s constitution. When the rich young man came to Jesus, and expressed his desire to follow after Him, Jesus asked one thing, that he sell everything he had and give it to the poor. This, the young man could not do, for he loved his possessions more than Jesus, and as such sold his strength of character for the fleeting possessions of this earth.
The second thing men betray Jesus for, is company. Whether it is friends, family, a wife, a husband, or mere acquaintances, countless souls have set Christ aside to appease others. They allow human sentiment to stand as an immovable stumbling block between themselves and Christ, thereby betraying Him. This was Samson’s downfall, putting his relationship with Delilah above His relationship with his God. Any time we place anything above Jesus, we are betraying Him just as readily as Judas did, sealing our betrayal with a moist kiss.
The third thing that men betray Christ for are earthly pleasures. This can be a long list, but for the sake of brevity, earthly pleasures include everything that causes us to compromise our standard, to reject the fundamental truth that although we are in the world, we ought not to be of the world.
The fourth and final thing that men betray Christ for is their reputations. This has tragically become more popular in our present age than ever before. What we refuse to acknowledge, if only to ourselves, is that we can never popularize the true Jesus. Jesus was hated by the world; Jesus was mocked by the world; Jesus was misunderstood by the world; Jesus was rejected by the world yet those who claim to be His followers readily betray Him in order to be embraced and love by the selfsame world that hated their Master. Today many who name the name of Christ, are ashamed of Him, and so they attempt to homogenize and transform Him into an image they believe will be acceptable to the world.
“No man can go to the Father but by Jesus? That’s not what He really meant; what He meant was that if we try to be good people, and live our own convoluted spirituality, and set our own level of morality wherein we can do what we want, then not only will He welcome us into heaven, but give us lots of stuff here on earth.”
How horrible a thing it is to know the character of Christ, to know the nature of Christ, to know the divinity of Christ and still betray Him.
Many will weep bitter tears and echo the words of Judas, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
The enemy will then answer as did the chief priests and elders, “What is it to me? You see to it!” The enemy is neither merciful nor understanding. He will only court you, until you betray Jesus. Unlike Judas however, today you still have the opportunity to fall to your knees and repent, to reconcile your relationship with the One who gave His life for you, and love Him understanding just how truly priceless salvation is.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Divine Courage

It has been pointed out to me in recent months that disproportionate amounts of my writings center on the words of Paul the Apostle. It is no secret that I admire the wisdom of Paul. Also worthy of note, is that having authored fourteen of the books attributed to the New Testament, it is somewhat difficult to happen upon a passage, not in the four gospels that Paul did not pen.
Another one of Paul’s virtues that I admire greatly is his courage. If he was zealous and bold in his persecution of the saints before his conversion on the road to Damascus, he became doubly so in his defense of the gospel and his preaching of the Lord Jesus afterwards.
There are many instances throughout Paul’s writings, or Luke’s account of Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts that causes one to conclude that his courage was not his own, but rather it came from a divine source. Since Paul was by far the most educated of the Apostles, having been taught the law from early youth, he was able to stand before men of great earthly power and renown and proclaim the gospel of Christ unashamedly. There was no fear in him, and whether Paul stood before magistrates, rulers, priests or commoners, the message of the cross was presented in its entirety, holding nothing back for fear of offense or retaliation.
For Paul the transformation from persecutor of the gospel to preacher of the gospel was instantaneous, like flipping on a light switch. Paul went from having his heart darkened with hatred against those of the way, to having His heart alight with love for Christ, ever willing to put himself in harm’s way, to suffer persecution, to endure hardships for the glory of God, and the furthering of the gospel.
Acts 9:20-21, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed and said, ‘is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
Consider that ‘immediately’ refers to the time that lapsed between Paul having his sight restored, and being baptized, and preaching in the synagogues. After having been converted, Paul went to the synagogue, the selfsame place where everyone knew him as not only the man who had destroyed the followers of Christ in Jerusalem, but who had come to do the same in Damascus.
Paul could have come up with a multitude of reasons to put off his confrontation with those of the synagogues. He was after all a new convert, just a few days at the most. He was also ignorant of many things concerning Christ. He could have readily argued that first he had to go to Jerusalem, and learn everything he needed to about the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, then after having digested the information, set forth on such a taxing endeavor. Paul could have found an excuse not to preach Jesus, but he didn’t.
Paul had heard the voice of God, rebuking him of his sin. Paul had seen the Lord whom he was persecuting, because to persecute the followers of Christ is to persecute Christ Himself. Paul was stripped of his strength, self confidence, and sight, but Paul also understood through all these experiences the fundamental truth that Jesus was none other than the Christ, the Son of the living God, and his hatred was transformed into love. The rebel hands that sought to tear down the church, had now been commissioned the build it up, stone upon stone, for the glory of God.
With this newfound experience, and this foundational truth that Jesus is the Christ, he entered the synagogue and simply preached Him. Sometimes, to their detriment preachers and evangelists have a tendency to complicate the word of life. In order to be socially relevant, they water down the truth of Scripture, and in order to be friendly to seekers, they stop preaching Jesus. When we stop preaching Jesus, we stop preaching the good news of the gospel. When we stop preaching Jesus, we stop preaching the word of life. In the midst of the synagogue, Paul preached Christ, and Christ crucified. He could have preached on the Law of Moses, he could have taught on the old prophets, he was capable and had amassed enough wisdom and knowledge wherein he would have made an impression. However, Paul realized that the preeminent message must be Jesus and His Lordship, His sacrifice, and His redemption.
It took divine courage for Paul to stand in the synagogues; it took divine courage to stand before men who hated those of the Way because having been such a man he understood how readily they could resort to violence. So often we allow the fear of retaliation, opposition or rejection to keep us from preaching Jesus, and to this I say pray for divine courage, pray for a sovereign boldness to stand your ground when others have retreated, to preach Jesus when others have been silenced by fear.
Paul went to the one place where everyone knew of his reputation. These men saw him standing there, and I’m certain that before he began to speak, they were excited to hear him condemn the followers of Christ. Their excitement however turned to stunned silence when rather than condemning he encouraged his audience to follow after Christ.
By preaching in the synagogues Paul gave the greatest evidence of his newfound faith in God, of the sincerity and authenticity of his transformation both in mind and heart, and also of his decision to be a follower of Christ Jesus.
It was Paul’s first victory not only over those who would hate him and seek to take his life for the rest of his days, but also over his own emotions and fears. From that point forward, throughout the rest of his ministry Paul was indeed a fearless ambassador for Christ, leaning not on his own strength, leaning not on his own courage, but trusting in the divine courage that Christ provided by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have a friend who recently came to Christ, who is by nature a very shy individual. He is currently attending college, working towards a bachelor’s degree in business, and one morning Leo called me very excited. At first I thought something had happened, but then he proceeded to tell me what had occurred the previous afternoon.
Apparently he was in one of his classes, and before the class started he pulled his Bible from his bag and began to read it. His professor saw this, and asked him to stay after class. The professor informed Leo that he didn’t care what he did in his free time, but while he was in his class he wasn’t supposed to read the Bible.
At this point Leo started getting excited and said, ‘I know it wasn’t me, I’m not that kind of person, but I looked him in the eye and asked, professor, do you know Jesus, do you know what He did for you?’
The professor waved him off, but what stayed with Leo was the fact that he had experienced divine courage. Throughout our journey on this earth may we as faithful children of God, walk in divine courage.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.