Thursday, January 19, 2023

No Substitutions

 I always thought that restaurants that insist on no substitutions when it comes to their main dishes were being pretentious and overly restrictive. Granted, I’m one of those guys that asks for A1 sauce with his steak, so what do I know? Believe me; it’s been a bone of contention in our house for the longest time because my wife is a purist, and slathering A1 onto a steak for her is like telling a King James-only person that you read the New King James.

Anything you say after that point is, well, pointless because all they heard is New King James, and they’re mentally trying to figure out which circle of Dante’s hell you will inhabit evermore. As far as that whole debate goes, the entire Bible has been translated into 724 languages, so narcissism and self-importance aside, if only King James only people went to heaven, heaven would be a pretty empty place, but I digress.

Have some taken it too far? Most assuredly. But anyone with an objective view can see there is a world of difference between the New King James Bible and the gender-neutral Bible. It’s usually people with full bellies and warm hearths that have the luxury of nitpicking everything and going off on rabbit trails so far removed from the core message of the gospel that they start foaming at the mouth about black holes and interstellar travel. Ask someone who is risking being hung, stoned, or decapitated for receiving Christ about translations, and they will look at you as though you lost the plot at some point.

Persecution makes everything simple. The risk of having one’s life taken for following after Christ strips everything down to its essential components, removing all the tertiary, non-salvific bits until there is only a redeemer, the redeemed, and the price paid for their redemption. It’s funny how that works; the more comfortable the church is in any given generation, the more likely it is to be lukewarm, indifferent, disinterested, and focused on irrelevancies they grow so passionate about they become the hill they’re willing to die on rather than the truth of the Gospel. I’ve known individuals who broke fellowship with other believers because they disagreed on things like flat earth or aliens or whether or not the Antichrist is some hockey player in Hungary. So much for brothers in arms and soldiers of the cross. How did we get here? Oh, yeah, no substitutions.

Having had a chance to converse with people in the food industry on and off, I found out it wasn’t about pretension as much as it was the fluidity in the kitchen and their ability to get orders out as soon as possible. Also, when you start to substitute one thing for another in a dish, the intended flavor profile, mouth feel, and texture variants are no longer the ones being plated.

Psalm 49:6-9, “Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him – for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever – that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit.”

I get it. Theological juggernauts like Oprah insist that there are substitutions a plenty, but the Word of God says that none can be had. Even those rich enough to boast of their wealth aren’t rich enough to redeem their brother or give God a ransom for him. We’re not talking about lightweights here; we’re talking about people who boast in the multitude of their riches, yet they can do nothing to redeem their souls or the souls of their loved ones.

One redeemer, one price, no substitutions. I don’t care who said what. I don’t care how they try to twist it. The Word of God is absolute and immovable. It will not change for a man or for an entire generation of men, and those who deluded themselves into believing otherwise will be confronted with the reality of their delusion when they stand before the great seat of judgment on that day of days.

Allergic to repentance? Can’t help you. Holiness intolerance? I’m sorry, this may not be the place for you. We must stop telling people that the blood of Christ was worth so little that they can wash themselves clean, then go right back to doing cannonballs in the pig pen. We need to stop telling people that God is so desperate for them that He’ll bend the rules, look the other way, and no longer insist on the standard that has been in place for two thousand years.

Anyone artificially lowering God’s standard isn’t out to help you; they’re out to make merchandise of you. They don’t want what’s best for your eternal soul; they want what’s best for their pocketbook. I can sit here and list a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t listen to hucksters who lie to your face, then reach out their hand in the universal gimme sign. For the most part, the response I’ll get back is either, ‘but I like what he says, he doesn’t hurt my feelings, he puts me at ease, or my spirit bore witness to the message.’

False shepherds will pander to you until you’re all out of wool or you free dive over the precipice. True shepherds will correct you even at the risk of hurting your feelings because their purpose isn’t being liked by you; it’s leading you to the green pastures of God’s truth.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

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