Friday, August 23, 2013

"A Rose By Any Other Name...": Does the Bible lose it's value or credibility if we abandon the unsupportable tenet of 'inerrancy' and/or 'infallibility'?

It's clear that unless we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, we have no solid basis for trusting what it says. It then becomes just a collection of wild ramblings and tales of questionable veracity. But, the fact that it is inspired and divinely secured for the ages is indisputable (you can dispute it if you like, but if you do, do it with someone else because you clearly haven't researched it or even bothered to read the research of numbers of scholarly people). But most churches and para-church organizations also believe that the Bible is 'infallible', which I, frankly, find unsupportable practically, and even on the basis of what the Bible says about itself. (And don't quote me Psalm 19:7 - 'perfect' doesn't mean what you think.)

So here are the questions that cover this topic in a complete fashion:

1. How can we know that the Bible is the inspired word of God?

2. How do we know that the Bible as it now exists is faithful to the original?

3. Is there really any substance (or even necessity to adhere) to the belief that the Bible is 'infallible' (or 'inerrant' - see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_infallibility)?

For myself, I have no problem with the first 2 questions. I've heard wonderful lectures on the statistical improbability of the number of detailed prophecies that have been fulfilled and the history of Satan's futile attempts to rub out the Scriptures. The facts are imposing concerning the multitude of original manuscripts and their consistency and reliability when judged by the same criteria as other ancient works that the secular world holds as reliable and faithful to the original. However, I do find convincing arguments against the idea that the Bible is infallible or inerrant in the common sense of the words.


Let's start with by defining the words (thanks to Professor John M. Frame):

Inerrant: without errors
Infallible: there can be no errors
 

http://reformedperspectives.org/files/reformedperspectives/theology/TH.Frame.inerrancy.html#F4B

First of all, Paul says that 'all' scripture is inspired by God and 'profitable' for (this, that, and the other). He never says anything close to "Everything I had my scribe write down was written by the Holy Spirit taking over his will to choose every word and arrange it exactly where you now find it." He even says that some of it is his own opinion and not from the Lord. And then there's the issue of whether we can even be sure of which nuance of a Greek or Hebrew word is actually evoked in a particular context, which in many cases can radically impact the meaning of a passage. And since every one can't be a Greek and Hebrew scholar, we have to rely on 'fallible' men and women who undertook to translate from the original. And even the scholars are at a loss to find words in the target languages that effectively represent the meaning of the original. It's clear that unless God himself was the sole agent in producing the written words (in whatever linguistic form), the abundantly fallible and biased hand of sinful man has ruled out the possibility of infallibility from both the origin and the interpretation of what we now hold in our hands as God's word.

And don't even get me started on the canonization of the books of the Bible! Which version of the canon is the infallible one? Are we to believe that the Protestants, some of whose champions (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli) followed Augustine's heretical belief that torture and execution are acceptable forms of evangelization and church discipline (based on the parable where the king tells his servants to 'compel' the guests to come to the wedding feast) were 'inspired' in their canonization process but the Catholics weren't? And if an 'infallible' Bible is necessary for salvation, sanctification and rule of life, then how could someone who is illiterate or even mentally disabled find salvation through faith? It's not "All who read and memorize the infallible, inerrant words of scripture are the sons of God" - it's "All who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God." Paul makes a point in Romans of explaining clearly that the law (the Jewish Bible) isn't even necessary for knowing everything we need to know about about God and righteousness. Nature and our own consciences will get the basic job done quite nicely, so that there's no excuse for anyone.

Anyway, I can't buy the ideas of infallibility or inerrancy as I think they are implied by most, and I don't think it's a necessary tenet in order to anchor the fundamental beliefs of our faith. Jesus warned the Pharisees that their dogmatic way of approaching Scripture was blinding them to the saving truth of the Gospel: John 5:39 NASB - "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." If we deify the written words, we are basically committing idolatry. God isn't contained in the pages of a book. We aren't saved by obeying the letter, but by being led by the Spirit through the real-time Word of God, Jesus, speaking into our hearts "this is the way...walk in it". A static faith in even the fundamental truth of Christ's substitutionary death on the cross won't save us as James clearly reveals: James 2:14 NASB - "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" Believing that the Bible is true, whether or not we hold it to be infallible, won't save us. So why do we cling so tenaciously to this unsupportable idea? The Bible is 'profitable' for knowing God's revealed truth about himself and his way of salvation, but to say that it is 'infallible' is meaningless...in my opinion. Only God is infallible and the written word is not God - the Living Word of God, Jesus, is God...and he's still speaking:

 Hebrews 3:7-12 NASB - Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. "THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, 'THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS'; AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, 'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'" Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. (not the dead letter).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Unity of the Spirit Leads to Unity of the Faith

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. - (John 17:23 NASB)

being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ... until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. - (Ephesians 4:3, 13 NASB)

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. - (Colossians 3:14 NASB)


In my pursuit of 'pure doctrine' I've been wrestling with the tenets of Reformed Theology and those of the Wesleyan school of thought (which I favor). I am amazed that God has chosen to use such broken vessels as Martin Luther (who advocated shipping all the Jews back to Palestine and recommended execution of the Anabaptists) and John Calvin (who advocated torture and execution as acceptable means of 'evangelism'. Why should I trust myself to Biblical interpretations from men whose lives in no way resembled that of the Christ whom they claimed to have been disciples of?

Of course I'm not eager to have my own life put under the microscope!

Anyway, I see that there is a tension between 'right doctrine', which is definitely essential, and which the Scriptures themselves admonish us to guard with diligence, and pursuit of unity in the bond of peace whereby we are told by Jesus himself that we will be identified as genuinely His disciples. So, even though I consider Calvin's views heretical (and question whether with his advocacy of forced conversions he will even attain to life eternal), I may not be able so easily to write off those who adhere to his teachings.

I'm reading 'Revival' by Winkey Pratney. Last night I read a wonderful exchange between the imminent 18th century preacher Charles Simeon and John Wesley which I think speaks eloquently to my struggle:


**********************************************************************************
Simeon - Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers.  But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions.  Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Wesley - Yes, I do indeed.

Simeon - And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Wesley - Yes, solely through Christ.

Simeon - But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

Wesley - No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Simeon - Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

Wesley - No.

Simeon - What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Wesley - Yes, altogether.

Simeon - And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Wesley - Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Simeon - Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things where in we agree. (Moule, 79ff.)
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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Hungry For Change

Matthew 3

I'm starving. I'm parched. I'm hungry for change (http://tradeasone.com/get_involved/hungry_for_change/).

It would appear that the Judeans during John's ministry were also experiencing hunger and thirst as they flocked to the Jordan to confess their sins and identify with a symbol of cleansing and regeneration. What were they anticipating? Jesus had not yet begun to expound on the attributes of the Kingdom of Heaven. They must have been knowledgeable about the OT prophesies about the Messianic Age and the good things that would characterize God's reign on earth.

So John came indicating what was necessary to prepare for the Kingdom that was 'at hand'. Repent...prepare the way...bring forth fruit worthy of repentance. I can't rely on my heritage or my list of accomplishments. I must acknowledge my spiritual poverty and mourn over my infatuation with my worldly riches. This is not a message of cheap grace. The axe is laid to the root. He will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor.

Maranatha

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ask...Seek...Knock - Luke 11:9,13

Wow! Long time - no blog...

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. ...  "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" - (Luke 11:9-10, 13 NASB)Father up in heaven...and in my heart
Please give it to me now
Or I can't start
Livin' out the lovin' life that you prepared
Just starin' at the formless void
I get so scared
I've got to have the Spirit now
Or I can't start
Building up a store of good
Within my heart
The devils now are mostly gone
The floor is clean...I've mowed the lawn
But now I've go no furniture
And I am sore afraid
Of who might ending up sleeping by me
In this bed I've made
There's seven hombres malos
Who've been hanging 'round my door
I need the power of the Ghost
So they don't come 'round no more
And there's a bunch of other beggars
Dressed in rags like me
(Or that's the way I used to look...
but now I'm clean and free)
They masquerade as rich men
But they haven't got a clue
They need to take their tarnished bling
And trade it in for You
I want to pull their covers
And expose their starving souls
But I'm reaching in my bag of tricks
And find it's full of holes
So Father, for my Xmas gift (or birthday or whatever)
I'd like a brand new wineskin
That's been made of supple leather
Though for your sake I don't imbibe
I'm askin' that you please
Fill up that sack with brand New Wine
That brings me to my knees
I'd like to get a little drunk
And be forced to explain
That a different kind of Spirit
Has just pickled up my brain
And then fluent in a dialect
That cuts right to the heart
I'd like to set those beggars free
To get a brand new heart
But right now I can't cut a thing
With this here rubber sword
I need the sharp and living One
Your Spirit has in store
So come on Giver of all good
I'm askin', seekin', knockin'

You won't be rid of me today

Until you open up and say
"I've filled your Xmas stocking!"

Amen!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fasting for Freedom

I'm a slave. I think we all are, really. And, though it may sound strange, we should be slaves. But it's to whom (or what), and by what arrangement that we're enslaved that determines whether this is a good or a bad thing.

I used to be a slave of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Now I have sex in the context of the mysterious love-covenant with my beautiful wife to express and enhance the devine intimacy that we share. I use ibuprofin at the slightest hint of cranial discomfort because I'm a weenie when it comes to headaches. I still LOVE rock 'n' roll, but I couldn't tell you which songs top the charts in the various genres of rock music. I mostly listen to K-Love and Air1 and occasionally listen to ChristianRock.net on my computer.

But was I ever really a slave of those external manifestations? Not really. I went through a 'program' to get 'recovery'. It was very helpful. My life changed dramatically and permanently. I don't live in pursuit of those things that were destroying my life before, and I am now much more myself, more the person God created me to be, than I ever was before. But I'm still a slave.
I'm a slave...but it's different now. I've left Egypt and watched Pharaoh's armies drown in the Red Sea of the blood of Christ. I'm no longer Pharaoh's slave. There, in Egypt, I was an unwilling slave. There, I toiled day after day to build a kingdom that was not my homeland. I served a king who did not love me; who only gave me lots of abuse and just enough of what I really need to keep me a barely functioning unit in the labor pool. Now, I'm a willing slave...the 'bond-slave' of a Benevolent King: the King of Kings. I'm a free man, but I chose to be a subject of, and a slave to, the Lord of Lords.

But the journey out of Egypt into the Promised Land is a faith journey. Like the Children of Israel, I wander in a desert and occasionally get to visit the place of which I'm a naturalized citizen. I hold documents that prove that I'm a citizen of that place, but I don't see the full benefits of that citizenship except by faith.

So I experience that I am in a struggle with invisible enemies who would like to capture and return me to Egypt. Now, in addition to my oath to serve my Master, my Savior, I also find that I am still at least partially a slave to some invisible dark forces. I have the documents to prove that I'm a free man, but I am not yet able to experience fully that freedom. I now appear to be enslaved to food. I often eat 'recreationally', even though I know that I don't need another cookie or bowl of ice cream and that it will not have a positive effect on my well being...just an endorphin rush. I'm also a slave to unfruitful 'busyness' and a lack of self-discipline. When I should be passionately seeking access to the presence of my Almighty Benefactor, I become distracted over word studies or find my thoughts drifting off to some imaginary role playing with a person in my life to whom I don't have the guts to say what I see myself telling them in my mind's eye.

What's the answer? I know that my Liberator has triumphed over death, over darkness, over every force that would delight in my demise. But there is a secret to this journey that I'm beginning to understand. Apparently, I'm a hemophiliac. I hemorrhage at the slightest prick or nick of my fragile epithelium. I am in constant need of a blood transfusion. I'm in constant need of close proximity to the healing power of the Great Physician. My new job as his bond-slave is to work triage in his Love Clinic. There are sick and dying people all around me, but I'm helpless to do anything to alleviate their suffering or prevent their certain death if I'm not filled with the Divine Fluid which supplies the life force that these expiring souls so desperately require. I must be filled with His Presence. I must be filled with His Love. I must be 'being filled' with those absolutely, critically essential resources continuously and in increasing measure. This will not only counteract my natural tendency to slip back into decay and decomposition, but it will begin to reverse the grip and power of death that is affecting the other patients in this huge emergency room.

But here is where I currently find myself in need of some extraordinary measures. I, like the man in the parable of the Pearl of Great Price, must put the highest value on pressing into God's presence. My soul is not by nature comfortable in the presence of the Divine Glory. Like Isaiah and many others, when confronted with the holiness of the Almighty, my entire being wants to evaporate and avoid His blinding brilliance. I am profoundly aware of my unworthiness to be in His presence. But, ironically, it's exactly there, in his presence, that I need to be. I need to allow his glory to burn away all of the impurities in my life, and allow him to transform all that has been marred by the fall, by my sin, into that which was his original design; into that which is able to reflect and transmit his redeeming Love and Grace to a world full of desperate souls. Apparently, I need to starve my soul so that my spirit can more easily connect with God's Spirit. I need to reclaim the sense of wonder and the childlike faith, love and devotion that I had when I first experienced the overwhelming grace and love of Jesus. I've become too enmeshed in the trappings of this physical existence and too much a stranger to the Invisible Kingdom which is my true homeland.

I need to fast and pray. This isn't my guilty way of 'earning' God's favor. I know that I'm loved and accepted in spite of my unworthiness. This is what I believe the Spirit is speaking to my heart. And obedience is better than sacrifice. But boy oh boy is it hard for me to bring myself to do it! I made it until dinner yesterday, but I think I need to engage in an extended fast.

Peas & Grays,
Wayniack!

Friday, July 01, 2011

"Everybody Must Get Stoned"

Lord, why is the gate so small and the path so narrow? Lord, why are people so petty and their minds so narrow? Why is it so easy to get the Gospel wrong? What is the 'Good News'?

It's certainly good news that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins "of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). But if that's true, why did Calvin teach (and so many tragically believe) that only a select few were appointed to go to heaven and the rest are destined for hell with no possibility of altering their course? I'm aware of the verses the 'Reformed' Christians use to support this heresy and I must admit those verses seem to say what Calvin and his coven claim to be the truth. But then that would make the 'Good News' to be really just the 'So-so News'. It's great if you're chosen, but you might as well 'curse God and die' if you're not.

Anyway, Lord, I'll love the heretics just like you loved the Pharitics: I'll "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). But even though I clearly see that their predestination theory is bunk, I also have a hard time reconciling this idea of unconditional love and eternal security that everyone is cooing about with the passages that clearly warn against persisting in the works of the flesh:

Galatians 6:7-8 NASB - [7] Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 5:19-21 NASB - [19] Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,factions, [21] envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-12 NASB - [7] and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, [8] dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. [9] These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, [10] when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed. [11] To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, [12] so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's clear that those who are not deemed "worthy of [their] calling" because they don't "obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" will suffer eternal destruction, banished from His presence forever. Why would Paul pray that they would be counted worthy if, as the Callvinists claim, the elect are called and then sanctified (entirely apart from their own free will!) so as to make their salvation an absolute certainty? They claim that those who backslide and return to a life of sin just prove that they were never really one of 'the elect'. But I never got the impression that the apostle Paul was a dimwit! Why would he waste his time praying "always" for something that is a foregone conclusion? I think he had better things to do.

But it's also clearly not as the 'once saved - always saved' folks would have us believe. The same verses blow that theory out of the water as well. Salvation is a gift, but not in the sense of an object contained in a box wrapped with festive paper and a pretty satin bow, that once opened becomes the permanent property of the recipient. Salvation is like a prescription for a medication that we must continue to take according to the Doctor's directions if we are to have any hope of recovering from our illness. The cure is guaranteed, but only if we continue the treatment. We can "know that [we] have eternal life" according to 1 John 5:13, but it's easy to take this statement out of context and many do. True faith (which according to James saves us) is characterized by:

1) A love for God - which John defines as keeping His commandments, which he claims are not burdensome. The New Covenant has only 2 directives: to believe in Jesus, and to love our spiritual siblings (John 6:29, 1 John 3:23 - read Gaylord Enns "Love Revolution"). Now that our hope is "Christ in you, the hope of glory", we are loving God when we love one another.
2) Overcoming the world. God loves us like we are, but he also loves us too much to leave us like we are. The letters to the 7 churches in 'The Revelation to John" make it clear that we must be overcomers. In the letter to the church in Sardis, Jesus states that those who overcome will never have their names erased from the Book of Life. Overcoming is not optional, but focusing on sin management is clearly not the answer as Colossians makes clear. The church in Sardis was guilty of 'incomplete works'. They apparently had lost their fervor for loving people in practical ways. They were dead, even though they had a reputation for being a happening place to 'do church'.

Well...I could go on forever, but the bottom line is that I need to be more in love with Jesus. I need to make room for Him to reveal His heart to me; to speak to me about what He wants to do in and through me. I need to be filled with His Spirit. I need to quit trying to make God happy by my performance and just focus on letting Him all the way into the depths of my soul, no matter what dark place He wants to shine the light of His glory into.

I just finished reading "Son of a Preacher Man" by Jay Bakker. He has a ministry in Atlanta called 'Revolution' that reaches out to punks, skaters, goths, metalheads, etc. Their MO is to just accept these kids as they are. They put on concerts with secular as well as Christian rock bands. They don't exclude kids from their Bible studies and activities over their dress or piercings or tattoos...or even if they are high or intoxicated. They try to love them like Jesus would, who hung out with the dregs of society when he was here in the flesh. But even Jay admits that the love that he knows Jesus wants to show the disenfranchised, he has a hard time appropriating for himself. We're so conditioned by 'the church' to be Pharisees, that we even turn on ourselves. I'm sometimes the worst Pharisee of all. Sometimes I'm right there, guarding the jackets at Stephen's execution. "Everybody Must Get Stoned"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Found In Him - Revelation 3:14-22

Many times in the recent past I've pondered all my busyness and wondered if I'm missing the boat. I'm not lazy, though sometimes I think my sense of propriety motivates me to be 'productive' when I'd rather just flop on the couch with a bag of chips and let the acid rain of television comfy-cozy my cares away. Sometimes I do.
My activities consist of many 'good' and noble pursuits. I love my wife and therefore am diligent to apply myself to domestic tasks, since I'm of the opinion that in this age these obligation are not the sole domain of the female half of the species. I apply myself diligently to my IT consulting business so that I can bring in a significant portion of the money necessary to provide for our very comfortable lifestyle. I apply myself to as many service opportunities as I can reasonably manage in order to be a conscientious member of my community. And, lastly but certainly not leastly (I know...not a word), I endeavor to serve God in the areas where I feel like I've been gifted to do so.
But there's the rub as 'they' say. How do I know I'm doing something that's part of God's agenda? How do I know that I'm not just doing my own thing and asking God to bless it? We're told in the Bible that we should do everything as 'unto the Lord' and that 'whatever [our] hand finds to do, [we] should do it with all our might'; but does that hit the mark? In Matthew 7, Jesus tells a parable about a group who are sadly found to be wanting at a point where it's too late to make amends. They were apparently engaged in very spiritual activities: prophesying, casting out demons, working miracles, etc. But it's very interesting what Jesus says to them as the reason they are about to be cast into the outer darkness: "I never knew you!". How can that be? Well, I'm not really sure, but I think the admonishment to the Laodiceans in Revelation chapter 3 sheds some light on this, but only if one takes the time to really ponder the message of this oft misinterpreted passage.
In Revelation 3, verses 14 through 22, Jesus rebukes the Laodiceans for being neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. The common understanding of this passage is that they had become sort of 'ho-hum' about their Christianity. They were keeping up the appearances of being Christians, but in reality possessed no passion or zeal in their faith. They were just going through the motions. But this doesn't fit the context of this passage. First of all, if 'lukewarm' was an indication of a lack of enthusiasm for the things of God, why would Jesus prefer them to be cold instead of lukewarm? It doesn't make sense. The key to understanding this passage is in knowing a bit about the history and geography of Laodicea and it's citizens at that time. Without going into a lot of detail, I'll just say that it is pretty certain that Jesus was referring to the fact that they lived in an area where they were between two opposite but very desirable water sources: Hierapolis, which had renown for it's mineral hot springs and Colossi which had a source of clear, cold and refreshing water. Laodicea had an aqueduct that brought the mineral spring water to them, but by the time it reached them it was tepid. So Jesus isn't referring to their passion in serving him, but to their disconnection with his Spirit in all of their busyness, prosperity and deluded sense of self-righteousness. They were operating from their own strengths and perceived abundance of resources. It wasn't that they were dispassionate about their Christian walk. They were busy getting rich and probably engaged in all kinds of benevolence programs of which they were very proud. They were probably very excited about all of the good things they were doing and feeling like God's blessing must be really upon them. But they were disconnected from Jesus. Thus, the admonition to repent and the invitation to intimacy by opening the door and sharing a meal with Jesus.

Our relationship with Christ is more important than any 'good' thing that we could do 'for God'. Think of the story of Mary and Martha. Martha got all tweaked because Mary wasn't helping her check of all the tasks on her 'To Do' list. But Mary, rather than Martha, understood what was really important: listening to Jesus. Think of Jesus' words that "apart from me you can do nothing", and "all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God". We can only possess true love which empowers our work and causes it to bear the kind of fruit that will last if we first make room for God's love to fill us. "We love because he first loved us". As Paul points out in Romans, all my labors amount to nothing if they aren't fueled by God's love working through me. And this can only happen if I make time to draw near to Jesus by his Spirit and let him do his sanctifying work in me. I'm righteous when I let God show me my spiritual poverty and accept Jesus' blood as payment and then let God sit on the throne of my heart. I'm 'wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked' if I rely on my own strength and wisdom for serving God and on my own standard for achieving righteousness. And I run the risk of hearing Jesus say to me on that final day 'I never knew you!' God expects fruit, so I do need to be 'rich towards God'. I do need to be heeding Christ's admonishment to 'be so doing' when he returns. But I need to be 'led by His Spirit' and not just doing my own thing. I need to be allowing his light to shine in my dark heart and be 'walking in the light'. I need to open the door to my heart when I become aware that I can no longer sense the presence of God's Spirit in my life...when I'm just doing the Martha thing and neglecting the Mary thing. I need to be 'found in Him'.

Peace & Grace