Been thinking about friends. Isn’t that what Face Book is all about; friends connecting with friends? Is the idea to pile up friends as trophies to see who can acquire the most? Do we refuse to connect with some old tried and true friends, because we fear that they might embarrass us? Is Face Book super popular because we are basically lonely people, including those from large extended families? Do we secretly long for “LIKES” on our posts and are we discouraged and even devastated when we are ignored? Are we drawn back to our computers throughout the day, checking to count our “likes”?
This is a lonely world. It always has been. We’re basically not that much different from past generations- except for our technology, especially the technology that enables us to connect with others so easily- cell phones, Skype, etc.
At this Christmas season our attention is drawn to Jesus who came into this world as a stranger. As He grew up He attracted great crowds because of His miracles. Basically the crowds forsook Him because of the Truth He taught. They not only forsook Him, but they hated Him with such intensity that they crucified Him, one of the worst tortures known to man. Actually, it was God who crucified His own beloved Son. He was behind it all as He put Him to death to pay the full penalty for all our sins.
Thank God that three days later He proved to the world that He was more than a man by rising bodily from the dead and later returning to Heaven. Jesus is God in human flesh. He willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty of death God demanded for sin. Have you received that Good News? Are you relying on Jesus as your sin bearer? If so, you are a son or daughter of God and will live with Him forever. If not, you are still under the condemnation of God and will pay the eternal penalty for your sins.
If you are a blood-bought child of God, I encourage you to reach out to others in this coming year. Not just to those who will help you feel better about yourself; but to others who need your friendship and eventually to others who will come to know Your Friend, as their Friend. Have a blessed Christmas.
God’s clear command to Christians in II Corinthians 6:14-18 is to not be yoked together with unbelievers in doing or supporting the Lord’s work under any circumstance. We are to minister to unbelievers and preach the Gospel to them; but we are not to seek unbeliever’s help in carrying out or helping to support a Christian ministry, even though it seems the logical and reasonable thing to do. This doctrine of separation is repeatedly taught in Scriptures, such as Romans 16:17-18, Galatians 1:6-9, II Peter 2, and II John 7-11. To ignore and disobey this doctrine of separation is the sin of Balaamism, which the Bible repeatedly warns us of and of which I will deal with in the next message in this series.
From the time of Adam and Eve, Satan’s lures and temptations have always appeared to be pious and right. II Corinthians 11:13-14 teaches us that often Satan appears and appeals to us in dreams and visions as an angel of light. We are tempted to disobey God because it seems to us that we are spiritually strong and that we can accomplish more good through our disobedience. In fact, Satan convinces us that we are not disobeying God.
Early in my ministry I pastored a small rural denominational church associated with the liberal National Council of Churches. Within that church were some solid Bible believing Christians who knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. They appreciated my biblical preaching. During the four years I was there as their pastor, many opportunities opened for me to be of blessing beyond my church doors. As a young preacher, still in my twenties, I had the opportunity to be the pastor/advisor for the denominational youth activities of the more than ten denominational churches within that Association. Furthermore, I directed the denominational camp for the Junior High youth for two summers.
One night I had a clear vision of how God could use me if I would continue within that liberal denomination for the rest of my life. It was a convincing vision which made me feel good about my unbiblical yoke with that liberal denomination. At the time I felt it was a vision from God assuring me that I was on the right track and that I should continue my course of action. Later I realized that it was Satan who had given me that vision, even though God in His wisdom and sovereignty used me to accomplish His will.
After four years with that church, I was called to a larger church in that same denomination; a church close enough to one of their denominational seminaries where I could continue graduate work and earn a graduate degree, thereby opening up more doors for my advancement to larger churches and greater opportunities.
I accepted that call and began my seminary training. It wasn’t long until I realized I was being fed the Neo Orthodoxy of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner and other theologians of that dangerous persuasion. I deal with Neo Orthodoxy a little later in this SEPARATION series of messages.
I continued with this church for about four and a half more years, preaching the Gospel and warning of the dangers I was being taught.
When I left this second church, they called a new faithful Bible preaching pastor who offered to come if they would vote themselves out of that liberal denomination. They did and he began a long fruitful pastorate of about forty years there.
Incidentally, the Christians of that earlier rural church I pastored, after vainly trying to separate from the liberal denomination; eventually separated from their church and established a solid, thriving Bible based church and Christian school for their children.
Since that time, I have enjoyed long fruitful ministries in two more Bible churches, concluding fifty-five years of pastoral ministry in 2011 at the age of 78. .
As you continue your study of this series of messages on Separation, may God open your spiritual eye-sight to the dangers of attempting to serve the Lord by compromising with those who question and deny the infallibility of the Bible. Don’t trust your visions. Trust and obey God’s Word. At the same time don’t judge Bible believing pastors serving in liberal denominations. Romans 14:1-13 They are God’s servants; not yours.
Hebrews 2:14-15 reminds us that natural men and women live all their lives in fear and bondage, many to religious superstition, dreading to face a holy God in their sinful condition.
In contrast, we Christians who have found forgiveness and cleansing for sin through faith in the cleansing blood of Christ, have a healthy reverential fear of God that leads to a life of joy and freedom.
In the passage before us in this study, Proverbs 14:26-27 we learn more about that fear of God. Because we have peace with God through the shed blood of Christ, as taught in Romans 5 and Colossians 1, we need no longer live our lives in fear of circumstances and of the future and of God’s judgment on us because of our sins.
Throughout the Bible the fear of man and the fear of the future is a negative emotion or cloud under which we as Christians have no reason to live; whereas, the reverential fear of God is a positive experience to be chosen and sought after.
The greater our reverential fear of God, the less we will fear man or any circumstance that can come into our lives. Proverbs 1:7, 29-39.
We need not fear old age for God goes with us every step of the way. Read these wonderful, comforting promises concerning our future. Psalm 31:15, Psalm 37:23-29, Isaiah 46:4, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:31-34.
We need not fear what man nor oppresive government can do to us. Hebrews 13:6
We need not fear death. David referred to it as a mere shadow. Psalm 23:4
THE SINFUL FEAR OF MAN AND CIRCUMSTANCES
The lost, described in Revelation 21:8 as fearful. unbelieving, abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters and liars, will all have their part in The Lake of Fire. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God and eating forbidden fruit, they were immediately fearful and attempted to hide themselves from God. God found them, confronted them with their sin and then graciously provided them a covering of imputed righteousness through the shedding of the blood of animals and covering their nakedness with the skins of the animals. Animal sacrifices continued throughout the Old Testament until God, in the fullness of time provided a once for all final sacrifice for sin through the shedding of the blood of His own Son, Jesus, on Calvary’s cross. Through faith in that blood you can be forgiven and saved now and forever.
God promised Israel victory over their enemies and that the surrounding nations would fear them if they trusted in Him. Deuteronomy 2:25. Joshua 2:9-12
But if Israel was disobedient to God, He would causes Israel to live in fear of the nations of the world. Deuteronomy 28:47-50, 63-67.
Though fear is a characteristic of the lost, it should not be the consistent characteristic of Christians. Fear will paralyze us from doing what we ought to do.
Fear torments us. I John 4:18
Fear brings us into bondage, primarily religious bondage; as we vainly attempt to do things to appease God’s wrath. Romans 8:15, Hebrews 2:14-15
Fear snares us as a trap. Proverbs 29:25
The fear of man and circumstances evidences our lack of faith in God
Repeatedly in Scripture we are commanded to fear not. Genesis 15:1, Exodus 14:13, Deuteronomy 20:3, 31:8 and Joshua 1:9 as well as many others.
Tormenting fear is the end result at death for refusing to fear and reverence God by rejecting Christ as Saviour and Lord. Proverbs 1:24-32, Luke 21:25-27, Revelation 21:8, 6:12-17.
THE FEAR OF GOD
The invitation to salvation is accompanied with warnings to depart from sin. Proverbs 1:20-33. God gives that power to those who trust the saving and cleansing shed blood of Christ.
Until a sinner is aware of his lost condition and trembles before a holy and angry God, he cannot be saved. His choice to trust Christ is accompanied by his desire to depart from sin. Proverbs 3:7
Salvation is a prerequisite to worship. Until one has trembled in fear over his lost condition as a sinner through the reading or hearing of God’s Word, he cannot be saved nor can he rightly worship God. Psalm 5:1-7 Proverbs 3:7, Isaiah 66:1-2. What he thinks is worship is merely an empty emotional experience.
The reverential fear of God is the choice one makes when he puts His trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord. Proverbs 1:29 This choice leads to ceasing to live in willful sin. Proverbs 3:7
Our lives, our worship and our service are only acceptable to God as they spring from hearts of reverence and godly fear because of who He is. Philippians 2:9-13
The fear of man cannot coexist in the heart of one who fears God. Psalm 31:9-24
The one who refuses to fear God will one day be rejected and tormented by his rejection of the God to whom he refused to bow. Proverbs 1:20-33
THE BLESSINGS OF FEARING GOD
It causes us to hate sin and flee from it. Proverbs 6:16, 8:13
It sets us free from the bondage and torment of sin. Psalm 27:1-6
It puts us in position to receive wisdom from God. Proverbs 1:7
It gives us confidence and courage to face whatever the devil throws at us. Proverbs 14:26 Read in the book of Daniel the courage and the thrilling deliverance of Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, Shadrach, Meshac and Abednego. It has given martyrs down through the ages courage to be thrown to the lions, be burned at the stake and face great tribulation. Read a summary of all this in Hebrews 11.
How sad that the lost have no fear of God and therefore, no fear of sin. Read Romans 3:10-18
The fear of God is related to the love of God. Only those who have the proper fear of God can know and experience the love of God. Learn from I John 4:18 how the perfect love of God casts out tormenting fear.
We, God’s children through faith in Christ, have a place of refuge from all that brings fear and torment. God Himself is our refuge from that. Psalm 46:1-11 and Psalm 56.
God fights for us. We need to stand still and watch Him work on our behalf. Exodus 14:8-14. Read the thrilling story of God’s deliverance of King Jehoshaphat in I Chronicles 20:1-22 Repeatedly through the 57 years of my ministry I’ve watched God fight for me as I’ve fought spiritual battles for Him. I’ve not had to lift a finger to defend myself.
He stills our fears enabling us to get a good night’s rest, even in times of trouble. Psalm 4:8, Proverbs 3:19-26
Read and rejoice in these wonderful promises. Isaiah 41:10-16, 43:1-3 44:2-4, Luke 12:32, II Tim. 1:7-9, Psalm 27, 91, John 14 and Romans 8:31-39. The Bible is filled with such promises to the believer. These are but a wonderful sampling. Read and be blessed.