What Is Old Is New Again


It's been mentioned here and here before, and it bears repeating. When the persecution of Christians takes place in the West, it will happen with the aid of other Christians.

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. (Matthew 10:21)
At first, most will not recognize it as persecution, since only a handful of Christians will suffer. These persecuted Christians will be a decided minority, the ones who are already dismissed as "right-wingers," "fundamentalists," "creationists," "haters," "hijackers of the faith," and the like. The multitudes will delight when a few of these Christians are successfully forced to renounce their backward beliefs and confess their error to the public.

These Bible-believing Christians will be scapegoats. For years, the media and universities have cast them as the number-one supporters of an unpopular administration — with the implication that, ideologically, they share the blame for its perceived failures and offenses. The irrational rage directed at that administration won't stop after it's gone. The blame will only be shifted to those religionists who dared to involve (the wrong) faith in the political process.

These Christians will be outcasts among their own. They will be shunned in polite society by the greater body of nominal Christians. When their voices are silenced, their worldly brethren will not lift a finger in protest. The reason? These particular Christians are harmful. They stand in the way of progress, peace, unity, and change. It is for the greater good that they go away.

Have we not seen this before? The cast of characters may have changed, but a human nature born into sin hasn't. And the prince of this world is still the same.

Who's at the Controls?


The life of a born-again Christian is not defined as "good to gooder."

Picture the character of a believer as a mixing board in a musician's studio. There are two volume controls (or faders): one for Self and one for God. Though the volume control for God is a brand-new element, the fader labeled "Self" is not taken out. It remains.

A righteous life then, to echo John 3:30, would be one where the volume control for God is increased, and the volume control for Self is decreased. The thing is, man's not too good at handling these controls himself.

Santification is often erroneously viewed as a man-centered, Buddhist Nirvana destination involving a straight line up to enlightenment. There is an expectation of reaching the point where one says, "I've made it."

When that "moment" is not reached and the realization dawns that the old nature remains, the individual begins to think there must be something wrong with their salvation, or the efficacy thereof. They become susceptible to distortions of the Bible in order to suit the flesh. They don't realize that the "good to gooder" way of thinking has taken their focus off God. They've only succeeded in raising the volume control of Self despite their best intentions.

A life lived in pursuit of personal perfection is a setup for multiple, existential, faith-threatening crises or — when the individual is less than honest with his or herself — boa constrictor-like legalism.

"He must increase; I must decrease." John the Baptist's simple declaration of Christ's ascendancy is multi-layered. It beautifully illustrates santification as an exchange of two natures, rather than the replacement of one with the other. The structure of the verse emphasizes the believer's relationship and identification with Jesus Christ. The righteous believer is the humble believer who lets Christ take the controls.

Essential Qualities of Biblical Wisdom


There's an excellent new article up at The Moorings titled, "What is True Wisdom?" (June 10, 2008) It's well worth printing out or bookmarking for future reference.

The article uses these verses from James Chapter 3 to define true wisdom:

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
17 The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (KJV)
We've seen Christian fellowship on websites and blogs frequently degenerate into feudal camps or echo chambers. So the following excerpt is particularly resonant:
Because true wisdom is meek, it is not pushy. It is not always seeking to correct the stupidity of others (Prov. 12:23; 17:27-28; 29:11).

Of course, it is not wrong to assume a role of teaching others, if that role comes to us as a responsibility (we teach the gospel to the lost; we teach our own children; etc.). Nor is it ever inappropriate to answer someone's questions, or to provide information to someone who is seeking truth. But we do not parade our wisdom or force it on others. What did Jesus do? When challenged by His enemies, He frequently chose to evade the question rather than get into an unprofitable dispute. Frequently, He just kept silent (Matt. 21:23-27).
You can read the full article here.