Rhema Grace October 2015

I am not one who desires to stir up trouble, and confrontation is not my forte’, so until I sat down and meditated on what the Lord would want  the subject of October’s Devotional to be, I attempted in my own mind to stay away from  the following thoughts. I ministered on this subject on Sunday, September 27th, and I was hoping  in one way that I would not have to address it again; but in another way I knew Holy Spirit was stirring my spirit to speak the truth in love.  Much of the stirring in my spirit is related to the words of Paul found in 2nd Timothy 4:1-5 (KJV):
  “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus
    Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his
    appearing and his kingdom;
    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;
    reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 
    For the time will come when they will not endure sound
    doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to
    themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and
    shall be turned unto fables. 
    But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the
    work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

There is a charge, a calling, for truth that is found in the Word of God to be spoken.  When truth comes forth, it may bring rebuke, correction, warning, and encouragement.  Keep in mind that it is the Word of God that manifests these characteristics to us and not the messenger.  It is Holy Spirit that quickens the Word and causes it to be effective.  There is a notable difference between a correction, rebuke, and warning from the emotional soul of man and the correction, rebuke, and warning from the heart of God.  The underlying difference is love.

Verse Four points out that many people in the last days will turn their ears from truth and they will only listen to what they want to hear that will appease their flesh.  Despite what people do with truth, there must be ministers that fully perform and make full proof of their calling and embody that calling in the love of God.  Now let me explain the recent events that have stirred me to share truth.

I had heard of Pope Francis’ plans to visit our nation quite some time ago.  I was immediately curious of what his plans would be, where he would go, and what he would say.  I can assure you this curiosity was not because my life hangs on his every word, but just a curiosity knowing the influence and authority he carries around the world and even in our nation.  To be completely honest, I wanted to ignore his activities because I knew there would be elevated pomp and circumstance around his visit here, and he would most likely be reverenced, as his title would indicate, as a holy father.  (I do not capitalize his title because I believe there is only one that can be called such.)

As Holy Spirit will often do, He challenged me to actually give some attention to Pope Francis’ visit and activities.  Again, I assure you I was not glued to MSNBC where they practically had a constant “Pope Cam” recording his each and every move; but I was simply catching glimpses of him, where he was, and what he was saying.

There is much I could write at this point concerning his activities, but rather than draw more attention to him, I am going to stick to the point.  In fact, I have researched in the last few weeks the basic doctrine of the Roman Catholic faith, and I could expound on how a major portion of their doctrine is  contrary to the Word of God, but I am going to refrain even from that.

I would encourage anyone who is on a quest for truth, and you think the Roman Catholic doctrine is truth, to study for yourself, with the help of Holy Spirit, and compare what they believe to be truth to the truth of the Word of God.  I have said many times, we either believe in the Word of God or we don’t.  Much of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is based on their previous leaders’ words and not on The Word. This is labeled in the Word as traditions of men.

For those who would say revealing this issue is trivial and petty, I would remind you that Paul said our faith must be based on “sound doctrine” (2nd Timothy 4:3), and “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness” (2nd Timothy 3:16).  Thus what we believe to be truth must be founded upon God’s Word and only His Word.

The responsibility of knowing His truth is upon each individual and not only upon the spiritual leaders.  This is why I encourage you, as Paul did, to “study to show thyself approved unto God” (2nd Timothy 2:15).  As you may have noticed, the scriptural references thus far have been found in 1st and 2nd Timothy.  I encourage you to read those two letters and notice what Paul says about truth and doctrine.

So where does Pope Francis stand on truth and doctrine?  Again, I could say more about the Roman Catholic doctrine, but I want to briefly focus on three of his public addresses to people gathered before him.  Keep in mind this is the religious leader of the largest religious organization in the world.  Not only the largest religious organization, but most will title it as a Christian organization.

One of his addresses was before the United Nations General Assembly, an annual session where all member countries were represented.  In his speech, he mentions the institution of the Catholic Church, he uses the term Christian, and at one point he uses the title Creator concerning God and His love for the physical earth as a planet.  He was referring to the issue of climate change and how mankind needs to be a good steward of the environment.  One of his solutions to the destruction of our world is our own human ingenuity.  To quote him, “Human genius, well applied, will surely help to meet the grave challenges of ecological deterioration.”

In his address to the joint meeting of the United States Congress, he refers to Moses by illustrating the legislative duties upon him in leading the people and the legislative duties upon those in Congress.  He refers to four great American people ( two of those being active in the Catholic Organization).   He quotes the past leaders in the Catholic Church often while quoting the Bible once, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).

Another public address was to Catholic priests, bishops, and leaders at the newly renovated Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  At the beginning of this speech, he did mention two Scriptures in reference to the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in recent years.  Both Scriptures referred to the immorality as trials and tribulations.  One Scripture, Revelation 7:14, was completely out of context.  The truth of this Scripture in context refers to those who hold on to their faith in Jesus Christ during the end-time tribulation events, many of them dying as martyrs.  The Pope refers to the Catholic priests as enduring the same tribulations.  Is there really a true comparison?

 

Now, let me quote Pope Francis as he attempts to encourage the Catholic leaders sitting before him that do not seem successful in their efforts.  “The cross shows us a different way of measuring success.  Ours is to plant the seeds: God sees the fruits of our labors.  And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and produce no fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus and His life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.”

My first response to a statement like that would be Paul’s statement in
1st Corinthians 1:17-18 (KJV):
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the
    gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ
    should be made of none effect.
    For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish
    foolishness;     but unto us which are saved it is the power
    of God.”

How is it that anyone that knew Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord would ever indicate that His death on the cross would be a failure?  I suppose the argument would be that Pope Francis used the words “humanly speaking;” thus, if we look at the cross of Christ with our human perspective, we would say that Jesus failed.  Through whatever eyes we look at the cross and with whatever perspective we look at the cross, if we ever make reference that Jesus’ life ended in failure at the cross, then we just made the sacrifice of Christ of none effect.  We have deprived the Cross of Christ of power, rendered it useless, fruitless, void of value, and of no effect.  My response once again would be the same as Paul’s, “To us who are saved, the cross represents the power of God.”

Paul addresses another major issue in 1st Corinthians 2:1-5.  It seems that rather than the simple Gospel being preached, there were some articulating  a fancier, distorted gospel that was tainted with wisdom of men.  The more the wisdom of man entered into their preaching, the less the cross, Jesus and His sacrifice would be spoken of.  Paul had enough of what he was hearing and instructed them that the power of the Gospel was not in the fancy words of man’s intellect, but the power was in the Holy Spirit’s liberty to reveal the true Gospel to the hearts of men.  Notice Paul said, “I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  Paul was determined and persuaded and made a resolve to be steadfast in the simple message of Christ, the cross, and the power it provides to transform lives. 

Look carefully at Verse 4: “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom.”  The words that the false teachers of that day were preaching were enticing words and luring people away from the truth.  They were words laced with hope and promise, but the hope and promise was empty because Christ and the cross was excluded.

Galatians 6:14:  “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  It is because of the cross that the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.  The Gospel that sets men free is a simple Gospel.  Jesus became flesh, lived among men, died on a cross, was placed in a tomb, arose from the grave and is alive and well, sitting at the right hand of the Father, the One and Only Holy Father, waiting for the command to return and rapture believers to their eternal home.  Right in the middle of the Gospel message is the cross.  The cross is the bridge between eternity in hell and eternal life in Christ.  Don’t tell me the life of Jesus and His death on the cross was a failure.  If my life bears no fruit and the word failure ever enters my thoughts, then it is time for me to surrender my life to Christ once again.  It is at the cross where victory was provided for me.

This Devotional may never reach the U.S. Congress, the United Nations General Assembly, or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.  Nevertheless, I am proclaiming to anyone that will listen that the cross of Jesus Christ is not a symbol of failure, but of victory.  Colossians 2:13-15:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision
    of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having
    forgiven you all trespasses;
    Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against
    us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way,
    nailing it to his cross;
    And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a
    show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

Does this say that the cross of Jesus was a failure?  On the contrary.  The cross of Jesus Christ is where all the sins of world were cleared completely out of the way of the lives of those who receive Christ as Lord.  The enemy was disarmed at the cross and it is the place Jesus triumphed over death, hell, and the grave.

Now look what Paul says just before He mentions the victory we have at the cross in Colossians 2:8 (KJV), “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ;” Colossians 2:8 (NLT), “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than Christ.”  Make no mistake about it.  This Scripture is being fulfilled today.  We must be careful not to be drawn away from the simplicity of the Gospel by the articulate words of powerless philosophies that exclude Christ and the cross.  Those are the words that will lead to failure, but Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and His resurrection will lead us to victory.  “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Romans 1:16).

Let us proclaim the simple message of this song written by Andre’ Crouch: “Jesus is the answer – for the world today – Above Him there’s no other – Jesus is the Way.”

I would like to close this devotional by stating what the  leader of the largest Christian organization did not say. Jesus Christ is the only hope of the world, our nation and all people. Our answer to climate change, poverty and sin is Jesus Christ and the victory He provided at the cross. “Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”                (1st Corinthians 15:57 )  No healing will come to our land and its people by stating that the life of Christ and the cross was a failure. But if God’s people which are called by His name will humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear us from Heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. We fulfill that scripture by coming to the cross of Jesus , recognizing He paid the price for our victory there, recognizing it is an empty cross and He is alive and at the right hand of His Father. Lets gather together at the cross and experience resurrection Power . Lets proclaim Him as King of kings and Lord of lords to the glory of God the Father.

 

Still expecting great things,

Pastor Wes

 

 

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