Performance = Transformation; The treadmill of religious works!

I’m sure most of us have heard the old inerrancy, sufficiency speech; and though I agree whole-heartedly that the word of God is infallible and inerrant in its original context; I also believe we have run so far away from it that we need a Hubel telescope to bring it back into focus. Fortunately for us, we have that telescope in the person and works of Jesus Christ, through the lens of His life, death, burial and resurrection! I’m sure you have all heard the old analogy that all roads lead back to Rome; well in the case of the gospel, all roads lead back to the cross. This of course is fundamental Christianity at its best! Yet we have strayed so far from it that the cross is nearly lost in religious obscurity. Dogmatically taught and preached away from until it is as if it never happened, and Jesus did not literally mean what He said when He cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” The unfortunate result of this reality is that the Christian majority by means of obedience to the exterior leading of the law has set itself to the task of fulfilling in itself what has already been fulfilled in Christ; which of course is impossible. True transformation does not occur through performance. Transformation happens by keeping our minds eye on the perfect nature of Christ in us; which then begins the process of renewing our mind to a new creation reality; that in turn begins to manifest the works of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control; in other words, Christ-like behavior! Now of course, there are no time constraints here, this is simply called growing in grace!

Now, in order to truly gain spiritual confirmation, revelation of God’s grace; you must have an unconditional gospel; for if you do not have an unconditional gospel, you do not have anything to demonstrate its reality. For instance, if you have a ‘yeah but’, ‘if’ or ‘and’ attached to any of the gifts and eternal promises of God; you have effectively nullified the grace of God in one’s mind. This does not nullify the power of grace from God’s perspective; this hindrance is personal to an unrenewed mindset. This problem is the biggest error in modern Christianity! There must be no strings attached to the finished work of the cross!

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. ~ Romans 12:1-2

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ~ Col. 1:27

Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.  Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle”, which all concern things which perish with the using – according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. ~ Col. 2:18-23

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. ~ Gal. 5:22-25

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. ~ Prov. 14:12

Authors note:

My friends, the operation of the spirit is a very simple yet complex subject that I by no means claim to have fully apprehended! Therefore, this work, as any other, should be left in the realm of the Holy Spirit for individual interpretation and confirmation. May the word of Christ dwell in you richly!

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

Advertisements

Religious Theology – The wide gate!

 

The following statement is taken from the book of Alcoholics Anonymous; and although written by a secular author, the point of the statement itself unfortunately substantiates the position many Christians have taken concerning the New Covenant grace of God!

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

There is a common thread amongst the religions of the world, and that thread is an adherence to a certain set of moral or ethical principles that either maintain or substantiate a person’s relationship with God. These principles and standards vary from religion to religion, or from denomination to denomination; but at their core, they all have one thing in common – They are all based on a law relationship with deity. True Christianity on the other hand, which by the way is not law based, is the only way in which man can actually and completely be united with God relationally. Yet the majority of Christian teaching not only runs away from this principle, but bolsters it at every occasion by proclaiming abstinence from sin as its main theme rather than the finished work of Christ; which in the grand scheme of things only serves to incite sin in the life of the believer! This, my friends, is the wide gate of religious theology, and many will go in through it.

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations– “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. ~ Colossians 2:16-23

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. ~ Romans 3:19-20

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ~ Matthew 7: 21-23

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. ~ Proverbs 14:12

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14

Author’s note:

Writings like these are bittersweet. Bitter because I know so many people caught up in religious theology; sweet because I know the unfathomable love and mercy of the One who is the solution! The One who watches over His people! The One that has victory in the end! Christianity is not an advanced course in behavior modification, with all the behavior verses in the bible plus the law as a tutor. Christianity is about a person working with our person that we may learn to walk together in love – That person is Jesus Christ Himself!

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

Proto-Catholicism!

In April, 1521, Martin Luther appeared before his ecclesiastical accusers at the diet of Worms. They had given him the ultimatum to repudiate his unwavering faith in the sufficiency and perspicuity of the scriptures. Luther is said to have responded, “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and counsels, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the word of God…God help me! Here I stand.” Like Martin Luther, may we rise above the doubts within and confront the threats without when God’s word is assailed. God help us to be loyal contenders of the faith. Let us stand with God and the scriptures alone.

When Martin Luther decided to confront the errors in the traditional religion of Roman Catholicism, he knew he was in for the battle of his life; that it may indeed cost him his life! Yet, he did not waver; but rather went straight to work systematically refuting error with scripture. Martin knew that God was a God of love, and that He did not reserve His counsel for only those in high position. Martin knew that God the Father desired above all to have a loving relationship with man – His creation; and that relationship was possible for anyone who opened there heart and called upon his name. Not just popes and counsels! In short, Martin Luther did much to advance the common man’s relationship with God through the scriptures. I think it is important to note at this point for the sake of this writing, that although Martin did much to advance the unfathomable loving grace of God, he did not fully conceptualize the absolute finality of the finished work of Christ as many do today. This assumption of course, is by no means designed to diminish the awesome fortitude and tenacity of his tremendous work. It only stands to highlight the revelationary flow of God’s grace as He continues to lavish it upon us in ever increasing measure throughout the centuries! For instance, Martin did not understand just as many Christians do not understand today the issue of God’s forgiveness. Martin was under the impression just as so many Christians are today that the forgiveness of God is accomplished in increments; in other words, little by little. We sin, then we ask God to forgive us. We sin, then we ask God to forgive us – That we may be made righteous again; or rather placed back in right standing with God. Unfortunately, the scriptures do not substantiate this claim, but in fact, outright reject it! Ephesians 1:7 tells us that in Him we HAVE redemption through HIS blood, the forgiveness of sins. Notice that redemption and forgiveness are a packaged deal. I John 2:13 says your sins ARE forgiven you because of HIS name, NOT YOUR MANY CONFESSIONS. II Corinthians 5:21 says that if we are IN HIM, we HAVE BEEN MADE the righteousness of God.

Authors note:

My friends, I believe it is important to take into consideration two things when considering Martin Luther’s position and stance: 1. He was young, or rather early in the church age; which means that it’s understandable that he would miss things that should be obvious to us some 500 years after the bible was translated into English. 2. We should take note of how tenaciously he dealt with error when he knew that the truth of God’s word was being assailed. Whether purposefully or unknowingly! The fact is, that we according to scripture are eternally righteous and forgiven the moment we received the life of Christ into our hearts. So let us not be Protestant – Catholics postured up in I John 1:9, (Father forgive me for I have sinned), but rather let us be grateful that we are forgiven people!

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

Fellowship or dictatorship – You decide!

 

Over the course of the last five or six years, my wife and I have continually been subjected to making choices and decisions which have left us in a position of very little to no fellowship with other believers. At least not face to face; which is to say that most of our fellowship is done via the internet. My wife and I do not make a lot of money, and I had a stroke several months ago, which means that we cannot drive all over southern California in an attempt to find a church whose leadership can keep the message of Christ straight. And by this I mean, a church that teaches and preaches the finished work of Christ; i.e. the New Covenant. I’m sure someone reading this commentary at this point would say that I am just being too dogmatic; that I need to compromise, etc., etc. And my reply to that is simply, there is only one gospel message; and the glue that holds it all together is Christ Himself via the New Covenant! If the pastor i.e. leadership of a particular denomination or institution does not have at least a basic revelation or understanding of New Covenant principle, that institution, pastor, congregants will not receive someone that does. Because the message of the old does not blend with the new! In other words, the message of a New Covenant believer will be in direct conflict with those that are under sway of a mixture; and they will not put up with it! Which of course means that they will not allow you to preach and teach the message of grace as the apostles did, (or even Jesus for that matter!)

The following statements are just a very small example of the arguments these folks, these institutions will use in an attempt to dictate, and thus squelch the message; as well as eradicate you, the New Covenant believer from their presence!

If I say that we have been eternally set apart, cleansed, and forgiven, (Col. 1:14), they will say, ‘Yeah but… What about 1 John 1:9’ If I say the law is the ministry of death and condemnation, (II Cor. 3:7-9), they will say, ‘Yeah but…. We need the law as a moral compass for life.’ If I say that we have a new heart that we can trust, (Eze. 36:26), they will say, ‘Yeah but…. What about Jeremiah 17:9? Doesn’t that say that we have a deceitful and wicked heart that is beyond knowing?’ If I say that God remains faithful to the covenant that He swore by Himself; not only to fulfill but to uphold, (Heb. 6:13-20, II Tim. 2:13), they will say, ‘Yeah but…. You better do your part, or you will lose it.’ And if I say that we have peace with God, (Romans 5:1-2), they will say ‘Yeah but…. You better not get too comfortable.’ And the yeah but’s go on and on until there is nothing left but unfruitful contention!

‘But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonishing; knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. ~ Titus 3:9-11

Authors note:

My friends, true obedience to the gospel message is a relationship with reality! If you are unable to present the gospel of Christ in its pure form in your church, you are under a dictatorship!

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

P.S. To gain a better understanding of the position I have taken in this commentary, please look up the scriptures I have cited to substantiate my point!

The whiskey and water gospel!

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; and if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:19-20

It took me a few years to actually grab a hold of what John meant by the whole adding to and taking away from thing in the preceding verse. But when I finally did get a hold of it, I said to myself: “Wow; this thing has some very serious, wide reaching application and consequence!” What I realized is that you cannot add to something without taking away from the components of its origin; which in the case of Revelation 22:19-20 would imply the entirety of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ! Now I know that whoever is reading this right now is saying, ‘Who in the world would do that? A person would have to be outright evil to even consider such a thing! That would be blasphemy, etc., etc.’ But the real truth of the matter is, that the principle of adding to and thus taking away from the gospel of Christ is being applied daily, weekly to a very large percentage of our most widely recognized and well respected churches around the globe. Now you say, ‘Well how can this be?’ And I say quite simply, through adding law to grace many of our pastor, teacher, leaders have effectively attempted to bring the entire body of Christ under the curse of the law, (Curse-plague)! Notice I use the word attempted, as I am by no means talking about the loss of salvation on anyone’s behalf. I am simply saying that adding conditions to the free gift of salvation, i.e. life; is to take away from, to denigrate the finished work of God in Christ in us!

‘I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.’ Galatians 1:6-8

‘O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain?        Galatians 3:1-4

For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse; For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith. Yet the law is not of faith, but the man who does them shall live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, (‘for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’). Galatian 3:10-13

 

Authors note:

When you mix good sippin’ whiskey with water, you ruin its aroma, its taste and its strength! When you mix law with grace; you ruin both the stringency and purpose of the law, as well as the power of God’s grace in the life of the believer!

‘No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wine and skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.’ Luke 5:36-38

‘Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord; shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

P.S. Anyone that approaches a relationship with God the Father by means of the law is walking in self-righteousness! And walking in self-righteousness is to practice lawlessness!

Progressive sanctification vs. biblical sanctification for the believer!

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of sanctification; but it has been my experience that there are only two camps surrounding the subject. The first of course being a progressive sanctification whereby the believer is set apart incrementally by the things he or she does or does not do in regards to either pleasing or angering the Father. The second approach or belief is the past tense or finished view which I believe is the only valid conclusion in regards to our sanctification.

I think one of the biggest challenges one faces in this matter is the fact that the word sanctification has more than one definition in the bible. For instance, I Cor. 1:30, 31 states the following: ‘But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and, redemption – that, as it is written, he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ Notice in this verse the words wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are all listed in the past tense; and are of Christ, whom the believer is in! In other words, the definition of sanctification in this passage denotes a finished work, not a progressive one.

There are other verses however, that speak of sanctification as being something other than set apart in Christ for salvation. For instance, I Cor. 7:14 states that an unbelieving spouse will be sanctified by the believing spouse; which simply means that the unbelieving person will at least superficially experience God’s presence in their believing spouse through hearing the word; thus being set apart by at least hearing truth. There are of course many more examples of the word sanctification being used in different ways; but for the believer it always designates one condition, which is salvation. The final finished work of being made alive in Christ eternally; and thus set apart to God.

Authors note:

The legalist sets himself apart in an attempt to be holy by what he does or does not do. The New Covenant believer rests in the One who has set him apart and made him holy! The former stands in his own righteousness, the latter in Christ! What does sanctification mean to you?

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

 

Shut your mouth!

Do you justify your life and your relationship with God and others based on your ability to measure up to your own interpretation of the law and your obedience to it? Or do you walk by faith in the One who fulfilled the law on man’s behalf? The way in which a person answers the preceding questions will determine whether or not he or she actually understands the purpose of the law. Sadly enough, for many christians because they do not understand the purpose of the law, the law stands as a tool to be observed in order to remain in right standing with God and others. In other words, the law is used in an attempt to produce righteousness which is something that it was never intended to do. The law was not given to make man more righteous; it was given to shut his mouth. That he may turn to God, and receive the only righteousness that is valid; which of course is the righteousness of God in Christ! The following verses are a short account of the laws intended purpose.

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation, by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sin that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No. But by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. ~ Romans 3:19-28

Upon close examination of the preceding verses, what we see is this:

  1. What the law says it says to those under law
  2. No one can be justified by attempting to keep the law
  3. The law brings knowledge of sin
  4. The righteousness of God is something apart from the law
  5. The righteousness of God is by faith in Christ, the only requirement is to believe
  6. Everybody sins
  7. We are justified freely by His grace, through Christ’s blood
  8. God demonstrated His righteousness, long-suffering, forbearance, and mercy at the cross
  9. That we would understand now that God is both just and the One who justifies those who have placed faith in Jesus
  10. What is left to boast about? We can’t keep the law, and our works can’t justify us!

In conclusion, and notice this is a restatement from verse 21, that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Authors note:

The frustrating part about this subject is that these verses from the book of Romans are taught in churches around the world on a daily basis. And yet a large percentage of the Christian community remains deadlocked under law; diabolically held captive through the co-mingling of two systems that were never intended to work together. Remember, the letter kills but the spirit gives life! The New Covenant is our hope my beloved, and Christ is our life….period!!!

Commentary by:

George L. Miller

P.S. For a closer look at how the covenants are being manipulated, go back and check out my post called Living in the substance of God’s forgiveness vs existing in the shadow of a sacrificial system written in Nov. 2015.