Fake Doctors, Talking Donkeys, and What Motivates Sinners

donkey

Twenty-five year old, Malachi A. Love-Robinson developed a thriving medical practice in South Florida. After graduating from Arizona State in 2015, he founded the “New Birth Life Medical Care & Urgent Care.” He drove a Jaguar.  All was great, except for one rather noticeable thing. Dr. Love-Robinson was not a doctor. He was an unlicensed eighteen-year-old conman. Lacking a medical license and credible academic credentials,  Malachi  had forged his diploma from Arizona State and had laid claim to the title, “Doctor” when he secured unverified PhD. Instead of dispensing medication, his mom said Love-Robinson needed to be taking his own pills. As the Sheriff’s office that arrested him noted, “Just because you saw a season of Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t mean you could practice medicine.”

Not all who claim to practice medicine should be considered doctors. Not all who claim Christ should be considered Christians. Jude takes up this cause in verse 4 of his book. He reminds us that “certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for the condemnation.” The church has been infiltrated by satanic commando’s intent on destroying God’s people. Not all who claim Christ got into the church through the narrow gate. Not all have climbed the hill of Calvary, repenting of their sins and trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who came, died, and rose again. Some in our midst like doctor Love-Robinson are frauds, practicing a faith they know nothing about. Like the good doctor, these false Christian will also be judged. Jude declares “Woe” to them. Judgement.

To discover who loves Jesus and who does not, Jude encourages us to examine the motives of people’s hearts. When you open up the heart of the unbelieving Christian, we will find three faint images etched into unbeliever’s soul: the images of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. These ancient characters appear in the modern heart because they illustrate the motives of the unredeemed soul: selfishness, greed, and pride. Though cultures have changed, human motives have remained constant with each passing generation. Those who claim Christ without having experience the power of Calvary continue to be motivated by selfishness, greed, and pride.

Cain rose to prominence through the vilest of means, murdering his brother, Abel. Genesis 4:8 reports, “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” Abel obeyed God and offered the Lord of the universe the “first of his flock.” Cain brought his second best. God rejected Cain’s offering and blessed Abel. Instead of repenting of his selfishness, Cain doubled down upon his sin, destroying his flesh and blood. Cain wanted God and man to submit to his desires.

Fake Christians continue to be motivated by their own desires, viewing God’s commands to be suggestions that can be discarded upon the alter of cultural relevance. They refuse to worship God with all that they have, fencing off their finances, their sexuality, and their personal life from the commands of Scripture. Instead of being convicted by the faithful witness of Christians who love others well and who worship God according to Bible, the false converts become angry. They mock Christians who serve their enemies, who prioritize Sunday morning worship, and who care for the orphans. They label true faith as extremism, irrational, and unnecessary. They despise love and righteousness because they are driven by selfishness of Cain. First John 3:11-12 concludes:

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Those who lack sit in the pew without saving faith express hatred for God and for their fellow man because they are selfish.

After mention Cain, Jude references the mark of Balaam, greed. Balaam first appears in Numbers 22. The evil Moabite king Balak commissions Balaam to curse the nation of Israel. Balaam refuses knowing “They are blessed (Num. 22:12). Balak possessed a forceful personality that would not be easily denied. He sent more messengers and more money to Balaam. The wicked prophet relents from obeying God and goes to curse God’s people. Before he can arrive, an angel forces Balaam and his donkey off the road. As Balaam beats his donkey, the donkey speaks and then the angel appears and delivers God’s message

Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me (Num 22:32b).

Second Peter 2:15 states that Balaam’s “loved gain from wrongdoing.” He perverted the gospel to advance his bank account and his platform.

Instead of giving to the church and the body, false saints misuse God’s resources. They abuse the church budget to go on vacations and to accumulate luxury items. They possess the nice boats, vacation homes, and expensive handbags while the widows and orphans suffer want and their church facilities suffer from a lack of repair. They use the church to grow their platform, having time for every speaking engagement but no time for the hospital room. They feed themselves by devouring the best of God’s flock.

Lastly the false Christian’s heart bears the image of Korah’s pride. Korah rose to prominence by challenging the authority of Moses and Aaron. Numbers 16:3 reports Korah said,

You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord? 

He tells Moses that he is not so great for both men put their pants on one leg at a time. They both belong to God’s people. Consequently, they both should be able to lead.

Korah misses one thing. God had appointed Moses and Aaron. The modern’s pastor’s ability to lead God’s people still comes from God above. God equips men to fulfill the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. If a man fails to live up to God’s standard, clinging to selfishness of Cain, the greed of Balaam, and the pride of Korah, his congregation should remove him from leadership. No pastor resides above the reach of God’s people and above the correction, rebuke, and authority of the Bible.

However, Korah cares about power not the abuse of power. Instead of removing ungodly pastors, Korah seeks to remove God’s leaders and replace them with sinful men. The false saint demands that elders submit to him or her even though his or her character remains spotted by sin and he or she lacks the ability to teach. Those with the heart of Korah claim that their voice should conquer the wisdom of God’s appointed leaders. Every idea they have should be implemented, every cause they have should be taken up, and every suggestion they have about the service should be done.

Moses responds to Korah’s rebellion by challenging him to a divine face off. After a night of worship, Moses Aaron and his followers and Korah and his followers assemble in their respective camps and face each other in front of the tabernacle.  God then descends upon the camp and makes his judgement. Numbers 16:32-35 records,

“And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!”

Woe to those false saints who bear the signs of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Go will defend his people.

We know Dr Love-Robinson because he rebelled against the laws of this nation and sound medical practice. We know of who Cain, Balaam, and Korah are for they rebelled against God. What will you be known for?

Christian: Stop Saving Yourself

Christian-StopThe apostolic Faith is founded upon the idea that Jesus saves us from our sin. 1 Peter 2:24 declares, that “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Though we delight in the idea of God saving us from our sins, we struggle to live like saved men and women.

Instead of gazing towards heaven, we focus upon our problems, our surroundings, and our circumstances. We believe today measures the quality of our life; we regularly seek to get life to where we think it should be. We seek to save ourselves. We put the overbearing mom on the PTA in her place with a gossip attack, spreading rumors with the speed of heat. We cut down our wayward brother with a steady stream of anger filled snide remarks. And, we spend the night attacking the FB page and twitter account of the company that unjustly fired us a few hours earlier. We seek to be our own salvation.

David attempts to save himself in 1 Samuel 25. He had been watching Nabal’s 4,000 sheep and goats acting as a “wall “ to the shepherds “by night and by day.” The shepherds testify that David and his men were, “very good to us (15).” Yet when David asks Nabal to keep with tradition and feed his troops along with the rest of those who helped him during the shearing days, Nabal rudely rebuffs the future king. David responds to the insult with anger. The text says, “And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword (13).” He intends to on kill every male on Nabal’s property. Thankfully before David gets to Nabal and commits senseless murder, Abigail gets to David and reminds him of truth.

She stops David from working out his own salvation. She tells David in verse 31 that he should spare Nabal to avoid the grief and pains that come from, “working salvation himself.” David concurs saying Abigail kept him “from working salvation with my own hand!” Though the word “salvation” can be translated “avenged,” the Hebrew word niph usually means to “receive help.” This is the same word used Psalm 116:6  to convey the idea of God saving us. The verse reads: “The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.” In short, the battle for David’s heart was a battle for salvation. Would David save David? Or would God save David?

We face this exact same battle weekly, daily, and perhaps hourly. Will we trust God to save us? Will we trust God to make things right? Or will we grab our phones, our digital keyboards, and our tongues and go save ourselves?  From where does our salvation come?

The source of our salvation for life’s little problems reveals the source of our salvation for all of life. Those who cannot regularly trust God to walk them through a rough PTA meeting, a broken relationship, or a low bank account have not yet trusted Christ to save them from sin. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones notes,

[Christians] are meant to have, a joy that can face the cross, yes, and the weakness and the apparent desertion, of those whom we trusted, and on those whom we relied (Assurance of Our Salvation. 

Those who trust in Christ possess the joy of Christ and refuse to be their own salvation.

Admittedly, we all struggle at this at times as did David. In 1 Samuel 24:12, David forgives King Saul murderous plots. David boldly proclaims, “May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.” David looks to the Lord for salvation. And then we turn the page and see him taking up swords over some food.

How do we handle our hearts when the lose focus? How do we help encourage others who have fallen from the mountain of faith into the valley of anger? We follow Abigail’s lead and remind them of the salvation of God and of the consequences of sin.

When Abigail confronted David, she reminds David of God’s promises. She tells him not to workout his salvation because God had bound David in his heart. God defeats David’s enemies casting them away like a rock flying out of a sling (1 Sam 25:4).  She reminds David that he will be prince of Israel. God’s promise remains sure, regardless of David’s circumstances and regardless of whether or not people give David food. David will be king because God fights for him.

The same truth applies to us. Our hope is not our circumstances. Our hope is the promise reigning with Christ in heaven. Nothing our neighbors, family members, or employers do to us can keep us from heaven. Nothing they do can thwart, break, or destroy God’s plan for us. We will be with him in paradise. He will vindicate us. He will stand by his people.

God stands by David and Abigail. As soon as David puts his sword away, Nabal has a stroke and dies. David then marries Abigail, saving her from financial and social ruin. In short, God makes all things right. Friends do we believe God is big enough and powerful enough to defend us when other people attack us, criticize us, and insult us? Do we trust God to save us or must we always have the last word?

Next, Abigail reminds David of the consequences of sin. The shedding of innocent blood would stain David’s ascension to the throne. Though David would have forgotten the insult, the consequences of the sin would have remained. His reign would have been undermined even before it began. And when David does stumble into sin with Bathsheba, the remainder of his rule feels the consequences of sorrow and suffering that follow David’s sin.

Friends when we find ourselves viewing sin to be the means of our salvation, we too should remember that the wages of sin our death (Rom. 6:23). The sin that promises us the hope of salvation is nothing more than a nicely painted anvil tied to our neck that will take our soul to the bottom of the sea of death. And while Christ offers forgiveness from our sins, our lawless actions are accompanied by consequences that last a lifetime. God forgives divorce but our children will spend the rest of their life bouncing between two homes. God forgives greed, but we may spend the rest of our lives paying of credit card debt. God forgives our cruel words but we may never spend another holiday with our sibling. God forgives those who attempt to be their own salvation. But a life lived free from the sorrow of sin is far better than the life lived under the consequences of sin.

We should not save ourselves. We should remember that God saves and that our salvation created on the assembling line of sin leads to death. We should rest in the salvation of the Lord. Do you?

Was King Saul A Christian?

King Saul is an odd duck in the biblical narrative. He experiences an outpouring of the Holy Spirit the culminates in supernatural prophesies. But then almost in the next breathe, he lies to his uncle. He offers sacrifices with unclean hands (1 Sam. 13). He makes rash oaths and threatens to kill his son for eating honey. And he would have executed Jonathan if the soldiers had not stayed Saul’s madness (1 Sam. 14). The king then defies God’s direct order and keeps some of the spoil from the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15). He quickly burst into anger and envy, seeking to kill the future King David because Shepherd boy rose to national fame following his victory over Goliath (1 Sam 18). Perhaps must troubling of all, Saul murders most of the Levitical priesthood for unknowingly helping David escape Saul’s murderous hand (1 Sam 22). Even at the end of his life, Saul’s pattern of disobedience manifests itself as he appeals to the Witch of Endor for spiritual advice (1 Sam. 28).

If the guy two seats down from us on Sunday regularly flew into explosive rages, attempted to lead Sunday morning worship without the pastor’s blessing, regularly disobeyed God’s Word, put out a hit on his pastor and other church members, and consulted with the local fortuneteller, we would not ask him to lead our next Youth retreat. We would be finding a new church or implementing church discipline. We would not consider such a man our spiritual brother because the fruit of his life points to unconverted soul.

Though we are tempted to write off Saul as spiritual mess, we don’t make that judgement because of his earlier spiritual experiences.  First Samuel 10:9-10 clearly states that “God gave [Saul] another heart…and the Spirt of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them.” Saul seemingly experiences the Holy Spirit in a way that most modern Christians could only dream about. But he lacks all evidence of salvation: faith and obedience.

What do we do with Saul? Can a person experience conversion and remained unchanged? The answer is no. As the famous Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones noted,

The moment a man is justified, the process of sanctification has already begun. (374 John 17).

If a man or woman comes to faith, their life begins to change as soon as they embrace Christ, because they have been liberated from the power of sin (Rom 6). Instead of sinning all the time, the redeemed can love, control their tongue, and suppress their anger with the help of the Holy Spirit. Saul’s lack of works indicates that he lacks sanctification, proving he was never saved, justified, or liberated from his sins. The famed Bible commentator,  Mathew Henry, rightfully concludes, “Saul by praising God in the communion of saints, become another man, but it may be questioned if he became a new man.” Paul blunts says in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

How could someone experience great interactions with the Spirit and become another man without becoming a spiritually reborn man?

To make sense of Saul’s supernatural experiences with have to place them back into their historical and biblical context.

In the Old Testament, the rushing of God’s spirit can be equated with salvation. But it also can be equated (as Louis Berkhoff noted) with a “visible sign of an appointment to office.” In the OT God appoints earthly leaders by giving them special outpourings of the Spirit for the purpose of endowing them with supernatural power and leadership skills. The Spirit of the Lord rushes upon Samson on multiple occasions giving the OT Judge the supernatural strength he needed to defeat the Philistines (Jud. 14:19; 15:14). The Spirit of God also rushes upon Saul in 1 Samuel 11:6, blessing the sluggish king with good leadership. Moreover, when Saul attempts to kill Samuel, the Spirit of God stays Saul’s sword, causing the corrupt king to prophecy in the nude (1 Sam. 19:20-21). In short, interactions with the Spirit are not always proof of salvation. Often God uses his Spirit do mark secular leader, a role that signifies nothing about the leader’s heart. As the late English Pastor Andrew Willet said of Saul’s spiritual encounter:

This was no inward renewal; nor did he become a regenerated man who was born of the Spirit.

The wimpy self-centered, godless man who could not find his donkeys in 1 Samuel 9 simply becomes the wimpy, self-centered, godless king of 1 Samuel 10. Saul was not redeemed.

What do we do with the life of Saul? We should take heed lest we too fall. We should realize that phenomenal religious experiences do not trump a life of sin. We may have been baptized in front of our family, friends, and coworkers. We may have shed crocodile tears over our sin as we were overcome with emotion. We may have done a million odd jobs around the church. We may have gone on a mission trip. We may have felt and done a million different things at the beginning of our spiritual journey. But then nothing else came. We still lie; we still get angry; we still cheat on our taxes; we still mock our teachers; and, we still mistreat our spouse. We define our faith by the one spectacular moment because we can point to no other evidence of faith. Friend if our life resembles the life of Saul, we are not saved. One or two emotional experiences does not invalidate a life of sin. The life of sin invalidates those one or two emotional experiences.

Jesus spoke directly to this issue in Mathew 7:21-2

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Friends don’t trust in a moving experience. Trust in the ongoing works of the Spirit in your life. If the works are missing, repent and believe. Saul’s judgement does not have to be your judgement.

Do you have a faith that is greater than Sauls?