What Does a Waterless Cloud Look Like?

Jud 1:12-13 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; (13) wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Joh 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

If we are to do battle with evil in the strength of the Lord, protected by His armor and advancing with His weaponry, then we must be wise in regard to the schemes and lying deceptions of our enemy. How successful is any general if he is ignorant of the enemy general he wars against? Patton, it is thought, read Rommel’s book, and we must carefully read the Book given us by the Lord which exposes the evil one we stand against.

Notice here in the opening of the little letter of Jude, that we are warned about “creeps” (as I like to call them) who secretly and deceptively creep into the church:

Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

“Unnoticed.” That means that they wear some kind of disguise – wolves in wool – that kind of thing. Some of them, as Jude mentions, are all the time talking about “grace.” Grace, grace, grace. But it is a perversion of the grace of Christ because their message is one of presuming upon the Lord’s grace in order to indulge in sensuality and evil. If you want to build a fake “church,” this is a pretty good message to preach.

Continue reading “What Does a Waterless Cloud Look Like?”

No One Can Call Jesus “Lord” Except by the Holy Spirit

1Co 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

There was deception going on in Corinth. False teachers exhibiting counterfeit spiritual gifts and teaching a false gospel. (How much of the New Testament was written just to expose and refute false prophets!!). Paul, in warning the believers there, makes this statement: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in (or by) the Holy Spirit.”

What does that mean? Surely anyone can mouth the words, “Jesus is Lord,” right? Apparently there is more to this confessing Jesus as Lord than just saying words. You see it in Romans as well:

Rom 10:9-11 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (11) For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Making the genuine confession that Jesus is Lord is an indispensable element in real saving faith. Paul couples it with the parallel “and believe in your heart” as the link that joins us to Christ and His righteousness.

So when Paul says that this confession of Jesus as Lord can only be made in or by the Holy Spirit, he means that it is a confession that proceeds from a truly regenerate heart accompanied by (if not actually an expression of) the faith that justifies us before God. Such a confession then entails many things:

  • A confession that Jesus is Yahweh (Lord)
  • A confession that Jesus is my King
  • A confession that Jesus’ Word is truth
  • A confession of love for the Lord Jesus
  • A confession of obedience to the King

And you see, therefore, why such a confession is impossible except by the Holy Spirit in the person.

Paul’s point is that no matter how showy or genuine someone’s gifts appear to be, they are not spiritual gifts given by the Lord unless they are operative in a person who confesses Jesus as Lord. And it is a given then that anyone who curses Jesus is certainly not being directed by the Holy Spirit. We must not be deceived.

It is remarkable just how far a person can go in their claim to belong to Christ and yet be a counterfeit. Listen to Paul once more:

1Co 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

See it? A person can appear to be remarkably gifted in the things of Christ. They can preach like an angel. They can show insight into God’s Word that is amazing. They can pray powerfully. They can even make huge sacrifices – to the point of martyrdom!

And yet…

What you will never find in the counterfeit is love. The genuine, real, love of Christ. Self love, yes. But not love for Christ nor love for His people. Their goal is self-promotion, power, control, and the lust to be worshiped-

Gal 4:17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16ff). Not so much by their words (though certainly we are to evaluate words as well), but by the produce that hangs on their branches. What you will never, ever find on such a tree is – love.

1Co 13:4-6 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

 

Reject the “Politician” Pastor

Job 32:21 I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person.

Psa 5:9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

Psa 36:2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

Years ago when I was still a relatively new pastor there was a man and his wife in our church who had appeared on the scene, looking as if they were “God’s gift” to our church. I mean, they read the devotional “Our Daily Bread” EVERY morning. Their life’s energies were focused on “serving the Lord,” which they did primarily through youth and music ministries. Everyone assumed that they were the finest Christians to be found.

Over the years we found out very differently – and that would be a long story with many chapters if I were to tell it to you. But I wanted to focus specifically in this post about one particular event I experienced under the hands of these people.

They were BIG on “community involvement.” As they became leaders in our church they were right in the middle of our efforts to establish a new church in a neighboring community. And in that process they pressured me to “get active in the community” to increase our exposure. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings, that kind of thing.

I didn’t. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing something like this as a pastor, but in my experience over the years all that those kinds of things do is produce “Jeff converts.” That is to say, people may come to your church and even become members, but as the time goes by, more often than not, all that you have in the end is people who are present simply because they “like the pastor.”

I took other stands as well. I would not participate in the local “ministerial” fellowship of pastors. (I have found those in every case to be dens of compromising Christ’s truth). And this is what precipitated the incident that is the main focus of this post.

This couple came to me and the husband said, “Jeff, if you are going to be a successful pastor, then you are going to have to become a better politician.”

What did he mean by that? He meant that I needed to stop taking stands on my convictions. He meant that I needed to start compromising truth. To stop offending people by being too plain-speaking with them. That way, the numbers of people coming to the new church would increase and (of course this is the excusing justification for his politics statement) “then they can hear about Jesus and be saved.”

Christ has no place for politicians in the ranks of His servants. I don’t mean by that that anyone who serves in political office is going to hell!! (One does get that impression sometimes of course). No, what I mean is that Christ calls His servants to speak truth, no matter what. To preach the uncompromised gospel which is (Romans 1) God’s power for salvation. And the preaching of that gospel includes the announcement of God’s wrath against man’s sin (Romans 1, again). Most politicians do not put the truth right out there most of the time. They speak in words that flatter. They equivocate (say one thing in words that sound like something else). In other words, they withhold truth.

In the church, this means that sinners are not called to account. They are….flattered. Their ears are tickled. And guess what? Evil ones become very comfortable in the pews, even as behind the scenes they carry out their campaign of abusing wickedness against their oppressed victims. That is to say, the politician pastor is the ally of evil. We certainly do not get the “politician pastor” model from Christ:

Mat 15:12-14 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (13) He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. (14) Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”