The Orchard Christian Church

The Orchard Christian Church__________ "where Fruit of the Spirit grows"____________________________ north Montebello ______________ Matthew & Kumi Perri

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Growing in the image of Christ

The nursery school version of the Bible often divides the characters into three groups - the heroes (Paul, King David, Moses), the well-meaning fools (Peter, King Solomon, Jonah), and the villains (Judas, King Saul, Pharaoh). The unspoken underlying idea that is hammered into the heads of Christian children is that we should “be like the heroes.” Some older people make lists categorizing all the Kings of Israel and Judah into “good kings” and “bad kings”. And scholars continue with this unspoken idea.

I’ve heard of a book (but never read it) entitled “Missionary methods: The Apostle Paul’s or ours?” The answer to the question in that title is “none of the above.” I don’t doubt the sincerity, scholarship, or salvation of the author of such a book, and it probably has some useful insights. But the underlying premise is that that “Paul was our perfect model" and that can tend to take the focus off Jesus. Years after becoming a Christian leader, Paul wrote this to Timothy:

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Timothy 1:15-17]

Paul circumcised Timothy in direct disobedience to what he was repeatedly teaching, and Paul was very publicly rebuked for it, in front of Timothy, Luke, and many other leaders. [Acts 21:25] Paul spoke to Timothy in the present tense- he did not say "I was", he said “I am" the worst of sinners. As a Pharisee, Paul may have had trouble being real about his own sin in a more public setting. But Timothy knew very personally and intimately about Paul's sin, and so in this letter to Timothy, Paul drops all pretense, and he just gives all the glory to God- and we should do the same. God uses imperfect messengers (to deliver his perfect message), like Paul, and me, and you. When we are born again, we have newness of life, but none of us instantly become sinless "supermen"- we have to work out our salvation, with fear and trembling sometimes, but we can trust and rely 100% on our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

Missionary methods- God’s or man’s? That is the question we must ask ourselves, and as Christians, the answer clearly should be GOD’S. We want to know Christ and be conformed to His image by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. We want to be like Jesus- all others fall far short in comparison. We want God’s way, not our own human way. We want to bring glory to God, not ourselves or any other mortal man who ever lived, not even imperfect “heroes” like King David or the Apostle Paul, even though the scriptures written by their hands are inerrant and apply to everyone including them. Our frequent daily readings and prayerful meditations on the inerrant 66 Books of the Word of God should connect us to the living Word made Flesh, our model for life, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Satan can quote the Bible

When Satan tempted Jesus, he quoted Scripture. Satan said to Jesus “If you are the Son of God,” he said “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command His angles concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” [Psalm 91:11-12] [Matthew 4:5-6]

Satan was calling into question the unique character of Jesus Christ, the perfect sinless Son of God. Likewise, in ignorance, Peter did the same thing with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration, wanting to put up “three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” God the Father was merciful to Peter, because he acted in ignorance, but He interrupted Peter with a voice from heaven. “This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” [Matthew 17:1-8]

Even sincere religious people have a tendency to raise other religious figures to the level of Jesus, and that is often how cults are formed. But God says NO! Not Moses or Elijah (for Jews), David (for Branch Davidians), Mohammed (for Muslims), Mary (for Catholics), Paul (for Evangelicals), “Saints”, angels, Joseph Smith (for Mormons), Mary Baker Eddy (for Christian Scientists), Charles Taze Russell (for Jehovah’s Witnesses), or any other gods or people.

Jesus Christ is Lord. No other man or woman in history is even close to His level, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23], even the authors of the inerrant 66 Books of Scripture, who sometimes didn’t practice what they preached.

The mark of a growing Christian is not how many Bible verses he can quote- it’s the Fruit of the Spirit that the Apostle (“I am a Pharisee the son of a Pharisee” [Acts 23:6] ) Paul wrote about in his inerrant teachings: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23]

Monday, July 13, 2009

Voice of the Jesus People

“Love Song” 1973 (some called it heresy). “My image of Jesus was that he was way up here and then Saint Paul was down here- and here was I. And how was I ever going to get there with those guys. And a Saint was something that I thought was this person who went around never doing anything wrong, just living this perfect sinless life. Then I found out later on, it really blew my mind to read in the Bible you know, when I first really read the Bible, I realized that these people had frailties, that they blew it once in a while. And it was right there in Scripture. I thought that everybody that was ever mentioned in the Bible was some holy person. And then you read about all the guys that blew it.” Quoted from “Jesus People Live Concert, Love Song 73 (DVD video), Bonus: Includes a reprint of the original Living Water Tract by Greg Laurie.” By The Word For Today, (The group “Love Song” ministered directly under the personal discipleship of Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa on and off between 1970 and July 10, 2009.)

“Love Song” is in agreement here with the exhortation of the humble author of Hebrews, who intentionally chose to remain anonymous but was a contemporary of the Apostle Paul the Pharisee. “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:7-8]

Some Christians are fighting each other these days, even as the wicked spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah is advancing into the mainstream of our society. It’s a good thing that Calvary Chapel pastors are like-minded, one in the Spirit, united in agape love, and in agreement on key points like the inerrancy of Scripture and the unique perfect character of Jesus Christ, “The only guiltless man in all of history” in the words of Brenton Brown ("Jesus you are worthy"- it was a blessing to see him lead worship at Calvary Chapel Montebello.) The Calvary Chapel Statement of Faith proudly declares “Our supreme desire is to know Christ and to be conformed into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Not the image of anyone else, living or dead. All the inerrant teachings of the Bible apply to everyone who ever lived. We can’t pick and choose and make exceptions for certain people because of their position.

Personally, I had never even heard of the group “Love Song” until last week. I had never heard their music either, except in retrospect I remember hearing “Welcome back” when I visited Calvary Chapel Golden Springs. Somehow, the closing words of the Old Testament come to mind, from the Book of (the Italian prophet -Yes I respect and revere God’s inerrant Word and I tremble at His voice, but I also believe that God has a sense of humor) Malachi. “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” [Malachi 4:6]