Wednesday, October 07, 2015


"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Hebrews 10:16-17]

There is a basic difference between the covenant God had with Israel, [the Old Covenant] which was founded upon the Law of Moses as the standard of behavior, and the New Covenant Jesus has established and ratified with His blood, which is our standard of behavior. The Old has been fulfilled in the New as it was Christocentric in its ultimate purpose from the beginning. As a result, all that is about Christ, His obedience, His death, His resurrection, His life, is accredited to our account and is our spiritual portfolio.

This is what it means when it says, "In Christ we HAVE ALREADY been blessed with ALL spiritual blessings....". Being Christocentric also shows the New Covenant is Grace centered rather than Law centered. [read rules here] Don't hear me say grace wasn't existent in the Old, but it WAS revealed in picture form [Sacrifices, feast days etc.] with all the pictures fulfilled in Christ Himself.

Some people try to make the ten commandments applicable to the New Covenant by dividing the Law of Moses into three parts, Thus they wind up with the ceremonial, the civil, and the moral law, [made up of the ten commandments] and they say the moral law extends to the New Covenant since it is descriptive of the character of God. That makes for easy remembering, but the problem is the Jews would never recognize such a division. The law was "one Body" of law and could not be broken into parts. Whatever happened to the Law of Moses happened to all of it. It was, as I said, entirely fulfilled in Christ.

That is not to say the New Covenant is antinomian. [Without law.] In the New Covenant we are "in-lawed" to Christ as I Corthians 9 says. We are to "hear ye Him" as admonished by the Father at the baptism of Jesus. And, by the way, nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Covenant scriptures, with only the "Sabbath" commandment not being repeated. This is because the "sabbath' was a unique sign given to Israel in their covenant with God. As New Covenant people our "Sabbath" is an "Eternal Sabbath," according to Hebrews, and we New Covenant people rest every day of our lives in the Grace of God. [Hebrews 4:9-10]

Welcome to the New Covenant! And, since our relationship with God is based on it, maybe our lifestyles should reflect it as well. What would this look like? Someone simply put it this way. "Under the Old Covenant of law, OBEDIENCE was the ROOT of all God’s blessings. But under the New Covenant of GRACE God blesses us first IN CHRIST, and OBEDIENCE is the FRUIT of having been blessed."

You can see our obedience is a "THANK YOU FOR" rather than a "BLESS ME BECAUSE kind of thing." The blessings of the New Covenant are quite revealing of GRACE, are they not!

Paul B.

Monday, September 21, 2015


"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." [Galatians 3:28 NIV]

Some people are asking the question, "Is the Church becoming too "feminized?" Whatever that means!

If by "feminized" is meant that you will find more women involved in Church life, when gathered, than you do men, I would have to agree. But I don't know that that is a problem. It seems to me that's been true of the church all along. Even in the NT the women were involved with the person of Jesus in many more ways than were men at times. The tomb situation, the Cross moment, the teaching and washing of Jesus feet are all illustrations of that fact. [Not many men mentioned in those moments.]

That, however, could be more a testimony to the courage of women as a gender and their ability to face the prospect of pain than anything else. Following Jesus often brought pain [and still may in many quarters] and women have shown their ability to endure pain quite well in child bearing. Men will never experience that, for obvious reasons, and will, if wise, concede the point that women may be stronger than are men where pain is concerned.

Some might mean by the "feminization of the Church" that men, as a gender, are less likely to be involved where relationships are concerned or small groups are being created because men don't talk or show emotions/feelings as much as do women. But, if that's what is meant, I'm wondering if that might not be an unhealthy generalization based on a completely unprovable premise. Much as I did above with the pain thing. frown emoticonI have to say, I've always been suspicious of categorizing men and women with certain assumed gender characteristics especially if those characteristics are viewed as ABSOLUTES. You've heard it said of women that they love to shop, but men hunt. The difference? Women "look and look and love the looking." With men it is,"I see._I shoot_[buy] I go home."

At the risk of destroying any perceptions about Mary and me, [those who know us well know this to be true] Mary is the one who sees, shoots, and go home, but she would rather see and shoot [buy] off the Internet] truth be known. I, on the other hand, love to look and look whether I buy or not, be it cars, clothes or__you get the idea. So, I'm thinking generalized gender characterizations MAY NOT be very helpful when speaking to this kind of question about the church at all.

Then there is the thought that by "feminization" of the Church is meant a diluting of the message of Christ into an "easy believism." In other words, the message of COMMITMENT and SACRIFICE is lost and a "feel good" message is being presented and accepted in our day and that turns men off. [Some say.] This is sometimes identified as "psycho-babble" which is, evidently, a Siamese twin to "feminization" in the minds of many. The assumption here is that women tend to fall for "easy believism." [As evidenced, I guess, by Eve's proneness to deception.] But men most likely won't be led astray. [Forgetting that Adam was EASILY led astray by the woman.]

I guess we COULD get men together, if we wanted to, [there is NOTHING wrong with having programs for men/women/children, just don't call those programs the "CHURCH."] by emphasizing real "manly things" like hunting, fishing, [though I know women who love those things and men who don't] and singing triumphant songs with soldier lyrics. But we could STILL wind up with a big, sometimes easy, sometimes feel good gathering that doesn't cost us a whole lot in terms of a sacrificial kind of thing at all. We will have just changed the content of the gathering.

But really, is the Church being feminized to the loss of attracting men? My personal opinion is it's impossible to do such a thing. My thought is to talk of programs that are male attractive OR female attractive as if those programs are the church is to miss the point of the REAL Church anyway. Biblically, the Church is genderless in nature and cannot be feminized. In Christ there is neither male nor female as stated in the opening text of this post. That statement is obviously NOT speaking of a physical fact of creation but of the spiritual nature of the Church or all the people "in Christ." The Church is a living, breathing, GENDERLESS organism that is to be seen as spiritual in nature and cannot be masculine OR feminine.

So the REAL problem with this "feminization of the Church" thing is perhaps far beyond any one of these ideas mentioned above.

Then what is the real problem?

One more time__I don't think we adequately__biblically__ understand in our day__what the Church REALLY IS.

At your leisure, check the scriptures and see how all the duties placed upon believers, any believer, whether it is to love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, or whatever the Church is to be doing, are NEVER based upon which sex they are, whether male or female, but ONLY on the basis of being "in Christ."

That's the nature of the Church. That's what binds us together. That's WHY the nature of the true Church must never be defined by programs, race, cultural, or gender characteristics. The Ekklesia is being built without reference to race, gender or any such thing and no cultural idea or even hell itself can change that reality in this world.

Add to that the BASIC issue about whether or not the goal of the "gathered church" is to be one of ATTRACTING outsiders anyway. [Non christians] That idea may be entirely non-scriptural, if not un-scriptural. Our concern about NOT being too feminine or about NOT being manly enough to attract certain people may show we've lost the battle already.

The New Testament identity of the nature of the church may have been lost in our zeal to be attractive to our culture, it seems to me. So, I don't think it's the way we are DOING things when gathered that is the issue at all. Remember, the point of the Great Commission is to GO and gossip the gospel to the lost. It is not to invite the lost to COME and hear my pastor preach.

Were NON-BELIEVERS to actually come to our gatherings and find us LOVING on them whether they are male or female, anglo or otherwise, moral in their behavior or not, and were they to see our ability for experiencing shared lives based on grace and acceptance, while all the time EXPERIENCING the real presence of God, we would be going far, as Paul put it, to NOT..."defiling the Temple of God, which you are," [1 Corinthians 3:17]

With that happening, non-believers visiting our gathered group might not understand us, but they might be strangely drawn to us, so that they might be willing to give the message of our Christ a hearing anyway. That, to me, makes any gender problems a moot issue totally.

As to the question, "Is the Church being feminized," my answer is obviously a resounding "No!"

[In my humble opinion of course.]

Paul B.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I've been thinking ! That can be dangerous I know, but the results of my thinking are some points that are fascinating to me and I thought they might be of interest to you as well.


When Paul the Apostle dealt with LEGALISTS [rules keepers], as he did in his letter to the Galatians, he uses the Law of Moses as his weapon of choice to correct them. The Galatians were groups of young Christians [churches] who had a fantastic beginning. Their response to the preaching of the Apostle was heartwarming. Paul was greatly enthusiastic about these groups of growing young Christians. But, after a while, word came to him that legalism, or rules keeping, had set in and it was certainly taking its toll. What had been a bright and marvelous testimony of the grace and glory of God was being turned into a dull, apathetic group of rules keepers__ cold, barren, and empty__ almost devoid of spiritual life. He tried to show them in the Galatian letter that even the law of Moses would never be a good tool for salvation or sanctification. Legalists got the lesson of the Law from the Apostle.

But when he dealt with LIBERTINES, [there are no rules to keep] as he did in his letter to the Corinthians, he NEVER used the Law of Moses as his weapon of choice.  In fact, he doesn't even mention the Law in the first Corinthian letter. He did use, however, the Wisdom of God to counteract their misconceived notions of their own wisdom. They were philosophers remember, [Phileo_lovers/ Sophia_wisdom or lovers of wisdom] and liked to think of themselves as people who were smart enough to live their life the way they wanted without ANY rules from ANYONE. In that first Corinthian letter Paul showed them that God's smarts are so far above their own that it made their smarts seem like foolishness. Libertines got the lesson of God's Wisdom from Paul. Not the law of Moses.

I'm finding myself thinking that, culturally, America is more libertine than legalist in the present day and I'm wondering if there might not be a lesson for us here!


In the New Testament there is no mention of the early churches ever putting on seminars, holding revival meetings annually, doing workshops to train Christians on how to have quiet times or do scripture memory. Don't hear me say those things are WRONG. I'm not! But it is interesting to me that the early church had none of them, and yet, they had an unbelievable power and even a purity that makes present day church life rather anemic, if not pathetic, in comparison.

What they DID seem to have, however, was an incredible SIMPLICITY about their preaching and teaching of the gospel. They seemed to simply relate all of Who Jesus was/is to everything about who they were, what they had and what they did in life. I think their power and purity was BECAUSE of that simplicity. Christ and His Cross work was the SOURCE of life for them.

The source is that from which we draw all that is really needed for life and is what makes life really worth living. Everything thing else is simply a resource which may help a little but isn't the source for anything. So for those SIMPLE early day Christians JESUS was the source of what made life really life and job, family, church attendance, etc, were all good resources but nothing more.

Present day Christianity is mistakenly making RESOURCES [local church attendance, bible reading, prayer, sermons, witnessing, marriage, family, work, money] the SOURCE in their search for a full and meaningful life and are reaping the unfortunate harvest which is a loss of power and purity in living. [The Jews had done the same thing with the Old Testament scriptures and Jesus reminded them, "You search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life but they are they which speak of me."]     

I'm often asked, "Whatever happened to the power and Purity of the early Church." My question is,"Whatever happened to the simplicity with which they viewed Christ as their very life?"

Just a couple of things I've noticed.

Paul B.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


The following is a blog post by Wade Burleson that deserves a wide audience. I don't write on many current events, especially those dealing with moral failure, but this is of such a nature I believe it needs a wide reading. You may not agree with all the conclusions of Wade, or anyone else for that matter, but you'll be blest by his understanding of grace and law. I'll post it for the few who choose to come this way on blogs.

"I have been the biggest hypocrite ever." Those were the first public words from Josh Duggar after hackers released information that Mr. Duggar spent hundreds of dollars at Ashley Madison, a website designed for married people who desire to have extra-marital sexual affairs. Mr. Duggar, the former Vice-President of theFamily Research Council, had worked tirelessly in opposition to gay marriage, internet pornography, and other moral and social issues. All the while, Mr. Duggar lived a secret life of "pornography addiction...and marital infidelity." The public exposure of Mr. Duggar's duplicity - or to use his word, hypocrisy - has set Twitter and social media on fire.

Hackers released the email addresses and credit card usage of 32 million users of Ashley Madison - but the media is focusing like a laser beam on Josh Duggar. Why is there a media and cultural infatuation with a twenty-seven-year old Christian whose singular claim to fame is being the eldest son of a family featured on a second-rate reality television show? The Advocate, an online news organization promoting gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles writes that the Duggars have "a long history of anti-LGBT" rhetoric and actions. The Duggars have promoted "family values" and have called homosexuality a sin. It seems that The Advocate and other media have the rationale that, "if readers can see the lies and hypocrisy of Josh Duggar's life, then surely they'll understand the lies and deception of Josh Duggar's words,"

That's why Josh Duggar has been singled out among 32 million Ashley Madison users. Those who don't like the idea that moral law actually comes from our Creator will seize on anything to convince themselves and others that there is actually no moral law from God. Promoting hypocrisy in the life of one who speaks freely of Divine law makes those who despise the concept of moral law feel better about the possibility that God's law doesn't even exist. It's not news when an atheist has an affair.

However, those who have singled out Josh Duggar from among the 32 million Ashley Madison users are probably ignorant of the fact that God's law was only designed to expose the problem within us and never designed to expunge the problem from us. I'm an evangelical preacher of the gospel. I'm not surprised by any moral failure in the life of any Christian who publicly, repeatedly and consistently promotes God's laws to the world. Not only am I not surprised; I expect it. No matter how loudly, boldly and publicly one proclaims that adultery and homosexuality is a violation of God's moral law, Divine law has no power to remove desires for adultery or homosexuality from within the heart.

God's Law Changes Nobody, It Only Scars

God declares adultery to be a violation of His moral standard. "You shall not commit adultery," God says (Exodus 20:14). Solomon wrote, "the person who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does it destroys his or her own life" (Proverbs 6:32). Likewise God calls homosexuality "an abomination," a violation of His intention for the world (Leviticus 18:22). Paul says those who commit homosexuality have "taken the truth of God and exchanged it for a lie, worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).

God's law was given to expose corruption in the heart and to restrain actions by the sinner; but it was never designed to expunge corruption from the heart or to reverse actions by the sinner. The law is powerless to change us. "But we know that the law is good, if one uses it the way it was intended, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:8–11).

The law scars. It might restrain, but the person restrained by law is scarred by the battle to throw it off. Sadness, unhappiness, despair, depression and all other emotions that bubble up when being held or restrained from obtaining the very thing the heart wants will lead the sinner to fight against God's restraints (the law). Let me illustrate this principle.

Odysseus, the great captain of the seas in ancient Greece, knew that the island of the Sirens was an island to be avoided. The beautiful half-naked, woman-like creatures who inhabited the island would sing their beautiful songs to entice sailors to enter their port. The Sirens would then attack the sailors, maiming and killing them before consuming their bodies. To avoid this sensuous but deadly island, Odysseus ordered his men to bind him with ropes, to put wax in their own ears, and then ordered the sailors to tighten the ropes when they saw their captain fighting against them. As Odysseus and his men sailed by the island of the Sirens, Odysseus heard the beautiful music and wanted with all his might to swim to the Sirens. He fought against the ropes. The sailors, with wax in their ears, tightened the ropes. Odysseus fought harder. He would later say,

"I became desperate to plunge into the sea." The sailors used the ropes to restrain Odysseus, and the ship eventually sailed by the island of the Sirens, avoiding certain destruction and death of Odysseus and his men.

But Odysseus was scarred for life. The ropes couldn't change his desires; they only prevented him from obtaining them. The legacy of fighting against the restraints could be seen on the physical scars he bore.

God's law is like the ropes that constrained Odysseus. It may be used to bind others, as a civil society may choose restraints in the form of laws that prohibit adultery and homosexuality (as America once did), but those others will fight against those laws until they are thrown off, because law cannot change the heart.

This is why it should never be surprising to any of us when those who advocate tightening the ropes wind up falling into the sea themselves.

God's Riches in Christ Is Beautiful Music Indeed

So how do we actually change? How do we avoid the Ashley Madison websites of this world? How do we say no to our addictions? How do we sail by the island of the Sirens? What has the power to change us?

According to the New Testament, the only thing powerful enough to change us from the inside/out is the riches of God's grace toward us in Jesus Christ. It's never the law of God that convinces a man to change his life; it's the grace and goodness of God in Christ that has the power to change the human heart.

We must become captivated by a sweeter, more beautiful song.

Going back to Greek mythology, Jason was another captain who sailed the Aegean sea. He and his men, the Argonauts, had also heard that the island of the Sirens was beautiful but deadly. Unlike Odysseus, Jason didn't sail by the island bound by ropes and with wax in his men's ears. Jason asked Orpheus, the greatest musician in the world, to sail with him and his men. When they came near to the island of the Sirens, Orpheus began playing his music. Jason and his men were so captivated by what they heard from Orpheus that when the Sirens began singing their songs, they sailed right on by because their hearts were captured by more beautiful music.

This is what the message of God's grace in Jesus Christ does for us. It's a sweeter song. The problem is that many who name Christ as Lord often seemed more concerned with tightening the ropes than creating beautiful music.

Yesterday I performed a funeral service for an elderly woman who died of Alzheimer's disease. I chose as my text God's incredible promise to those who trust His Son: "I will remember your sins and iniquities no more" (Hebrews 8:12). I explained that God's forgetfulness, unlike Alzheimer's, is intentional, personal, and eternal. When you begin to live in the knowledge of God's forgetfulness of all those times you "missed the mark" (sin) as a spouse, person, parent, etc... then you can relate to God not out of fear nor "obedience to any law," but in the knowledge of His great grace for you in Jesus Christ. After the message, a couple unfamiliar with true Christianity, told me that the message had "changed their lives." God's grace is the only thing powerful enough to change lives.

Life lived to its fullest comes from listening to the beautiful music that is struck by the chords of God's riches in Christ. Even when we screw up intentionally and wickedly (i.e.. "iniquity"), God forgets it because Jesus died for it. That's rich grace; and it alone will change our hearts, The music of grace causes us to lose desire for the lesser pleasures of sin and iniquity. Our lives change when we begin to feel that God's grace for us is more beautiful, more pleasurable, more captivating, and more enticing than our sin.

When I come to realize that I can jump into the sea and He'll never hold it against me, and when I come to understand that if I jump for a lesser pleasure I'm acting senselessly by abandoning my only real Treasure, and when I find myself swimming to a lesser pleasure that will ultimately only destroy me, then maybe it's time for me to ask why I'm not being captivated by the beautiful music of God's grace in Jesus Christ?

If, however, I hear the beautiful music of grace, and if I begin to walk in the deep and unconditional love of God for me, then I indeed discover that I need no illicit love to fill my heart. And if I come to revel in the sweetness of God's intentional and personal forgiveness of me, then I find the power to throw off any addiction that helped me deal with the pain and guilt of my failures. And if I come to understand that God, who spared not His own Son for me, will freely, daily and cheerfully give me everything I need, then I will be unable to find any reason to spend time worrying about tomorrow.

I have Him.

The Beautiful Music of God's Grace in Christ Changes the Heart

Ephesians 2:7 ... God sent His Son so "that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Romans 9:23... God gave us His Son "make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy..."

Ephesians 1:7... "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace."
I Timothy 1:14... "and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

John 10:10...Jesus said, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and that you might have life at its fullest."

If you've understood what I've written above, you understand my life's message. I'm not sure if it's clear to you or not, but after reading about Josh Duggar this morning, I felt compelled to write for those Duggars out there not yet caught.

Real change comes from rich grace.

Wade Burleson

Wade's words are not easily understood on this. Read it again if you must. But my hope is the song of true grace will be truly understood.

Paul B.