Posted by: Lady Dunamis | February 4, 2016

The Mega Church Thing

When I started attending church as a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, the congregation size was very small, and most of them comprised of children with a few adults. Interestingly enough, there were always more women than men. Then I relocated to North Carolina and attended a church which was considered mega with a membership of over five thousand parishioners. It was an adjustment in terms of size, administration, and culture. The first church I attended it was very close knit, meaning everybody knew everybody’s business, and if they didn’t know they were about to find out. In the second church, if anyone knew your name, it was startling to say the least.

I didn’t mind attending a large church because I am a quiet, introspective lady who likes to worship the Lord and be about my business. Actually, I loved it. The unique thing about the church in North Carolina was they found ways to break down the structure to make it more communal, whether it was by associating members who lived in nearby zip codes or zoning in on gender and generational similarities that would bring us together as one. Honoring our individualities without smothering us with a blanket of unbiblical religious conformity.

And then I left and came to Texas by way of Arizona (yes I have travelled a bit). I attended a church which was larger than the previous one. They boasted of a congregation size of 20k plus and at first it was intimidating, or at least that is what I told myself. I thought being new to Texas, I needed to adjust and all will be well. I was wrong. When I look back, it wasn’t the size of the church that intimidated me. I was uneasy about the appearance of fellowship.

You see, I pulled a Jonah on God. When I went to Tarshish (Arizona) I thought whatever the Lord commanded me to do in North Carolina I will resume in Arizona. Needless to say, I spent nearly three years in the belly of a big fish, and when it spat me out in Texas, I had to pick up where I left off. So here I was in this mega church and the time I spent was as fruitful as it needed to be. However, there were a few observations I picked up along the way concerning mega churches:

  1. It boasted a congregation of 20 thousand, but only five thousand could fit into the whole building.
  2. They made a distinction between the church as an organization and as an organism.
  3. There were ministerial echelons created among the members.
  4. The pulpit became more of a platform to sell products, dreams, plays, projects, talent, and visions instead of preaching the Holy Scriptures.
  5. During the altar calls, the pastor would boast about new membership receiving Jesus. That’s what it looked like on television, but the number of new converts never reflected that.
  6. Multiple “Love offerings” were scheduled in advance.

And I could tell more, but perhaps another time.

Understand, I am not pro or against mega churches. In fact, according to the scriptures, Moses was the only one who had a true “mega church.” His congregation consisted anywhere from 1-3 million of a mixed multitude and moving all those people including their cattle and stuff was no easy task. Realize that at one point in time being associated with a large membership was exciting in Christendom, but soon waned because the fellowship dynamic lacked community, felt like you were attending work, or God’s children were seen as a Christian commodity to be traded on the Christian stock market.

Anyone is free to choose where they worship, but be very careful not to rely on congregation size and reputation. As for me I knew before I left Arizona where I was going because the Lord revealed it before I got there. The thing is, God doesn’t always reveal what lies ahead and that is to prevent us from circumventing his plan.

Go where the Lord directs you, and when you get there be sure to prove ALL things.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | January 5, 2016

If God Didn’t Spare Moses, Neither Will He Spare Us

For a split second I decided to not publish this post in fear it maybe too strong.

I changed my mind.

I hate condescending sermons. You know those kind of sermons that assume you have the intelligence of a two year old or the gross assumptions that you don’t have a clue as to what the preacher is talking about because, well, you know, you just aren’t at that level yet. Ugh! I get that unbelievers have a tendency to think Christians are moronic, uneducated simpletons who leave their intelligence at the door, but it is a whole different ball game when pulpit authority preach condescending, sermonic rants as if God’s people are a bunch of discombobulated idiots.

No amount of good music, having a high time in the Lord, or academic eloquence can make me overlook a prideful look and a haughty spirit. I would rather watch a rerun marathon of Fixer Upper episodes or go to a Starbucks ™ sipping a hot cup of cocoa deliciousness on a beautiful, brisk Sunday morning than sit and be belittled by one who uses their “liberty as a cloak of maliciousness.” (1) If any preacher, pastor, teacher, apostle or prophet is insulting you without provocation, tell the Lord and he will correct them. As a child of the King it is your divine right to go to God. You are his child and contrary to popular belief, he doesn’t play favorites.

I hate to hear personal opinions about God’s people weaved in between scripture. I do not like it when preachers who are offended by someone in the congregation use the pulpit to shame and air out dirty laundry while hiding behind God’s name causing greater offense. It angers me to hear sermons so convoluted with secularism all in an attempt to show off their knowledge. They “speak great swelling words having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (2) all the while making sport of God’s people. (3) And it truly goes against my grain hearing these so called on fire for God prophets spewing out their prophetic tirades short of cussing God’s people out.

Now before someone gets the idea that I need healing and to forgive my trespassers, I will be swift to inform you that there have been times I had to “woman up” and take my 39 lashings of humility and disgrace for formation of character. Other times, I have approached the offenders (from the pulpit to the door) and believe you me, most people are liars and cowards. They would rather die as a martyr or roll on the floor and foam at the mouth before admitting fault and repenting before the Lord. As for those who have doctorates in ministry, I do not despise or envy. I have a M.S. in Leadership, B.S. in Business Administration, and an A.S. in Accounting, two of which I have achieved summa cum laude, and quite frankly, it means diddly squat to God. Truth is, the more you learn, the more you discover how much you do not know. What I find fault with is taking scripture out of context and exalting the wisdom of this world and passing it off as the wisdom of the Scriptures.

To be fair, ministering to God’s people is HARD WORK and oftentimes feels like a thankless task. Some of God’s people don’t read their bible, don’t pray, and don’t fast. They would rather have friendship with an unbeliever and treat their spiritual brethren like garbage. Some love to live double lives instead of serving God as a “living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God.” (4) So there is a legitimate frustration in preaching and teaching God’s people because for reasons only known to the Lord, despite His graciousness, they still resist the Spirit of Grace. (5)

Most of us who are called to serve God’s people don’t want to because we know it requires great sacrifice and an even greater judgment. We would rather Get Rich or Die Trying. However, just because God’s people can be difficult, it does not give anyone license to be rude, nasty, and mean spirited. Yes, some are extremely difficult and take pleasure in being trouble makers. There is a time to be sharp and a time to refrain. No one has or will ever have delegated authority to abuse the people of God. If God’s people are in sin, the Lord will handle them in a way that brings honor to him and satisfies his judgment. If they are hypocrites, we need to weep because hell will continue to enlarge herself.

Let us remember Moses’ example. The ancient Israelites murmured, complained, and tempted God in the wilderness. There was a time they were in the desert of Zin in Kadesh (6) and needed water to drink. In spite all the marvelous works God performed in Egypt, they still didn’t believe. God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out, but Moses’ anger got the best of him. Instead of speaking to the rock he hit it and his inability to control his anger exempted him from inheriting the promise.

Was Moses justified in being angry? Of course he was; however, his anger did not work the righteousness of God and it cost him dearly. No matter how great Moses was or how wonderful his work may have been, his inability to manage his emotions put him in the same category as those who died in unbelief. Neither entered into the promise.

Scripture References

  1. I Peter 2:16
  2. Jude 1:16
  3. II Peter 2:3
  4. Romans 12:1
  5. Hebrews 10:29
  6. Numbers 20:1-13

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | December 14, 2015

MercyMe – Greater

The song is awesome. The video…quite entertaining. Enjoy!

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | November 29, 2015

The Struggle is Real but So is the Victory

Greeting SUW Readers!

I know it has been a while since I have blogged and not because I was intentional in neglecting my blogging duties. I was unemployed for a year and not being able to secure full time employment was a journey I would not welcome upon anyone; nevertheless, it has proven to be quite fruitful in my understanding about God’s providence and walking in the ways of the Lord.

Short of a year from the date of my layoff, I found a temporary position at “Company Healthcare” that I tried to secure employment with before. In all honesty, I was not pleased with the position, compensation, or situation, and a lesson in humility and abasing in accordance to God’s grace was more than challenging. In addition to my savings being depleted, I was wrestling with an excruciatingly painful blow to my ego. My income was reduced by 62% and it is quite difficult to be subject to leadership that is younger, less experienced, and abrasive in character. Not to mention the daily struggles of always wondering if I would have enough to pay rent, food, gas, or new clothes. And if that wasn’t enough, every time the contract would expire, I wasn’t able to access my time sheets. The apathy was extreme.

Then I had a defining moment. One day I went to work, business as usual, and the badge didn’t work. Come to find out, my work order had expired and all access was revoked! With an almost astute cavalier bluntness, the senior manager said he didn’t renew the contract. Later, he back peddled and apologized for this happening and said it was HR’s fault. This was the last straw.

Seven months of personal and professional challenges motivated me to explore options in another state. I posted inside and outside of Texas and I was sure that all roads would lead to Colorado. Companies responded quickly and the interviews were flowing in, but so was the case in Texas. In fact, my previous employer, “Company Bank & Mortgage” responded to one of the positions I applied for and if that wasn’t enough, “Company Healthcare” responded to one of my applications also.

Well, if you know anything about God, it never takes him long to do what he needs to do, but there is always an intended twist. In an almost methodical order, the interviews happened and the declines came at the speed of light. Then it was between “Company Bank & Mortgage” and “Company Healthcare.” I thought it would be a no brainer but then there was an unusual turn. The department I spent seven months with had an open position and despite my professional challenges, I expressed an interest seeing that this would give me a foot into the company as a full time employee. Huge mistake!

In hindsight I wish I hadn’t said anything because they were so eager in my expressed interest that it almost put a monkey wrench in the internal position I applied for. I sensed that they were blocking the other position and a talk with human resources confirmed my suspicions. Despite all of this, prior to applying for positions, the Lord already revealed what my compensation would be, but I had to wait upon him to reveal which position. At this point, it was between two positions at “Company Healthcare” and one position at “Company Bank & Mortgage.”

The senior manager at “Company Healthcare” requested to have a talk about my expressed interest and I asked the Lord not only to give me wisdom, but allow me to hear something that would direct my path. Trust me when I say, the Lord hears and answers prayer! Because I have been in operations for many years, the senior manager confirmed exactly why I shouldn’t choose to pursue this position. Shortly thereafter, human resources contacted me and the other internal position was ready to move full steam ahead. The recruiter told me the compensation and it was exactly as the Lord revealed! God is good!

As for the previous employer, they wanted to interview me but since I already accepted the position at “Company Healthcare,” I declined to go further with the process.

Transitioning into a new industry has been overwhelming but rewarding. After four years of numerous failures of transitioning into a new industry, I have secured a position that is a perfect combination of data analytics and operations. And although my income is not what it used to be, it is almost close to it. That has changed my life drastically and dramatically and trust me when I tell you, I do not take that for granted.

What some perceive to be first world problems, were very real obstacles in my pursuit of God and great challenges to my faith in his ability. So now that it appears that I am on the upswing, it has been met with anger, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and envy. How is it that I have a position with one of the most coveted departments within the company? She started out as a temp and I have been here for years? She is a floor below the executive level? And her work isn’t monitored like the rest of us? What’s up with that?!

The answer to that is simple: “all the inhabitants are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou? [T]he Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” (Daniel 4:35, 32)

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | November 10, 2015

BRAVE by Moriah Peters

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | October 20, 2015

Fix My Eyes – For King and Country

Today I shared some good news with my friend Lady Susan ( The Portugal Years ) and she sent me this YouTube video which expresses the sentiment of my heart.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | October 12, 2015

Once a Sinner Always a Sinner?

“I thank God for saving me, a sinner saved by grace” says Mother Baptism with holy exuberance.

With a disdainful side-eye look Evangelist Comeuppance vehemently replies, “Speak for yourself. I am a SAINT, not a sinner.”

Rolling her M&M shaped eyes at Evangelist Comeuppance, Mother Baptism snaps, “Well, like you said, speak for yourself, I know God saved a wretch like me. I guess some of us think otherwise. So good to know Jesus…” And off went Mother Baptism back into the sanctuary.

Believe it or not, I heard a similar conversation like this between two Christians, minus the colorful character names of course.

Within the Christian community this sinner saved by grace proverb is common and there are even songs about it, but after accepting Jesus, are we sinners or not? Many will say yes and others will disagree. Then there is the inquisitive unbeliever who studies the scripture, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will retort that the Holy Scriptures contain many contradictions and it is hard to come to an agreement on what is true. On the other hand, the King’s kid under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will soon discern that scripture interprets scripture. In fact as it relates to this topic, the Apostles Paul and John were on the same page. Yet we must take heed. Never are we to isolate or repeat scriptures without proper context, otherwise scriptures will be diluted into cute Christian slogans with a meaning that was never intended.

Timothy is a pastoral epistle and Paul wanted his son in the gospel to be diligent and discerning about false teachers and demonic doctrines. The particular scripture we are about to observe must be interpreted in light of Paul’s understanding about sin.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (I Timothy 1:15)

Yet John wrote about sin in his epistle to one of the churches:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and the word is not in us.” (I John 1: 8-10)

The word sinner, used by Paul in the Greek was the word hamartolos, one whose lifestyle is devoted to sin and John defines sin as hamartia (Gk), which means to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor.

So here is a pop quiz. What did Paul mean when he said Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief?

  1. All men are called sinners because we are not free from its persuasive powers.
  2. Men who dedicate their lives to sinning.
  3. Both A and B.
  4. None of the above.

Alright scholar, if you chose A, you are correct! Everyone has the case of the “can’t help its” and for that reason we are not free from its persuasive power. Paul wasn’t attempting to be self-deprecating by calling himself a sinner. What he was conveying was the wretchedness of his state and from time to time he does sin, but not intentionally. Think about it like this, if someone said to you, “OMG, your teeth are so white.” In kind response you would say, “No your teeth are so much whiter than mine. In the epistle of John, the apostle was warning the members of the church to not deceive themselves thinking that just because they serve the Lord, somehow that means they do not sin. If anyone believes that, the truth is not in them. (I John 1:6) .

The true litmus test of a believer is obedience, not self-identification.  Unbelievers know us by what we do, not what we say; peradventure, if we are to call ourselves sinners, then we should be very clear as to say why we are sinners. Are you a sinner because it is your ultimate pleasure to offend God and you cannot get a good night sleep unless you have done ill will? Or did you commit an “oops” because that nasty sinful nature just creeps up on you without warning? I hope it is the latter.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | September 30, 2015

Sinner’s Prayer – Why Sinners Don’t Need It

Since we established that God does not answer the prayers of those who are opposed to his holiness (http://straitupword.com/2015/09/29/is-god-deaf ), we must take a look at what is typically known as the sinner’s prayer.

During the Reformation, many attempted to break away from the doctrines in Catholicism by creating their own doctrines of salvation. Notably, these creeds evolved into salvation being obtained through prayer. The rise of the sinner’s prayer exploded among many travelling evangelists in the late 20th century at large tent meetings, encouraging those who heard the word to come to the front to receive salvation.

So what is the sinner’s prayer? It is a prayer said by an unbeliever, who after hearing the gospel recites a confession and acknowledgement of being separated from God:

“God, I am a sinner and I acknowledge that. I ask that you come save me and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I believe on your Son Jesus Christ and because of that I have inherited eternal life. Thank you Lord for your love and salvation in Jesus’ name.”

There are a few things I find errant with the whole call to salvation using the sinner’s prayer. First, if someone has to ask you if you want to be saved, the person preaching wasn’t under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the word preached wasn’t a message of salvation. Some messages consist of tithes, offerings, and anecdotes of green eggs and ham, and we wonder why no one comes up for prayer?

Second, acknowledgment and confession are intellectual exercises that fall short of doing something. True faith requires action. How many people will confess they are saved because they said the sinner’s prayer, but never return to church for spiritual instruction in righteousness? The attendance rosters for many churches are loaded with names but where are the people? Boasting about a membership of 3,000 souls saved via the sinner’s prayer is meaningless if 100% of them do not adhere to Jesus’ call to take up their cross and follow him (1).

Third, sinners are never instructed in scripture to pray a prayer of salvation. They are to hear the gospel of peace and glad tidings of good things (2), repent of their sins, and be baptized. In fact, when Apostle Paul stated “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Jesus from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (3) that was not intended to be a prayer for salvation. Paul was demonstrating what could happen after hearing the gospel preached. It is the method of justification, not a prayer for justification. The use of the future tense “shall or shalt” denotes something that takes place at a particular time in the future. Without hearing the preached word first, there can be no reason to confess and believe.

For example, let’s take a look at what happened at Pentecost (4). Peter preached the word and their hearts were pricked. They asked Peter what did they need to do in order to be saved and he instructed them to:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (5)

To repent means to have regret before God and change your mind. It is the godly sorrow that causes you to reconsider your spiritual position against the Lord. Baptism takes place when the individual decides to associate him or herself with the ministry of the one who shed his blood. At Jerusalem, Peter was preaching to devout Jews (6) and these men associated themselves with the ministry of Moses. Baptizing in Jesus’ name is a symbolic act that serves as an outward witness to others. Not only does it mean they were associating themselves with Christ, the Messiah, they would also have the “answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (7) and being buried with him by baptism into death, like Christ was resurrected from the dead, they would also reflect God’s power to raise them up to experience newness of life (8). And when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit, it is an element of baptism that is performed by Jesus only. Without his spirit, no one is empowered to witness, live holy, or be sealed until his return. (9)

So what about the publican who asked God to be merciful to a sinner like him? (10) It was a warning to the self-righteous who thought less of others, not a prayer of salvation.

If we are honest, we all know that words are meaningless without action. To work the work of God is to believe on the One whom God has sent (11) because the true work was completed on the cross at Golgotha, but in order to see the inward working of faith in HD (High Definition), one must do what the scripture requires, which is to respond to the person who committed his life and the authenticity of his ministry by repentance and baptism. These are not works of salvation. It is a biblical response to the call of salvation.

References

  1. Matthew 16:24
  2. Romans 10:15
  3. Romans 10:9
  4. Acts 2
  5. Acts 2:38
  6. Acts 2:5
  7. I Peter 3:21
  8. Romans 6:4
  9. Ephesians 4:30
  10. Luke 18:13
  11. John 6:29
Posted by: Lady Dunamis | September 29, 2015

Is God Deaf?

St. John 9:31

“Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God and doeth his will, him he heareth.”

In St. John chapter nine, Jesus saw a man blind from birth and the disciples asked him a very intriguing question. “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (1) Funny how the disciples assumed someone sinned. Isn’t it just like us to believe adversity or sickness is a result of someone sinning? I am sure Bro. Job would have shaken his head in disbelief.

Nevertheless, Jesus replied, “Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be manifest in him.” (2)

Without any delay, Jesus proceeds to heal the man by giving him an unconventional spa treatment: a soothing eye mask made out of spit and dirt. I can only imagine how many of us would have told Jesus, “No thank you, I’ll pass” but this bizarre means of healing reveals a few things about Jesus. It demonstrates the virtue within, his spiritual authority, and ability to heal sickness and disease.

After washing the mud from his eyes, the man began to see. Notwithstanding, the Pharisees thought this act of grace to be a blasphemous spectacle because Jesus performed the miracle on the Sabbath. Furthermore, they didn’t believe the man was born blind, so they called the parents to confirm his infirmity. Because they feared the Jews, the parents redirected the focus back to the son. The religious rulers said to the man:

“Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.” (3)

A sinner? Yes, they called Jesus a sinner because he had compassion and restored this man’s eyesight. A sinner because he deviated from the Law of Moses and instead demonstrated grace and healing. Irritated by the Pharisees badgering him about his deliverance, he abruptly tells them that he already told them and, of course, they were offended. Insulted by his response, they shifted the focus from the miracle and the miracle worker and replied,

“We know that God spake unto Moses” and then accused Jesus to a fault, “as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.” (4)

And no, they didn’t mean they were clueless as to what part of the Galilean hood Jesus grew up in. They meant his spiritual point of origin. They question Jesus being the Son of God and doubt the man was born blind from birth, but who were the blind ones?

The man who was born blind said:

“Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened my eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (5)

After giving these religious rulers a lesson in Hermeneutics 101, this raises the question, who is a sinner?

The word sinner is defined as hamartolos (Gk). It is one who is not free from sin or devoted to sin. Preeminently sinful and especially wicked. Specifically of men stained with certain devices or crimes.

This is not who Jesus was and the miracle he performed was proof of that. But we do not rely on the ability to perform miracles to affirm sonship because Satan can perform miracles as well. Scripturally, Jesus is the Son of God because he was driven by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil in the wilderness, which gives undeniable evidence that as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God. (6) Jesus said “Father I know you always hear me” (7) when he raised Lazarus from the dead showing he performed the works of Him who sent him. (8) Furthermore, Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered.(9) His lifestyle was devoted to please the Father and that is the life of a worshipper.

If the man who was born blind was here with us today, he would say:

“Listen, if Jesus was a sinner, God wouldn’t pay him no mind. There would be nothing that he could say or do that would cause God to grant his request.”

In other words, God does not attend to or give consideration to a man or woman whose lifestyle is devoted to sin. God hears the prayers of the righteous. His ears are always open to their cry, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil and (10) in the day of their calamity they will be mocked. (11) Many will profess to be children of God, but mere profession won’t cut the mustard. Obedience to God’s word does. Saying “I believe in God” or “I believe God” doesn’t make one a child of the King any more than someone quoting the Qur’an a devout Muslim. If you see someone whose lifestyle is contrary to God’s word and they brag about how God answered their prayers, believe them not. Their prayers may have been answered but it wasn’t God who answered them.

It is not that God cannot hear. He hears everything, but he will not grant the request of a man or woman whose lifestyle makes them a companion of the world and an enemy of God. (12)

References

  1. John 9:2
  2. John 9:3
  3. John 9:24
  4. John 9:29
  5. John 9:30-31
  6. Romans 8:14
  7. John 11:42
  8. John 9:4
  9. Hebrews 5:8
  10. Psalm 34:15-16
  11. Proverbs 1:26
  12. James 4:4

 

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | September 20, 2015

Come as You Are – Don’t!

I was watching an episode of Atlanta Plastic and one of the prospective patients mentioned something that I have heard frequently but this time it seized my attention. Without rehearsing the context of the conversation, it was around attending church and the patient stated, “God says come as you are.” That was a pause for consideration.

First, this saying is un-biblical and we must be careful to recognize spiritual sayings that sound scriptural or deemed as equivalent to scriptural authority. Second, the intention behind it is to help the unbeliever or those weak in the faith overcome real or perceived obstacles that would hinder one’s relationship to God, i.e. going to the altar to get prayer or not having the appropriate attire to come to church. The problem with this reasoning is therein lies an assumption that a relationship exists with an unbeliever. It doesn’t. They are enemies of God and of the cross. That is why they need to hear the gospel preached. For the weak believer, there could be a variety of things happening from misunderstanding to outright rebellion. Whatever the issue is, the preached word will reveal, address, and correct it.

But let’s dig deeper spiritually and realize that coming to God as we are is really a death sentence. It is veiled arrogance and presumption that God should just accept us because of who we are. This is where we fall short in Christendom. We are accepted in the beloved because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, not because of who we are or what we have done. Without the Father extending his unmerited favor through faith, we were all destined for eternal destruction.

Many might not be able to grasp the deadliness of the “coming to God as I am” concept because it is often tied to religious calisthenics. So let’s take a peek into the Old Covenant and see God’s response to Nadab and Abihu.

Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron (the High Priest) and were consecrated and ordained to the priesthood to offer sacrifices unto God, live holy, and teach the statutes of the Lord to the children of Israel. Shortly after their ordination,

“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out a fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” (1 )

Now we might be inclined to believe the Lord was a tad bit harsh in his judgment but we have to consider a few things: 1) God’s people are called to serve him according to knowledge and that knowledge is based on God’s word. 2) God’s instructions are not subject to private interpretation or subsequent amendments. 3) Service to God is worship. Any deviation is irreverent and merits judgment.

How does all this tie in to what they did and why God devoured them by fire? According to Exodus 30, Aaron was assigned to burn sweet incense before the Lord every morning and it was a special incense (2 ) that was solely for God’s pleasure. This incense was not for personal use or public consumption.  There is a lot of theological speculation as to Nadab’s and Abihu’s reasons for burning the incense, but through their actions we see they rejected God’s word, didn’t follow his instructions, and deviated from God’s original plan. There was no communication that in the event Aaron couldn’t burn the incense they would serve as substitutes and perform the service whenever they deemed fit. Unfortunately, their arrogance and presumption blinded them to the holiness of the Lord and cost them their lives!

This ultimately points to God’s holiness and our ability or inability to see that. God is holy and is to be feared. This doesn’t mean we are to be timid because we are exhorted to come boldly before the throne of grace obtaining the help we need (3 ). It means in acknowledging his holiness, we approach with such reverence that it causes our spirits to tremble in awe and wonder.

Under the Old Covenant, Israel had to approach God by way of sacrifice and offerings but under the New Covenant, New Testament believers approach God through One sacrifice: Jesus Christ the righteous. So if you are going to present yourself to the Lord, do so humbly and in his Son’s name.

 

Reference

  1. Leviticus 10:1-2
  2. Exodus 30:34-38
  3. Hebrews 4:16

 

 

 

 

 

 

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