Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 22 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to take a look at our foundation as believers.

 

In Luke 6 and Matthew 7 Jesus teaches about two men who built houses.  One built on the sand and when the storm and flood came it collapsed. The other man built his house on a firm foundation and when that storm came, the house withstood the assault.  In this analogy, Jesus says that the one who hears and follows His teachings is the man building on a firm foundation, but the man who doesn’t follow Christ’s teachings is like the one whose house the storm destroys.

 

Let’s look at some passages that can help highlight what that foundation is made up of.  In Matthew 22 when asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus said, “[37] Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the greatest and most important command. [39] The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. [40] All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”  Along these same lines in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul wrote, “[13] Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love— but the greatest of these is love.” In addition Ephesians 3:17-19 says, “[17] and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, [18] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God's love, [19] and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  

 

There’s this video out there from 2018 where this individual in Alaska dressed up as the Grim Reaper and stood across the street from a high school as classes were letting out with a black sign that read, “The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23” with the word sin written in rainbow colors, and the word death written in red with a period after it.  I’m not going to mention the man's name, but I’m sure I’ve given enough detail that you can find the video for yourself if you’re so inclined. This individual defended his actions to the police and on the follow-up video as being a light in the darkness and taking a hard truth to a fallen generation like the prophets of the Old Testament. I want everyone listening to pay very close attention to the next words out of my mouth, and then let me explain what we’re talking about here.  This was not some holy or righteous thing, this was an act of terrorism.

 

I understand that the word terrorism in a post-9-11 world where certain groups have up’d the ante has a stigma of requiring bloodshed, but that’s not the case.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines terrorism as, “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorism, accessed on April 17, 2019).  Now, the Grim Reaper costume grabbed attention and I'm sure instilled a fair amount of fear in those teenagers coming out of their school. But I’m more upset about the sign he was holding with this perversion of scripture.  Remember it read, “The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23” the word sin in rainbow colors and death in red with that period after it. Let’s go ahead and actually read Romans 6:23 including the over half of the verse the sign was missing, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Not only over half of the verse cut off, but the part that was lobbed off is the part that shares the Gospel and speaks to hope. In addition to the fact that the word "but" in the English language joins two statements where you need to negate the first statement because of the second. In this case, that sin leads to death means nothing because the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.  And as we all know a gift is something given freely, with no strings. Or at least a gift given by a good and perfect father wouldn’t have any strings attached.

 

This action taken outside of this school fits the M.O., the modus operandi, of our enemy the Devil to a t.  To deceive by giving enough of the truth so that it sounds trustworthy and then omits the part that actually gives hope and leads to freedom, thereby perverting it.  We talked about this in season one episode twenty-seven when we were looking at the Devil tempting Adam and Eve in The Garden of Eden. He plays on partial truth, on fear, and on pride.  The reasoning, as I can see it, for our enemy to inspire this terrorism is threefold;

 
  1. To create in the hearts of pre-believers, when they see that costume and sign, a fear of God, Christians, and Christianity.

  2. To create in the hearts of Christians, when we see negative responses to the sharing of scripture, a fear of the world and pre-believers.

  3. To create a rift of division in The Church when we inevitably take sides on the issue and forget we have an enemy, and it isn’t each other, or the guy who was wearing the Grim Reaper costume.

 

In Colossians 1 Paul wrote, “[21] Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. [22] But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him- [23a] if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.”  And Colossians 2:6-7 says, “[6] So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, [7] being rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.” As a culture, the culture of The Church, when we’ve become infiltrated by acts inspired by the Devil, as we’ve seen here and we know happens in other instances, it’s because we’re splintered, hope is being rejected, and we’ve “pulled up roots” so to speak from the foundation of the Gospel which is love.

 

We must embrace others in love, sinner and saint alike, with a confident expectation that the Holy Spirit will do His job to fully persuade hearts of the need to place their faith in Christ.

 

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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