Judgmental Christians

When most people say that christians are judgmental, they usually mean it in the sense of them looking down on people, being quick to condemn and point out the sins of others.  While I agree that it is wrong for christians to show a lack of grace and condemn people to a hell they don’t have any authority to put them in, I believe the church has become too judgmental in the opposite sense.

I believe it’s just as problematic when we are quick and anxious to call people christians, when their actions may suggest otherwise(Galations 5:16-26).  Why isn’t it considered judgmental when we ignore someones sinful lifestyle to label them a christian?  People will say stop judging then will turn around and put someone in heaven with a RIP.  There seems to be a double standard.

We often cosign celebrities and influential peoples faith when they profess to be christians, even when their works are sinful because it validates us not fully divorcing ourselves from the ways of the world.  As we applaud people who praise God one minute, then glorify sin the next, it can be reflective of our walk and desire to please men above God(Galations 1:10, Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 2:15-16).

It is important to understand that we all judge, but not all judgment is the same.  There are two types of judgement the bible speaks of.  The first judgement belongs to God alone, where He determines where we will spend eternity(heaven or hell), which is based on whether or not we truly put our trust in Christ as Lord and savior(John 3:16-19).  The second type of judgement isn’t exclusive to God, but is where we have the ability to determine right from wrong.  We all are judgmental, but we must make sure our judgements don’t condemn others, recognizing we have done nothing to deserve God’s forgiveness(Romans 3:23, Colossians 3:13).

If we look at 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Paul encourages the church to not disassociate themselves with sinners(sinners outside of the church), for the purpose of being a light and sharing the gospel(Matthew 5:16, Romans 1:16).  Right after that he encourages the church(body of believers) to judge those in unrepentant sin within the church who claim to be brother or sister in Christ by not keeping company with them.  He even goes as far as telling true believers not to eat with them.  He does this for the sake of eliminating confusion to make a distinction between what it looks like to truly be or not be a christian for the purpose of not misleading others.  This is why Jesus said I would rather you be hot or cold(Revelations 3:15-16).  I believe one of the greatest evil’s in this world isn’t that which comes in the name of evil, but that which leads us to believe that we can serve God and the devil at the same time(Matthew 6:24).

It is easy for us as born again believers to become a stumbling block and aid in producing false converts, when our lives fail to make a distinction between righteousness and unrighteousness.  When sinners are affirmed as believers by professing christians while they still cling to their sin, it can lead to them not seeking true salvation which is only found in Christ because of faulty validation.  If you have been guilty of this as a professing christian and you have no conviction, I would encourage you to examine yourself to see if you are truly saved(2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Jude 1:4).

Lastly if we as believers are truly seeking to submit to the scriptures, love others and make disciples we won’t be so quick to write others off the moment they sin.  We will know the difference between sin and unrepentant sin as we purpose to walk out our salvation with carefulness and reverence(Philippians 2:12).  So let us confess our faults one to another and pray for each other that we be healed with our hearts set on unity in the Spirit(James 5:16, Ephesians 4:2-3).

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Are your gift(s) and dreams an idol?

We’re in a time where the internet isn’t short of resources and personalities pushing us to chase our dreams and encouraging us to be great.  Many churches have even adopted these motivational messages centered around you achieving your goals, becoming the best you, and proving your haters wrong while injecting scripture to validate teaching points.  This is often done at the expense of twisting the context of scripture to make it seem that your glory and God’s glory are interchangeable.  As a result I believe we have taught people how to be great in this life, while we have failed to teach them how to deny themselves(Luke 9:23) and be great in God.  My concern is that we are producing people who perform great on stages and platforms, but poorly at producing godly homes and families.

I believe one of the biggest dangers in westernized Christianity, is that many are being conditioned to care more about their gifts and dreams than God’s Word.  When searching and rightfully applying God’s word(sound doctrine) in our lives isn’t top priority, it allows us to attach Jesus to any type of ambition and success, even if that ambition and success is self-centered and causes us to compromise truth.  This is why secular creators can thank God for their earthly success that results from work that glorifies idolatry and the flesh(Galatians 5:16-26), while professing Christians cheer on. Yet, Colossians 3:2 implores us to set our affections on things above, and not things on this earth, which means to set our desires on what’s important to God above things that are earthly and temporary.  When we’re self-centered it’s easy to forget we live to glorify God and not our ambitions.  As believers in The Way we must renew our minds daily(Romans 12:1-2, Psalms 1:1-2) because “thou shalt have no other gods before me”(Exodus 20:3-5), can easily become an after thought with mantras like “do you” and “seek your truth” at the forefront of pop culture.

Anything that is more important to us than our personal relationship with Jesus, is an idol.  Even things we do in the name of ministry and His name can become an idol.  What we do for God should never be viewed as a replacement for our personal time with God.  When we fail to realize this, it eventually becomes about our glory and not God’s.   We can actually have more zeal to talk about Him than to talk to Him and meditate on His word.

As many embrace their gifts and dreams I believe the prosperity gospel has led many to believe that wealth and success are the true signs of fruit and God’s favor in ones life, though scripture let’s us know that godliness with contentment is great gain(1 Timothy 6:6).  Besides, there are plenty of bold Jesus haters who have acquired great wealth and success.  This is one of the reasons Jesus said “what does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?”.  If God intended for wealth and success to be the standard for His blessings and favor, Satan would not have tempted Jesus with the Kingdoms of the earth in Matthew 4.  It’s important to understand that just as God can give wealth and success, so can the devil, who is the god of this world(2 Corinthians 4:4).

Sometimes the biggest difference between our dreams and the dreams of people used by God in scripture, is that their dreams and inspiration actually came from God(point inspired by Jermaine Wilson).  While we can be found guilty attempting to force our dreams on God, the reality is when we try to fit God into our plans it is not the same as submitting to His.  God’s thoughts and ways are not like ours(Isaiah 55:8-9).  Psalms 37:4 tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our hearts.  When we “delight” ourselves in the Lord it literally means to lay down our desires in exchange for His.  The key to trusting God is understanding that He knows best and humbling ourselves to His plan for us(Proverbs 3:5-6, Phillipians 2:5-8).  It is the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us into all truth and points us to Jesus(John 16:13-14).  So don’t be afraid to have dreams and ambition, just make sure submitting to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are first priority.

 

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A “good” that separates us from God

I believe there is a “good” that separates people from God, including many professing christians.  When people believe in the existence of hell they usually won’t hesitate to put murderers, rapist, and pedophiles there, but I believe there is a “good” that can also be found there.  Usually when someone is evil according to societies standards they know they are evil, but it is the person that does good that usually fails to realize they are evil.

For example in Matthew 19:16-22 the rich young ruler proudly lets Jesus know of all his good deeds and how he had kept all of the commandments since his youth.  He then boldly asked Jesus, “what lack i yet”, not because he knew his deeds weren’t enough, but because he thought they were enough.  We then see Jesus respond telling him to sell all that he has and to give the profit to the poor, to follow Him and that he will have great treasure in heaven.  Despite the rich young ruler being rich in good deeds, we see it didn’t matter and his love for his wealth is what kept him from following Jesus.

Many of us can be like the rich young ruler and feel because we have good deeds, go to church, pay tithes, give to the poor, and aren’t murderers or pedophiles, that all of this is good enough in God’s eyes.  What we don’t realize is that those “good” things are sometimes the very things we use as an excuse to not surrender our idols to Jesus.  In light of God’s holiness Jesus told the rich young ruler that there is none righteous but God.  The reality is we aren’t good people with the ability to do evil, but we are evil with the ability to do good.  All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory(Romans 3:23).  Jesus didn’t die for good people, but He died for bad people to be able to become the righteousness of God(2 Corinthians 5:21).

As we live in a world that wants good without God, I’m not concerned with most christians ability to recognize good done by non christians.  I believe we do a great job at celebrating secular culture.   My concern is when we settle for good deeds and positivity as a replacement for the gospel, losing our urgency to love and warn people.  As a result we become less bold, more vague, and even evasive when it comes to sharing Christ, for the sake of worldly acceptance.  Our messages become more motivational and self-centered versus focusing on the Gospel and glory of God.  We learn how to pursue and trust God for what we want versus learning how to pursue and trust Him for what He desires.  It should grieve the church when professing Christians care more about the praise of men, than they do their souls.

It is true that by our love the world will know we are His disciples(John 13:35), but we must remember our love doesn’t rejoice in evil, but truth(1 Corinthians 13:6).  Our good deeds should flow from the Gospel, not be a replacement for it.  So my prayer is that we see God’s plan thru the lens of scripture and not pop culture.

 

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Prosperity Gospel vs God’s Sovereignty Pt 2: Is God Punishing Me?

Have you ever felt like God was punishing you because of the severity or length of trials and tribulations in your life?  On the opposite end of believing “God is obligated to you”, the prosperity gospel can lead some of us to believe that if God doesn’t do what we ask its because of lack of faith or sin in our lives.  This often turns into us being motivated to give more time and money out of fear of being cursed or condemned, even though scripture tells us “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind(2 timothy 1:7)”.

It is vital that we understand the difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear.  In 2 Timothy 1:7, “fear” here in the original greek is “deilia” which means timidity, fearfulness, cowardice.  These are not characteristics God calls us to and will not be the result of true conviction and correction that comes from the Holy Spirit.  This type of fear produces doubt, not faith rooted in love.  This can also lead to man made rituals that don’t result in genuine relationship with the Father.  Healthy fear as seen in passages such as Proverbs 1:7, 9:10 is the word “yir’âh” in the original hebrew text.  This type of fear is an amazement and reverence for God’s holiness, recognizing that He alone is worthy of worship.  This fear should be the foundation for how we view God.

We must have an understanding that once we are a new creation in Christ, we aren’t working or striving to be in good standing with God(2 Corinthians 5:17).  Jesus already accomplished this for us by the shedding of His blood on the cross and by grace through faith we are justified and made innocent before God(Romans 5:9, Ephesians 2:8-9).  There is nothing that can separate the believer from the love of God.  So no…….God is not condemning you(Rom 8:38-39).  When we strive to grow in the things of God and kill sin in our lives, this is the outward working of the inward reality of the Holy Spirit(Phillipians 2:13).

If God was really punishing you, you wouldn’t be here to read this.  Scripture tells us that it is appointed that every man die, then the judgment(Hebrews 9:27).  When we reject putting our faith in Christ the bible lets us know that we are condemned already(john 3:18-19).  In other words we’ve chosen God’s verdict on us when we die, which is apart from fellowship with Him, where we will spend eternity in hell.  Galatians 6:8 lets us know when we surrender to the Spirit of God we will have everlasting life but when we live for our fleshly desires we will earn corruption.  In the original greek the word for corruption in this passage is “phthora” which also means “destruction” or “perishing”.

Though we are not condemned as believers in Christ, we can grieve the Holy Spirit(Ephesians 4:30).  It is willful sin in our lives that grieves the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit is grieved He is offended and saddened, because our deeds reflect our old man which is sinful, and not the new creation we are in Christ.

When we grieve the Holy Spirit, He will chasten us(Hebrews 12:6).  The chastening of the Lord is correction that leads to reliance and obedience to His Word.  Its fruit is holiness which causes us to lay aside idols and sin that distracts us from submission to Christ(Hebrews 12:1).

Praise God when you are convicted, and don’t let anybody convince you to walk in condemnation even if that person is you.  If your heart condemns you, know that God is greater than your heart(1 John 3:20) and know that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus(Romans 8:1).  So, trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross and know that who the Lord has set free is free without a doubt(John 8:36).

 

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Prosperity Gospel vs God’s Sovereignty Pt 1: What If God Doesn’t Do It?

What if God doesn’t do it?  We’ve all heard sermons at some point in time telling us to “name it and claim it” or “speak it into existence”, but do our words really have creative power?  What about God’s sovereignty? God being Sovereign means that He is Supreme Ruler over everyone and everything and will ultimately do as He pleases (Psalm 115:3).  Though our words have the ability to build up or tear down, ultimately influencing behavior (1 Cor 15:33, James 3), scripture tells us it is God who speaks those things that be not as though they were, not us (Romans 4:17).

Im convinced when we fail to acknowledge God’s sovereign will, we are often left with many false expectations of God and can develop a sense of entitlement when we pray.  Through this entitlement God is reduced to being like a genie, where if you shout and dance enough, sow enough time and money, and praise and worship hard enough, your wish is His command.  Perhaps one of the biggest issues with the prosperity gospel is that God becomes obligated to you based on your faith and demands.

Growing up in church my entire life, I have seen God miraculously heal many people from all sorts of sickness and disease, many of which were close to death.  I’ve also seen many people who loved God die from accident and disease.  Despite them and a host of saints praying, fasting, and believing God for their total healing, they still died.  I watched as friends and family who prayed and believed, sat in hurt and confusion not understanding why God did not answer their fervent prayers.  In my questioning I’ve learned it is true whatever we ask for in His name He will do, but that doesn’t include things outside of His will.

In scripture we see God being moved by faith, as well as not moving because of unbelief.  We also see God giving a different response than requested.  Jesus told the woman with the issue of blood, that her faith made her whole (Matt 9:22).  She was completely healed by the power of God of an infirmity she had wrestled with for 12 years!  In Matt 13:58, while in His home town of Nazareth, scripture tells us that Jesus didn’t do many mighty works there because of unbelief.  That unbelief spurred from them viewing Him as their equal and not as the Son of God.  We also see Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 pleading with the Lord three times to take away the thorn in his flesh which was sent from satan.  It is unclear whether or not the thorn was a physical infirmity or a type of temptation, but whichever it was the Lord did not remove it.  Instead the Lord responds in verse 9 with “my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.  Then in the same verse Paul’s prayer actually changes to praising God for the thorn.  Crazy right?  Paul began to bless God for the very tool of the enemy that was meant to throw him off course because he recognized that it was the very thing God desired to use to push him into a greater level of power in Him.

I truly believe God desires to show us that His faithfulness isn’t determined by circumstance, whether good or bad.  So regardless of what God decides to do we can be confident that He is working all things together for the good of them that love Him and are called in agreement with His purpose (Rom 8:29).  God demonstrates His faithfulness, not just in answered prayers, but the grace He provides in the midst of those unanswered.  To know a peace that has nothing to do with circumstance (good or bad) is to know God’s power and compassion.  So just like Apostle Paul in Phillipians 4 writes from a prison cell, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and find true contentment in Jesus.

 

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Path of Revelation: The LIMS by Gabriel Parker: Intro

I’m Gabriel Parker the creator of the LIMS(less is more series), which will be a series of blogs, vlogs, and music focused on tackling hard and relevant topics.  The goal is to help give people a better understanding of who God is in a time where I believe many are confused and struggling when it comes to faith not just outside of the church, but within.  As many churches implore self-centered messages that dont point to the glory of Christ, I believe this will serve as a resource to bring clarity in the midst of a climate full of heretical teachings.

I am a man of God, dedicated husband and father, and ordained minister at International Gospel Center church, though most of you may know me as one half of Christian Rap/Producer duo Path of Revelation.  Growing up in a pentacostal deliverance church my entire life along with being exposed to and learning reformed theology over the last 4 years, I believe I have a unique perspective which I believe will be beneficial in building bridges between denominations.  I don’t have all of the answers, but Im excited to share testimonies and a point of view I pray encourages you and brings conviction.

One of the foundational meanings behind the LIMS is that God takes the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.  He specializes in taking the underdogs and least likely to show off His glory.  We can look at stories like David who defeated the Champion giant Goliath after Goliath had defeated all of Israels best warriors.  David wasnt even a warrior at the time, but a shepherd boy who couldnt even fit the armour yet God used him to do the impossible and later made him king.  So while the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who perish my “less” is putting the focus back on Jesus and His glorious gospel because its truly “more”.

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