THREE DISTORTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY

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Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the Gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of chilbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! – Galatians 4:8-20

Almost from the beginning there were forces at work within Christianity that would have destroyed or sidetracked the movement. Of these, three created many problems then and have continued to reappear in other forms even today. The three aberrations are contrasted to true Christianity.

  • JUDIAIZED CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are Jews who have recognized Jesus as the promised Savior. Therefore, any Gentile desiring to become a Christian must first become a Jew.

Their Genuine Concern: Having a high regard for the Scriptures and God’s choice of Jews as his people, they did not want to see God’s commands overlooked or broken.

The Danger: Tends to add human traditions and standards to God’s law. Also subtracts from the Scriptures God’s clear concern for all nations.

Application Question: Do you appreciate God’s choice of a unique people through whom He offered forgiveness and eternal life to all peoples?

  • LEGALIZED CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are those who live by a long list of “don’ts”. God’s favor is earned by good behavior.

Their Genuine Concern: Recognized that real change brought about by God should lead to changes in behavior.

The Danger: Tends to make God’s love something to earn rather than to accept freely. Would reduce Christianity to a set of impossible rules and transform the Good News into bad news.

Application Question: As important as change in action is, can you see that God may be desiring different changes in you than in others?

  • LAWLESS CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians live above the law. They need no guidelines. God’s Word is not as important as our personal sense of God’s guidance.

Their Genuine Concern: Recognized that forgiveness from god cannot be based on our ability to live up to his perfect standards. It must be received by faith as a gift made possible by Christ’s death on the cross.

The Danger: Forgets that Christians are still human and fail consistently when trying to live only by what they “feel” God wants.

Application Question: Do you recognize the ongoing need for God’s expressed commands as you live out your gratitude for his great salvation?

  • TRUE CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are those who believe inwardly and outwardly that Jesus’ death has allowed God to offer them forgiveness and eternal life as a gift. They have accepted that gift through faith and are seeking to live a life of obedient gratitude for what God has done for them.

Their Genuine Concern:
Christianity is both private and public, with heart-belief and mouth-confession. Our relationship to God and the power he provides result in obedience. Having received forgiveness and eternal life, we are now daily challenged to live that life with his help.

The Danger: Avoids the above dangers.

Application Question: How would those closest to you describe your Christianity? Do they think you live so that God will accept you, or do they know that you live because God has accepted you in Christ?

[taken from the Life Application Study Bible]

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Like A Cat On A Leash…

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cat on a leashBetween the ages of four and five, my family was living in Iceland at the Keflavik Naval base. One afternoon, my dad came back home with a cat that he said was rescued from an abandoned car, and became our family pet. This cat didn’t like me too much, because–for reasons logical to my five-year-old mind at the time–I would always try to walk the cat like a dog. I would tie a belt around her neck and try to go for a walk with the poor thing. Of course, that cat wasn’t having any of it, and would do the passive-resistance thing by laying on her side and not moving while I tried dragging her along, urging to just walk instead of being dragged. It’s a miracle I didn’t inadvertently choke the poor thing to death.

Again, I was five. I didn’t know any better. My parents did punish me when they caught me doing it. Please keep the threats to my life to a minimum, they do get boorish after a while. Anyway…

I bring up this trip down amnesia lane for the purpose of illustrating another bit of truth about my daily wanderings in this post-Evangelical wilderness of mine: my flesh just doesn’t want to cooperate. Since endeavoring to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and not merely a follower (there is a difference; perhaps one day I will finally write about that as well…on the list it goes), and letting the Holy Spirit do His thing with the sanctification process that will be going on until the day I go Home, my flesh isn’t very happy about it.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.– Galatians 5:24-25

The thing about crucifixion as a means of execution is, it’s not the most efficient or even humanitarian way of being put to death. It could take hours, days, even weeks for the condemned person to finally die. In the meantime, it’s a very painful, very horrendous and slowly antagonizing death. The metaphor is very apt, as my flesh is slowly dying, being put to death by the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification on me, and it knows it’s dying. It can feel the death processes very clearly. And it’s not going to go without a fight.

Basically, when my flesh can’t get what it wants, when it feels it’s being dragged along by the Holy Spirit upon the leash that ties it to me, it does what the cat in Iceland did: it tries to make the process as rough as possible by laying down and dragging along. I want to follow the Holy Spirit, but my progress is being hindered by this dead weight not wanting to comply.

But, I seem to be in good company with this struggle. As the same guy who wrote the words in Galatians, also wrote this in Romans:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!– Romans 7:21-25

So, here I am, wanting to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but being bogged down by my flesh more often than not. I despair, but then I remember that the Apostle Paul himself struggled with the same thing. And if one of the greatest followers of Jesus Christ had trouble, what makes me think I’m going to get to the end of this path I follow unscathed?

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My Dark Night of the Soul: Wretched

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dark night of the soulWords cannot express at how consistently amazed I am at the constant flow of grace and mercy that Father God gives me, despite my constant failings at striving to “be holy like He is holy”. My mouth says one thing, my mind knows what I should do, but I end up doing the opposite anyway. I am a wretch, my sinful self amplified, making me hyperaware of my state of wretchedness. But, that’s actually a good sign, as the Holy Spirit that dwells in me illuminates things, allowing not only His sanctification to progress, but shining also on the fact that it’s only the grace and mercy that flows over my by what Jesus Christ provided on the cross that gives me hope and joy.

I curse my wretched flesh, but I know it’s mortifying. The Holy Spirit continues its work in me, despite this dark night of my soul. I praise You, Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit…

::END TRANSMISSION::

CHRISTIAN PICKUP LINES (With Snarky Commentary)

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

valentines daySo, today is a special day. It just so happens to be Valentine’s Day, as well as Ash Wednesday. And what better way to celebrate not only the manufactured “holiday of love” but also kick off the Lent season, by looking up some truly bad Christian pick-up lines? With some added commentary by your Uncle NecRo, because I care so much…

  • You float my ark.

…as euphemisms go, that one is pretty lame. Also, ew.

  • Now I know why Solomon had 700 wives…because he never met you.

…also, he’s been dead for a few thousand years.

  • Is it hot in here, or is that just the Holy Spirit burning inside of you?

…I imagine this one is usually followed by several minutes of awkward silence as she stares a hole into his forehead.

  • So last night I was reading in the book of Numbers, and I realized…I don’t have yours!

…try as I might, I cannot follow the logic that came to this conclusion.

  • I didnt believe in predestination until I met you tonight.

…ironically, the lady that just turned this man into an unwavering Calvinist was an Arminian.

  • The Word says ‘Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry’…how about dinner?

…why do I get the feeling he’s going to treat her to Chick-Fil-A if she does agree?

  • My spiritual gift is my good looks…it lifts people’s spirits.

…charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30. Mic drop.

  • I went on a beach mission but all I ended up doing was mission you.

…also, I was chewed up by sand fleas, and seagulls kept dropping fish on me.

  • Is this the transfiguration? Because you are glowing.

…followed immediately with, “OW, OW, MY EYES!”

  • I put the “stud” in Bible Study.

…what a coincidence, because I happen to put the “fun” in funeral.

  • I’m not Joseph…perhaps you can help me interpreting the dreams I’ve been having about you?

…well, the restraining order represents the restraining order I’m taking out against you.

  • As Christians, shouldn’t we honor all Scripture? Let’s start with 2 Corinthians 13:12.

…or, how about 1 Timothy 5:1b-2?

  • Let me sell you an indulgence because it’s a sin to look as good as you do.

…I presume that the lady in question immediately nailed a copy of Luther’s 95 Thesis to the gentlemen’s forehead after that?

  • Do you need prayer? Because I’m certainly willing to lay hands on you.

…I’m willing to bet that this guy has known the fluoride sting of pepper spray more than once in his life.

  • You are perfect, except with all the sin.

…I’ve got nothing for this one. Just…wow.

  • Wanna come over and watch Left Behind?

…are we talking the original, or the Nicholas Cage remake? Because there’s only one I’d say “yes” to, personally.

  • You… complete me. That is, after Jesus completes me. You’re like the gluten in my communion bread.

…wow. A Jerry McGuire quote, a Jesus Juke, and comparison to food in one awkward shot. Truly a man after God’s own heart, here, ladies.

  • I have familiarized myself with all 5 love languages, in fact, I invented 4 of them.

…and I’m willing to bet she’s about to come up with a sixth language all together.

  • I’d marry Leah if it meant I’d also get to marry you.

…because every woman dreams of the day when the man who married your sister out of dubious trickery will make them his second wife. Maybe they can get a reality show out of the deal.

  • Don’t walk away, babe. You may not think I’m perfect but Jesus thinks I’m to die for.

…well, at least there’s that.

::END TRANSMISSION::

This Is My Shocked And Appalled Face…

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header
Hey, everyone! Stryper is set to release a new album this April! Here’s the album title and artwork!

stryper - god damn evil

It’s the follow-up to 2015’s excellent Fallen, and is the first to feature their new bass player, former Firehouse member Perry Richardson (that hair, man).

Yeah…nobody cares about that part. What seems to have everyone talking is that title they went with. Lots and lots of people within the various Christian rock and metal pages on Facebook are up in arms, loosing their minds over this album title. They’ve gone too far! seems to be the rallying cry.

Seriously, you are all acting like Stryper’s never courted controversy before.

Now, let’s just say, for sake of argument, all of these people flipping out over the album title (that’s some rather awesome artwork, I want to point out) have just came into being Stryper fans in the last decade or so, and aren’t familiar with their work from the first decade of Stryper’s existence. You know, pulling the ol’ “It was from before I was born” excuse. So, let’s review, shall we? History lesson time, kiddos…

Let’s start with their very first release, The Yellow And Black Attack

yellow and black attack 86

No no no, not that one. That’s the 1986 re-released version Enigma put out after realizing Stryper could make them money. No, I’m talking about the original 1984 release…

yellow and black attack

You see that? A mysterious, glowing blue hand guiding a bunch of ballistic missiles toward a shiny blue, yellow and black Earth. Presumably, that’s the hand of God, pointing thataway, with the warheads bearing the band members’ initials. As controversy goes, this isn’t really that big, but I’m sure it raised its share of eyebrows once it hit the record shops.

But, that’s merely peanuts compared to the big controversy surrounding this album…

to hell with the devil 2

That’s actually the censored version of the album, as the original artwork caused conservative Christians everywhere to loose their collective heads and demand the cover be changed to a black finish with just the band logo and title. Do you know what that original artwork was? Brace yourself, for the offensive original cover art was this…

to hell with the devil

Yep. Four ripped and swole angels, presumably modeled after the band members, tossing the Devil into the abyss of Hell. Yeah, I don’t get what the problem was, either. And frankly, even as I wasn’t a Christian when this came out, I was a bit more dubious about an alleged Christian band using that kind of album title to begin with.

But, then again, nothing could prepare anyone for what was to come a few years later…

against the law

Hoo, boy, was this the one that kicked the proverbial hornet nest. Where to begin? Well, there’s the title, Against The Law, which made everyone assume they were in rebellion now; then there was the modified band logo, which did away with the Bible reference, that seemed to reinforce the assumption that the band was now GOING SECULAR and TURNING AWAY FROM THE FAITH! As if that wasn’t enough, the band photos showed them wearing more black and — *gasp* — growing facial hair and toning down the big hair! They were just one step away from joining the Church of Satan by now.

In the end, these were all merely knee-jerk reactions to superficial surface-level judgments. Personally, my only question to Stryper about their new release is this:

Will it come with a vinyl edition?

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You Might Be An Evangelical If…

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[note: Ganked from The Wartburg Watch, you can read the entire article here]

YOU MIGHT BE AN EVANGELICAL IF…

  • You believe that hell is going to be populated by Catholics (except for Mel Gibson), the Clintons, Mormons (with a special dispensation for Glen Beck), the staff of the New York Times (all of them), Rosie O’Donnell, all of the people from the Mid Atlantic and Northeast coast and West coast (with a special hot spot for Hollywood), Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and all Liberals.
  • You think Kirk Cameron should get the academy award for best actor in Fireproof.
  • You think homoousios is a congressional bill for same-sex marriage.
  • You submitted to your wife on your vacation destination and feel guilty about it.
  • You don’t really have any idea what “Evangelical” means and you really don’t like to witness anyway.
  • You think the Great Commission is what you get if you join Amway.
  • Your church has a band that performs Christian contemporary songs which have seven words, repeated eleven times (aka, 7-11 Music).
  • You have no doubt that the best non-bibilical book ever published is Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”.
  • Your favorite Bible is the NIV Study Bible because you can quote from the footnotes and everyone things you are smart.
  • Your pastor preaches three point sermons and each point starts with the same letter and people get mad if the pastor runs over-time.
  • You think “expositional” is someone who doesn’t take a position on anything.
  • You’re not sure what TULIP stands for, but you know you’re against it because Holland is a liberal country.
  • Beth Moore studies can be substituted for Bible study.
  • You think Ellen DeGeneres is really funny but you would never tell your Bible study group.
  • You were really excited when the supermarket started carrying beer and wine because you were too embarrassed to go to the local liquor store because someone from church might see you. This way you can hide the six pack under the baby diapers.
  • If your pastor mentions the Puritans, you think of the Salem Witch Trials and think they were all nuts.
  • You hope that a couple of Duggar kids will run away and join Greenpeace.
  • You pretend you net tithe but the tithe is unbiblical anyway.

::END TRANSMISSION::

On Bible Translations And Such…

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Headershelf of biblesSo, after several months of deliberation, I went and bought an NASB version Bible. You would think that I would already have one, what with my strong interest in studying the Scriptures and comparing translations and whatnot. Well, I do…except that doing just that is easier with the online resource sites, like Bible Gateway and others.

When it comes to hard copies of the Bible, I stick mainly to an NIV and NKJV, with a few RSVs around simply because I grew up in a church that used the RSV exclusively, and I somehow ended up inheriting them whenever a congregationalist died. Some day I’ll get around studying from that; but, ever since I started seriously studying the Bible when I was 19, I’ve mainly used an NIV.

The reason why I’ve stuck with the NIV has nothing to do with any idea of superiority over other translations. It’s just been the one that I’ve found to be the best to delve into and study the Word of God over the decades. And before you say anything, yes, I am very much aware of the various arguments against using the NIV, and I’ve investigated the claims and have come to the conclusion that the critics are more than a bit off with their criticisms. My faith has deepened and my love of my Lord and Saviour has strengthened by using the NIV. And, I still continue to use my well-worn Life Application study NIV. Giant Print, now. Less of a strain on my well-worn eyeballs.

So, why then have I started studying from a NASB? Well, some time ago, I took an online quiz pertaining to what kind of Bible translation goes best with my personality. I normally don’t put too much stock in these online quizzes (I once took a quiz on what kind of music I would like due to my personality, and the result was Girl Band), but I had some time to kill at work, and I thought I would be amused by the result.

Turns out, since I seem to take studying the Bible rather seriously, delving into the original languages and historical and cultural contexts to get the full meaning as a whole and favoring an exegetical style of learning, that I should consider studying from a New American Standard Bible. Which, I found intriguing, as I did know a couple of friends that did use that translation. Both had the usual “It’s the closest to the original languages in the literal translation” claim that I pretty much heard from everyone else using different translations. And the NASB is one of the two translations the pastor of my church recommends (the other being the New English Translation put out by Dallas Theological Seminary).

The second reason why I decided to finally get a hard copy of the NASB to begin studying from is because I have gone through the Bible a couple of times, and as much as I don’t like to admit this for fear of sounding less spiritual (whatever that means), I’ve been finding myself getting rather…apathetic about continuing on with the same translation. I’ve also been studying from the NKJV as I’ve mentioned earlier, but with the results of the quiz, I took some time to ponder getting an NASB to study from. To get a new perspective, refresh my desire to delve into the multi-layered richness that is God’s holy Scriptures.

So, I bought a relatively inexpensive Giant Print edition at one of the Christian bookstores in Omaha. Not Parables, in case anyone from my area is wondering. I’ve started off with the same book of the Bible that I always start off with when breaking in a new Bible: the Gospel of John. Here begins my continuing journey to keep His words in my heart and mind. Cheers, all.

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