Saturday, August 03, 2013, 5:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Trust and Obey” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 13 (ESV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%2013&version=ESV Your Leaders When I read this verse I was stopped dead in my tracks. When was the last time I had a church leader who spoke the whole truth (not a mixture of truth and lies) of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and whose faith I could imitate (emulate)? It has been over 20 years for sure. They have been few and far between, too. Most, if not all of the leaders (pastors) I have had over the past 20 years have followed the ways of the world, and they also were not adhering to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were, and perhaps still are, followers of men instead of, or over and above, being followers of Christ. And, they market and sell the church just like big business, often incorporating deception, lies, manipulation, trickery, gimmicks and mostly a dilution of the gospel in order to appeal to the flesh of humans. They remove the meaning of the cross in our lives in order to not offend people, so as to not make them uncomfortable, so they will want to come back. Or, they focus solely upon just making people feel good, entertaining them and/or ministering to physical or emotional needs only, sacrificing the gospel in the process. And, many teach their people that they don’t have to share the gospel, with the lie that says we should just show people love and kindness, or that we should not unload the gospel on them all at once, but we should just pray for them, but what do we pray? Do we even pray for them to forsake their lives of sin and to walk in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ? The world does acts of love and kindness to people, too, and they even tell people they are praying for them. Yet, that does not lead people to salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord, because it doesn’t tell them the way to Christ. The Same Right after I stopped and recorded my thoughts on v. 7, I read vv. 8-9. Wow! Great timing!! YES!! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, and so is his gospel. It does not change with the passing of time and with the culture of our day. Yet, so many ministers of the gospel today are trying to make the gospel more palatable and more appealing and acceptable to the world, so the world will want to come into our churches and join the club. Yet, if we are not preaching the true Jesus of the word, and if we are not preaching his true gospel in all its fullness, purposefully leaving out the parts that offend, then we are not preaching the Jesus who never changes with the passing of time or with the culture of our day. The gospel has not changed, and we should not alter it to make it more appealing to this generation, because then what we are sharing is not the true gospel, and it does not have the power then to transform lives, to save people from sin, nor does it give them true hope of eternity with God in heaven. When Jesus called Paul to be his witness and servant of the gospel, he told him he was to open blinded eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are being made holy in Christ Jesus (being sanctified by the word of truth). This is the essence of the gospel, and is the centrality of the purpose and meaning of the cross of Christ in our lives (See Lu 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6; 1 Jn.; Gal. 2:20, etc.). It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by foods. In other words, we can be good deed doers and do wonderful things for people in this life (the foods), which are good things, and which scripture teaches that we ought to do, yet, if we do this to the exclusion of the gospel, especially willfully and knowingly, then we are not giving people the living water that will well up into them unto eternal life, i.e. we are only satisfying them with things that are temporary and perishable, instead of satisfying them with things that are eternal and of lasting value. God’s grace here must be understood, as well, to mean his favor toward us in providing us with salvation, not only from eternal damnation so we can go to heaven one day, but from slavery to sin day-to-day. That is why Jesus said that those who wish to be his disciples must die to self and sin daily and they must follow him in obedience. That is the essence of his grace to us – to truly free us from bondage to sin! Bear the Reproach Jesus not only was crucified “outside the camp,” but he operated his ministry on this earth “outside the camp.” I wanted to understand what this phrase means so I looked it up in several commentaries. The gist of what I learned is that “outside the camp” metaphorically speaks of being outside the boundaries of institutional religion and its politics, ceremonial laws, sin, the sinfulness and evil of the world, and/or our self-lives. I also wanted to understand the meaning of “camp” in this context, so I looked it up, too. A camp can be a group or faction (offshoot; division) of people who share similar beliefs. It can also be a place of temporary stay or representing that which is temporal, i.e. of this world. In other words, Jesus operated his ministry outside the confines and restrictions of institutional religion, hypocritical legalities of religious belief and practice (like that of the Pharisees), and the sinful pleasures of this world. He did not conform with the world in order to reach the world. And, to the displeasure of the “religious,” he did not conform to their hypocritical religious practices and rituals, either. He was a “Free Spirit” in many respects, i.e. he operated in the Spirit of God, not according to the external rules and regulations of humans which had no value at all in freeing one from slavery to sin. He didn’t placate sin, and he didn’t dilute the truth of the gospel. He didn’t try just to make people feel good about themselves, either, but he spoke the truth in love, told them about their sin, warned of judgment, and called for repentance, faith and obedience, leading unto eternal life. He didn’t entertain the sinner. He told the sinner he must die if he wants to live. So, we, too, must operate “outside the camp” (outside the mainstream of religious movement which entertains, placates and comforts the sinner in his sin), and we must operate in the power and the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in teaching and in practicing what is true and what has eternal value. When we do this, though, we should anticipate that we will also be treated as Jesus was treated. Operating “Outside the camp” of hypocritical and/or the pleasure-driven religious movements means we will bear the reproach Jesus endured, for the religious and conformists will hate us because we walk about in freedom in the Spirit of God as did Jesus, and many will feel as though we are somehow outside of God’s grace because we do not practice what they practice. Yet, we should not be about building kingdoms of men on this earth (businesses of humans called churches), but we should seek our heavenly home and work for God’s eternal kingdom. Our focus should be on what has eternal value, not on what will bring us and/or others pleasure or temporary comfort in this life. The fruit of our lips should be that which brings honor, glory and true praise and adoration to God, and that which also acknowledges (gives value to) his name (his divine character and will). Jesus never changes, and his gospel never changes, so we should not present to the world a Jesus or a gospel different from the one told about and taught in scripture. Obey Christ. Do his will. And, operate “Outside the camp.” Do His Will Trust and Obey / John H. Sammis / Daniel B. Towner When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey. But we never can prove the delights of His love Until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet. Or we’ll walk by His side in the way. What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.