Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." - Psalm 16:1-2
In light of the person and work of Jesus Christ, in all that we see of Him in just this one Psalm, in light of the gospel, what is it so many Christians are looking for?
David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God. - 1 Samuel 30:6
The calamity David was in now came about because he had been acting according to his own will and council rather than the Lords. Here, David had gone on his own, without the Lord's leading, and was off the narrow way. He was plotting and scheming like an unbeliever. He was no longer trusting in God in spite of all the Lord had done for him, blessed him with, and delivered him from throughout his life.
So much of what we have in Jesus Christ is missed through lack of faith. So much of the spirit passing from the loving hand of God, through the blessed and worthy hand of Christ is stifled by fear, anxiety, and our compromising and capitulation to the things of this world. God’s grace and love and blessings and glory are poured out to us through Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not opinion, theory, or philosophy - it is the only infallible and pure truth, the revelation of the eternal mind of God.
He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. - John 3:31
Heaven - what is it like? Who is in heaven? How do we get to heaven?
What happens after we die? Where do we go? What do we become? These and similar questions have been pondered and debated since the beginning of time. Do we come from nothing, spend a lifetime here, and then return to nothing? Are we subject to the concept of Karma in which we die, are then reincarnated and our next life will be based on how good or bad we were in this life? Or, is there universal salvation in which everyone, regardless of what they believe go to a place of peace and happiness, freed from the restraints and suffering of this world?
Let’s consider universal salvation since it is a common belief. Many people feel that regardless of beliefs or religious affiliation, that everyone is doing the best they can, and everyone ends up in the same place after death. But how could all people upon death go to a place of peace and happiness if human nature is there? It doesn’t take a genius to look at human history and the world around us and understand there is something very evil at the core of human nature - this is the doctrine of total human depravity. How could there be universal salvation, a place of peace and happiness after death if human nature has not been dealt with and corrected? Human nature is not physical it is spiritual, and the corrupting influence of human nature would make a place of universal peace and happiness after death an impossibility because our nature would still be a part of us. The evil of human nature would continue to be carried out on the spiritual plane just as it is on the physical plane. So how do we deal with the issue of evil human nature?
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. ... He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:17,21
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. - John 14:6
The answer to overcoming evil human nature is answered in 2 Corinthians 5:17,21 and John 14:6 above. Because of our fallen and sinful nature we are separated from God who is perfect and holy. We have broken his law and the wages of our sinful transgressions are death and eternal damnation. The only way to be reconciled to God is for our sins to be atoned for and our penalty paid - but no finite creature could ever atone for sinning against an infinite, perfect, and holy God. But there is a way and that way is through faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, then took on our sin and paid the horrific penalty for it on our behalf when He suffered and died on the cross. Then after three days in the tomb, He rose for our salvation. If we repent of our sins, have faith in Him, and trust in His perfect righteousness we are assured of spending eternity in absolute joy and bliss with Him in His glory. Those in Christ are freed from the bonds of sinful human nature - it was crucified with Christ and we are a new creation in Him. We will be in heaven with Him and spend eternity with Him. He is the only way, his word is the only truth, and He is the source of eternal life. How do we get to heaven? Through Jesus Christ.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” - 1 Corinthians 2:9
Heaven, as we are told in 1 Corinthians 2:9, is beyond our imagination. Our finite minds lack the capacity to conceive or fully comprehend what heaven is and what it will be like. However, it seems there is much to learn about heaven by learning what it is not and what will not be in heaven.
Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Heaven, and after judgment day, the new heavens and the new earth will be perfect as God created it and intended it to be - God's perfect creation. There will be no more sin, no more entropy, no more disease and pain, no more sorrow, the effects of sin will be gone.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. - Romans 8:18-25
Paul is telling us to have a proper perspective, to look to and hope for the better country that we are promised in Jesus Christ. That is the hope that we have faith in. Think of the pain, suffering, and affliction of this world and then consider that in heaven there will be no tears, no sorrow, no death, no pain, no sickness, no darkness, no un-Goldy people, no sin, no temples because we will worship in the Lord’s presence, no sun or moon because the glorious light of the Lord will illuminate, and no curse from the sin of Adam that we inherited. All of the evil and darkness and sin of this world, everything that has afflicted and caused us suffering in this age – it will all be gone.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
All that we suffer from and all the evils and sin of this world are but a light momentary affliction, incomparable to the eternal glory that we will enjoy in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom with Him. Considering and meditating on heaven and the truths of heaven give us a proper perspective, lifts our eyes to Christ, and the promises we have in Him.
"You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. "The LORD shall reign forever and ever." - Exodus 15:17-18
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:4
What sin do you struggle with? What is it that constantly defeats you? Whatever sin it is has been paid for and defeated on the cross by the blood of Jesus Christ. The victory is won, but you must truly strive for repentance, strive to kill the sinful desires of the flesh by and through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ - there is no other way.
By Chad Prigmore
When reading the writings of some of the earliest Christian believers it becomes clear that there is a damage caused by the modern Christian recovery movement that we don’t often recognize. That damage is a lost joy in Jesus Christ and a lost amazement at the wonder of how by God’s grace a sinner is raised from the dead and brought to life as a new creation in Jesus Christ. After so many years of the modern Church becoming man centered rather than Christ centered, of entertaining “seekers” while believers starve for the meat of the word, working on addictions rather than repenting of sin; when we read of an early believers rapturous joy in being born again in Jesus Christ and the ensuing praise pouring forth from this glorious truth - we should mourn for a modern Church that embraces the world rather than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Consider the response of Augustine, who after years of sin and struggle and fighting against the only truth in Jesus Christ is brought to believe by the power of God’s amazing grace.
Augustine writes, “But who am I, what am I? Is there any evil I have not committed in my deeds, or if not in deeds, then in my words, or if not in my words, at least by willing it? But you, Lord, are good and merciful, and your right hand plumbed the depths of my death, draining the cesspit of corruption in my heart, so that I ceased to will all that I had been wont to will, and now willed what you willed. But where had my power of free decision been throughout those long, weary years, and from what depth, what hidden profundity, was it called forth in a moment, enabling me to bow my neck to your benign yoke and my shoulders to your light burden, O Christ Jesus, my helper and redeemer? How sweet did it suddenly seem to me to shrug off those sweet frivolities, and how glad I now was to get rid of them - I who had been loath to let them go! For it was you who cast them out from me, you, our real and all-surpassing sweetness. You cast them out and entered yourself to take their place, you who are lovelier than any pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, more lustrous than any light, yet more inward than is any secret intimacy, loftier than all honor, yet not to those who look for loftiness in themselves. My mind was free at last from the gnawing need to seek advancement and riches, to welter in filth and scratch my itching lust. Childlike, I chattered away to you, my glory, my wealth, my salvation, and my Lord and God.”1
Such passion, rapture, and absolute joy are Augustine’s in Jesus Christ his redeemer. Where has all of that gone? Why do so many in the modern Church, instead of forsaking the world and pointing only to Christ as our victory over all sin and struggle, look to the world in compromise and apathetic resignation? Is it not time, as everything in this sinful world crumbles and falls apart to look only to Christ and honor and worship and praise Him at a level hardly experienced in such a long time?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Make a stand. Be the one who exposes the heresy in the Church that snuck in the door in the guise of recovery. Be the one that points to Christ, who stands on the authority and sufficiency of His word and nothing else. Be like Christians used to be - bold, courageous, confident, and powerful in God’s word, rejoicing always, praying ceaselessly, and thanking God from a heart in love with Him.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
By Justin James
The question of whether or not a "recovery program" is needed gets asked a lot. People tend to think that we NEED a plan in order to achieve recovery. The fact is, we don't need a plan.... a plan will do nothing but give you another routine to follow, and hopefully keep you sober a little longer. What we need is faith.
Isaiah 12:2 - “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
John 5:5 - Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Matthew 14:31 - Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Romans 10:9 - Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Psalm 116:1 - I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Matthew 21:21-22 - And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Luke 1:37 - For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Mark 11:22 - And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
1 Peter 5:7 - Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Romans 8:31 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
All of these verses address something that I struggled with so much during my addiction. I just could not rely on the fact that I didn't have to do anything other than have faith in God, and desire grow in Him. It can be done without a program. It can be done without having to constantly worry about using again. It can be done without having to worry about who your hanging out with, or what bars are around. It can be done in peace, and it only gets better. These are just a few of the many verses that assure us that if we have faith in God and we rely on His word, He will give us a new life with Him.
If you have trouble getting your head around the truth that recovery in it's worldly sense is not needed from a biblical stance - then you have a faith issue.
"Many people are willing to believe regarding those things that seem probable to them. Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The province of faith begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. Appearances are not to be taken into account. The question is - whether God has spoken it in His Word." - George Mueller
Consider that the more horrific and hopeless a sinners condition may appear, how by appearances there may seem to be no way that the simple gospel truth could ever have power in a mind seemingly destroyed by the power of sin. Then consider the awesome glory that will be brought to God by the transforming of that sinner into a shining child of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through the simple, faithful sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17
Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. - John 3:3-15
When considered deeply from a Biblical perspective, the reason that the modern recovery movement has been allowed to infiltrate the contemporary Church is largely due to a severe lack of faith in the Lord and in the power of God’s word in proclaiming the gospel. This truth is evidenced by the most common responses provided by those claiming to be in Christian ministry but mainly focused on programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery. When these people are shown how the recovery programs they support and promote are proven to be apostate when held up to the light of scripture they either angrily reject the proof presented outright, or claim that there is no way anyone trapped in alcoholism or addiction could come to grasp the Christian message without first working through a program in order to heal them and bring them into a coherent state. They simply do not have the faith necessary to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ with power and authority and instead rely on man made concepts and programs which contradict scripture. This is why not just recovery programs but the entire worldly concept of recovery is contrary to the Christian message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
In the story of Jesus and Nicodemus we see the response to the gospel from a man who was a teacher at the highest level of Jewish society. Nicodemus probably knew all there was to know of religion except for the main point and purpose of it all - the doctrine of salvation. This man prefigured what so many have suffered from down through the centuries - the danger of knowing about Jesus but not knowing Jesus.
Nicodemus had to be brought above the limitations of his mind and what he thought he knew. Jesus presented to him a truth that was beyond his mind’s capacity to understand and accept. But in spite of this fact did the Lord water down the truth or try to come at it from a different angle? No, Jesus presented the truth simply and without compromise obviously knowing that understanding and belief come by the working of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." - John 3:8
Nicodemus became a believer.
Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. - John 19:39-40
We must witness and share the gospel with faith in and reliance on the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. We must stop inventing new ways to pitch the gospel and just proclaim it. We must have faith and trust in the Holy Spirit to save those lost in sin and darkness. If we, as individuals are truly faithfully seeking the Lord and striving to be conformed to His image, His light in us will be the only attraction needed for those in the darkness. And we must have absolute faith in the sufficiency of scripture and throw out all of the worldly programs and concepts that have slithered into the contemporary Church.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. - Hebrews 4:12-14
The fall into idolatry that so much of the Church has made can be very incremental and subtle. Beware of worshipping another Christ, another Christianity, or a Church, or a program, or a Pastor. Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is not a concept - it is the transforming, re-creating, life-giving, loving power of God saving us in Christ eternally. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so that those who looked upon it might live (Numbers 21:4-9), we must lift up Christ and His gospel looking only to Him knowing that whoever believes in Him will be saved and have eternal life.
Look to, seek, follow, worship only Jesus Christ as revealed to you by the working of the Holy Spirit through God’s word.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7:13-14
The many and the few - everyone will end up in one group or the other. There is no middle ground in divine truth. One of the great errors in the contemporary Church and especially prevalent in the recovery movement that has infiltrated the Church is the idea of an all inclusive universal salvation regardless of what someone believes and whether or not they have truly been born again and follow Christ according to His word. Sadly, many Churches rely on Alcoholics Anonymous or its spin off program Celebrate Recovery rather than the gospel in an effort to help the alcoholic and addicted, completely unaware of the heresy put forth by AA. Consider that on page 46 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous it is stated that, “We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men". That is a complete contradiction of Matthew 7:13-14 and yet so many Pastors and Churches participate in and promote Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery.
But in truth we once again see the razor's edge of Christianity, the clear distinction that there are only two ways in life: right or wrong, good or evil, Christ or the world, faith in Christ or dependence on programs, the narrow gate to heaven or the wide highway to hell, death with the the many or eternal life In Jesus with the few.
The wide worldly gate to destruction is one of enticement, amusement, entertainment, ease, worldly prosperity, self worship, and is all inclusive - open to all without anything needing to be given up or repented of in order to pass through. The lusts and desires and passions of this world are welcome through the wide gate without question or running the risk of insult. The wide gate is easy to find because there is a constant mass of ignorant humanity fighting to get through it.
The fact that we must enter by the narrow gate has been cast aside in “Christian” recovery programs, and traded instead for the faulty idea that the goal is to get someone over their pain - then, when the suffering sinner is better they can be presented with the Christian message. What a destructive heresy man creates when by lack of faith and sinful pride the gospel is manipulated or ignored and the man made concept of recovery is set up as an idol above the commands of Christ. There is a reason the very first command recorded in Christ's ministry was repent.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 4:17
Christ does not command sinners to clear their head, fix themselves up, get their life back together, and then repent and follow Him. Instead, Christ commands lost sinners to repent and to follow Him faithfully on the hard path to the narrow gate that can only be passed through by grace through faith. But the wonderful paradox lies in the fact that although the gate is narrow and the way is hard - it is a way of inexpressible joy and true peace. Christ does a miracle in the transformation of every sinner that cannot be grasped or understood by the sinful human mind without the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. And that is where faith must be exercised in the sharing of the gospel. Unfortunately, for too long much of the contemporary Church has lacked the faith to simply and lovingly share the gospel with the lost drunk or addicted sinner and pray for the working of the Holy Spirit, and instead has devised man made programs that lead only away from the one true way to salvation. By relying on anything of man other than God even with the best of intentions conveys a severe lack of faith in the power of the gospel by the working of the Holy Spirit.
to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. - Acts 26:18
Consider this question: If someone has the greatest gift and you do not, and because you lack this gift you will die, would you want that person to give you the gift even if the giving of the gift may at first be painful and offensive? Is this what you wish others would do to you?
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12
It seems that if we truly are to do unto others as we would have done unto us that we will strive to love them as Jesus would love them, that we would love for the sake of Jesus Christ and the gospel according to the word. We would not lead someone astray with a false worldly connotation of love. Yet, that is exactly what so many do by leading the suffering sinner away from the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and into programs invented by man.
Jesus tells us that we must enter by the narrow gate, and that if we don’t we will enter the wide way to destruction. He also tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." - Mark 1:14,15
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way Ministry Church USA & Kenya.