Category Archives: Theology

In His hands

God is in control

God is in control!  This is a statement that professing christians can make without really thinking about what is implied here.  This is a great truth that we must know and meditate on often.  We must remember this not only when things are looking up but also when things are falling apart.  It is the knowledge of the sovereignty of God that reinforces our often shaky faith.  Not only is there an all-knowing and all-seeing God, but that He is involved with the our day-to-day lives.  Not only did God speak the world into existence but upholds it by the word of His power(Hebrews 1:3)!  Scripture further tells us that “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”(Colossians 1:17).

This is vital to keep in mind as we look at a world that often seems hopeless and dark.  Reports of terrorism, planes falling from the sky, Ebola outbreaks, and tension in Ferguson can leave us looking for answers.  The striking question is…why?  Why all the chaos if God is all-powerful, all-wise, and all loving?  Couldn’t He stop it all.  The answer is yes He will stop it all when He closes this age and starts His rule on earth where peace will reign.  The other answer is while we do not know the why all the time we do know generally the chaos is here due to man’s sin and rejection of God.  The problem is we have all turned our back on God, we have all like sheep gone astray.  We live in a fallen world where there is sickness, misery, disease, suffering, and death.  There is racial and social injustice, there is famine, there is real hurt with real pain.  But the good news is God in His grace has left room for man to repent.

This leads us to our reality, that we live here among it all.  Yes we live in this tension.  The tension between heaven and earth.  The tension between God and man.  The tension between sin and holiness.  The tension between the bad news and the good news.  The bad news is the world is dark, the good news is Jesus is the light.  The world is unstable but God is not.  He sits on His throne weaving together a tapestry of grace that will be glorious when all is said and done.  The main goal of all this is that man will ultimately acknowledge his Creator and be reconciled.

How does this apply to the unbeliever and believer.  The answer is the same, that each might see Christ as the only means by which true happiness comes.  God draws the unbeliever through various means so that he may finally cast himself on the mercy of God found in the Gospel.  For the believer God graciously conforms us into the image of Christ and we learn to value Him above all the riches of the world.  So that even in this world with trials we might say “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”(Philippians 3:8)!

So He will give rain and sunshine, laughter and tears, rest and work, pain and pleasure, and all the countless details of life are in His hand.  Our view of God in America is very shallow when in reality He is much greater, grander, and more glorious than we would ever dare imagine.  Look to the God of the bible and see Him as the One who raises kingdoms and tears them down, as the One who calls every star out by name, as the One who leads Joseph to the pit only later to place him in the palace.  He is the one who knows you personally and has every hair of your head numbered.  All is done for our good and His glory, trust in His providence, His care, and His love.  Our times are hard…but our times are in His hands!

Psalm 35:15 – My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me

My Times Are in Thy Hand – Hymn by W.F. Lloyd

“My times are in Thy hand;”
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my friends, my soul, I leave
Entirely to Thy care

“My times are in Thy hand,”
Whatever they may be;
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee

“My times are in Thy hand:”
Why should I doubt or fear?
My Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear

“My times are in Thy hand,”
Jesus the crucified!
The hand my cruel sins had pierced
Is now my guard and guide

3 Comments

Filed under Doctrine, Theology

Are we in a famine?

famine

When surveying the current landscape of evangelicalism it is not very hard to see that we are currently in a theological famine. A famine of “hearing the words of the Lord” as can be found in Amos 8:11(Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord) This indeed is a frightening judgement given by God himself to a people who traded the very words of God for stale bread. The scriptures speak clearly of this condition(2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables) Is this not true of today, especially in America?

We have successfully to our own detriment turned the biblical God into a man made idol who grants wishes. We have turned His Christ into just another addition to the American dream that says bigger and better always means more blessings. We have traded His glorious Gospel for a shell of what it really is. The Christ that once called men dead in their sins to repent and be raised to new life has become a christ who sits beggarly at the feet of men. The cross we preach is padded or completely non-existent. It is Christianity without a cross, Religion without relationship, power without prayer, anointing without abasement.

In the midst of all this softening of Christianity, we have lost some vital things that have always been hills the saints of old would die on. Great truths that are diluted or gone altogether. Such as the lost condition of man, the drawing of the spirit, the nature of the Triune God and his attributes, authority and sufficiency of scripture, the atonement, propitiation of sins, repentance, justification by faith, sanctification, indwelling and baptism of the Holy Ghost, Lordship of Christ, final redemption, and so on! These are the great doctrines taught by the early church. These were preached by men such as Wesley, Whitelfield, Spurgeon, Moody, Tozer, Ravenhill and many more! We too must teach and preach these if we want to truly carry the torch the church has handed to our generation.

Until just a few years ago, I never really saw the value in these precious truths. I say this to my own shame, for want of self-righteousness and holiness in man’s eyes I struggled through my early walk with God just trying to please people and hide my own faults. While I am very far away, praise be to God for His grace that has broken me only to start the reconstruction His way. This must be done in our lives, we must be stripped of all false assurance of self until we see ourselves as utterly helpless. Then and only then, we can boldly but humbly walk before God and men however broken we are and sing…

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand

Why no youth, why no kids, why are churches across our nation half empty…is it because our theology is three miles wide but one inch deep. No serious teaching for the seeking soul. We have done the equivalent of promising the Grand Canyon, but taking people to see a crack in the sidewalk. The youth of our nation needs a revival of leaders who will be passionate not about being cool and dressing like them, but a passion of the Word of God! A passion for solid teaching that will help them see the beauty of Christ and what He has done for them! And above all let our pastors and youth leaders be people of prayer that have complete trust in the work of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for reading and be much in prayer for a revival of the words of the Lord for our churches, families, and communities.

In Christ,
Scott Neville

Leave a comment

Filed under Doctrine, Prayer, Revival, Theology

The Gospel – The source of our strength and the lifeblood of the bloodwashed

what-is-the-gospel

Romans 1:16 –  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek

What is the Gospel?  One might answer this in many different ways but most if not all would say this is an easy question, or is it?  It is believed by many bible believing Christians that the Gospel is the entry point or basic message of Christianity.  That once you know it and understand it there is no need to harp on these points.  After all, we are people of progression and we desire to dive into the “deep things” of God.  The Gospel is simply pushed aside as “milk” as we move on to the “meat” of God’s word.  I am no one of important value, in fact I side with the apostle Paul…I am the chief of all sinners and the least among the brethren .  But as a voice, be it a small one and a minister of the Gospel I feel it is partly my duty to make the first things first.  It is the point of this post to state my deep concern for the wellbeing of the church at large and especially new converts and lost among us.  My prayer and plea is that the Gospel be preached and proclaimed among us who profess Christ!  That it be clearly and plainly stated so that all who come may hear and understand.  The Gospel message is not simply just an addition to Christianity…IT IS Christianity.  It is not a mere prop or crutch to our faith…it is the very lifeblood of our faith.

So what is the Gospel?  Please note that my attempts are feeble and I am far from understanding the unsearchable riches that are in Christ.  Also I am not deceived into thinking that I am a scholar, I just know the power of the Gospel in my own life and have witnessed the message enter into once spiritually deaf ears and open them again.  I have traced the footsteps of great men gone before us and have discovered the beaten path they left leads to the Cross.  I have been awed by God’s grace in the lives of others and have sought out it’s source.  What I have found every time is that the great blessings of God flow from Calvary.  Apart from the death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ…we have no message!  This is the message.  The Gospel sheds light to all of scripture and empowers every doctrine of the Word of God.  All things hinge on this.  Rip any page of the bible and it should bleed the blood of Jesus.  Read the bible through the lens of the Gospel and you will see Christ in every text.  First we must know two things before we can even attempt to understand this message.  Number one…we are weak and number two…God is strong!  In short the Gospel boils down to this…God does for man what man can never do for himself.  While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  While we were dead in our sins He has come to quicken us to new life.  Through grace, a gift unmerited He has adopted us as sons and heirs to share in the promises of the Kingdom of God.  This indeed is good news!  Through the old testament and the law, it’s demands were “Be holy” and “Be perfect”.  That is the radical message of the law.  Now turn over to the new testament where Jesus declares “I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it”, the question still remains how does He fulfill it.  He still requires His people to be holy but the bad news to you and I is that we will never be holy in our own strength.  So God requires something that we cannot fill? Exactly right!  We are weak through the flesh and apart from God’s mercy and grace we are all lost.  Enter the Gospel or the good news, God sends His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life!  God is strong where we are weak and He does in us what we could never do.

Picture the scene…Moses climbs the mountain where the smoke of God does gather around, the heavens shake and roar with God’s thunder and the very foundations of the earth tremble!  What is the cause of this commotion?  It is none other that The Lord Himself coming down to speak with Moses!  All of Israel stays back in fear of being struck dead.  God would command them to stay away and not get to close to the perimeter of the mountain, for He is holy and who can look on His face and live?  In the meeting with Moses He gives him two tables of stone and with His own finger writes His holy and just law on them.  Every commandment is upright and perfect and by them He condemns mankind for their ungodly ways.  This is an accurate picture of the law, it is unapproachable, it is full of wrath and terror.  It was written on cold dead lifeless stone.  The law was never meant to remedy the problem of sin it was meant to expose it.  It was designed by God to be an arrow to point us to Christ.  Now move forward to the new testament where Jesus cries out to all who would hear…”come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” and again “whosoever shall drink of this water shall never thirst again”.  There is a stark difference between the old and new testament and the old and new covenant.  What was once unapproachable and full of wrath and terror is now carried to every creature and full of love and mercy!  What was once written on cold dead lifeless stone is now by the power of Grace written upon the human heart that is very much alive and warm!  I hope we all see this beautiful truth in a world where everyone is striving  to earn God’s favor and measure up according to their own righteousness which always leads to external dead religion that holds no power.  We may now come boldly but humbly before His throne by the way of the cross.  In our mess, our guilt, and our shame, the words of the dying Savior shouts to you and all who would believe…”IT IS FINISHED”!!!  What was once done by work is now done by faith, for the just shall live by faith!  What was once done by our own power is now done by the power of God.  Jesus Christ lived the life that I could not live and dies the death that I deserved.  Thus through His life He fulfilled the rigid commands of God and through death He conquered sin, and through His resurrection He would conquer death.  So the demands of the Gospel are “repent and believe”!  Both of which are products of God’s amazing grace!  We come to Christ helpless admitting to Him we are sinners in need of His grace and He in return points to the bloody cross where our sins were paid!  What a glorious exchange!  His righteousness becomes mine and my punishment was put on Him.  A substitutionary sacrifice.  He not only dies to forgive sins but more specifically He died for YOU and ME and our sins.  The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus for you!  This should make you cry out…”Son of God have mercy on me”.  The Holy Judge would slam His gavel down on not us but His own son.  Isaiah the prophet would declare…”Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand”.  All this so that we might be called, justified, sanctified, and finally glorified!

These are the great truths on which Christians have stood firmly for centuries many even dying as martyrs to preserve the purity of the Gospel message.  So when we look around the American church today and see the Gospel reduced down to a self-help mantra and packaged as a way to improve your already good life, we as stewards of the Gospel must stand boldly and contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.  We are walking amongst dry bones.  The world does not need another motivational speaker but an Ezekiel to stand and declare the word of the Lord!  It is not profitable for us to lay down the sword of the Gospel for cheap, easier, softer means while men everywhere perish.  I love the Pentecostal church with all her imperfections and will never forsake my heritage but there is a time to stop majoring on miracles and healings, and start majoring on the Gospel.  When we preach Christ…miracles will happen, when we exalt Christ…healings will take place, namely that of the converted soul!  Let us as spirit-filled people wage war with the gates of Hell with the means God has given the church…The message of the person and work of Jesus Christ!  This Gospel message will ripple out and effect us in every way, not just when we are converted but every day throughout our lives.  May we be people that are spirit lead, grounded in the word, saturated in prayer, and consumed by the unmovable truths of The Gospel!

May God bless His church and may the church rise to her high calling,

Your brother in Christ – Scott Neville

Leave a comment

Filed under Doctrine, Gospel, Prayer, Revival, Theology