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Jesus Plus Nothing

May 3, 2013


A preacher once boasted, “I preach faith, and it works.” I wanted to respond. Perhaps I should have said, “I preach Christ crucified, and He works.”

In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, Paul, the apostle, made this claim, “I preach Christ crucified.” He was arguing against the teachings of a sect of Jewish converts to Christ who had wormed their way into the belief system of new Gentile believers. They were preaching Christ plus circumcision—proclaiming that the non-Jewish believers had to first be circumcised as Jews in order to be of Christ. These false teachers were referred to as Judaizers, or the circumcision party.

Paul lamented, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” Galatians 3:1.

This is the trend if we do not carefully guard the truth of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ: When we preach “Christ plus something,” it soon reverses into “something plus Christ.” Left unchecked, it becomes “something plus nothing.” The “something” else becomes another gospel. Christ is omitted altogether. That is not good news! Ultimately, though, when we come to understand the fullness and sufficiency of Christ in us, we will resolve to preach Christ plus nothing.

The “something else” we tend to add to the good news of Jesus Christ may be the outgrowth of a true revelation or teaching that the Holy Spirit has given. It usually has an element of truth in it. Certainly, we may receive divine and up-building revelations that need to be preached, believed, and practiced. There is always a bit of truth in most everything we camp around.

Yet, when we legalize it, preach it as essential to our salvation, and make it the gospel we preach, we are preaching another gospel, thereby making the word of God of no effect through our traditions. Mark 7:13.

These streams of thought stretch across the spectrum of our religious traditions, rituals, doctrines, codes of dress and behavior, and supposed revelations. You who are spiritual have been around long enough to know what these are: our brand of denominationalism, rapture, prosperity, faith confession, Jewish roots, ultimate reconciliation, King James only. What’s yours?

The list is extensive! The deception is subtle! The consequences are enormous. These are the issues that divide us, enslave us, harden us, and lure us away from our first love—Jesus.

Jesus plus something is why we have a New Hope Church on one corner and an Old New Hope Church on the other. That is why we have Southern Baptist, Primitive Baptist, Reformed Baptist, Missionary Baptist, and numerous other Baptists on the list. That is why we have two churches of the same denomination in a small town with one believing it is scriptural to have a kitchen in their building and the other believing it’s not, damned you are if you go to the wrong one.

We veer off the narrow way that leads to life onto the broad way that leads to destruction once we embrace one of these “somethings.” The contemporary seeker-friendly churches have gone so far around the mountain that they can no longer see Calvary from where it all began.

Think about the last religious argument you heard. The issues being argued were most likely over one of those “plus something” things. Both sparring partners were in error if they were contending for something other than the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus. Have you ever fallen out with another believer over your love for Jesus?

Here are some markers to tell if we are in a “Jesus plus something:”

  • When we camp around it and fail to get up and follow the Holy Spirit when the cloud moves.
  • When it sparks a movement that evolves into a new church group, denomination, or cult with an authoritarian charismatic personality in at the top.
  • When it is taught at the exclusion of other biblical truths, resulting in imbalance.
  • When it fails to take in the whole counsel of scripture.
  • When many scattered and isolated verses are used as proof texts though the doctrine itself is not specifically taught in scripture.
  • When it garners a label.
  • When it stirs up carnal controversy.
  • When it makes you angry if challenged.
  • When one doctrine leads to another deception that becomes a further departure from orthodoxy.
  • When it is exaggerated and becomes the Gospel we preach.
  • When it appeals to something for Self. Seeking something for self is contrary to the call of Jesus to deny self, take up your cross and follow Him. Self-denial is merely a heart decision to pray, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours.”
  • When it becomes the abundance of our hearts and all we talk about. We can know what is in our hearts by what comes out of our mouths.
  • When we find ourselves going after revelation (or revelations) instead of the Lord Jesus—seeking more revelation of the revelation for the sake of knowing more revelation.
  • When we try to convert others to our way of thinking instead of to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
  • When it points to itself and not the Lord Jesus.
  • When it holds believers hostage to it rather than liberating them.
  • When what we preach is an “IT.” Jesus is not an “IT.”

Many demonically inspired false teachings are blindsiding seasoned teachers and well-meaning believers today. We want to be discerning, remembering that in the last days “there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies…” 2 Peter 2:1.

Remembering also that the time will come when believers “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 4:3-4. Is this that time?

We are in safe harbor when we stick to preaching Jesus Christ crucified. Jesus plus nothing else!

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

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Dashed Hopes

December 1, 2012

Dashed Hopes

Charles Elliott Newbold, Jr.
12.1.12

Had any dashed hopes lately?
I had a few. When that happens we get frustrated, angry, depressed, or even vindictive.
Jackson sat across the table from me at lunch with tears in his eyes. “I was shocked at the outcome of the election.” Remorsefully, he added. “I was sure it would turn out differently.” He had placed his hope in man, politics, political parties, government, and ideologies resulting in dashed hope.
In times of severe loss we may lash out at something or someone—even God. “Why did you let this happen? This is not how we prayed. This is not what we had hoped for.”
While it probably isn’t wise to lash out at God, He doesn’t suffer from an inferiority complex. So, I doubt that He gets upset when we get angry with Him in the throes of sorrowful emotions. Though we don’t always understand what He is doing, He always understands our frustrations.
Things happen that often loom as large as doomsday scenarios. When our expectations run afoul, we have to admit that we had misplaced hope. Why, then, all the emotions? We feel these losses so deeply because we had put our hope in something that didn’t have the ability to produce in the long run. Misplaced hope is a precursor for dashed hope.
Take a look at all the things in which we place our hope and ask, “Are these really things in which I can invest my hope? Are these the things in which I even want to put my hope?” It is one thing to make use of these things and quite another to become dependent upon them—to magnify them into gods.
There I was, face to face with several losses in my own life, asking the Lord for understanding. I soon found myself humming an old hymn I had sung in church hundreds of times growing up, the singing of which had been little more than a religious exercise. This time, however, those words resonated deeply within me.
I dusted off an old hymnal on our library shelf and looked up the words. The Lord used these words to remind me that my hope is not in anyone, anything, or any institution, rather in Him and in Him alone. Maybe for the first time these words by Edward Mote (1797-1874) truly came alive to me.
“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.” Then, came the chorus. I felt the urge to sing it to the top of my voice in order to be heard above the crescendo of a glorious orchestra that resounded in my spirit. “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.” I’m holding back tears of joy even as I write.
I do not build my hope upon the politicians, governments, or government handouts even though I receive certain services. I do not build my hope upon hospitals, doctors, and medicine, even though I gratefully use them as needed. I do not build my hope upon the stock market, though we have investments. I do not build my hope upon my job, my reputation, or my performance.
When “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” it can never be dashed again.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13.

Relationships: The Catalyst for Revolution

February 7, 2012

During a recent home gathering, Brad Rasmussen, a brother in the Lord, shared a timely word regarding relationships in the Kingdom. It confirmed what I had come to understand—that our main purpose for gathering in the name of Jesus is to strengthen, encourage, and edify one another among whom the Lord has knit-worked us in Kingdom relationships.

I asked Brad to write out his experience that I might pass it on. I believe it is a right-on word for all who are interested in walking the highway of holiness.

Brad wrote:

To bring a bit of perspective, let me start the story in the fall of 1998. Kira and I were particularly zealous and found ourselves in constant prayer asking the Lord to bring revival. Many at this time were enveloped in a similar quest.

It was a fall evening in Ocean City, New Jersey. Kira and I lived in a basement apartment three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean where we walked the boardwalk almost daily. After walking, I settled into our small living room and began to seek the Lord. At that time, I clearly felt the Lord say the following:

“Brad, stop praying for revival. I am not interested in reviving your dead, religious practices. Pray instead for revolution.”

At the time, I did not fully understand the meaning of this directive or the profound impact it would have on our lives. As I began to seek the Lord for further interpretation, it became clear that the revolution He spoke of was most meaningfully summarized as “an absolute change.”

Fast forward to July of 2004. The Lord had impressed on our family to travel across country to reconnect with friends and family we had not seen in many years. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 4th weekend. As we meandered downtown, we came across a huge festival happening at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, home of the Gateway Arch.

It was an impressive gathering complete with music, food vendors, entertaining street artists, and a high flying aerial show over the rolling waters of the Mississippi River. But, nothing was more intriguing or impressive than the Arch. The Gateway to the West. Having driven through downtown St. Louis a handful of times, I was always interested in the Arch from a distance. Now, perched next to the structure, I was awestruck. At that moment, something spiritually meaningful began to develop.

I lied down flat on my back at the epicenter of the huge Archway, taking a moment to absorb the grandness. I closed my eyes and there, at the threshold of the Arches National Monument, the Father spoke these words:

“Brad, you stand at the threshold of my revolution and the catalyst of this revolution will be relationships.”

With those words, our entire life changed. It was as if the Lord refocused our entire value system and placed relationship at the top of the spiritual priority list. As I reflected on this word, I realized this was another installment of the message the Father had spoken years earlier in our tiny, ground level apartment.

This revolution would create an absolute change in the way we relate to God, His People, and His Creation. Relationships would be the catalyst for a revolution that would take us away from our dead, religious practices and into a new revelation of genuine, caring, honest, and intentional relationships. We have spent the years since in a meaningful journey to allow His Divine connections to form relationships that will remain throughout eternity.

Let the Adventure Continue!

 

 

 

Setting the Tone in the Home

July 28, 2011

Setting the Tone for the Home

Charles Elliott Newbold, Jr.

G

od the Father wrote a symphony and called it Family. Music, flowing from the depths of His heart! Beautiful. Harmonious. Movements with variations going from fast to slow to dance-like and back to fast again. Harmoniously drifting outward as a gentle breeze over forests, through dales, cascading downward from mountain tops, passing over troubled waters at times, but always mounting again on the high winds of eternity.

Father God created this symphony, Jesus penned the music, and the Holy Spirit conducts the orchestra. We are the instruments of varying kinds: woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings. We are as different as can be from each other; yet, we make the music happen. We are the Family—a righteous family defined as an orchestra playing God’s symphony!

The husband/father (Dad) of each righteous household is the oboe in this orchestra—not all that celebrated, but his importance is distinct. He not only sounds the note by which all the other family members tune their instruments, but more importantly, he sets the tone for the household.

If the life he lives is off key, he will sound a sour note—not one from heaven. He will be in rebellion to the conductor and the music, and will throw the whole family into discord. The symphony cannot be performed. How important then is it that he sounds the right note?

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the called-out-ones [the Bride of Christ], and gave Himself for her.” Eph. 5:25. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter against them.” Col. 3:19. “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Col. 3:21.

If Dad’s tuning note is true and any member of the family fails to tune the instrument of who they are to his, they will be in discord. Even when all others are in tune, that one who is out of tune will throw the symphony into discord. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Gal. 5:9.

How beautiful is the sound of those who stay in tune with the music that flows from Father’s heart. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Eph. 5:22. “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Col. 3:20.

Now the Dad of the home does more than sound the pitch from which all others tune their instruments. He sets the tone for the home. Playing the right note is necessary, but there is more to the music. We can be in tune to the uniform pitch and still lack tone. Tone has to do with the quality of the note. He determines the quality of the music being played in his household. Is it a warm, safe, compassionate, encouraging, and heartfelt tone?

Is the Dad-tone in the house one of peace or anger, comfort or fear, self-giving or self-centeredness, sharing or demanding, safety or danger, hope or despair, encouragement or disheartenment, criticism or compliments, instruction or blaming, laughter or grief, happiness or depression, godly discipline or lawlessness, unity or chaos, faith or disbelief, righteousness or sin, strength or weakness, guidance or control, nurture or abusiveness? All in all, is the tone of the house a Holy Spirit atmosphere or a demonic atmosphere? Is it nourishing or toxic? It will be one or the other.

Everyone, being a different instrument, has a part to play in this symphony, but not all always play at the same time. Some may be featured more than others, but that doesn’t matter. It is not about the instrument. It is all about the symphony from heaven called Family.

The Dad sets the tone of the home; therefore, Dad, make sure that you are in concert with the heavenly music, playing in tune and in time with the conductor’s baton.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Cor. 11:3.

There is no greater joy or blessing to be found apart from God’s Kingdom order.

Words are pictures

July 12, 2011

Words are pictures of thought forms that are wired to our emotions. They have power. They can speak a curse or a blessing, bring fear or hope, convey sorrow or joy, destroy or build up, kill or give life. It really is all in your mind, but don’t take that lightly. Therefore, choose your words wisely. We will be held accountable for every word we speak. “Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Mat. 15:11; Jas. 3:1-12.

An explosion of God’s word

July 12, 2011

I was sensing something in the Spirit the other day and, as I began to write it out, these words came in first person, so I wrote as I heard. The word “explosive” is the best way I can think of to describe what I was sensing—an explosion of God’s word throughout the earth. It encouraged me. I submit it for your encouragement as well.

I am about to release My Word and the words through My prophetic voices today as a flood upon the whole world to hear it in all languages by whatever means possible. My  words will fly freely to all four corners of the earth as a flock of birds released from their cage.

I will release them by all means necessary—electronically, internet, air waves, written, verbally, sold or given, whatever, wherever, however.

Once they are released, nothing or no one can stop them. They can never be retrieved or reeled back in.

Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Free will

April 6, 2011

God has given us incredible free will.

I was born a free moral agent.

God wanted it that way.

I was free from Christ and a bond-slave to the world.

God gave me the choice.

Now I am free from the world and a bond-slave to Christ,

forfeiting my right to be a free moral agent.

I wanted it that way.

 

Legalism vs. grace

April 6, 2011

Legalism is putting faith in human effort;

Grace is putting faith in Christ who finished the work of God and who is the finished work of God.