Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Challenge from A Disbelieving People

I was reading Deuteronomy last night (I know, who does that?!), and I was struck by something. Deuteronomy 1:19-33 describe the people of Israel's refusal to enter into Canaan, the land promised to them by the Lord. This was because they were afraid of the people there, even though Moses had assured them that "The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place" (Deut. 1:30-31 ESV). This is followed up by a tragic statement of Moses: "Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go" (1:32-33).
What struck me is how, despite our typical willingness to criticize the Israelites, I am often guilty of unbelief as well. I am often guilty of doubting God. Specifically, I am guilty of doubting His promises of protection and not experiencing the comfort His sovereignty should bring. My theology is sound. I've had training in it. However, what I affirm with my lips I seem to deny with my lifestyle. When I'm afraid to speak up for Christ or to minister in certain areas or to really, truly die to myself every second of everyday, is it not because of unbelief? Is it not because I don't trust God enough? Is it because I love the world (1 John 2:15) and so am afraid of letting it go? May God reveal my heart and purify it!
As the passage from Deuteronomy shows, it is possible to see and experience the greatness of God and then still doubt Him. Am I guilty of this? May God forgive! Praise Him for the grace that is in Jesus!
I might be the only believer guilty of these things. But I doubt it ;). As such, I hope this post will help us all to reflect on our hearts, ask God to show us the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1), to resolve to die to ourselves every second of everyday (in the power of the precious Holy Spirit), and to praise God for His incredible patience and love. May we also be unafraid to be honest with each other about our struggles (something I also struggle with). Finally, may our ultimate prayer be for God to glorified in everything. May that be our true, consuming desire.

Grace and Peace,

Curtis J. Dupree

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cancerous Theology

There is a cancer in the western church today. A cancer that is spreading like gangrene, and destroying the faith of some (2nd Timothy 2:17-18). This cancer goes by the name “prosperity theology,” a name and movement that will be defined in a moment. This is not surprising, since the contemporary western view of Christianity is the oft-repeated (and biblically inaccurate phrase), “Life goes better with Jesus.” The simple fact is that this statement betrays a woeful ignorance of true Biblical theology. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:25: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (ESV). And do not forget: "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22 ESV). Based on verses such as these, and the theme of the Scriptures, it seems that true disciples of Jesus Christ (all true Christians), are called to give up their claim to an easy, worry-free life. So many people become disillusioned based on the teachings of “Prosperity theology.” A simplistic way of defining this movement could be as follows: Jesus died to give you a worry-free, prosperous life. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Seems to follow John 10:10: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). The real question is, what does this statement truly mean, especially in view of the rest of the Bible’s teachings on the subject of the Christian life. It seems that whatever Jesus meant here, he did not mean an easy, worry-free, materialistic life, for that would contradict all His other statements on the subject of how one can expect a life of following Christ to go. Jesus perhaps spoke here of the fact that following him is the ultimate joy, and nothing else can truly satisfy like it can.Life here on earth, when we are truly following God, can be joyous beyond compare, but it is hardly free from trouble.
Don't forget that in the world’s eyes, Christians are complete fools. Why? Because they give up the worldly pleasures that prosperity theology promises to those who would only pray a prayer. Those who truly know Jesus give up the desire for money, power, and stuff, and instead pursue Jesus with all their might.
Please do not come to Jesus expecting a life of comfort, ease, and wealth. If you come expecting that, not only will you be disappointed, you will end up in hell. Does this sound too harsh? It shouldn’t, for it is biblical. For no one who comes to Christ for some sort of worldly gain will end up in Heaven. Come to Jesus for Him, for the desire of Him is the only true way to be saved and go to heaven. Reject prosperity theology and come to know the real Jesus. Only He can save you, and it will definitely be worth it.

To close, a thought from the Apostle Paul (who definitely had hardships- see 1 Cor. 4:8-13 and 2 Cor. 4:7-18): "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor. 15:19).

Grace and Peace,


Thursday, January 20, 2011