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Up Way Publications 35th Anniversary

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Followers of Jesus Christ Mionistries/ UP WAY PUBLICATIONS  •   P.O. Box 1015 . Kailua, Hawaii 96734 -1015
VOL.02                                                                                                           No. 04

The Twins Liberty And Legalism

Dear Fellow-laborers in the Kingdom of God:

FREEDOM! LIBERTY! Independence! We all want it, or think we do. But do we know how to REALLY get it? "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!" We can quote that verse so freely and sometimes we think it means that nobody, but nobody can tell us what we can or should do or what we cannot or should not do. Ahhh! Liberty! Sweet liberty!!! So how is legalism and bondage to the law a twin of liberty? Because left unchecked and not each balanced by the other, either one can and has made real slaves of those who love the one and forsake the other. This is not serving two masters, but knowing the true balance taught by JESUS and His early Apostles.

But what does that kind of liberty result in? What is the result of real liberty? The liberty that is without rules and guidance results in many mistakes and problems in life because nobody knows everything they need to know in every situation of life. The result is that lacking guidance, experience and the ability to foresee the outcome of our actions, we find ourselves hopelessly floundering in the deeps of the ocean of life, bogged in the muddy swamp of adversity and totally angry at ourselves and everyone around us whether they did or even could have done anything to cause our distress. True liberty in JESUS Christ causes us to want to do everything we can to honor, glorify praise and reflect JESUS. We are at liberty do do what we please, but because we love Him, we choose to obey His rules, laws and even preferences, to avoid those things which do not draw us closer to Him, or which perhaps would give cause for lust, either on our own part or by our causing someone else to lust for us, or desiring wealth or position or being jealous, envious, covetous or the like. We are at liberty to do these things if we want to, but we do not do them out of our love and devotion to JESUS and the assurance that so long as we live and move and have our beings in JESUS, everything will work out for our good. 

I recently heard a minister friend's wife encouraging their upper-teen age daughter to change from what is generally accepted as "godly" hairstyle to one considered very worldly. I know that same minister also has taken his children to movies which reportedly contain some fairly ungodly scenes of unmarried couples in bed as a normal way of life, and the message is especially strong because by taking them to see it, he is effectively saying that it is OK, too. (Now, several years after this was first written, the teenage daughter is now living with a boyfriend she is not married to and does not attend chuirch at all.) This is done in the name of liberty in Christ, but the fact is that he is putting unnecessary temptation in front of his children which runs exactly opposite to what he should be teaching them according to the scripture. It will be a real surprise if at least one or two of them do not end up falling into a level of sin that will cause distress and grief to both the minister and his wife. This is not true liberty, but trying to serve two masters. JESUS said that was an impossibility. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24). Those young people see their parents stand in the pulpit and preach about loving the Lord and having real revival in their hearts, but see them drag into church a half-hour or more after the scheduled service starting time, when they should be getting there at least a half-hour early for prayer. The message being shown to, not only to the children, but to all who observe this is that serving and pleasing JESUS isn't really all that important. There are more important things to do than being sure the church is open on time and that those in leadership are prayed up before each service. This is using liberty to walk away from service to God. The minister is quick to say that anyone who asks prayer for revival in that church and community needs to get revived, because he is revived right now, but the evidence is that there is not enough of the power of God in that church to blow the dust off a peanut! The testimony is great, the messages are good, but the fruits are lacking. "By their fruits ye shall know them," (Matthew 7:16, 20).
The Apostle Paul speaks at great length about those who would use their liberty in Christ for an occasion to the flesh and count the grace of God as license to sin: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another,” (Galatians 5:13). The truth is that those who do these things are slaves to sin, servants of mammon (Matthew 6:24)‚ instead of servants of God. 
The Psalmist David was one of the most free men on earth in his day. He was a king who never met any serious military defeat in his life and had immense wealth, but he declared "In Thy law is my delight," (Psalm 119:77,92, 174).  He had learned that true freedom comes in knowing your life is in accord with the Ruler of the Universe; that your life and body are being operated by and in full harmony with the Manufacturer’s Directions. In Psalm 119:163, he says, “…but Thy law do I love.”
If you know you are obeying the speed law, you have freedom from the fear of being stopped for speeding and can concentrate on enjoying the scenery and watching the road ahead of you. You don’t have to worry about watching your rear-view mirror for a police car. If you do not drink and drive, you don't have to worry about the roadblocks set up by police, since it us usually pretty easy to tell people who are drunk enough to be stopped and for all the many I have passed through in many years of driving experience and passing them several times a night whenever they are out, I have never been stopped once. They can see instantly that I am completely sober. So I do not worry, my heart does not begin to beat hard when I see the flares of a roadblock ahead. I have liberty from that fear because I am obeying the law. Now I am not obeying the law out of fear of being stopped for drunk driving, but because I choose not to drink to please my Lord and also because I see the heartache and grief caused by abuse of alcoholic drink.

Patrick Henry was famous for his "Give me liberty or give me death," statement. And he was willing to fight for liberty. Liberty is not free. It is bought with a price. 

JESUS said, "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?" "...but he which doeth the Father's will..."

Of late, I have been hearing a great deal of teaching and preaching about the need to do all we know we should do to spread the word of God and “Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin,” (James 4:17). This is quite true, and frankly, there has been far too much laxity on the part of a large part of the ministry when it comes to doing our real best for our Lord Jesus. But of late, I have been hearing quite a lot of sermons and reports of sermons about how any falling short of God’s mark in any being sin, (which I also strongly preach), however, the emphasis that is coming through many of these sermons is to create fear that people who are spending their lives laboring for the Lord and are doing the best they know how for our Lord Jesus, are going to hell because they have missed some petty doctrinal point or other, don’t dress a certain way or have failed to do their absolute best, or in some instances have not used the best wisdom in dealing with some circumstance or other.
This is not right. We are not saved by our own righteousness, but by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Isaiah says “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away,” (Isaiah 64:6). Even our very best efforts, far beyond what most of us can reasonably expect to attain, is not good enough, not sufficient to earn, merit or gain for us our salvation.
“For by GRACE are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Eph. 2:8). Many other scriptures including Psalms 84:11; Daniel 9:18; Acts 11:23, 13:43, 15:11; Romans 2:4, 3:24, 9:16; Eph. 1:7, 2:5, 3:2; Philippians 4:19; Titus 2:11, 3:5,7 show us that it is the undeserved and unearned favor, love and mercy of God that saves us. We do not become His sons because we deserve to be His sons, but because He loves us just as we are gives us the “power to become sons of God.” After we become sons, we are sons. A son does not stop being a son because he fails to win the race his father wanted him to win, or fails to make the “A” in math or history that was his father’s best subject. He does not even lose his sonship because he disobeys his father or does something that makes his father unhappy or even moves to the opposite side of the world and livea s lifestyle his father detests. But even as the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) said, “This my son was dead, but is alive.” and if he had died in the far country without ever getting in touch with his father, he would not have ever made it back into his father’s house. And at times, even the kindest and most loving fathercan be forced by a rebellious and disobedient son to disown that son if his actions bring danger or serious discredit to the rest of the family (see Heb. 6:4-6). Even as this is true in the natural, so also is it true in the spiritual.
The point is this. The son who merely fails to accomplish all his father hopes for and desires is still his father’s son and while he misses out on many of the blessings and good things his fatherwould like to share with him, neither is he locked out of the family home.
We often say, “Sin is sin. There are no big and little sins in God’s eyes,” but I can show plenty of scriptures, in the context in which they were written, which show that God does distinguish betweenthe intentional, rebellious, knowing wrongdoings of which we are all guilty at times, some of us more than others, and the times when we simply fail to do all we could or should have done without our having meant to miss God’s will and purpose for our lives. Maybe we were so busy preaching and teaching that we were too tired to give the perfect advice to the person who called us in distress in the middle of the night with a serious problem. The story of the prodigal son is clearly speaking of the son (little ‘s’) of God who became dissatisfied at home and went out into the world. He was still his father’s son, but he was out of reach and out of touch with his father. His father still loved him, but he considered him dead until he returned, but upon his return, fell upon his neck and kissed him and then had a feast prepared for him with the fatted calf. Since Jesus also told the disciples to forgive “seventy times seven” or 490 times a day for the same offense, and we know God is a loving, caring Father, and since Jesus gives us the story of the prodigal son who deliberately left his father and home to the point of being considered dead by his father, it is evident that we who understand Hebrews 10:26 as saying that if we sin wilfully, we have no more Christ’s sacrifice to atone for our sins, but only a fearful looking for of the wrath of God, we are misreading or misapplying the verse. This use of the verse makes it contradict the Apostle Paul’s clear teaching that we are saved by the grace of God and not by our own works of righteousness. Jesus’ commands to forgive, the story of the prodigal son, and Paul’s discussions of our salvation by the grace of God and faith is NOT a license to sin, but should give us a confidence toward God which we cannot have if we are always so afraid of missing the mark of what God expects of us and sin that we are always worried about our salvation. If “…we live and move and have our being…” in Jesus Christ, as Paul teaches, the sins we commit will not separate us from God because we are in tune with the Holy Spirit and He reminds us to repent immediately. 
What does Hebrews 10:26 really mean?
As with all scripture, if there is any appearance of disagreement with any other scripture, we must study with prayer and an open mind not only the verse itself, but those surrounding it and those relating to the same subject throughout the Bible. In this case, the writer of the epistle top the Hebrews, (thought by some to have been the Apostle Paul, others, by Timothy, and still others by John or some other writer), has been explaining the relationship of the Old Covenant with its offerings of bulls and goats with the New Covenant which is made by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ one time for all the sins of the world.
Verse 16 says,“This is the covenant which I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord. I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more suffering for sin.” The writer is saying that under the New Covenent, we have a constant reminder of what God wants us to do within us continually, and that He will keep us reminded and prompted to do God’s will. If we go against that clear and distinct leading of the Holy Spirit, we are then in the position of the one who blasphemes the Holy Ghost as Jesus describes in Matthew 12:31. (This is another passage often misquoted and misapplied.) One who knows to do right and chooses to do wrong is described as treading upon Jesus’ blood and sacrifice, and at the same time defies the Holy Spirit which is within him. The Holy Spirit will then be grieved and leave that one and without the prompting of the Holy Spirit indwelling, there is no more reproach felt when open sin and rebellion are entered into. This, of course, brings the just anger, wrath and judgement of God.
Does this mean that if you love God and are filled with the Holy Spirit you will never sin? Or that you cannot accidentally sin and still be saved? John says, “My little children, I would that ye sin not, but if ye sin, ye have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous,”(2:1) and much of the Apostle Paul’s writings in his epistles deals with those who have been born again and fallen into sin. Only in the case of one who continues in sin after he is rebuked by church leaders and finally by the whole church, is he given over to Satan. Even then, Paul indicates that if the errant one repents and changes his way, he is to be restored to fellowship.
Much discussion has taken place about Jimmy Swaggart, Marvin Gorman and Jim Bakker and whether they should be immediately restored to the ministry or not, and the question of forgiveness is brought up. God does forgive them if they are truly repentant, and so should we, but their credibility with those who follow them has been damaged and there must necessarily be a time of rebuilding confidence in the integrity they were once perceived as having.
It is very true that “SIN is SIN” and that sin will not enter heaven, else heaven would be no more heaven. Nor dare we ever forget that fact. Nor do we dare forget the fact that if we know to do good and do not, it is sin. So how do we put the line of separation where God would put it, since we also know that our own best righteousness is still filthy rags in His sight and that if we fail to witness to somebody we should have witnessed to, we are guilty of sin by the James 4:7 standard. On the one hand, we see the preaching of Paul about the grace of God and the seemingly contradictory teaching of the writer of the Hebrews and some of Jesus’ teachings which indicate wrath and judgement on all sin. For centuries, there has been a sharp division between the ministers who strongly preach and teach grace and those who teach the wrath of God on all sin.  Those who are strong on the grace of God, accuse those who are strong on God’s judgement of being legalistic, bound, and teaching error, because we truly are not saved by our own righteousness, but by God’s grace through faith. While those who are strong on God’s sternness and judgement accuse those who are strong on the grace of God of “being soft on sin”, lowering God’s standards and teaching loose living and are therefore on their way to hell. Both claim to love the Lord Jesus and there are some real revivals and miracles on both sides of the question. Who is right? Who is God confirming? The Wrath and Judgement group point to the words of Jesus in Matt. 7:21-23 and say that the things done by the Grace brethren, See, they may even preach and pray and do many mighty works in the name of the Lord and still be told by God that they are workers of iniquity and be cast out away from God’s presence.” On the other side, the Grace people call the Wrath and Judgement group a bunch of legalistic Pharisees who, in reality reject the blood of Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice for sins and attempting to work out their own salvation through the law, making Jesus’ sacrifice of none effect. These are the two major viewpoints which seem irreconcilably different. 

“But where do you stand, Brother Sam?” you ask. “I have heard you say things that sound like you are one of those Grace people who believe loose living is OK,” my legalistic colleagues say, after I challenge their continual preaching on living their particular standard of “holiness”. And then one of the Grace preachers turns to me and says, “No, surely you are one who is on the legalist’s side, because you are always preaching  James 4:17 and Matthew 6:33.” Many on both sides do not want me to preach in their pulpits because they consider me to be a ”compromiser” of the truth as they see it and want nothing to do with me or my preaching.
Actually, I consider myself to be in a much smaller and quite distinct group which has no disagreement with Paul or JESUS about the grace and love of God being the whole basis of our salvation, nor with James and JESUS and the writer of Hebrews over living free from sin. I consider myself to be among the “Rightly dividing the Word” or the “Love of God” group. Quite frankly, I find more verses and stronger condemnation in the teachings of JESUS in the four Gospels against those who were trying to establish their own righteousness by continually rebuking others than I do of condemnation of sinners to hell fire, though He did condemn sin and self-righteousness.

MinisterFire
In the third chapter of Daniel, three of the Hebrew lads, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a problem. They were captives in a stramge land, but they had been elevated to rulership in Babylon because God had blessed them. They were no more just sweeping church floors and emptying the trash, but they had passed their Sunday School teacing apprenticeship and now they were pastors. But the denominational Nebuchadnezzar declared, "When you hear the music, you must bow the knee and worship." But these three Hebrew lads knew what God's word said and they determined that they would rather die in obedience than live in disobedience. They realized that the worst man could do to them was slay the body, but God could reward them in the hereafter. So they refused to bend, they refused to bow and by the grace and power of God they didn't burn!
How about you, my minister friend? That sermon you preached the other day, you know the one when you had prayed especially hard that God would give you the words to speak that He would speak if He were in your shoes and you felt such an anointing on the message, and as you were preaching, the Holy Spirit put some more scriptures in your mind and you preached something you had never believed before. Mr. Crustydeak was livid afterward and asked you when you started believing such heresy and promptly reported you to the District Superintendent, the Reverend Doctor Traditonbound. But your soul was troubled and you looked up the scriptures and studied and prayed and what the anointing of the Holy Spirit caused you to preach in opposition to official doctrine proves to be right on line with the Word of God. Now what are you going to do? Are you going to let Mr. Crustydeak and Dr. Traditionbound force you to preach the official denominational line or are you going to preach the truth regardless?
As you prepared and studied for your sermon for last Sunday or some other time, did you suddenly see a scripture in a new light and realize that you had been misusing that scripture for perhaps years. You studied and prayed and the Lord showed you still more scriptures and revealed a new truth to you. But the new truth ran contrary to your church denomination or organization's teachings. If you began to preach that message, you might be ostracized and criticized and, worst of all, lose your pulpit. But what about those who are being misled into thinking they are saved by any other way than that taught by the apostles and whose bllood will be on your hands at the judgement? Which is better: to lose a few friends and perhaps a particular church pu;lpit and your denominational ties or to lose your eternal reward or perhaps your soul, since "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
I well know the dilemma, for I face it all the time. On the one hand, the "old line" denominations think of me as too "Pentecostal," too emotional, too much believing in things being just like in the days of the Apostles and they tune me out and wouldn't dream of having me stand in their pulpits to preach.. But then some of my Pentecostal bretheren will not allow me to preach for them because I happen not to agree with some particular standard of clothesline holiness they were taught by someone and which they insist everyone who is a member of their church and every minister who preaches for them live by. Some of tehm will even refuse a fellow minister for wearing a wedding ring or a mustache or a wrist watch. Heaven forbid that a fellow minister ever wear shorts outside his bedroom or go on a public beach (he might lust after some female or cause one of them to lust after him).I am even criticized for using the title Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost, but friend, it is not a holy spook, but the moving force of Almighty God Himself, and He has chosen the Greek word "pneuma" or breath or wind as we say in English, to speak of the part of Himself that indwells and empowers us.

Perhaps you read of how the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived, and you realized that the third person of the trinity the Bible teaches that is the father of the second person, and you realize that cannot be. So you began to study further and you see that over and over God is a spirit and there is only one spirit of God and therefore there could not be two persons of God, one with the title of Father and another with a title of Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. You see where the promised Messiah whom you know to be JESUS is referred to as the Everlasting Father in Isaiah 9:6 and yet He was conceived by the seed of the Holy Spirit within the womb of the virgin, Mary at a definite date and time, is also spoken of as the only begotten Son, meaning He had a beginning and has to be younger than His Fatehr, so the term Everlasting cannot be referring to the person or manhood part of JESUS. Maybe you have also seen that Abraham told Isaac in true prophetic form that "God will prepare HIMSELF a Lamb," and wwhile we have been quick to see the ram in the bushes, we have been slow to see John the Baptist's cry, "Behold the Lamb of God." Maybe you have seen that the great Creator God as an omnipotent, omnipresent Spirit which flung the farthest star out there billions of light years away and yet sees each sparrow fall and lives withhin your heart could not possibly be a person with the limitations of personhood, but has to be a spirit to be able to do and be so many things and places all at once. So, by process of elimination and careful Bible study with a sincere desire to know Him as He really is, ou realize that The all powerful God is a Spirit who knows no other spirit of God and who placed all His fullness in His only begotten Son, who was also called the Son of Man.
 Maybe it was the conflict between those who teach a strong message of Salvation by the Grace of God and those who teach salvation by works or baptism in a certain way thaat drove you to your knees for a sure word from God and you see that the grace of God is what makes it all possible, but that the Grace of God not only seent JESUS to pay the price, but alsso sent someone along with the message of love for you to hear. But hearing does no good if you don't believe and believing does no good if you don't allow the conviction your belief has caused to bring you to a sincerre repentance of and from your sins. Maybe you see that in every situation in which someone was converted to become a follower of JESUS Christ, they also were baptized in the name of JESUS Christ as commanded by the Apostle Peter who was present when JESUS gave the great commission and fully understood that Isaiah had referred to the Son as the Everlasting Father, and that the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of the Father are one and the same when he commanded the three thousand new believers to be baptized in the name of JESUS Christ to receive the remission or forgiveness of their sins. In EVERY recorded instance of conversion there is either direct or implied baptism in JESUS' name. You have seen that the Apostle Paul likens baptism to burial with JESUS Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life as a new creature in Christ JESUS.
Yes, you have seen these truths, and maybe even "accidentally" preached them when the anointing was on you so strong you were really preaching what the Spirit directed, and then realized afterwards that it was going to cause you conflict with your denomination or local church board. But do you have the courage of Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego tostand for what you know is right. Can you stand the fires of adversity like they did? Stop and think with me a moment. What harm would it have done for these three to have simply kept out of sight (as evidently Daniel may have done) or even to have made a pretense of bowing and worshipping but in their hearts rejecting the idol? But no, they hasd the courage of their convictions xxx
On the one hand are those who believe that just because you are a Christian, everything that happens in your life is foreordained of the Lord and there are others who believe you must watch every word and action lest you lose your salvation. Both are equally devastating doctrines to new babes in Christ. Jesus said that in the end many would come to Him saying “Lord, Lord, open unto us… have we not done many wonderful works in Thy name?” and that He would reply, “Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” (Matt 25: & ). Why is this true? Didn’t they do many mighty and wonderful works in His name? Ah, yes, but their hearts were fixed on the praise of men and their own receiving of reward from God ? what they were going to get out of it for themselves, rather than a sincere desire to glorify God because opf a pure love for Him. I have often said that if you want to go to heaven to walk on streets of gold, you’ll never make it! You are serving God to get something for yourself. The motivation MUST be to show your wholehearted love and devotion to HIm.

The reverse position places the Child of God in a state of fear that he will lose his salvation, be separated from God and go to hell. But if God was not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, if He is a loving Father, then He is seeking every excuse to forgive, to have mercy, to see the good side and not the bad side of you. While He will destroy the wicked and those who deliberately set out to disobey Him, He is not hoping His sons and daughters will “mess up” so He can send them to hell apart from Himself.
 

Finally: DO NOT LOWER your holiness standard, but elevate, RAISE it to full agreement with what the Bible really says.

Yours for Jesus' sake,

Bro. Sam

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