Friday, November 9, 2012

David's Digest: God is an Extremist

In this day and age, the word "extremist" has been turned into a pejorative by tying it to terrorists, and by today's apostate "Christianity" against those who hold strongly to biblical doctrine and so as to not offend or supposedly detract from being as attractive to an ungodly world as possible (whereas the Bible promises that the world will hate the followers of Christ, not be attracted to them!) Generally, if you believe what is not mainstream, you often get labelled an extremist.

But what does God have to say about extremism?

First, God by His very nature is extreme. He is perfectly and infinitely holy, righteous, wrathful, loving, gracious, merciful, forgiving, etc. -- all of these attributes and traits are extreme to their fullest (and even beyond that). In God there is no darkness (none at all), and only light (1 John 1:5), and the extreme shining forth of light. To deny this is to deny God Himself.

Secondly, God evidences His extremism by His acts. In 2 Kings 19:35, God had an angel kill 185,000 people in one night. That's pretty "extreme."

And God killed everyone on the earth (maybe billions) with the flood, saving only eight people. Wow, now that's "extreme"!

Then, because of one sin, all mankind fell completely, being charged with the guilt of that sin (see the doctrine of original sin), and from then on carried only a sin nature (the spiritual nature and image of God being lost in total), losing all spiritual life as well; and all of mankind was condemned to eternal punishment and death. Now that's really "extreme"!

And finally, in His wisdom, the only way God's wrath would be satisfied and holiness maintained in reconciling with Himself some of those lost creatures -- so that they would enjoy Him for eternity, which is part of why man was created -- was for His only begotten Son -- God Himself -- to die at the hands of creatures, with Him bearing the full wrath of God His people deserved. Now that's the ultimate in "extremism"!

Satan loves the grey, as it confuses the white in its purity and holiness. Compromises, "little" sins, lack of doctrinal purity, synchretism with the world, slothfulness in duties, making fearing the Lord in obedience to ALL of God's commands a "light" or common thing -- these are his lies which he uses to keep people from the Light. Remember, in God's eyes there is no grey -- because He is absolutely pure and holy: you are either "white" -- pure and holy (by Christ's righteousness alone) or you are "black" -- completely impure and unholy...period. Awfully "extreme."

Some will say, but what about God's extreme grace? Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, do we sin (with even "little ones," or by disregarding some of God's commands about how we live our lives that are throughout the Bible because we are "under grace") that grace may abound? He says, "God forbid"!

Are you living like the world and part of it; by the world's rudiments (Col 2:8); unconcerned with living a separate and holy life, spiritually and physically from the world; serving mammon most days; not thinking of your sin and its offensiveness to God; not examining yourself whether or not you have a true faith, believe in the true Christ, and believe a true Gospel; or are ok with disregarding some of God's commands? If so, then God has a word for you:

Rev 3:16 - "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

God is an extremist, and those that are His should be too -- in their spiritual lives and beliefs, and in how they live their earthly lives in obedience unto Him.

-- David

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

But while the gospel is already extreme. We do not need to try to be extreme. It is true that men hate the truth but there is also a sense where we need to 'live at peace with all men'. The true mark of a biblical Church is one that will be persecuted for the gospel, but impressive by it's ability to be humble and peaceful.

Thanks,

Newton

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Newton,

I don't believe I implied we shouldn't live at peace with all men. Our lives *should* reflect the extremism of God and the gospel, in how we live them; in obedience to God's commands; in separation from the world; in our fervency in our pursuit of knowing Christ; in our duties of prayer, study, and service to the brethren; and yes, in our humility, meekness, and other fruit of the Spirit, by God's graces alone. These things we should do, not to be saved, but because we love Christ...extremely, because He loved us...extremely.

Most of what's called Christianity is blended with the world, and most who call themselves Christian have no idea who Christ really is or what He actually did, nor do they apparently care.

-- David

Anonymous said...

No you did not imply that at all. But typically people tend towards imbalance when it comes to Scripture. Especially when trying to maintain an 'us four no more' approach to the gospel and Christianity. Even when we claim to love the whole counsel of God we can often over emphasize his justice and de-emphasize his peace and love to all men. Rightly so, in the context of today's view of God but still that does not negate the above.

Would you concede that the proclamation of the gospel itself is controversial? My point being that we do not have to add things or try to be controversial.

You stated: Most of what's called Christianity is blended with the world, and most who call themselves Christian have no idea who Christ really is or what He actually did, nor do they apparently care.

When has that not been the case? Historically that has always been... basically things have always been bad. This isn't something new and we still have to maintain balance.

Thanks for the response.

Newt

David and Susan Sifford said...

Newt,

The Gospel is the Gospel, the *true* Gospel is "controversial" to those who don't believe it (including false "Christian" professors) but not to those who do believe it -- it's simply the truth. I don't care if someone thinks my post is controversial or not -- I believe what's said in it to be the truth (as backed up with the scriptures used) and a piece of the Gospel message (in its identifying some of God's character and how Christians should live), and it is aimed at countering false conceptions of God in today's worldly "Christianity" and at someone who might never have before considered what was said in it in hopes it benefits them.

-- David

Michael Bunker said...

Some people will warn you of imbalance when you've plainly stated the truth. That implies an imbalance in the one protesting the truth that was stated. That seems pretty plain. If I say, "repent and believe the gospel" and someone says, "Yeah, but...", they probably have a problem with either repentance or the gospel no matter what words follow.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Mr. Bunker,

Indeed. Nothing about the points of what was said, just how it was or that it was said.

Thanks for that, and for saying hello!

-- David

Anonymous said...

David,

You are making a million assumptions about my post and what I believe. Bunker is setting up a straw man bigger than the Eiffel Tower.

I do not disagree with the verses you cite, just the inferences you pull from them. To say that requesting balance is avoiding the text, when in fact it is avoiding your spin not the text.

You seem to lack understanding in the sphere God operates in. As if we are all sharing one 'extreme' pie and we are fighting over the pieces with God. No, God is God.

He doesn't call us to be extreme (your definition). He calls us to take his Word for what it is... His whole counsel.

The conclusions you come to are beyond the text - Infusing a philosophy with the gospel therefore adding to the gospel.

The 'extreme' mantra is once again just ignoring other relevant text. I can see that striking balance for you would somewhat weaken your position. You may have to convince yourself that it is extreme because you see the holes in your lifestyle.

Thanks, Newt

David and Susan Sifford said...

Newt,

God IS extreme in His purity, holiness -- all His characteristics. He's black and white and no grey. He demands perfect (extreme) righteousness (only through Christ). Lukewarmness is to be done away with. I want to live my life as separated (extremely away) from the world, in as much (extremely as I'm enabled) obedience to God. The Scriptures condemn today's worldly Christianity's view of God and how they should live their lives. No holes in the lifestyle here as we endeavour to let the Bible be the guide for how we live our lives, and our worldview and God's extremity are a part of and consistent with God's whole counsel.

I'm not going to keep saying the same things over and over, and it's not my purpose to convince anyone -- only God can do that. The post speaks for itself. If you don't see it, you don't see it.

-- David

Anonymous said...

I believe what's being missed for the most part in the blog comments is that the original blog was referring to the world's definition of 'extremism' (anyone who holds to truth, especially Biblical truth w/o compromise). God said, "I am the Lord, I change not" (extreme). "..he that believeth not is condemned (to eternal damnation i.e. hell) already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotton Son of God" (extreme). "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (extreme). We as true believers are by the above definition extreme--God give us the strength to stand in the wake of this labeling! PM

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi PM,

Yes indeed. And I believe then it should show in how we live our lives, in ways opposite to how I described in the blog the lukewarm person, which, like you said, would be considered by the world as extreme, and then disparaged, but should be done anyway.

Thanks much!

-- David

Ronny Santana said...

love the blog, pics, and recipes. i gave the bisciut recipe to daniela the other day !
you guys have a cool amish thing going there. i showed some friends the pics of all the food around the table. i really dig that community spirit. a very attractive simple and healthy lifestyle indeed.

something i always wondered that has been on my heart a long time that i wanted to ask you guys; we as Christians need to be the salt of the earth right ? as for myself i found myself kind of ignoring that verse as i am kind of a prepper guy and caught myself getting a bit out of balance with it as it started becoming my religion.

in questioning my decisions, actions, etc., i revert back to emulating Christ in order to get back and simplify it all. doing that, Jesus didn't sequester himself from people, he got in knee deep and rubbed elbows with worst sinners of the day !
"A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl."
Matthew 5:14-15

i think sometimes people can take that "be seperate from the world" philosophy and build a religion on that. the meaning of being seperate is in lifestyle not geographic location from people as Jesus himself lived out.
was Jesus wrong ?

would love to hear back from you on this.

all this is said in iron sharpening iron love cause i may want to join the compound and eat some of those yummy biscuits !

ronny santana

ReachRonny@att.net

* * * * * * *

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Ronny,

First, the Bible is replete with the idea of separation, in type and shadow throughout (eg. Israel called out of Egypt to be separate (even geographically!), Abraham leaving his country (even geographically!), etc), and by direct command -- see the doctrine of separation. Also, Israel was *constantly* told not to intermingle with the heathen nations around them, and whenever they did, *they* were the ones infected by wickedness, the heathen weren't made more righteous.

Jesus lived separately. Did he own a house? Did he have a business? Was he a politician or a political leader? Was He a teacher part of the Jewish religious systems? Did He engage with the heathen world around Him? Very often, Jesus was alone, either from the crowds or from even His disciples. Did Jesus participate in His last supper with others other than His direct disciples (ie. saved ones; Judas was told to leave early on)? Would Jesus break His own commands about separation (that are in the Bible) by not being separated from the world or by yoking Himself to it? That's as silly as "was Jesus wrong." Jesus' ministry was for several purposes, including to: 1) call people to repentance, especially His sheep to Himself, 2) prove who He was and fulfill the law perfectly, and 3) condemn the Jewish religious system of the day. When He did something, like be around and interact with a sinner, it was generally for at least one or more of these purposes. It is unfounded that Jesus "hung out" (my term) with sinners, or that Jesus is everyone's "friend" or "buddy" (as the picture is often painted in post-modern "Christianity") -- unrepentant sinners Christ is against (Ps 5:5; 11:5, etc.). He calls sinners to REPENTANCE. He is the Holy God and is due honor, reverence and obedience. What many people don't seem to understand is that God is *against* you while you are unrepentant and at warfare with Him, and even if you drop your weapons of warfare and repent by Him giving you the faith to do so, He then still is favorable to you ONLY because of the Lord Christ -- you, in and of yourself, have NOTHING to offer God. God glorifies HIMSELF in the act of salvation, an undeserved act of infinite love, and the fact that someone might be saved is a *secondary* part of that -- salvation is primarily about God glorifying Himself, and less about any specific person being saved (even the saved ones in the Bible are referred to more as their collective than individually -- eg. the spouse in Canticles, the bride in heaven, the Church, the sheep, etc.).

Being salt means having correct doctrine, and living as Christians are directed to live in the Bible: see Gill on Matt 5:13. Being and living this then has to be borne out in light of the rest of the Bible, including being separated from the world.

You said, "A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl." (Matthew 5:14-15) This picture shows separation. A town cannot be on a hill when it's intermingled with the world (which seems to me, generally and logically, to require geographic separation).

Also, see my "Living in the Darkness" post.

BTW, we don't have a "compound" out here...it's more of a neighborhood. :)

-- David

Ronny Santana said...

dave,
good points indeed.
i think we need to be careful and not bend scripture to support our views if they are not replicated in how Jesus conducted himself. when you say Jesus said not to yoke yourselves with the world i believe he meant not to yoke yourself with the worlds belief system not make sure ones address is a particular radius away from starbucks or basing ones lifestyle on who attended the last supper.
if people need to imitate Jesus by only hanging out with like minded individuals, then in continuing your line of reasoning to the end. imitate Him in ALL things. did Jesus wear suspenders, post his life on blogs, or have a house as you do ? if you want to emulate Jesus dont just pick a couple of the things you like. to be a true follower you need to move to the middle east, wear hand made sandals, wear a dusty tunic, only have friends with the name peter, paul, simon, .., speak hebrew, etc.. the point is, its not possible or reasonable to completely copy Jesus and i dont believe he expects us to do that, hence the word grace.
picking and chosing what things to imitate is dangerous as that is what christian cults do - pick verses to fit their viewpoint and turn them into new religions. i know your a pretty intense guy (as myself) and may be obcessing on the word "seperate" and building an entire lifestyle on one single word. doesnt the Bible need to be taken in its entirety to give all the verses their complete meaning including the word "seperate?"

before Jesus left he didnt tell the disciples get a property together far from society and just hang out and break bread with each other untill you die. quite the opposite, He told them to GO OUT and tell the good news which includes meeting with people who are nasty dirty sinners (as you and i once were) and tell them about Him !
why would God dedicate an entire book (Acts) on how to be equiped to go out and evangelize, establish case precidents in establishing churches with new believers, and give us the Holy Spirit to reach the world ? the Holy Spirit isnt to be put in our overalls and not used. its clearly to equip us to be empowered to reach non believers with an offensive message, not to just hang out with like minded people. it doesnt take any effort to do that, anyone could do that without the help of the Holy Spirit. if we dont have a love for reaching out to non believers as Jesus did then we need to closely question our hearts and our christianity.

if the person who told you about Jesus decided to "seperate" themself from the world then you would have gone without hearing the good news of the gospel. the fact is that a person who was living and working with sinners told you about God. how will people other people know if you dont tell them ?? God uses people to reach the world because Jesus left a while ago and left the job to us. again thats what Acts is all about, and it doesnt end with God saying to only do it for a little while.

having said all that, i know no one is going to debate you out of your compound but just wanted to share a few points with you guys. but i do know exactly where you are coming from in wanting to hide from the world because i catch myself wanting to run away from icky people and live in my own little utopia. but i am always reminded that i am COMMANDED to go after the sheep who is getting away and i cant do that from my compound that i want to build ..(plus my wife wont let me). dont get me wrong i dig the simple lifestyle gig you guys got going a lot !
below is a poem that summarizes what i am trying to say better than me.

sorry about the wrong name for your neighborhood, i was calling the property we were trying to buy last year a compound and just used that.
a big texas blessing on you guys !

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Ronny,

Separation is not the only doctrine in the Bible, but it's a critical one, and grace doesn't allow us to ignore it, like it basically is by what's called "Christianity" today. The difference for us we believe is *being* a Christian in how we live vs. just saying we're one. We endeavor to have the Bible be our guide as to our daily lives, to the best of our ability, with God's help. While the Bible doesn't say to wear suspenders, the Bible does say to dress modestly and not be conformed to the world, and we dress the way we do according to those, and other, biblical principles, in acts of obedience. We try to apply this idea to each area in our lives.

After living in both worlds, I can tell you living this way is much more difficult carnally than the broad way of fitting in nicely with and hidden in the world. It is much harder (carnally) to give up temporal comforts in seeking God instead of mammon, living in direct dependence on God instead of the world for our necessities, rejecting the rudiments of the world, in looking different and often being called a cult, in learning about our spiritual weaknesses and sin much more here than we ever did in churches out there, etc., etc. To us, being a Christian is a Christian's biggest witness -- what condemnation of someone else's sin (which is the starting point) in trying to witness to them is there if one lives their lives generally like the person being witnessed to? By living our lives as Christians, we *are* going out and sharing the good news of Christ, as the city on the hill showing forth the Light of Christ, which is *not hidden* -- we're much more visible as Christians than most who call themselves Christians today, who look and act just like the world. And, before I actually teach or preach to someone, I had better have my doctrine correct and have some evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in my life, or I'm leading the person astray in what they should believe and how they should live -- I need to actually evidence the image of Christ before I can represent Him properly. Also, in Acts you see the Christians coming together and taking care of and fellowshipping with each other first, and you see this throughout the Churches in the New Testament, and then out of that there are some the Lord calls to be in more of a direct teaching/preaching role.

We believe there are two kingdoms here and now: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, and we believe we are not to live as part of the kingdom of the world. To us, corporations/business/the industrial complex, the government systems, the "normal" provisions systems (water, food, clothing, etc.), the apostate religious system, etc. are part of the kingdom of the world. It's that simple, although these beliefs have come and grown over years and years of prayer, study, and contemplation.

May God guide your heart and studies.

-- David