Monday, August 22, 2011

Grace and Jaquar

I have a friend whose experience gives us some insight into the doctrine of the grace of God. He had just returned from Viet Nam where he had served in the Army. Upon his release he had sufficient funds to fulfill a long-time desire to own a new Jaguar. Early one morning he was driving in a remotely populated part of Oklahoma which, he reasoned, was the perfect place to find out how fast the car could go. The speedometer was easing its way past 160 as the powerful sports car reached the top of a small rise. Just beyond, a highway patrolman was waiting. A law-abiding citizen, my friend slammed on the brakes, slid past the officer at 150 miles per hour, and came to a halt some distance down the road.

Before long, the officer caught up and stood beside the sleek convertible. “Do you have any idea how fast you were going?” he inquired. “Well, roughly,” was the deliberately evasive reply. “One hundred sixty-three miles per hour!” the officer specified. “That’s about what I thought,” my friend confessed, somewhat sheepishly. Guilt was obvious, and there was no possible excuse to be offered. My friend could only wait to discover what this fiasco was going to cost. He meekly waited for the officer to proceed. To his amazement the patrolman queried, “Would you mind if I took a look at that engine?”

The fine points of high performance automobiles cannot be discussed quickly, so both went on to a coffee shop where they could talk further. A while later, both of the men shook hands and went their separate ways. My friend was elated, for the officer had not given him a citation.

That is about as close to grace as one can come on this earth, but it is still not quite up to the standard of biblical grace. (I say that because biblical grace would be demonstrated only if the patrolman had paid for the coffee.)

Bob Deffinbaugh

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dr. William Menzies Passes Away at 80

Dr. William Menzies was one of the finest men I have ever met. He was my professor in seminary and also our school president back in the early 1980s. His life was such a blessing for all of us students. 

At one time, I was unhappy with how the school management treated the Filipino staffs and almost got myself expelled because of my confrontational approach. Then by the grace of God, Dr. Menzies was appointed as the new seminary president. He read my letter of complaints and called me up. I expected a scolding but instead he commended me for being brave enough to point out the discrepancies and injustice in the school. He then talked to the staff concerned. 

After that, he called me to his office again and gave me a detailed 'report' of what he had done. I never knew him to be a man of much emotion but he described that during his 'talk' with the particular staff, he was "never angrier than that time in my life". 

During graduation, it was Dr. Menzies who awarded me with the first President's Award of APTS. It came as a surprise but I was very happy and proud to receive the award from him.

Thirty years had passed and now my teacher, my friend and my brother has gone to his eternal reward. He is now in heaven with his dear wife, Doris. Good bye, my brother, we will see you again.
Albert Kang


Dr. William (Bill) W. Menzies—Assemblies of God pastor, educator, missionary and author—went to be with the Lord shortly past noon on August 15, 2011.

Born on July 1, 1931, Menzies earned a B.A. at Central Bible College (Springfield, Mo.) and a M.A. at Wheaton College, where he met and married Doris Dresselhaus in 1955. He was ordained in 1956. 

Menzies held teaching and administrative positions at Central Bible College, Evangel University, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, California Theological Seminary, and Asia Pacific Theological Seminary.

Menzies completed his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. His dissertation became the benchmark history of the Assemblies of God, "Anointed to Serve" He was a prolific author, authoring or editing standard textbooks such as Understanding the Times of Christ, Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective and Spirit and Power.
Menzies is widely known in Pentecostal and evangelical circles as a statesman, building bridges across denominational and racial divides. He was one of the organizers of the Society for Pentecostal Studies and was the first editor of the society's journal, Pneuma. He was also one of the editors for the Full Life Study Bible and a consulting editor for Christianity Today.

"Dr. Menzies has influenced generations of students," states Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. "His textbook, Anointed to Serve, told the history of the Assemblies of God in a way that informed and inspired. He led an exemplary Christian life, and was a model of Pentecostal scholarship and the Spirit-filled life. He always inspired me to do my best to serve the Lord with heart, mind, soul and strength. We have lost a pillar of the faith and heaven has gained a saint whose rest is won."

Menzies' two sons, Glen and Robert, went on to earn their doctoral degrees and have become respected educators in the Assemblies of God. Menzies' wife of 55 years, Doris, passed away on May 28. Menzies is survived by two sons and two daughter-in-laws, Dr. Glen and Donna Menzies of Minnetonka, Minn.; and Dr. Robert and Joanne Menzies, of Kunming, China; and four grandchildren.

In place of flowers, it is requested that memorials be sent to either North Central University, 910 Elliot Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55404, or to the China Training Network, 2087 S. Celebration, Springfield, Mo. 65809. Visitation will be on Friday, Aug. 19, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Greenlawn North in Springfield. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Central Assembly of God, 1301 N. Boonville, Springfield.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Being Living Signs of God's Love

Jesus' whole life was a witness to his Father's love, and  Jesus calls his followers to carry on that witness in his Name.  We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God's unconditional love.  Thus we are not first of all judged by what we say but by what we live.  When people say of us:  "See how they love one another," they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as by a magnet.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Watch Out for Phonies

"Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono. But they were scheming to harm me."1

When Nehemiah and the ancient Israelites had almost completed rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem several centuries BC, enemies were not happy with their progress and sought to discourage Nehemiah and get rid of him. They tried to lure him away from his work by inviting him to meet with them in the Plain of Ono.

But Nehemiah's reply was, "O no!" He knew their stories were fabricated and that they were lying. Just as well he did, otherwise he would have been destroyed and God's work frustrated. Nehemiah stuck to the job until the work was finished and the walls rebuilt.

Whenever we get involved in a fruitful work for God, opposition is usually par for the course. The enemy attacks at every opportunity and usually at our most vulnerable points. He is a master of deceit and will seek to discourage us, sidetrack us from the main task to waste our time on less important matters, tempt us to stray from the beaten path, and so on. Whatever devices he uses we, like Nehemiah, need to be aware of these, for more often than not he comes as an angel of light.

When in doubt, we need to pray for God to reveal to us the truth of the situation in which we find ourselves. Realize, too, that the more authentic and real we are, the easier we will "smell" (discern) those who are not for real and are seeking to distract us so that they can lure us away from what God wants us to do.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the same kind of insight, wisdom and courage that Nehemiah had and stick to the work you have for me to do until it is finished. Help me to say 'no' to any temptation or distraction that would take me away from following and serving you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Nehemiah 6:2 (NIV).


By Dick Innes

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Justification and Sanctification: What is the Difference?

Understanding the difference between justification and sanctification can be as important as understanding the difference between salvation and damnation.  Rightly dividing between the two is of crucial importance.  When you understand what they are, you can then draw a line in the sand and say, "This is what saves.  This is not what saves."

Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to the sinner so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law (Rom. 4:3; 5:1,9; Gal. 2:16; 3:11). This righteousness is not earned or retained by any effort of the saved.  Justification is an instantaneous occurrence with the result being eternal life.  It is based completely and solely upon Jesus' sacrifice on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24) and is received by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9).  No works are necessary whatsoever to obtain justification.  Otherwise, it is not a gift (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1).

Sanctification is the processes of set apart for God's work and being conformed to the image of Christ.  This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person.  But it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified (Phil. 2:13).  Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God's will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly (Gal. 5:22-23). Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification.  That is, even if we don't live a perfect life, we are still justified.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process.  Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible.  In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts.  In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts.
Now, there is one more point of clarification.  To sanctify also means to set apart for holy use.  Therefore we can have verses that talk about us being sanctified already because God has set us apart for holy use.
  • John 10:36, "do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?"
  • Rom. 15:16, "to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, that my offering of the Gentiles might become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit."
  •  1 Cor. 1:2, "to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours." 
  • 1 Cor. 6:11, "And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."
  •  1 Tim. 4:4-5, "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." 
  • Heb. 2:11, "For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren."
All that we need is given to us in Christ.  So there is one sense in which we are not yet completely formed into the image of Christ (sanctification of being made like Jesus), yet in another sense we are because we are seen as "in Christ", set apart for holy use where all of where all our spiritual needs and purposes are met through Jesus.

Does this mean that those justified by grace can sin as much as they want?

Romans 6:1-2 says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer in it?"

1 Thess. 4:7 says, "God has called us not for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification."

The Scriptures teach us that we are to live holy lives and avoid sin (Col. 1:5-11).  Just because we are saved and eternally justified before God (John 10:28), that is no excuse to continue in the sin from which we were saved.  Of course, we all sin (Rom. 3:23).  But the war between the saved and sin is continuous (Rom. 7:14-20) and it won't be until the return of Jesus that we will be delivered from this body of death (Rom. 7:24).  To seek sin continually and use God's grace to excuse it later is to trample the blood of Christ underfoot (Heb. 10:29) and to reveal the person's true sinful, unsaved nature (1 John 2:4; 2:19).  (Other verses worth checking out are: Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; and 1 Pet. 2:21-22.)

What the cults do with justification and sanctification

The cults consistently blur the meanings of the two terms and misapply the truths taught in God's word.  The result is a theology of works righteousness, of earning their salvation which only leads to damnation.  This is because by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified (Gal. 2:16).  Man cannot contribute to his salvation (Gal. 5:1-8).  Man is sinful and even his best deeds are stained and filthy before God (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, making a person right before God can only be God's work (Gal. 2:20).

Typically, in cult theologies, a person is not justified (declared righteous in God's eyes) until the final day of judgment when his works are weighed and a reward is given or he is found worthy of his place with God.  Thus, a person with this errant theology can not claim 1 John 5:13 as his own which says, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God."

Contextually, "These things" refers to loving God, being obedient to Him, belief in Christ, and eternal life in Jesus.  Therefore, 1 John 5:13 can be considered a test.  If you are believing and doing the right things, then you will know if you have eternal life.  Can a cultist know he has eternal life? No.  He cannot.  But a Christian can.

People in cults don't understand the difference between justification and sanctification.  Therefore, they must depend upon a cooperative effort with God to have their sins forgiven which is, essentially, combining the filthy works of man (Isaiah 64:6) with the holy work of God.  They don't mix.  They can't.  Hence, salvation is by grace through faith, alone.  To believe anything else is to miss salvation.