Individual Responsibility

The moral decline of America continues unabated. The governing powers manifest this immoral state. Contributing factors are many, but one stands out in my own mind. It is that of individual responsibility. It is as scarce as hen’s teeth in this ‘modern progressive’ society.

People today are irresponsible beyond belief when compared to the early years of our nation, and not too many years back. Today, people depend on others to control their fat and calorie intake, refusing to take personal responsibility for their own health and well being. No one forces them to eat junky, fake, manufactured ‘food’, but people eat it anyway, because to them, it is the responsibility of the producers of the garbage eaten to determine how much is consumed. The same folks, bless their hearts, prefer to search for processed and manufactured foods off the grocery shelves for fat and calorie free products – which are poisoning them – rather than get off their rear-ends and exercise the body to keep the blubber off. Then they have the audacity to proclaim, “I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.” Ignorance and irresponsibility.

In the realm of child safety, parents are not willing to be personally responsible for their children. Oh no, they turn this over to industry or big government bureaucrats. Every toy, the house and everything in it now requires a warning label for parents in regard to the safety of their children. Parents have stopped thinking, and now let others do the thinking for them – without even thinking about it! Whatever happened to the mother and father having the responsibility for the welfare of their offspring? Who needs a warning label to tell a responsible parent that certain objects, if swallowed by a child (who will put just about anything in their mouths), could result in choking? Seriously? The child is not going to read the warning label, and if the child chokes, instead of the parent taking responsibility for their neglect and irresponsibility, they sue the manufacturer! It has almost become a return to the ancient times of the Greeks and Romans, when parents were relieved of child rearing and the children were turned over to a paid teacher. Of course, the government and government-run schools have assumed the role for this present, irresponsible age.

According to Scripture, child rearing is a personal responsibility of the parents. One of the sad sins of David is recorded in I Kings, chapter one. David, in regard to one of his own children, Adonijah, who sought to be king in violation of God’s revealed will, was charged with a terrible crime:

His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. (1:6).

This was the direct result of a father not taking personal and individual responsibility for the life and welfare of his offspring. Ephesians, chapters 5 and 6 speak volumes to those who would be responsible for the family, the vital element of a stable society, and who profess to follow Christ and His teachings.

Sadly, vast numbers of those who profess Christ, have abandoned His teaching and turned to the priests of the world, the psychologists and the Dr. Spock’s, for instruction. Certainly, to those who are truly followers of Christ, there is no better instruction for every member of the family than that which is given in the epistle of Ephesians. Sparing the rod has spoiled the children and failed to instill personal responsibility. You see then, how ‘modern progress’ has perverted the truth.

Where is the personal responsibility for workers who handle dangerous tools and work in places where danger is always present? Does anyone really need to tell you that a chain saw can be dangerous? Do you need a warning label to tell you that it might kill a man? Does anyone need to be told that a tree being felled poses a life danger when being cut? Or that a ‘widow maker’, a rotten limb high in the tree which the wind could bring down on your head, may cause death or serious discomfort? If workers took personal responsibility, there would be no need for the state or OSHA to protect you. Caution and due diligence when working with tools and potentially dangerous situations is your own responsibility. What happened that the present generation is so devoid of this individual and self-sufficient approach to  life? Where are the parents to instill this thinking into a child’s mind and heart, and who depend on the grace of God to make it stick?

The powers that be have created a welfare state in which to maintain their greedy grip upon the population and control events to their advantage, and to their shame, irresponsible adults let them. Whatever happened to the common sense and Scriptural warning to man in Proverbs:

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. – Proverbs 6:6-8

Whatever happened to the Biblical work ethic which was established in the Paradise of God before the fall of man? Whatever happened to the mandate of the Christian faith which declares, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If you’re not willing to work, you should be really hungry right now. It ought to be clear to all that the hippie generation of Hillary and Bill Clinton have long rejected these mandates of liberty and well-being for a godless state in which tradition and the true biblical faith are to have no place. They not only wish for a totalitarian state, but a one world government of man at the exclusion of God.

Thomas Edison, who was a thinker, when asked a question as to where he got all of his ideas, stated: “One percent of the people think. Nine percent think they think and ninety percent never think.” I have no idea where he got his statistics, but he may well have been right. The present generation is willing to let big government do all the thinking for them. People without personal experience and responsibility doing the thinking for those who have both. What a circus.

Where are the prudent souls, the wise, for this day of national crisis? The foolish abound who will believe the lie; that black is white and white is black; that, like a lapdog, will be faithful to others who drop crumbs from the rich man’s table.

But whatever happened to individual responsibility? There will be no stability in our nation until there is a return to this vital ingredient of personal and individual responsibility for our own actions.This present generation seems to have given up their liberties to those who will do the thinking for them. If you happen to be one of these, you do know what it means do you not?

It means you have an incredibly low view of Scripture and of God, for ignoring His Word which tells us to take responsibility for our actions, and for thinking for ourselves.

If you will not think for yourselves, you have made your bed, go and lie down, enslaved, and wait to die.

The Only Gospel Command to Be Obeyed

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For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? I Peter 4:17 (NASB)

In Scripture, there are many biblical commands or imperatives to be obeyed yet they are not direct ‘gospel commands’.

Mark 1:1 declares the beginning of Jesus’ gospel, and in Mark 1:15, Jesus said,

“”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Regeneration and saving faith both being gifts from God, only the elect unto salvation will believe, of course, yet the imperative to believe in the Gospel is there.

Again, through the Apostle Peter, specifically in the quoted passage above, there is only one ‘Gospel imperative’, that is, one Gospel command specifically regarding the Gospel, and it is not for Christians to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. It is simply to believe its good news. The Gospel is good news to be believed, not good news to be therapeutically repeated daily.

In the latter portion of I Peter 4:17, the Apostle asked the question:

“what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

What does he mean by ‘obey the Gospel? The answer lies in the text itself. The Greek  word for obey here is ἀπειθούντων—note the present active tense of this participle (derived from ἀπειθέω (I refuse to believe and obey)).

Peter is asking in essence “If judgment begins with the house of God, what will become of those who are willfully, intentionally disbelieving and refuse to comply with the command to believe the Gospel?”

It is that simple my brethren. To obey the Gospel is to believe it.

The Scriptures, that is, the whole counsel of God, teaches us how to make progress in holiness and press on to maturity in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, Who is our Helper!

Let us be biblical by sticking to the Bible and not the latest fads of ‘spiritual disciplines’ and the error of so-called ‘gospel-sanctification.’

When Leaders No Longer Lead

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A good shepherd leads his sheep to pasture. He cares for their every need. He does not drive the sheep with the shepherds crook, but rather uses it to correct the wayward.

Leadership, at any level, should know and follow the example of the Good Shepherd. Failure to do so leaves the sheep without guidance and in danger. Whenever leaders lose their concern for the people they are supposed to lead and concern themselves with themselves, then the people are in trouble.

Ancient Israel provides our first example of this tragedy. Amos addressed the nation with the following words:

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! – Amos 6:1

The nation of Israel, during the time of Uzziah, knew a time of great prosperity. As then, so now today. It is always a great danger when the leadership is focused on selfish desires rather than the needs of the people. With leadership asleep at the helm, the people will be lulled into a false sense of security. Priorities in life are turned upside down. The things offered by the world become the focus, rather than the things of heaven.

It was that way in Israel, and it is so in America today. Amos goes on to describe the condition of the people in these words:

Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! – Amos 6:4-6

A self-indulgent leadership leads to a self-indulgent people. The combination spells trouble of any nation. It is a deadly combination. It is one that is being played out in our own country. As long as the people’s bellies are full and they experience prosperity, and there are no leaders to whom the people can look for guidance, then the nation, so afflicted, teeters on the brink of disaster.

Any nation, so prospering with material things, being so secure of body, so careless with the time allowed, will never see the foundations of their nation crumbling. They will never take note of the coming disaster. They will never feel the trembling of the earth – a sure warning. Amos preached two years before the earthquake, yet the people, so led, did not heed the warning.

Amos tried to warn the people by telling them to look at the nations around them who had fallen victim to the same deceit. If America is to endure for long, we had better look at the history of the nations before us who have suffered the same end as that of Israel.

I would point you to two nations in history whose people, because of poor leadership, were seduced into tolerating the present plight of things until disaster struck. Examine the reign of two kings, one of England and the other of France. Charles I of England, Louis the 16th of France . Both of them were puffed up with pride and greed, supported a sovereign monarchy, the feudal system – a system Americans are well on the road of knowing. It was a system in which the monarch, the judiciary, the nobility and the clergy, became so corrupt that there was no one that the people could look to for relief when the bread they earned was eaten by the leadership. They were left with nothing but the burden of heavy taxes and what little crumbs were left. People may be ruled as long as they get the crumbs from the rich man’s table, but deprive them of the crumbs and they will rise up and blood will flow.

The bloody revolts of the masses in England and France ought to provide us a lesson for our own nation. I believe our present leadership fears such a revolt, hence the need to disarm, as did Hitler in Germany the people, prompted by those who ignored the law of the land for what appears to solve a problem for a moment, but never does.

My concern for our land are based on the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament and upon the study of history. Amos had a direct word from God. Mine is indirect, though still from God. It is the written Word of God which reveals the will of God for men who lead and those who follow.

The response of the leadership of Israel to the message of Amos may be the response of those who read this message of heartfelt concern for the people of America. I pray it will not be so. When Amos went to preach this warning to Bethel, the kings chapel was there. Amaziah, the priest, cried out:

“Amos has conspired against you [ the king, Jeroboam] in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.'” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” – Amos 7:10-13

This is the mentality of the majority of America’s leadership, and the people are suffering for it.

The cry of Amos for justice in the land was ignored. He was a nobody, a simple herdsman from the hills of Tekoa; never having been to seminary or college, but called of God to warn the people. When nothing changed on the part of the people, and the leadership remained unmoved, then, the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the flock of Israel. She became a victim in 586 B.C., followed by the same end for Judah in 722.

Like Amos, I am not a son of a prophet, but called of God. I pray for our leadership that they may be brought to repentance and lead the people in righteousness. The failure here always results in the difference between repentance and revolution, between blessing and blood. My plea is for repentance and blessing, because the death knell of every nation comes when the leadership promotes godlessness rather than godliness.

America will be no exception.

When the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch.

Our Sure Foundation for Peace and Security in Christ Jesus

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And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. – Exodus 12:13

Jesus has delivered the believer from the wrath to come when He will execute judgment upon those who have rejected Him (I Th. 1:10).

The Israelites only needed to touch the lintel and two doorposts on their homes with the blood of a lamb – openly and visibly, not hidden – in order to secure their safety and peace from the destroyer who brought death to the Egyptians, who typified the world of unbelievers. On that dreadful night when the Lord came to strike the Egyptians, the Israelites had nothing else to do but remain inside until morning.

I read Exodus 12:13 this morning and was immediately drawn to that simple phrase, “When I see the blood”.

There is our salvation and our peace with, of and from God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, right there.

“When” God sees the blood of Christ we are safe and have peace with Him; not if God sees it. Our God is omniscient, knowing all things; He is above time and space, He is seeing it right now as you read this.

“I see” , that is, when God Himself sees the blood of Christ we are safe and have peace with Him. The Israelites didn’t need to see it in order to be, feel or know they were safe. They didn’t need to experience anything. Their safety and security was made so only by the blood and the sure Word of God.

They rested in the character of God, in His faithfulness to keep His Word to them. That was the sole foundation for their peace and safety – nothing but the blood. The same goes for the believer today. A Christian does not need to experience, feel, say or do anything to be safe from the wrath of God, for peace with God or even for cleansing of all sin, because it is the blood of Jesus that does that, and God Himself sees it. Therein, in that shed blood alone – by faith – and nothing else – is our peace.

“The blood” of Jesus Christ, shed for me. God tells us in His Word that we have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Through His blood, nothing else.

The blood of Jesus itself, and it alone, saves us, cleanses us from sin and brings us peace. The Holy Spirit does not cleanse us from sins, only the blood of Jesus does that. I John 1:7. Our thoughts or feelings about the blood do not save us, nor make us secure, only the blood itself. The blood of Jesus does not partially save us, partially cleanse us nor partially shelter us from the wrath of God to come, but does so fully, by faith, in all these things.

Our Lord Jesus, after shedding His blood on the cross, ascended to the Father and before the throne of glory presented His sacrifice for acceptance. He sprinkled His own blood, that it might be seen and  accepted as full payment for our purchase….and it was.

Brethren, our sure foundation for peace and security in Christ is in the written Word of God, describing the grace and mercy of God, through the finished work of Christ. Our security rest in Christ work for us, not the Holy Spirit’s work in us in sanctification. The work of the Holy Spirit is not finished yet, the work of Christ for our redemption is, and we must know for a certainty, that God sees the blood of His only Son, and has accepted that finished work on our behalf as our substitute. It is a reality, God make it so in our hearts during times of doubt!

We need nothing else to rely upon; not thoughts, feelings nor charismatic experiences. Our Mighty, righteous, holy God has seen the blood of Christ, and we stand secure in that glorious, wonderful declaration of mercy and grace, a sure pledge for all who truly believe in Jesus by faith alone:

When I see the blood, I will pass over you

Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Yes, Lord, and amen!

The Obedience of the Thief On the Cross

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I’m often asked, What obedience did the thief on the cross display in regards to his salvation?

Clearly, he did everything required. He believed the Gospel. Everything required for salvation.

Obeying the Gospel – believing it – is not only evidence of genuine faith, it is required for full possession of salvation in the end. See Luke 23. For those of you who think ‘good works’ has nothing to do with salvation, ever, in any way, shape or form, ever. Think again. The Gospel commands obedience.

Professing Christ is one thing, possessing salvation in the end is another – it will not be had without good works. This is not saying we are justified in any way by our works, that is a declaration by God alone, apart from works, by means of faith in the finished work of Christ. What it is saying is this: Sanctification, your pursuit of holiness is not by faith alone, because you are involved, co-laborers with God. The saved thief on the cross gives you no excuse for ‘grace without obedience.’

1. He openly rebuked the other thief:

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? – Luke 23:40

2. He repented of his sins. He admitted his own guilt, and that he and his co-thief deserved punishment of death on the cross.

And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; (v. 41)

3. He confessed with his own mouth the innocence and sinlessness of Jesus and did that before a public audience (soldiers, Jewish leaders, eyewitnesses to the crucifixions).

but this man has done nothing wrong. (v. 41)

4. Before everyone within earshot, this thief gave testimony that Jesus Christ is Lord and King:

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (v.42)

Yes, indeed, the thief on the cross who went to be with Jesus that day, obeyed the Gospel – because he had been regenerated, given faith to believe and was justified before God. Salvation, even in the case of the rare exception such as this, is completely of the Lord.

The Whole Counsel of God

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for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. – Acts 20:27

In this passage, the word shrink ( hupostellō ) means to withhold under (out of sight); conceal, hold back. Declaring (anaggellō) is to announce (in detail). The word whole (pas) means each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything; counsel ( boulē ) is volition, decision, intention, purpose.

In other words, we might translate the verse this way:

For I did not withhold out of sight from you; I did not conceal nor hold back anything from you, announcing in detail everything God has purposed, decided and intended for you.

Brethren, this is speaking of the complete revelation God has given us in his Son Jesus Christ, and there is more than the Gospel being spoken of here.

There is the sermon on the mount, for one, describing not specifically only things to be believed, but rather to be done, to be lived out, the very character of a Christian by which the world will know to whom they belong. There is much of the New Testament devoted to instructions of righteousness – living rightly, honorably, in such a way as to be pleasing to both God and man.

There are among us these days those who limit the scope of their instruction to the Church to the Gospel alone. Every sermon, every text, every message a message of the Gospel. That is not the whole counsel of God. Such are holding back, concealing (if they know at all) the full revelation of God in His Son Jesus Christ as revealed in the written Word. If they’ve a firm grasp of the Gospel according to Scripture, I commend them to the evangelistic field, but let us deny admittance of those to the office of pastor-teacher, for if the gospel is all they have to instruct the Church, they will keep the congregations in spiritual diapers, stunt their spiritual growth, effectively hindering any progress in their Christian maturity and their participation in the Great Commission to which they have been assigned.

Many Christians across America remain in the aforesaid spiritual diapers because they have been deceived into believing that the Gospel alone was going to MAKE them holy. Being set apart to be holy by way of regeneration or the new birth is one thing; the hard warfare of becoming holy, righteous by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, that is, ethical sanctification, is a whole other matter in itself.

Some no doubt will object: “What else is there other than the scandalous Gospel?”

The rest of God’s whole counsel to you, that’s what.

Jesus said:

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. – John 7:17

Amen.

The Honor of Believers in Jesus Christ

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For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – I Peter 2:6-10 (ESV)

I am often asked why I do not “stand with Israel”, meaning, why do I not support that people across the waters which we refer to as “natural” Israel. It is very simple actually.

I will not pretend that unbelievers possess the favor of God.

As long as individuals within natural Israel continue their rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior, they are currently under the wrath of God and continue to store up for themselves the wrath  that will surely engulf them for all eternity should they die without being born again by the sovereign act of God in salvation.

Look at the passage quoted above, I Peter 2:6-10.

Now let me ask you a few questions.

  • 1. To whom is “the honor” bestowed?

Ans: To those who believe in Christ. Is honor also to natural Israel who reject Christ? No.

  • 2. Who does God declare “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession”?

Ans: The believers in Christ only.  Are natural Israel called these things? No.

  • 3. Who was called out of darkness into His marvelous light?

Ans: Natural Israel? No. Only believers in Christ, according to God through Peter.

  • 4. Who, according to the above passage are God’s people?

Ans: Unbelieving Israel? No, not at all. Only the believers in Christ.

Peter, a Jew, addresses believers, using Isaiah 43:20, 21 to show us that believers in Christ, and only those, are the fulfillment of God’s promises. Christ Jesus has but one bride, and it is the Church – regenerated sinners who are continually believing and following Christ and His commands.

Unbelieving ‘natural’ Israel is not the bride of Christ. If they do not repent, individually, and believe, they will perish in their sins along with the rest of the unbelieving world should they die before Christ returns, or, at Christ’s second advent. After all, how many brides does Christ have? Just one, the Church.

That is why I do not ‘stand with Israel’, so to speak. By any and every means possible, take the Gospel to this people, but do not give them false assurance of being a chosen people having the favor of God apart from believing in Christ. Let us speak the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.

I do not “stand with Israel” because I am Israel, just one of many, many believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.

Welcome

We are excited to welcome you to our new adventure, Joel Taylor Ministries. We are excited to launch this new ministry, and I would personally love to see you become a big part of its outreach to the world.

What is this ministry about? God’s Word, all of it, and the spreading forth thereof. We desire that every true believer become more and more fervent in their stand upon the Word of God alone, as the only guide to life and godliness and the final, paramount authority in all things in every aspect of life. We desire that every true believer continue in his or her growth toward maturity in Christ Jesus, ever reaching toward greater heights of understanding our great and glorious God through the person of Jesus Christ our Lord and Master.

The end purpose of all of our duties and graces as Christians is the knowledge of God Himself. It is not to “go deeper” into the Gospel alone. I pray that the content and resources which you find here will not only encourage you to persevere in the faith once delivered to the Apostles, but will be used in preparing you to pray for strength in the difficult times which are coming, and they are coming.

We desire to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing all the while that many will reject it and be lost forever. Our focus is to provide resources which we trust and pray will be used to point you continually towards the written Word of God, away from the spiritual gurus offering something new and exciting, and to strengthen you to press on in the counsel of God, the only true faith, and result in living in such a way as to be distinctively separate, not only from the world, but from the apostate church which clothes itself in so many deceitful ways.

In addition, this ministry will seek to educate and train pastors and church leaders in biblical preaching, doctrine, and contending earnestly for the faith by making them aware of the popular heresies which have infiltrated the Church – and which the popular, celebrity preachers refuse to address.

There is no such thing as static Christianity. In Ephesians 1:17, the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they might increase in the knowledge of God. Regardless of our ‘level’ of sanctification, we are to continue to grow.

With this as our conviction in ministry, a series of theological and educational courses is in the works, to be offered to the general public. In addition, we will host conferences, “laboring to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:12.

In His service,

Joel Taylor