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WHO WILL SAVE US?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Headache 1My head hurts!  Dropouts are beginning to bring a little relief.  Originally I was for Dr. Ben Carson.  Yet, I knew he would not lead the pack.  Why?  He isn’t a “business as usual” kind of guy.  He has principles or values.  He upholds things that Satan hates.  He presented a danger to those who enjoy wallowing in filth.  So, he is down in the polls and so far hasn’t won any delegates.

Trump is leading the pack of three, maybe four of the original number of candidates.  If one of them has 4,000 at his rally, Trump has 14,000.  He is saying things people want to hear.  People who are sick and tired of business as usual.  Folks who are sick of seeing our nation guided into the depths of, well you know where?

Is Trump our man?  He isn’t a Ben Carson!  Oh, he has values, but not all of them are impeccable.  Yes, he makes promises, but who doesn’t?  Will he keep them or at least make an effort?  Who knows?  What about Cruz or Rubio?  Will one of them suddenly spring forward similar to daylight saving time and like the comic book heros, rescue us?  How righteous are they?  When power is the goal, few retain the values they once held.  Money talks louder than righteousness!  Public opinion isn’t always godly.  Principles are often discarded.

Although I will vote, I doubt if a Republican will win the presidency!  In 2011 49.2% of U.S. households were receiving government support.  Democrat Bernie Sanders promises to  give away everything but our kitchen sink to those who will vote for him.  The country is adopting a national slogan of, “give me, give me, give me.”  If folks don’t get what they want, they take it because they deserve it.  Being caught in a lie no longer embarrasses anyone, especially politicians.  Cheating or defrauding is a game to be played.  The title most worn is, “Everyone is doing it!”

So, who will save us?  Bernie?  Hillary?  Trump?  Cruz?  Rubio?  Kasich?  Democrats?  Republicans?  The Tea Party?  If you are depending upon government, you need to have your head examined!  Power corrupts politicians producing depots.

Aren’t you weary of voting for the lesser of two evils?  I’ll let you figure out who is which.  But, we have the privilege of voting.  At least in this next election.  So, make yours count. Let your value system direct you.

My faith nor hope is in who wins the White House in November.  My faith is not in that person.  My faith is in my Savior Jesus.  When all others fail and disappoint, he doesn’t.  Because of him my sins are forgiven.  He reconciled me to the Father.  His grace covers me.  His blood cleanses me.  This is not my home.  I’m just passing through.

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!  Before the mountains were created, before the earth was formed, you are God without beginning or end.  You speak, and man turns back to dust.  A thousand years are but as yesterday to you! They are like a single hour!  We glide along the tides of time as swiftly as a racing river and vanish as quickly as a dream. We are like grass that is green in the morning but mowed down and withered before the evening shadows fall.  We die beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your wrath.  You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and see them all.  No wonder the years are long and heavy here beneath your wrath. All our days are filled with sighing.  Seventy years are given us! And some may even live to eighty. But even the best of these years are often emptiness and pain; soon they disappear, and we are gone.  Who can realize the terrors of your anger? Which of us can fear you as he should?  Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.”

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TRUST!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

TrustDo I have any assurance that I am going to heaven? If I am depending upon my perfection to answer that question, the conclusion is “NO”! If a positive reply depends upon which sins I occasionally commit, such as little sins as opposed to big ones, the response again is “NO” for both! If my eternal destination relies upon crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” to solidify that assurance, I might as well expect a hot reception. If my eternity depends upon committing only “non-fatal error” rather than the “fatal kind,” my ignorance of such already condemns me. If my ability to accumulate a lot of good works will help pay my way into heaven, I have succumbed to the lies first produced in Eden.

The Word of God did not empty himself to occupy Mary’s womb so we could fill an imaginary gap left over from his sacrificial actions! Eve thought one bite would make her equal to God. Adam bit into that philosophy. God wants us to place all our trust in Him. When we seek to add “one wit” to that trust to mimic what the first couple attempted to “bite off,” we play their foolish game! Is our price of “one wit” sufficient and better than the blood of Jesus? Some see it as a necessary payment for our salvation! So, we trust Jesus? Yes. 100%! We don’t merit heaven with our two cents worth of effort!

Some have made it appear that what we do is equal to what Jesus did! He gave 50% and we pay off the rest through our obedience. Since his part was perfect, wouldn’t ours also need to be? When we set a percentage for our actions, which obligates God to reimburse us with eternal life, aren’t we swallowing the same lie which Eden’s occupants digested?

Obedience is commanded, but not as A PAYMENT for our eternal salvation. If it is a payment where God owes us, then what is the exact percentage required to validate that amount? If grace becomes necessary on God’s part to fill up what we lack, what percentage is required of us to merit that amount from Him? If we come up short, what assurance do we have that God will intervene? Can one ask for forgiveness at the judgment? In other words, grace will cover a percentage of our religious shortcomings, MAYBE! Is there a “cut-off” percentage? If 50% is our standard to make our righteousness acceptable, what percentage criteria must be met to guarantee we have reached that essential goal? Must we wait in limbo until the judgment to find out? That might end up being an eternal shocker! Doesn’t self-righteousness leave us insecure and without real joy? Doesn’t this serpentine doctrine teach that we’re good for 50% of our salvation and God’s grace and Jesus’ blood covers the other 50%? You earn 50% of your crown and only need God’s 50%? Doesn’t that sound like a boastful condition?

God’s lesson to Israel was, “You need me 100%”! That percentage did not decrease at the cross. It just emphasized it! So, what assurance do you have that you are going to heaven? To have 100% assurance, you must put 100% trust in Jesus! If your assurance is built upon your works, they would need to be perfect. Are they?

A BIBLICAL RIGHT TO VOTE?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Casting Your BallotThere has been a lot of opposition to Trump running for President. Some refuse to vote for him. In fact they will not vote at all or cast their ballot for a third party candidate. Some feel it is against their conscience to vote for “the lesser of two evils.” I respect anyone who wishes to follow his conscience in what he believes is right. It is a biblical concept (Romans 14:23 KJV). So, I do not condemn such a choice. I may not agree with it just as those who hold it may not agree with mine. After all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and of the household of God. We can agree to disagree and still love and respect one another. Paul and Barnabas did, so may we (Acts 15:36-41)!

I believe God Himself has given us the right to vote for the candidate who is better qualified than the other. In Isaiah 44:28 God spoke of Cyrus, who would be born 100 years later, as his “shepherd” and would rebuild Jerusalem and lay the foundation of the Temple. In 45:1 Cyrus is referred to as God’s “anointed” or “Messiah,” and God will hold up his right hand and help him subdue other kings even though God said Cyrus “has not known me.” Cyrus was a pagan king who worshiped Bel and Nabu! Yet, God voted for him and made him king so he could release the remnant to return to Palestine under Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 7:7).

I’m voting for the candidate who will stop illegal immigration, put Constitutional judges on the Supreme Court, stand against pornography, stop favoring Islam’s Sharia, put Americans back to work, make us energy free from the near East, replace Obamacare, repeal Obama’s unlawful executive orders, strengthen our military, respect our military and police, restore law and order, stop apologizing to our enemies, stop paying millions in ransom to our enemies, stop ISIS and all other Islamic organizations that wish to dominate and destroy this and other countries, and get us back on a sound economic footing. I’m not asking anyone to violate his conscience, just pointing out that those who vote “for the lesser of two evils,” have a scriptural right to do so.

Sometimes a strongly held conviction can push an individual to have the wrong kind of attitude toward those who disagree. This fault isn’t restricted to just one party affiliation, but can reside with all who have different views. For example, Paul refused to take John Mark on his next mission trip (Acts 15:38-40). He took Silas instead. He didn’t keep his opinion about John Mark to himself. Yet, later he changed that view, mellowed, and found Mark useful to his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11, NKJV).

Go to the polls and vote. Vote for the one which you feel is best suited for the job morally, ethically, conservatively, and economically. That candidate may be another Cyrus, and God’s anointed!

GOING TO A GUN FIGHT?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gunfight 01I receive some very well written articles from a friend and brother. In a recent one he wrote,

“My right to bear arms – which I choose not to exercise – should be considered in light of the public good. We’ve been told that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun, but the Dallas police say it’s not quite that simple. In the early minutes of the confrontation with a sniper, nobody could tell where the shots were coming from. The police could not tell whether the civilians carrying guns were good guys or bad guys.”

How true! Carrying a gun is no guarantee that you will be capable of protecting yourself. Shooting 50 to 100 rounds each year at a paper target doesn’t make you proficient. Sometimes a cell phone and 911 is the answer to saving lives. You see something going down, call it in! To rush blindly into a situation where your ignorance prevails, may find you interrupting a plain clothed cop attempting to stop the bad guy. You may be seen as an accomplice rather than a supporter. You could learn what friendly fire is!

Ignorance prevails in those who fear guns as well as those who don’t. The public screams, “Why didn’t the officer shoot the gun out of his hand?” Hollywood can do that from 100 yards, but not off camera! “Why did the officer shoot him, he was only reaching for his billfold.” How would the officer know that when he had ordered the individual to put both hands on the steering wheel and NOT MOVE? Political figures may lie without impunity, but criminals do it to distract an officer so they can shoot first! In today’s society where law enforcement personnel are prime targets, any unauthorized moves must be seen as aggression. The policeman has been trained to see those threats and act accordingly to protect himself! The public may draw the wrong conclusions and misinterpret the entire incident. How many times has our president spoken about a situation before he had all the facts by blaming the police and praising the lawbreaker?

Some gun owners believe they are ready to handle any situation that confronts them. Wrong! A person with a knife can cover 21 feet to stab you before you can unholster your firearm. A person with a pistol is no match for a terrorist in an 18 wheeler. A pistol doesn’t help when receiving a “sucker” punch from a teen trying to impress his friends with his strength. Criminals don’t play fair and will never give you the opportunity to “draw first.” If your loved one is being used by a criminal as his shield, the Hollywood head shots are possible only on the silver screen. You can suffer a lifetime of regret if you’re unable to match Hollywood’s make believe!

Carrying a gun increases your responsibility more than the average person realizes.

1. Having a “permit to carry” doesn’t make you a police officer.
2. In a dangerous situation, your proficiency in handling a firearm, drops drastically! That inefficiency can get you killed!
3. If you walk into a Federal, State, or city government building, forget that you are armed, and are discovered, you are in a heap of trouble! Ignorance doesn’t dismiss your forgetfulness!
4. Drawing a weapon to warn someone to not bother you, when it is not a life threatening situation, may backfire with you losing your weapon, paying a fine, or doing jail time.
5. Carrying a weapon openly may turn your he-man pride into horror if a hoodlum grabs it and walks away with it, or shoots you.
6. If you have small children there is no such thing as hiding a loaded firearm.
7. Before you pull the trigger, check what is in the background. You may miss and hit an innocent person! They or their family usually sue and often win!
8. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are sure of your target. Adrenalin pulls triggers accidently. You are responsible for every bullet exiting from the muzzle of your pistol! Remember, you may be sued for those that hit something other than your target!
9. If you are in a shooting, your home insurance will not protect you nor pay if you are sued. Bad guys can sue too! Their family may also sue!
10. There is no comfortable way to carry a pistol on your person. There are always shortcomings that irritate!
11. When you must leave your weapon in your car, if broken into, will become the prize of the person doing the breaking! The NRA offers insurance! Keep the Serial number handy for the police report.
12. If your life is threatened and you refuse to stop the threat, be ready to transfer ownership of your firearm to the one who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger!

These are just a few of the responsibilities a person shoulders who carries a firearm.

Shooting at a motionless target is a lot of fun. Teaching a family member, friend, or neighbor how to safely handle and shoot a firearm can be rewarding. However, to pull the trigger on another human being will change your life in very unpleasant ways! You need to ask yourself, “Why do I want to carry a firearm?” Some do. Some don’t. Some shouldn’t. It’s a choice granted by the Second Amendment.

NOT ACTUALLY SAVED, BUT REALLY LOST?

Monday, August 15, 2016

These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11. NRSV).

Savd but Lost 3When you surrendered to the Lord and submitted to that burial and resurrection with Him, it was the happiest day of your life (Romans 6:3-6; Acts 2:40)! You felt clean. Your guilt had vanished. Jesus had taken all your sins away. God would remember them no more (Hebrews 10:17). You had never felt so good. That was on a Monday.

When Sunday rolled around you were still feeling wonderful. You were saved! Then the preacher straightened you out with his words. The hair on the back of your neck stood out! He had just stated that each time you sinned, you no longer had fellowship with God. Unless you quickly repented and prayed asking for forgiveness, you would lose your soul if you dropped dead before doing so!

The preacher’s remarks made you remember that Friday incident at work. Your temper had flared and an old word which you thought would never be spoken again, came rolling off your tongue. That had been your lifestyle for more than 30 years, but you quickly acknowledged your wrongdoing. Your apology greatly surprised the one you had spoken to. You had thought that your regretted error was sufficient and took care of your mistake. The preacher pulled the rug out from under that conclusion.

You thought, “I’ve been lost since Friday. If I had died before I could receive forgiveness, I would have gone to hell. All the great feelings I had about being saved were lies. I wasn’t in fellowship with Jesus.” The preacher continued, saying that anyone with sin needed to come forward to regain their salvation.

God stated about David, “I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.” (Acts 13:22 NRSV).

In spite of David impregnating Uriah’s wife and then having Uriah killed, David prayed, “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11 NRSV).

If the Holy Spirit had not been taken from David at the time he offered that prayer, God was still residing with him.

David was not a perfect man, yet notice this statement about him,

“Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” (1 Kings 15:5 KJV).

Notice how God’s grace saw the rest of David’s life. Was his imperfection only in “the matter of Uriah the Hittite”? If God’s grace blessed David with Divine fellowship in spite of his imperfections, how much more will His grace and the blood of Jesus cover ours? Does this give you the right to see how much you can sin? No (Romans 6:1). But, neither does it mean that after each sin, you find yourself outside His fellowship and lost. Under the Law system of Moses one infraction made you guilty of transgressing all of that Law. However, you are not under that Law now, but under a better covenant (Hebrews). Some make the second covenant an extension of the first and remove grace. According to Paul, when one is buried and raised with Christ, he dies to sin and is free of its consequences (Romans 6). The saved sinner continues in fellowship with Christ Jesus and is continually cleansed by the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:7).

Rejoice in your forgiveness. Be grateful that your sins are being cleansed by Jesus’ blood. Be happy that you remain in God’s fellowship. Be thankful that you have received the righteousness of God which makes you whole! Praise God for your salvation!! Enjoy His grace! Share your joy with others!

THE JEWISH CHURCH

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ . . . Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.’(Acts 15:1, 5).

Jew and Gentile Church 2Some wanted to bind circumcision upon Gentile believers. This produced sharp disputes between those teachers and Paul and Barnabas. When the matter was taken up in a conference on correct doctrine in Jerusalem, the Pharisee saints made it a salvation requirement.

We often think that Corinth was guilty of creating the first “party spirit” with their assemblies of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, and of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Actually the Jerusalem church was the first by allowing the Pharisee party to flourish within its membership! That Party’s specialty was circumcision, which was based upon keeping the Law! Keep in mind that one could not keep part of the Law and ignore other sections (James 2:10). This was a movement to force Gentile believers to keep the Law of Moses as the Jewish membership and proselytes did (Acts 21:20, 24). We usually pass over this chapter without understanding that some Jewish saints were creating a false doctrine built from a scriptural foundation! We fail to notice how those patrons of the Law continued to fester as Gentiles were added, without being circumcised, to the “JEWISH body of Christ.”

Several made reports at this Acts 15 conclave, including the Pharisee Clique. Although inspired apostles and prophets were present, the solution was introduced by Jesus’ brother rather than from multiple inspired sources. Luke records it in Acts 15:19 with James saying, “Therefore in my judgment. . .” Although his judgment was accepted without debate, the fall-out continued. The apostle Peter was overcome by its influence while at Antioch, motivating other Jewish saints to partake of his racist attitude (Galatians 2:11-14). Paul was forced to write the letter to the Galatians concerning this “other gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9). The Hebrew letter covers it. Paul takes it up again discussing it with the Ephesian assembly as well as those in Rome (Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 14). The problem continued until 70 A.D. or shortly thereafter with the destruction of the Temple.

Gentiles created a problem for Jews. What the Jews had held sacred for over 1,600 years, Gentiles were not required to observe. How can one be released from observing what is sacred? Can you imagine how we would feel if someone entered our assembly and told us we could no longer partake of the Lord’s supper? Gentiles did not have to worship at the Temple or in their synagogues. They did not have to observance the Jewish special days like the Day of Atonement. They observed Roman time rather than the Jewish one. They did the same with the calendar! They didn’t have to be circumcised, yet Abraham and Moses were! They didn’t have to observe the Sabbath which was unimaginable to a Jew!

On the other side of the coin, Jews presented a problem to Gentiles. They believed that through Abraham and Moses, they had a special standing with God. They believed this relationship was greatly enhanced because of their zeal for His Law and faithfulness in keeping it. After all, they were THE chosen! Abraham was their father and these uncircumcised barbarians were latecomers! All Gentiles, before Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ home, became proselytes by being circumcised and keeping the Law! So why does this Roman soldier and others get a free pass by NOT keeping it? Can you imagine an assembly being filled with those who did and who did not keep the Law of Moses? As the apostles began dying off, and the Gentile membership outgrowing the Jewish one, wouldn’t there be some emotions among Jewish saints when they saw they were “losing control”? Paul gave an insight into this Jewish/Gentile clash in Romans 14. This collision would be the Jewish way of doing things “at church” as opposed to the Gentile way!

When such problems take place, wouldn’t that be a good time for Jesus’ statement in John 13:34-35 to kick in. But, did it?

RESTORATION IN THE FIRST CENTURY!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Restoration in First CenturyWhen the Holy Spirit filled the apostles on Pentecost in Acts 2, He had His work cut out for Him.  Even though Peter spoke by inspiration, the newly formed “called out” brought centuries of tradition with them which baptism could not wash away!  We seek to be an image of that assembly in belief and practice as if they were everything we are not, but should be.  Some believe that if we cloned ourselves after them, we will be unique.  We could find that “uniqueness” to be more than we bargained for!

The problem is that the Jerusalem church was a work in progress, not a perfection to be copied.  From Acts 2 to 10 everyone in that called out group thought salvation was restricted to Jews.  Every apostle, prophet, elder, deacon, and member thought Gentiles were equal to Bar-B-Que and catfish!  Going into all world and sharing the Good News with barbarians never disturbed their brain cells.  A decade or more would pass before the Holy Spirit was successful in upsetting their thinking!  Although the gospel spread from Jerusalem to Samaria, for some, faith in Jesus included a righteousness received by law.  This view was amplified after Peter entered the home of an uncircumcised barbarian (Acts 11:1-3)!  Some thought salvation was based upon what they had done right, by keeping that law, rather than by what Yahweh did through Jesus (Acts 15:1, 5; Galatians 5:3-4).  Jewish saints thought if they were obedient in keeping the Law, their righteousness would save them.  Yet, justification was not based upon successfully keeping that law (Galatians 2:16).  The entire Old Testament period illustrated that fact over and over!  Yet the circumcised saints attempted to carry that philosophy over into the new covenant (Acts 15:1, 5).  Such an attempt would not work under the second covenant since it failed under the first!  The perfection of our obedience is not our Savior, Jesus is!

Law demands perfection.  One infraction makes the perpetrator guilty of all.  Since that one infraction makes the practitioner a sinner, it eliminates him in being his savior.  One may be able to accomplish more obedience than others, but regardless of his successes, he remains a failure.  Why?  One sin ruins him (James 2:10).  One sin removes him from the “savior status,” demoting him to the “lost” category (Romans 3:10, 23)!   That’s why mankind needed God’s grace (Jeremiah 10:23)!  That’s why our salvation is dependent upon faith in Him “who knew no sin”!  (2 Corinthians 5:21).

When one believes that his obedience is his savior, he needs to ask if his efforts have reached Jesus’ perfect standard?  If not, stop bragging, humble yourself, and repent.  When one believes that his obedience is sufficient to grant him entrance into heaven, he needs to question the volume of that obedience.  Honesty will reveal that he is on the losing end of that total.

Is obedience necessary?  It has always been, whether one lived under the Old or New Testaments.  Yet, if one is basing his salvation on what he has done, rather than the obedience of Jesus in his behalf, his allegiance to self is the wisdom of a fool.

As one reads the New Testament, he does not find human beings in any first century location being touted as the perfect assembly.  If perfection was achieved by a first century assembly, surely it would have stood out from all the others?  Perfection comes, not from our achievements, but his!  It is not our righteousness to boast, but his.  Our standing with God depends upon Jesus’ blood, not a false pride in our accomplishments.  If our obedience is co-equal in salvation with Jesus’ blood, what percentage does it earn?  When Paul admonished, “Work out your own salvation” and Peter warned, “Save yourselves” were they saying our works are meritorious in paying a certain percentage on our salvation (Philippians 2:12; Acts 2:40)?  If so, what amount must we have in order to supplement the saving power of Jesus’ blood?  For some, it is almost impossible to get away from the idea that their works pay a part of what is needed to complete their salvation!

When Philip preached to the eunuch, he did give him a lesson on cloning, by preaching Jesus (Acts 8:35).

DESCRIBE GOD!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

God Is - 02Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”  (Colossians 3:1 KJV).

What visions did that passage produce regarding God?  Did you visualize an enormous entity without specific features, yet with some kind of human form?  Why would one envision God with human attributes?

The Bible uses human terms to describe Yahweh.  He has eyes (Genesis 6:8), a hand (Exodus 7:5), an arm (Isaiah 51:9), a face (Genesis 19:13), and a mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3).   Some believe God is a giant size human being in heaven.  It is true that God uses human terms to describe Himself to man, but He is not human.  Does that surprise you?  Jesus tells us, “God is a spirit.” (John 4:24).  What does a spirit look like?  In Matthew 14:26 the apostles thought Jesus was a “spirit.”  Does a spirit look like a man, or was this only their misconception of one?

Some will ask, “Does God not live in heaven?”  Yes, but God is not limited by time nor space.  God uses our vocabulary to reveal Himself in words that our finite minds can grasp.  Yet, He also informs us that there are things we will never understand here (Isaiah 55:9).

For example, John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  He tells us the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh (Philippians 2:5-10).  Yet. God speaks about Jesus when he was coming out of the waters of baptism (Matthew 3:17).  One might ask, “If Jesus is the Word in the flesh, who is the Word which was spoken by God in that verse to describe Jesus?  This passage alone shows how infinite God is and the limits of our finite understanding.  In spite of the inspired illustrations, is the finite explanation a full picture of the one and only Supreme Deity?  My reply is, “No.”  What is your answer?

Moses saw the “back” of God, but was this the literal back of the Almighty Spirit, or only a small manifestation?  If God is greater than his creation, would he be smaller than what He created (Exodus 33:23)?  Yet, even His manifestations, great or small, are only what man needed to see to realize that His power and majesty is beyond our comprehension.

We usually speak of God manifesting Himself in three personalities.  One became flesh.  But, don’t some view the Father and Holy Spirit as two other “people”?  Jesus refers to the Father as “God is Spirit” (John 4:24 NKJV).  Are their two Spirits: Father Spirit and Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is spoken of as God (Acts 5:3-4).  There is but one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4).  Yet, using our arithmetic, Father Spirit + Holy Spirit = 2 Spirits!  Muslims and Jews are not the only ones who are confused about our belief about God!  Often, in public prayers a person will say “Lord” or “Lord God.”  Both Father and Jesus are called “Lord.”  Father Lord + Jesus Lord = 2 Lords.  Yet, Paul tells us there is one (Ephesians 4:5).  Since there is ONE Lord and the Father and Son are that One Lord, isn’t it possible that we could be addressing both when we state “Lord God”?  Isaiah stated that God would not share his “glory” or “praise” with another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).  He also said God was the first and the last (Isaiah 48:12).  Jesus prayed and said, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”  (John 17:5).  Jesus is also referred to as the first and last ((Revelation 1:11, 17; 2:8; 22:13).  Jesus stated that he and the Father are One (John 17:21).  Don’t some think of the Father being 1/3rd, Jesus being 1/3rd, and the Holy Spirit filling the final 1/3rd of Deity?  Don’t some believe the Father is more immense than Jesus, and the Holy Spirit less in capacity than the Son?  Don’t some mistakenly see one throne with an invisible entity sitting with Jesus being the only visible one sitting on it, and who knows where the Holy Spirit is?   Have we missed the point, as Philip did, when Jesus spoke with him about the Father (John 14:9)?

We read the inspired words, addressed to us in a finite vocabulary to describe the infinite God!  Is a comprehensible picture possible?  Even when we use words such as “eternity,” are we capable of actually comprehending it?  We are going to heaven, but aren’t we limited to walls, gates, precious stones, gold asphalt, a throne, a special river, and one special tree to picture it (Revelation 21:9-22:5)?  Inspired words, yes, but in a limited vocabulary to explain the unlimited!  Even Paul could not describe that “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).  Are we capable of identifying what he could not reveal?

Isaiah ridiculed the practice of making and worshiping an idol (Isaiah 40:18-20; 46:5-7). Paul knew that a man made carving was useless in depicting God (Acts 17:22-31).  Jesus told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”  (John 14:9 (NKJV).  Was Jesus saying God looked like his earthly appearance?  Thomas referred to him as “My Lord and my God” ( John 20:28).  He called Jesus “God,” not because of his size or appearance, but because of his wounds proving Jesus was victorious over death through the resurrection (John 20:25).  Only God was capable of such!

God is love (1 John 4:8).  God loves us (John 3:16).  He expressed that love through His Word becoming flesh and being our sin sacrifice (John 1:1-14; 3:14-17)!  God is long suffering not wishing anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).  God’s grace teaches us (Titus 2:11).  By His grace we are saved (Romans 5:1-2, 6, 8-9; Ephesians 2:8-9).  God adds us to the saved as he added those on Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41, 47 ASV).  John informs us,

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  (1 John 3:1-2 (NIV).

Can you or I even visualize what we will “be like”?  It will be the greatest adventure trip ever taken by man.  Are you ready?

A SLIPPERY SLOPE?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dumbing DownThe term “dumbing down” originated in 1933 as movie-business slang, used by motion picture screenplay writers, meaning: “to revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence.” In the sixties one often heard the statement that our public educational system was degrading to “dumb us down.” In this electronic age, computerized systems tell the cashier how much change to return to the customer, until an electrical blackout! Then “dumbness” panics. Yet, if my generation feels superior because we learned our “A, B, C’s” on such matters, our boasting is not earned.

I was a middle of the road scholar. That means I was somewhere between a B and a C. An A was on my horizon, but I seldom looked up! In my senior year in high school I needed a credit to graduate. I had a choice between Spanish or typing. Neither appealed to me, but I wanted to graduate. I chose typing! I could have benefitted from both. In college I detested algebra, chemistry, and biology. I managed B grades for what I considered worthless time spent. Yet, even with all those studies, our generation was actually “dumbing down.”

In 1895 an 8th grade test lasted over 3 hours. A few of the questions were:

  1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
  2. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
  3. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
  4. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
  5. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
  6. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
  7. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
  8. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

1895 Eighth graders passed those tests! Why? They studied subjects that we never did. In comparison we may be like the person who is asked, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” and reply “Lincoln?”!

We may justify ourselves by saying, “I’ll never have any use for those subjects in real life.” But, over that same period of time, our knowledge of God’s word also decreased. Not just knowledge, but respect for the Author! Maybe we thought God’s word was obsolete and didn’t speak to today’s needs? There is a passage in the Old Testament that expresses a principle that still applies today.

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you . . . because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.’” (Hosea 4:6).

Have we dumbed ourselves down spiritually?

I’M GLAD YOU ASKED!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

30 A.D. – Acts 2-9

Tell Me A Story1st Person: I understand you’ve had a bad experience recently?
2nd Person: Yes, the assembly I visited Sunday was extremely racist.  Since I was different from them, they treated me as if I had leprosy.
1st Person: Really!?  Were they unkind to you?
2nd Person: Unkind?  They told me I wasn’t welcome in their assembly.  I explained to them that I believed and worshiped God, studied from their scriptures, and contributed to people of their race.
1st Person: I hate to hear how you were treated.
2nd Person: I was told that I could attend their assembly if I would go through a ritual that was required by them which was passed down from their ancestors.
1st Person: Who was that group?
2nd Person: They didn’t have a specific place to assembly.  They didn’t have signs or public announcements giving instructions on where they met or what they did when they assembled.  I did hear one of their number referring to themselves as “the Way.”
1st Person: Yes, I’ve heard of them.  They are the ones that are the new religion in town and started a few weeks ago.  I understand their leader was a criminal that died just outside our city.  They claim he was raised from the dead.  I think you would be wise in avoiding those people.  At least not until they come down off their “high horse” and stop believing God loves only their race.  You may be a barbarian, but you are a God fearing one!  Besides, this surgery they demanded of you is too gross to talk about, much less submit to as an adult.
2st Person: I guess you’re right.  How could such a racist group like that have the truth?

15 YEARS LATER – Acts 10-15

2nd Person: You remember that group that was racist and didn’t want me joining in on their assemblies?
1st Person: Yes, the one that started on Pentecost in Jerusalem a decade or so ago.
2nd Person: I attended one of their assemblies in Corinth and I was so impressed.  I was amazed at how they were capable of convicting me of my sins.  They preached to us about that criminal we talked about 15 years ago.  The one named Jesus.  I was so convicted that I fell down on my face and worshiped God (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
1st Person: You did WHAT?
2nd Person: I fell down on my face and worshiped God.  I admitted that they worshiped the true God.
1st Person: Wait a minute!  You mean they didn’t tell you that you couldn’t worship God without first becoming one of them?  Weren’t they horrified that you fell down in the floor as worship?
2nd Person: No.  They never required the surgery part!  When I did get up I asked them when I could be immersed like Paul was teaching (Romans 6:3-6).
1st Person: You’re telling me that they immersed you without requiring the surgery?  They wouldn’t accept you 15 years ago unless you would undergo their surgery that Abraham started, yet now they have immersed you without it?
2nd Person: Yes, I followed my Lord and was buried with him by immersion into his death and was raised as he was in his resurrection, and I now experience his new life of forgiveness and righteousness!
1st Person: Well, isn’t that something?  Why did you change?
2nd Person: I’m glad you asked.  Let me tell you about Jesus!

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