My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

Featured post


Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

Featured post


Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

Featured post

Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

Featured post


Monday, May 21, 2018

The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.” Ephesians 3:6 (MSG)

Stand on the same ground before God . . . same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus . . . accessible and welcoming to everyone”!  Sounds great, right?

That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (MSG)

Wow!  The Good News is not like anything anyone has seen or heard before.  Wow!  No one has ever imagined anything like the Good News before.  Wow!  God has arranged it for those who love him.  Wow, and double Wow!  Sounds great, right?

But, does everyone who claims to love God and teach His Good News really understand how wonderful it is?  How about the following?  The Bible teaches us that God revealed His full revelation to man in the first century through inspired apostles and prophets.  He tells us that folks gladly received Peter’s sermon and were baptized with God adding them to the saved (Acts 2:41-42, 47).  Why was this gladness expressed?

1. Is it because they were taught that God’s adding meant all their past sins were forgiven, but they must now live perfectly before Him? They are told that one sin in their life after being added destroys their relationship with God. According to this logic, they are removed from the saved and returned to the unsaved?  They are bound for hell until they repent and ask God for forgiveness of that sin?  Only then does He add them back to the saved?  They remain in the saved until their next sin?  They live in this state of uncertainty, not knowing for sure if they are saved, or unknowingly not saved?  The assurance of being saved is reserved for the judgment where they are surprised if they are saved?  Until that time, the nagging thought is that they will hear “depart” rather than “Well done.”  Is that what Ephesians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 offers?

2. Is it because they were taught that the person is added by God to the saved, but perfection must be their goal since it is demanded by God? It must be obtained and maintained to spend eternity with Him? Yet, sin, in all its subterfuge plagues them.  The believer knows the slightest infraction will return him to an unsaved state.  Ah, but the good news he has received holds out hope.  He knows he will never be perfect, so there is a gap between what he is and what he is supposed to be.  Whatever percentage that “gap” is, he must have it filled for him by God to gain heaven?  He can’t fill it due to his imperfections (sins).  So, he has been told that his “gap” insurance is dependent upon God who by His GRACE will supply the percentage needed to fill that chasm?  The nagging question following him through life is, “Will that percentage be too much and God’s grace not enough to fill it?”  What if he needs 40% of God’s grace, but God will only allow him 39%?  Assurance is not a gift which he has the privilege of enjoying!  Discouragement, hopelessness, guilt, and depression are his constant companions.  The judgment will finally reveal whether God’s grace is enough because he did or didn’t deserve that much of it.  Is that what Ephesians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 offers?

3. Is it because the person is taught that once God has added him to the saved, the difficulties of remaining in God’s grace during his Christian existence is solely dependent upon his works? He is given more do’s and do nots than the Law of Moses contained. These are both written and oral.  Things expected are controlled by the group he belongs to that believes it is the way, the truth, and the life.  His life is made miserable by attempting to keep the written and unwritten laws which he must memorize so he doesn’t break any.  If it isn’t hard, it can’t be the Good News!  If he moves and places membership with another assembly of the saved, he must make sure those same laws are observed by them.  If not, even in one thing, minor or major, he must steer clear of that group.  To join it would be disastrous to his soul!  Even when he believes they are in tune with the Good News, there might be one thing he doesn’t know about which they are engaged in!  He must be on guard 24/7, attempting to uncover and expose any digressive point.  His eternal salvation depends upon it!  His joy melts away, eaten by a cancer called suspicion.  Being on guard against all imperfection develops into an acute negativism.  His only comfort is that he is faithful.  Even in that false hope, the nagging question that remains with him is, “Am I really faithful or just fooled by Satan’s lies?”  Is that what Ephesians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 offers?

Those two passages speak of an entirely different Good News than what has been previously outlined.  It is the one that people seek but are detoured from because Satan convinces them that what they have been taught is God’s Good News.  Did God send Jesus to die to make us “rejoice,” or to be depressed?  Is the joy and relief we experienced right after God added us to the saved just a momentary experience, and that small burst doesn’t last?  Some so believe.  Are any of those conditions in 1, 2, or 3 possessed by you?  If so, you’ve not discovered the real Good News of God!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Promises, promises, promises. Politicians make and break them.  We make New Year’s resolutions and a few weeks later pat ourselves on the back because we kept them longer than we did last year.  A man’s word used to be his bond and was sealed with a firm handshake. Now, we sign multiple page contracts and must bond ourselves in case we don’t keep it.  It’s a good living for lawyers who write them for us.  Two people stand before a preacher and promise “until death do we part.”  If the facts are correct, about half of our adult population should be dead!

According to some, promises are made to be broken.  If so, that is a sad commentary on our society. When a promise is broken, someone has been cheated.  In some, not all those cases, the one breaking the promise loses because it makes him a liar.  Man has been a notorious promise breaker.  Look at the treaties made with the American Indians but broken because of land hungry individuals.  Look at the promises made to children by parents, but often broken because priorities were in the wrong place.  Sometimes it is easy for the promise maker to become a promise breaker.  All he must do is convince himself that something else is more pressing and important.  Not so with God.  His promises are true.  Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Sometimes the Bible student will misunderstand what a passage is covering.  What does, “I will give you rest” mean?  If the reader thinks God drops a job in his lap where he only has a two-day, total of eight hours work each week, without much responsibility, he has misunderstood that “rest.”  If he believes that job will pay him $150,000 a year after taxes and include all the benefits, then that kind of “rest” isn’t what Jesus had in mind!

Neither does it mean that he will be given rest from all criticism, adverse circumstances, sickness, accidents, or loss of property.  Peter received a face full of Paul when he put on shoes of hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-15).  Ananias and spouse Sapphira received a free burial service from the church for reworking their finances (Acts 5:1-11).  James lost his head over his preaching (Acts 12:1-2).  An unknown number of Jewish believers lost their sainthood due to misplaced loyalty (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29).  Bad things happen to the good, the bad, and those who want to be ugly!  Sometimes those who are good wonder why the bad seem to have it better than they do.  Baruch misunderstood that and so often, we do too (Jeremiah 45:1-5).

The world doesn’t understand how a Christian can keep his head when they are losing theirs!  It is because they possess the kind of “rest” Jesus was talking about.  During hunger, thirst, opposition, imprisonment, and other adverse happenings, Paul could say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).  That “rest” gave Paul that “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  It is because of that “rest” the Christian possesses assurance of his salvation, the removal of all his sins, and understands that there is an everlasting home for him with God throughout eternity!

Do you have that “rest”?  If so, remember, God keeps His promises!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Husband: I think it’s time for us to start attending church. I used to go when I was a kid and our children are at that age where they need religious training.
Wife: That’s a wonderful suggestion. Where do you think we ought to go?
Husband: I was thinking about the one just down the street.
Wife: No, I don’t like that church.
Husband: Why?
Wife: Because, our neighbor attends there. She said they allow people to come in off the street and some of them fall on the floor yelling that “God is truly among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).
Husband: We can’t go there. Such goings-on would certainly frighten our children and they would think “church” was a scary place! What about the place about a quarter of a mile that we pass going to Kroger?
Wife: No, I’ve heard about some strange non-biblical actions taking place there too.
Husband: What kind of things?
Wife: I overheard some people at the store talking about that church. People get excited over praying or singing, raising their hands up in the air (1 Timothy 2:8)!
Husband: Wow! I didn’t know that. We’d better not take the children there. They might be tainted with all those hands shooting up into the air. What about that church over on Market and Broad?
Wife: No, I don’t like large churches. If you’re not early enough, it’s hard to find a seat. If you’re a little late, you’ve got to park on the backside of the lot and it takes forever to walk to the building (Acts 2:41, 47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1).
Husband: Okay, what about the church on the other side of town. They have a good youth program I’m told.
Wife: No, I don’t think we should go there either. I’ve heard from a lady in the office that they had a big blow up not too long ago. It seems the membership is divided about who is the best preacher. So, they have four main groups. They have all kinds of problems. We don’t want to get involved and have to take sides (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
Husband: There is that mid-size church on the southside of town that might be worth investigating.
Wife: You can’t be serious? Don’t you know about that church?
Husband: No, what have you heard?
Wife: Everyone says there are some members there who are worth their salt, but the rest are questionable. If we went, we might befriend someone who is guilty of giving the church its “dead” rating. We certainly don’t want our children being influenced in the wrong way by attending such a church (Revelation 3:1, 4).
Husband: Whew! This search for a good church is beginning to wear me out! What about the downtown church? It is the oldest one here and must have some good qualities since it has been around for so long!
Wife: No. Not that church either.
Husband: You’ve got to be kidding? What can possibly be wrong with it?
Wife: They don’t allow certain people to become members of that congregation! They refuse to preach or teach the gospel to those folks that they think are unworthy of the good news of Christ.
Husband: Who in the world are they shunning?
Wife: They don’t believe it’s worth their time to talk with the homeless, the folks that never finished high school, those who are hired to do menial jobs, and such (Acts 10:34-35).
Husband: Okay, what about the one on the east side of town?
Wife: I don’t like that one. They still do those Jewish things (Acts 21:20-26)!
Husband: Okay, okay. What about that North side church?
Wife: I’m surprised that you would mention that one. They preach “another gospel”! If we placed membership with them, we would be fellowshipping false doctrine (2 John 1:9)!

Husband: I’m running out of churches. What kind of church should we attend?
Wife: I want a church that doesn’t require us to open our home to the membership (Acts 2:46). One that has folks just like us . One that we can attend worship on Sunday morning but not be bothered about church the rest of the week (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV). One that has a youth program that will take the kids off our hands for several hours each week and entertain them. One that is anti-emotional (Philippians 4:4). I want one that isn’t always talking about the contribution (2 Corinthians 9:7). I want one where the preacher is always positive and never negative (2 Timothy 4:2-5).
Husband: Honey, I don’t think there is such a church here in town. I’ve heard that they have one like that in Texas! We could fly out, maybe once a month for Sunday morning worship?


Monday, May 7, 2018

God is narrow minded! He believes there is only one Deity (Ephesians 4:5). All others are the figment of the believer’s imagination. God believes that He is the only Supreme Spirit (Ephesians 4:4). All other beings with a spirit exist because He is their Creator (Hebrews 12:9). He claims to be the only Lord of lords (Ephesians 4:5; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). God revealed one faith and He is the way, the truth, and the life by which mankind must approach him (Ephesians 4:5; John 14:6). He informs us that all have sinned and come short of His expectations (Romans 3:10, 23). There is one saved group that He adds folks to (Acts 2:47 NASV). He sent His Word to become a man, and that man, Jesus (the Salvation of Jehovah), would be the payment for our sins (John 1:1-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:1-12).

On Pentecost, Peter spoke about Jesus being the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Some Jews asked. “What shall we do” (Acts 2:37)? Peter gave them instruction and encouraged them with, “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). Those who believed Peter’s narrow minded sermon “gladly received his word” by responding to the apostle’s instruction of verse 38. God added them to the saved (vv. 46-47).

He created one man for one woman named Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. If Adam was mated to Steve, there would have been no children to survive their deaths, nor to repopulate the earth. Men don’t have babies. They don’t have the ability to bear that much pain! God told a man and a woman to repopulate the earth. That’s the way it began, and that’s the way it continues to be. God’s way or no way! He is narrow minded.

God is narrow minded! He expects His creation to honor Him. Man was given freewill. Yet, man used that freewill in an attempt to replace God. We’re still making that mistake today. Man dismisses God from his thinking. Man claims he was not created by Divine Intelligence, but we evolved out of nothing and in dying, return to nothing. So God was dismissed from our public schools. Then all government property removed mention of Him. Out of sight, out of mind was the theme. The modern world was not first in attempting such stupidity!

Ancient societies invented their own gods. Make it, created it’s religious lifestyle to live by, accept those rules as divine, and then worship it by dismissing all absolutes. Nothing new about that. Thousands of years ago, men were living by doing what was right in their own eyes, rather than submit to a narrow minded God!

The Sexual Revolution created “free love,” but was infected with AIDS and STD’s. Today, hate is stifling and lying is a way of life. But like medicine, it has its grievous side effects!

Man convinced himself that what he wanted is what matters. What someone else desires doesn’t. If their lifestyle conflicts with yours, destroy theirs to keep yours! Use people. Enslave people. Silence opposition. Self is god and selfishness is its worship!

What happens is that a godless society fosters a narrow mindedness upon all its citizens which must be accepted as normal, and the followers of a narrow minded God must be subjugated to silence and obedience because that way of life is anti-social!

Which narrow mindedness do you prefer?


Thursday, May 3, 2018

I had only been in the church for about two and a half years.  I was in my first full time work with a wonderful congregation in north Mississippi.  For some reason I had the bright idea that anyone who had been a member for twenty years or more would be a Bible scholar.  Reality shattered that image.  In my disappointment, I wrote to one of the teachers at Freed-Hardeman College complaining about this status.  I was looking for advise on how to change this condition and end up with a more scholastic membership.

The reply I expected wasn’t the response I received.  The wise professor told me that most of those members had forgotten more Bible than I had learned.  He was correct.  More study revealed a lesson I needed.

Before Jesus returned to heaven, he told his apostles,

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV)

Paul shows us that the saved in Corinth had prophets, language speakers, and teachers who were taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3-11, 27-28).  Yet, he asked them several times, “Know ye not?” or “Do you not know?” (1 Corinthians 3:16; 5:6; 6:3,9,15,16,19; 9:24; 2 Corinthians 13:5).  Was the Holy Spirit remiss in teaching them what they needed to understand?  When asking a small child why he did something wrong, the usual response is, “I forgot!” Corinth’s erroneous ways caused them to forget or ignore the Spirit’s teaching.   Division left them leaderless by not embracing His inspired teaching.  If that could happen to members in the first century, can’t the same process infect our actions today?

Some have the idea that if we had men and women teachers today who were directly inspired by God’s Spirit, our assemblies would always be fresh, uplifting, and without fault.  If so, why wasn’t the saved in Corinth, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Sardis, Laodicea, and other locales blessed with that condition?  Adam and Eve had the privilege of walking and talking with Yahweh in their morning meetings.  They enjoyed perfection!  What destroyed that peace that passes all understanding? We’re still doing it today.  It is called “sin” or disobedience!

Whether an individual received God’s word through a prophet, or from a volume we call the Bible, hearing divine instruction doesn’t guarantee obedience.  People approach God’s word from different backgrounds and with varied perceptions.  When the eunuch went on his way rejoicing, and the origin of his understanding traveled in a different direction, what day of the week did he worship on?  When Paul and company finished up their first preaching campaign, did each new saved assembly organize Sunday School and build a preacher’s home?  Did they take up a collection to buy a box of Matzah bread?  Who built the first table with the inscription, “This do in remembrance of me”?  Which first century assembly bought a brass communion set?  Did each congregation provide its membership with a copy of the “Great Songs of the Church”?  Our twenty-first century perceptions may be different from those entertained by first century folks.

Would first century saints find our way of doing things strange?  Would their comfort zone drive them to more simplistic gatherings with a different way of expediting what we call a “public worship service”?  Would some of our religious dialogue be a foreign language to them?   Would we be comfortable in one of their assemblies or wonder, “Why are they not doing things like we do it?”

We may not experience the same problems in understanding and implementing God’s word that first century saints did, but we can still believe and practice the same good news which they enjoyed.  We can be thankful for the same grace and forgiveness that blessed them.  We can rejoice that Jesus’ blood cleanses us just as well as it cleansed them.  Jesus paid it all for them and us.  He is the answer to our sin problem!  Recognition of that fact could solve a lot of our twenty-first century difficulties.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (NIV).


Monday, April 30, 2018

The definition of the word “paradox” is “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.”

When we study the Bible, we come across words that are used in one way, whereas a speaker takes it in a different direction.  For example, the preacher may quote Revelation 2:10 and admonish his audience to “Be faithful.”  His impression is that one must maintain perfection to be faithful.  Is that the biblical definition?  How could it be?  The Bible clearly shows that everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:10, 23).  If a person claims to have no sin, he is a liar (1 John 1:7-10).  If faithfulness equals perfection, Jesus is the only one who reached that goal!   The rest of us are left moaning, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV).

What does it mean to “be faithful”?  How faithful must one be to be faithful?  When the Jerusalem saved refused to preach the gospel to every creature, were they faithful?  If not, why would we clone ourselves after them?  When Peter allowed fear to drive him into hypocrisy, was the fisherman lost (Galatians 2:11-15)?  When some of the saved questioned Peter about going to the home of Cornelius, did they lose their faithfulness (Acts 11:2)?  When some of the saved believed circumcision was essential to obedience for Gentile believers, did they stop being faithful (Acts 15:1, 6)?  Did some of the saved in Sardis, who remained in a dead assembly, continue to be faithful?  How faithful must one be to be faithful?  Some have the idea that one sin will rob you of that title.  Yet, some in that number usually reserve the privilege of naming which sin it is.  It is usually yours, not theirs!  Is their choice really God’s standard for faithfulness?

Peter wrote to the saved and admonished them to add to their faith 1) goodness, 2) knowledge, 3) self-control, 4) perseverance, 5) godliness, 6) brotherly kindness, and 7) love (2 Peter 1:5-7).  Since he told them to add, were they lacking in quality!    If they lacked that quality, were they saved?  Is it possible to be faithful without being perfect?

Paul often admonished the congregation he was writing, “I beseech you” or “I appeal to you.”  Did that mean that saved assembly of people were no longer faithful, or saved?  The answer usually given is, “They needed to repent.”  Granted.  But, were they no longer saved? If “faithful” means you must cross every “t” and dot every “i” before you reach and maintain that category, who maintains its, much less can boast of reaching it?  If “being faithful” means perfection, wouldn’t the one demanding it from the pulpit need to reach it prior to expecting it from his audience?  Paul admitted he wasn’t sinless, yet he corrected Peter!  Can one sinner who isn’t perfect, correct another because he isn’t either?  Is one sin big and another little?

If one may be faithful without maintaining perfection, then the expression “Be faithful” does not mean sinless perfection, does it?  Should one repent and ask God to forgive him when he sins?  Peter told Simon to do so (Acts 8:18-24).  Here is one sinner correcting another sinner!  So, there seems to be a contradiction or is it a paradox?

Some solve this by believing a single sin gets you kicked out of the saved kingdom and returned to the lost one.  The only problem is that we are told that these lost ones may escape from the kingdom of darkness by getting back into the body of Christ through a different way than the one they used when they first got in.  Baptism was their entrance into the saved the first time, but now, they may “pray through.”  So, according to this belief, God will add you in two different ways to the saved!  Question: if one is no longer a citizen of one kingdom, because his sin causes him to lose his citizenship in it, how does his former classification give him special privileges to enter the saved one which he is no longer a citizen of?  Does one hold two valid passports because he has dual citizenship?  Where was Simon told, “You are no longer a citizen of the saved, but since you once were, you can get back in by praying through, whereas first timers must be immersed in water”?  Peter must have recently repented and gotten back in so he could correct Simon who was out and needed to get back in!  So there seems to be a contradiction, or is it a paradox?

A second view is that the sins of the saved are continually cleansed.  The person repents and asks for God’s forgiveness, but God grace and Jesus’ blood does not hold him accountable.  What is hard for some to swallow is the idea that God offers forgiveness through His grace and Jesus’ blood when we enter that relationship.  Paul tells us we are “dead” to sin (Romans 6:2).  We are no longer subject to the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).  As saints, we are not among those who draw back unto perdition (Hebrews 10:38-39).  God does not count our sins against us but covers us with His Son’s righteousness (Psalm 32:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:19 TLB; Romans 4:7-8; Revelation 5:9).  Is it possible for some that God added to the saved to be lost?  Yes.  The Hebrew writer points us to some who rejected God’s righteousness and were not renewed or forgiven (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29).   So, there seems to be a contradiction, or is it a paradox?

Which paradox do you believe is “the Good News”?


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Do you have a “safe place” where you put important items?  Is it so safe that when you need that “thing,” you can’t remember where that “safe place” is?  No one misplaces anything, it is still there, somewhere.  This little game of hide and seek isn’t restricted to a specific age group, nor to those who have been dubbed by their peers as “forgetful.”  It’s just that those “safe places” are so safe that even the saver can’t extract them!

I’ve been looking for a pair of cylinders for the past six months or longer.  They are in a very “safe, safe place”!  Every drawer has been opened.  Everything that touches the floor has been search under, even using a high-powered flashlight.  Tops of things have revealed only undiscovered dust.  Closets have been thoroughly investigated.  Cabinets have been completely explored.  The attic was opened.  The shed out back was check-listed.  I thought about looking under the house, but I haven’t been under there in years!  Suitcases and all bags of any size have been examined.  I did find something when I stumbled across their “safe place.”  Upon discovery, my usual remark was, “Oh, that’s where I put this!”  So, those cylinders are safe from me and the rest of the world!  One day, when I’m searching for the “safe place” of something else, I’ll find the one containing those two cylinders!  They are waiting to be discovered!  The time is within my discretion.

When you find something you have put away for safe keeping, what is your reaction?  I’m sure some will look at the item and say to one in particular, “Well, idiot, here it is!  How could you have forgotten this ‘safe place’?”  Perhaps most will say what I did.  Yet, there is an emotion when finding what was lost that comes into play!  It is called “Joy”!  We’ve found what was lost.  Jesus told about folks who had that kind of joy.  A shepherd who found a lost lamb (Luke 15:4-7), a woman who found a lost silver coin (vv.8-9), and a father whose lost son returned home (vv.11-24).  It is true that none of these had been put in a “safe place” by the one who lost them, but they all rejoiced when the lost item was found.

All of us are lost due to our sins (Romans 3:10, 23).  The only one who can save us is our Creator.  We can’t save ourselves any more than we can lift ourselves up by pulling on our boot straps.  No matter how good we are, it will never be good enough to merit our salvation (Isaiah 64:6).  God’s justice demanded a perfect sacrifice, not one that was stained with disobedience.  Yahweh sent his Word to become flesh and live a life without sin, so he could die for us (John 1:1-14).  He paid our debt (Romans 5:6, 8; 1 Corinthians 15:3)!  We accept what he did so our old man of sin be put to death.  Then we are buried with Jesus into his death and raised into a new life (Romans 6:1-6).  When we do, there is rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:7).

Jesus is our “safe place”!  God never misplaces nor forgets who we are and where we are when we are “in Christ”!


Monday, April 23, 2018

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!Galatians 1:6-9 (NIV)

Sometimes students of the Bible will take a passage and paint a wider swath, or one that is narrower than the writer meant.  Galatians 1:6-9 is one example.  The expression “another” or “different gospel” has been stretched to include anything which the recipients have never heard or done before.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries pulpits charged that women wishing to vote were teaching another gospel.   Members, especially preachers who fought in WWI were charged with practicing “another gospel.”  Church secretaries, youth ministers, church suppers, and such were considered by some to be “another gospel.”  A few years ago, a Baptist friend complained to me that if her church introduced drums, guitars, and such to their piano and organ music, she would attend somewhere else.  In her mind her church would be following “another gospel” with the introduction of those additions.  The charge has also been made against those who refuse to practice what some believe is the gospel.

It is true that applying that warning by Paul to other things may be allowed if those things are actually “another gospel.”  The only problem, Paul did not make that application.  Therefore, we should be careful and not go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6 NIV).  Paul refers to Judaizing saints who continued to demand that Gentiles must be circumcised if they wanted to be genuine Christians (Acts 15:1,6).  Peter was affected by this belief and fear drove him to withdraw from Gentile brethren when some from James traveled to his locale (Galatians 2:11-16).  Yet, neither Paul, the other apostles, prophets, nor language speakers condemned Christian Jews for keeping their religious customs (Galatians 2:14 NIV; Acts 21:18-26).  An application could be made as a warning to those Christians who charge those brethren they disagree with, as not being “real” Christians!

In the first century, God added racists to the saved (Acts 11:1-3).  He added a couple that would lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10).  He added those who continued to harbor their Pharisee beliefs (Acts 15:1, 6).  We are added to the saved and are newborns.  We still have prejudices, misconceptions, misunderstandings, errors, shortcomings and/or sins, jealousies, incorrect attitudes, and the like which need a lot of work in changing on our part.  Try as we might, we will never rid ourselves of that which keeps us imperfect and always in need of Jesus’ blood and the Father’s grace!

Jewish Christians thought Gentiles were irresponsible and continued to be unholy without circumcision.  All they wanted to do was correct and circumcise them, so they could go to heaven as they were!  They wanted to bind circumcision on the Gentiles, so they could be saved.  Isn’t that a “good” thing?  Paul condemned it as “another” and/or a “different gospel.”

If our objections to a brother is based upon our comfort zone, we need to be careful.  If we base our practices upon what we have always done, we need to be cautious.  We may be guilty of doing what Paul was condemning in Galatians 1:6-9 which he illustrated in 2:11-16 and continued to cover in 5:1ff!

How many of us would label another congregation today with preaching “another gospel” it they were like Corinth, Sardis, Ephesus, or even Jerusalem?


Thursday, April 19, 2018

I’m old enough to remember preachers buying bed sheets and drawing charts to illustrate their sermon.  They were called “rag charts.”  Human nature being what it is, when the first rag chart appeared, someone probably stated, “It’s a sin to waste a good bed sheet to substitute for a preacher’s inability to paint a picture with words!”

In 1960 I worked with a north Mississippi congregation.  The Jule Miller film strips were the latest innovation in personal work.  Using that equipment, we had several to respond to the gospel.  I was given permission to show the films on consecutive Wednesday nights to make the church aware of this new tool.  The first one in the series was “The Patriarchal Age.”  After viewing, the membership was excited and looked forward to the next subject, “the Mosaic Age.”  However, on Thursday morning one of the elders informed me that the series was cancelled.  An elder objected to a continuance because he thought the projector was an instrument in the worship!  This cancellation surprised me.  In discussing it with him, I pointed out that the projector was not a mechanical instrument of music but equal to the ceiling lights being cooled with a fan.  He failed to see the difference.  The church never saw the other four!  The elder misunderstood several things and his viewpoint was affected by his misconception of worship.  Human nature’s negative side had kicked in.

Jesus often included “show and tell” objects in his lessons to assist the understanding of his audiences.  He used birds (Matthew 8:20; 13:30), the Temple (Matthew 24), sheep (Matthew 10:16; 12:12; 15:24), flowers (Matthew 6:28), and a fig tree (Matthew 21:19-21).  Yes, he could have spoken his lessons without these illustrations, but he used what people were familiar with to teach his lessons.  One objection did come from the apostles asking him “why” concerning the fig tree (v.20).  Human nature missed the point Jesus was making!  Human beings sometimes get things crossed up because we think our conclusions are biblical, but not those of others.  I too am susceptible to that condition!  We all are if we will admit it.

A well-to-do family planned a wedding for their daughter at the church building.  The father wanted to use a piano for the wedding march.  The elders refused to allow it because they thought it would be a mechanical instrument of music in the worship.  Yet, they did not believe a wedding was “worship.”  Also, the “march” being played was not accompanied with congregational singing.  Not wishing to alienate a good contributor, nor be guilty of offending their conscience, a compromise was reached.  A flatbed trailer was parked next to the auditorium sporting a rented piano.  The windows on that side of the building were opened so the wedding march could be heard by those inside!  Imagine the bewilderment of the towns people when they learned that the piano’s sound was scriptural originating outside the auditorium, but sinful if it had been produced coming from the inside!?  Consistency isn’t always consistent!  Human nature sometimes takes precedent over biblical truth!

In some conservative circles, an introduction of a “new” action is often viewed as the launching of the unscriptural!  The synagogue practice originated from the Babylonian exiles, rather than being introduced by God.  Yet, Jesus did not come unglued over its origin or practice (Matthew 12:9).  The original bread used in the Lord’s supper was an unleavened “loaf (the meaning of the Greek word artos),” but today’s crowd doesn’t refuse to partake because we have substituted a small piece of cracker!  Today’s way of doing things would probably be unfamiliar to a first century crowd.  Would their human nature see those differences as a departure from God’s word?  Probably.  Today some refuse to practice things found in the first century church, because “we’ve never done it that way”!  Some even object to those biblical practices!

Over the years new concepts arise, but not without conflict!  However, this condition is not limited to a specific age group, nor narrowed down to a designated church.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, pulpits were charging women with ungodliness because they wanted the right to vote!  Those women were accused of destroying the home, church, and society!  Some refused to partake when multiple communion cups were introduced in the early twentieth century.  These new introductions were thought to be “another gospel”!  These newbie introductions divided families.  Relationships were strained and broken!  Human nature presented Satan with one of his many victory!

Human nature can create false standards. A popular one is, “What we do is biblical because we’ve practiced it for the past five generations or more.”  Labeling something as “another gospel” is a favorite path traveled by some.  Human nature blinded the objectors to a truth they refused to observe, “What we practice as ‘tried and true’ today, was new for an earlier generation”!  Claiming something is biblical because this is what we’ve always done, doesn’t make it so.  Because something is new, doesn’t make it sinful.  The church I was introduced to in 1957 is not the church of 2018.  Human nature has led us to blindly follow the Corinthian division as “gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  We merely substitute something else in the place “of Paul,” but arrive at the same results.

 Jesus dealt with human nature in his day.  That nature continues to plague each new generation!

Blog at

Up ↑