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My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith

Author

Ray

84, happily married for 61 years, 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandson. I enjoy pistol competition, photography, and computers

ARE YOU OF THE ELECT OR NON-ELECT?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04-15-2021

Jesus announced to his apostles, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).  That “rock” was Peter’s statement (v. 16).  The Greek word ekklesia means “called out, assembly, or congregation.”  Jesus’ assembly began on the Acts 2 Pentecost.  God added believers to that saved body (Acts 2:46).  Once an individual leaves scripture, the word “ekklesia” is assigned to the meeting place rather than those who meet there.  It adds to the confusion on what Jesus, in the King James Version refer to as “the church.” 

“Church” has come to mean 1) the visible body of believers and 2) the invisible body.  The visible body is everyone that is a member belonging to or attending a physical building in a specific location.  The visible body is made up of people who have their name on that local roll, but not all of them are on the divine one.  Those who are on the “divine roll” are members of the invisible body of Christ.  God is the only one who knows the real from the counterfeit.  At the judgment, the pseudo-Christian will be culled and thrown into hell.  The bona fide disciple will spend eternity with God.

This idea of visible and invisible may have originated with the teaching that certain individuals are God’s elect.  Those will be saved and it is impossible for them to be lost.  They are in the invisible church since only God knows who they are.  The pseudo-Christian is not in that elect number.  He may attend services, donate more than any other, be hospitable, live a clean life, and even outwork those who are of the elect.  Yet his works are senseless.  God did not assign him to the elect.  There is nothing he can do to change his status.  All non-elect people cannot and will not go to heaven.

Determining whether one is or is not of the elect is God’s work alone.  His decision was made before man was created.  If one is of the elect, God will give him faith.  If he is not of that number, his belief system will be a pseudo faith.  Since God alone makes the decision, man cannot be lost if he is saved, nor can he be saved if he is of the lost.  Once saved, always saved.  Like so many doctrines, there are variations of this one.

When man attempts to determine who is in the elect and who is not, his attempts are little more than a guessing game.    If a person faithfully attends church, lives a clean life, is an honored citizen, is a great parent, is an excellent worker in bringing others to Christ, and an excellent contributor, he is thought to be one of God’s elect.  Of course, nothing he does adds to his salvation since God must give him faith.  It is believed that God determined before the world was created who would or would not be saved.  God is supposed to infuse a person with faith, the person has no ability to develop that faith himself.

On the other hand, if a person seldom attends church, is divorced a time or two, uses foul language, is involved in some “shady” deals, and whose character is often questioned, is saddled with the expression “non-elect.”  Of course, if the “elect” person leaves his family and runs off with his/her neighbor’s spouse, the “elect” definition has the “non-” added to it.  If the reprobate suddenly changes his ways and starts a life of following Jesus, his “non-” definition is change leaving him with the better expression “elect.”  Such judgments are human rather than divine.  Remember, the devil is spoken of as “an angel of light.”  Light sometimes blinds.  Being fruit inspectors is not wrong, but sometimes fruit is not ready to be inspected and our inconsistencies appear.

On the day of Pentecost about three thousand were added to the saved by God.  Some who were added were Pharisees and brought their teachings with them.  In Acts ten Peter preached to a Gentile family who were also added to the saved by God.  When Peter returned to Jerusalem in chapter eleven, there were some very unhappy Christians who objected to his hobnobbing with Gentiles.  Later when more Gentiles were converted, the elect Pharisees objected to Gentiles gaining that elect position without being circumcised.  In that sense, the Pharisees who are of the elect, denounce Gentile brethren as if they were not of the elect because they have not had surgery!  This seems to imply that Gentiles are not the elect (or saved) by faith, but rather saved (elected) by circumcision surgery.  In Acts fifteen, the Jewish church in Jerusalem, in a limited meeting, decided that Gentiles would be accepted by faith rather than by circumcision or election.  The Hebrew writer states, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.   But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39). We have a choice.  We can live by faith or we can draw back.  What have you chosen? 

ASSUMED LEGITIMACY!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 04-12-2021

The definition of the word assumption is: “The act of taking something for granted.”  This action is engaged in a lot more than some think.  Even when studying the Bible, a reading will lead the person to assume things which that passage does not contain.  The person may be honest in thinking that his assumptions are taught in that passage.  That is when man makes his assumptions equal to scripture.  When that assumption is partnered with tradition or culture, it becomes inspired information for that individual.  If a person believes the Bible teaches it and you disagree, you appear to be someone who ignores what God teaches.

In some congregations the sermon always ends with an invitation given to inform the lost, if present, how they may be saved.  It is a five-step procedure which is 1) hearing the Gospel, 2) Believing the Gospel, 3) Repenting of one’s sins, 4) Making the good Confession, and 5) being immersed “for the remission of sins.”  About twenty or more years ago one of our overseers complained to me that neither the other preacher nor I were giving the full “Gospel invitation” at the end of our sermons.  Since we attempt to teach only what the Bible states, I asked him for “book, chapter, and verse where any inspired writer gave a 5-step invitation as we usually required.”  To prove his complaint was scriptural, he attempted to remember and quote a Bible passage as his proof.  He assumed it was in the Bible since we did it.  Finally, he admitted, “It isn’t in the Bible, is it?”  My response was “No.”  He assumed it was.  Assumptions are tricky and are sometimes given more honor than scripture itself!  The Pharisees did that and Jesus rebuked them (Matthew 15:9).  They assumed they were right and Jesus was wrong. 

If our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents practiced something “in church,” it was assumed that they did so because the Bible required it the way they performed it.  In some cases, anger may have erupted just by asking for the passage which supposedly authorized that belief.  When no such passage is found, it illustrates it is a tradition of man rather than originating from the Holy Spirit.  When that is tied in with the belief that one must do everything right and practice nothing that is wrong in order to go to heaven, it disrupts that person’s confidence in what he has always believed.  It is a hard lesson which some refuse to swallow.  It puts that person in a religious tailspin from which he refuses to recover.  It may cause the person to think that if he is wrong on that subject, he may be wrong on other points as well.  That too is a possibility.  Alexander Campbell and others found themselves in that position.

In such positions most of us come to believe that we must be “right” in our fixed number of beliefs and practices or our salvation is in jeopardy.  One’s faith is based upon his sacred number being correct and continued in order to go to heaven.  If one of those beliefs becomes questionable, it opens Pandora’s Box that other positions may also be shaky.  If he finds some of his cherished doctrines are based more on assumption than truth, honesty questions whether his system of belief is built upon the right foundation.  One searches for justification that will make his belief system acceptable rather than admit he has been following error. Just because one’s great-grandparents, grandparents, or parents believed and practiced a particular way does not mean the Bible demands it.  Some beliefs and the resulting practice may not endanger one’s soul unless they bind that belief upon others.  That has happened in the past and division has been the results.  The New Testament warns us in several passages to “take heed” (Matthew 24:4, Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18; 21:8; 1 Corinthians 8:9; 10:12).  That command is to all believers in Jesus.  However, the multiple divisions in faith today informs us that sometimes assumptions sound biblical but are not (Matthew 24:4; Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18; 1 Timothy 4:16)!

DEAD MAN WALKING!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday 04-05-2021

In 1995 a movie was produced starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.  It was about a prisoner, convicted of murdering a young couple, who was scheduled to be executed.  A prisoner going to his execution was referred to as a “dead man walking.”

In 2019 Jeremy Camp introduced a song titled, “Dead Man Walking” which was not about a murderer walking to his execution.  It was about a man who was dead in his sins being redeemed by Jesus.  Two different scenarios using the same title.  Camp’s song contains a repeat of these words,

“I was a dead man walking

Until I was a man walking with You (Jesus).”

Sean Penn’s character died in the electric chair for his actions.  In Jeremy Camp’s song there is also a death involved.  However, the death referred to is different from the death in the movie.

1. You and I were dead due to our sins (Romans 3:9-10; Ephesians 2:1).

2. Jesus died to pay for those sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 3:5; 4:10; Revelation 1:5).

3. To benefit from Jesus’ death, one must die to his sins.  In that death, the old man is buried and therein one follows Jesus in his death (Romans 6:3-4, 10-11; Acts 2:38).

4. One is raised from that immersion into the new life in Jesus (Romans 6:4-11).

5. When raised into that new life, that individual is now dead to sin (Romans 6:2, 11)!

I was a dead man walking in sin.  I became a dead man to sin by being buried with Christ into his death.  I was raised with Christ into that new life.  I am now dead to sin and God has bestowing upon me His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Paul informed the Ephesians that without Jesus they were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  Without Jesus one may be active and walking, but he is dead due to his sins.  As such he is a “Dead Man Walking.”

Although believers had different opinions about the purpose of water baptism, Jesus submitted to John’s immersion, which was “for the remission of sin,” even though our Lord had none.  We follow his example and command to be immersed “for the remission of sin” because we are sinners.  Some submit because Jesus commanded it but refuse to acknowledge that it is essential to their salvation.  It is admitted that if they refuse to obey Jesus’ command to be immersed, they cannot be saved.  Others submit because Jesus commanded it and to be blessed, they obey his instructions.

We are all “Dead Men Walking.”  Why we are engaged in that “walk” depends upon which “KIND” of dead man we desire to be.

Therefore, there is NOW NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Our choice!

“ARE YOU HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT?”

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 04-01-2021

Are you happy with God when things are going your way, but question His goodness when life turns sour?  Have you ever thought that if you didn’t experience “bad luck,” you would have no luck at all?  Did you blame God for allowing that kind of luck to fall on you?  Have you ever questioned God when life was kicking you in the teeth rather than gifting you with roses?   Some are happy with God as long as life is smiling on them.  After all, is God not responsible for keeping a Christian happy?  If that condition is not there, is God not being negligent in taking care of His believers? 

Humans often make Satan’s job easy due to mankind’s erroneous thoughts about what God’s major responsibility is.  Some believe He is supposed to make our lives happy by removing all negatives from our path.  We forget God created man and put him in a beautiful garden and gave him free will.  We forget that we have that same “freewill” but use it exactly as Adam and Eve did.  We either benefit from our choices or live to regret them.  We even develop ways to escape the consequences of our bad choices by blaming others for the results of our actions.  Adam started it (Genesis 3:12).  We continue it by cloning his footsteps.

Paul recognized this problem when he admitted that he knew what was right or wrong, but usually made the wrong choices (Romans 7:15).  Good came out of those bad choices leading him to cry out for deliverance (v. 24).  Some make choices leading to death and continue to rush headlong on that course.  Others decide to seek the right choices that will give them freedom (v. 25 & 8:1).  That freedom does not negate the imperfect influences created by that person’s sins.  Those influences touch all of us in different ways.

Judas Iscariot was the trusted treasurer for Jesus and the apostles.  He received the same opportunities as did the other apostles.  He heard Jesus’ private and public teaching with the others.  He saw the same miracles that they witnessed.  He had heaven’s opportunities poured out to bless him but he chose to evade them.  He did repent after the betrayal but chose death over forgiveness.  Sadly, misfortune and unhappiness is received by some because they welcome the consequences of their bad choices.  Those choices can also have a negative effect upon the loved ones of those individuals. 

We are more like the apostles than we would like to think.  They were concerned for their lives during threatening weather because they feared the wind and water more than they trusted the Messiah’s power.  They could not conceive how five barley loaves and two small fish could feed five thousand men.  Their perception of Jesus was overshadowed by the number that needed to be fed.  Jesus’ statement to the twelve “Oh you of little faith” could be directed at us (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8).  We are fortunate when we recognize that we need that admonition. Things usually attract us with the promise of happiness but rob us instead.  The true reward to happiness is based upon the direction we are looking (Hebrews 12:1-2). 

TO TURN OR TO DRAW?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03-29-2021

After the riot in Washington D.C., there were concerns from different individuals and organizations.  Some concern has been expressed in articles and from members of different churches.  It is easy to agree with the non-violent positions taken.  After all, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek and to love those who hate us.  It is always easy to give advice, even the biblical kind.  What is difficult in doing the “cheek” turning is when it goes beyond insults and becomes violence against one’s spouse, children, or grandchildren.

We are living in a society which stands upon the shoulders of people who lived before us and “built” this nation.  Like us, they lacked perfection.  Expansion meant resettling the “undesirables” to the west, despite their “tears.”  Further expansion westward meant forcing those same individuals to dwell on smaller plots of land and live off government handouts.  Since they were not Christians, their children were forced to receive that faith to civilize them.  Since our forefathers knew what was best, those children were given the gift of salvation whether they wanted it or not.  Such places as Little Big Horn were where those “ungrateful” people voiced their disapproval.  Our forefathers had more guns and forced a peace settlement.  Chinese and Japanese laborers did receive better conditions, but not much.  Progress is often thought necessary despite the condition some people are forced to accept.  Of course, no one wants to be in that group that was forced to comply.

Our grandfathers went to Europe to fight the Kaiser in 1917-18.  53,402 of our soldiers never came home.  It was touted as a war to end all wars.  Some churches during WW I ostracized members who put on the uniform.  This was true, especially of preachers who joined or were drafted.  However, the thirties saw Japanese expansion which clashed with US interest and Pearl Harbor shocked us into dropping “the other cheek” philosophy.  Pearl Harbor made enlistment popular.  That decision led to 407,316 of our boys losing their lives.  671,846 were wounded.  72,000 were missing in action.  Some from each of those statistics were Christians.  Some veterans suffered nightmares until the day they died because they viewed their military service being out of harmony with Jesus’ “cheek” statement.

If the US and Allies had turned the other cheek and opened our borders to Nazism and Japan’s Imperialism, things would be totally different today.  Christianity would be a back-alley faith engaged in secret meetings, hoping those gatherings would not be discovered.  Nations evangelized by former GI’s after the war would not have happened.  Millions who heard the gospel from 1945 to 2021 would not have been converted.   Our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would have been educated in Third Reich and Japanese Imperialism.  The Bible would be on the burn list.  White and black believers would work and die side by side in forced labor camps.  Women would be abused and discarded when failing health made them no longer desirable.  Freedoms once cherished would be past history.   We would not be where we are today if it had not been for those men and women who fought and died to establish the freedom which we inherited.

Although Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek, he also asked how many swords the apostles possessed.   He was told two.  Peter owned one of them.  Jesus did not scold them nor order them to discard them.  Peter was wearing his at the Passover Feast and it was on his waist when he went with Jesus to the garden to pray.  He drew that sword to defend Jesus, but Jesus’ plans were more important than Peter’s protection.  Before that event, Jesus made a whip and drove the money changers out of the Temple Courtyards.  I doubt if any of those fleeing merchants claimed that Jesus was just showing them how to turn the other cheek.  Was Jesus contradicting his own teaching?  No, the context was different, and Jesus dealt with others within that context.

Sometimes an event may make it difficult for a Christian to know what the correct course is.  Sometimes the wrong decisions are made, but God’s grace is mightier than our mistakes.  Peter denied Jesus but the Lord did not hound him about it.  Mankind lacks perfection which usually leads to inconsistencies.  There are times when we need to turn the other cheek.  Then there are times when a sword leaves its scabbard.  The use of a turned cheek is better!  Putting one’s sword back in its sheath stops bloodshed.  May we all have the correct wisdom to select the better of the two courses.

EXPLAINING GOD???

My Thoughts

Monday, 03-22-2021

How does a finite human being, using his finite language, explain an infinite location and describe it with infinite language which he does not speak nor know?

Or

How does a finite human being, using his finite understanding and language, explain an infinite God, who partially reveals Himself in finite language, so finite mankind can understand an infinite being in that limited finite description?

When one reads “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” in scripture, what infinite picture is visualized in the finite mind of mankind?

When Jesus left his finite body behind on the cross, what did his infinite spirit look like?   Did Yahweh (Jehovah) divide Himself up as a person referred to as God the Father, a second division known as a person called Jesus, and a third person revealed as the Holy Spirit?  Since God is Spirit (John 4:23-24), are there two Spirits, one called “Father” and the other called “Holy.”  If not, then is there only one Spirit who is both Father and Holy?  If one describes God as three persons who are the one God what finite picture usually develops?  Since such a creation would be a finite picture, it would not be the infinite God since it is a human finite drawing?  Would that not make our finite imagination close to being idolatrous?  We create that image in our mind but don’t transfer it to a piece of wood or clay.

Paul mentions a man he knew that was caught up (taken) to the “third heaven.”  Yet he was not allowed to tell what he saw.  Attempting to explain the infinite to finite humans kept his experience off limits (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).  Today, some say they have been to heaven, but rather than attempt to describe an infinite place, their explanations involve large finite mansions just off a finite street on a finite hilltop.

Jesus also speaks of Abraham’s bosom, the rich man, and Lazarus.  If this is as close to the infinite as we can get in a finite way, there are some problems with the passage.  Do Abraham, Lazarus, and others who are in Paradise hear the continual cries of those people who are burning in the torment section called Hades?  Is it possible for the suffering to talk across that chasm?  If so, it is difficult to think how happy one will be in Paradise if friends, neighbors, and loved ones are screaming their discomfort in the other location and pleading for help. When death comes and my spirit leaves this finite, earthly body, what will I see and how will I see it?  I do not have the answer, but I know the One who does.  My faith is in His ability.  

RESTORING THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03-18-2021

In May 1957, I often heard preachers talk about restoring the New Testament church. Usually, they were speaking about the restoration of the Jerusalem congregation.  As the years went by the center of attention was diverted from that “mother” congregation.  None of the first century congregations were perfect.  So, the center of attention became the collective instruction of correction that was given to first century congregations to set them straight.  That instruction became the pattern of restoration sought to produce a truth New Testament church today. 

To be a copy or clone of the New Testament church, that congregation must be one that God did not classify as “apostate.”  It had to be in fellowship with Him.  He would need to continue calling it His assembly, and members continued to be in possession of the miraculous gifts of God’s Spirit.  Most were blind to it, but there was a congregation in scripture that enjoyed all of those blessing and more.  In fact, they were blessed with two letters from Paul.  He thought so much of them that he instructed them as a body of believers to withdraw their fellowship from a wayward member.  The Holy Spirit gave us our model despite our blindness and refusal to recognize it.  We need to restore the Corinthian “body of Christ.”  So, why is today’s response the usual, “No way”?

1. Was the assembly in Corinth not referred to by an inspired apostle as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2)?  If so, did Paul lie (1 Corinthians 12:27)?  Will you, as an uninspired individual, set yourself against an inspired apostle by refusing to acknowledge Corinth as the true body of Christ?  Since it was the true body of Christ, don’t we want to be acknowledged in the same way by God?  It is true that they were not perfect, but are we (1 John 1:8)?  We are woefully short of reaching that status.  If we think we are better than Corinth, and we need to be their copy to follow, are we not guilty of accusing God of making a mistake by called them “of God” rather than “apostate.”

2. The church in Corinth had inspired prophets, language speakers, interpreters, prophetesses, and other Spirit gifted individuals (1 Corinthians 12 & 14).  If you or the congregation you attend must be perfect in order to be the New Testament church, you will never be it.  If you are going to argue that you are closer to perfection than the Corinthian church was, you may believe your own deception.  Free will is granted.  Being “close” does not make one perfect!  Without that perfection, God continued in fellowship with Corinth.  If you disagree, you pit yourself against God.

3. God instructed His church in Corinth to withdraw fellowship from only one member (1 Corinthians 5:1-11).  Why?  Because he was sleeping with his father’s wife.  That was NOT a good example to pagans.  Although we focus on Corinth’s numerous errors and practices, God’s fellowship continued because of Jesus’ payment (1 Corinthians 6:20).  Modern judgments would condemn God for being too soft and too slow in dealing with the sins of Corinth.  God’s view on “soundness” is not necessarily today’s church view on that topic.  Are we leaving out God’s grace and love when we deal with the shortcomings of the modern-day church?  Is God’s grace and love our pattern, or do we believe our practices are superior?  If so, who is actually practicing “soundness,” God or us?

4. Although the congregation in Corinth was divided, God did not withdraw His indwelling from them nor negate His miraculous outpouring upon the church.  When we divide and establish what we identify as “a sound congregation,” are we following the same course God did with the church in Corinth?  Do our actions make us better than God since He continued His fellowship with them, and we would not?  Is there a modern congregation that is worse than Corinth?  Apparently, there is because of the outrageous number of divisions among believers.

5. Even those who did not believe in the resurrection, those who denied Paul was a real apostle, those who thought they were better gifted than others, those who went to court suing another member, those who thought they were more spiritual than others, and those who thought Paul, Peter, or Apollos was better than Jesus, did not cause God to withdraw from them.  In fact, they were the ones He commanded to withdraw from the member in chapter 5.

6. The other first century churches did not withdraw from Corinth nor threaten to do so.  If they had, they would have refused fellowship with a body of believers who were indwelt by God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Corinth was not perfect.  Yet, they were in fellowship with God.  So, why not use the Corinthian church as our pattern for restoration of the first century church?  We may not be guilty of the same shortcomings they were engaged in, but perhaps we believe we are holier than they were?  Don’t we believe God continues to fellowship us even though we fail to be a perfect congregation?  They may have been slow in correcting their error, but that did not seem to make God lose his “cool.”  How quickly are we in solving our shortcomings?  Is there any church that can rightfully claim perfection?  Has our foot dragging caused God to throw up His divine hands, shake His heavenly head in disgust, and in a huff withdraw His Holy presence from us?  He did not do so with Corinth!  Corinth was “the church of God” and “the body of Christ.”  So, how do we get around not being perfect, yet claiming we are what the Corinthians church failed in being?  God’s definition of “sound” may be different from ours?

Did Corinth need to correct a number of things?  Yes, they did.  Since no twenty-first century congregation is perfect, are we not in the same condition as Corinth was?  Do you consider the church of God in Corinth to be a true body of Christ (1 John 1:8)?  If so, would you not be in fellowship with them?  God was!  How perfect must a congregation be, in order to be in fellowship with God?  If your congregation has reached that perfection, you have accomplished what no other assembly has.  Congratulations!  Your congregation will be our model for restoration.

THAT DAY

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03-22-2021

According to scholars, the first two books of the New Testament were 1 and 2 Thessalonians, written about 21 years after the church was established.  In the first letter Paul writes, “According to the Lord’s word, we . . . who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:15).  In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, Paul covers this topic again with, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him. . .”  There are similar statements on the “last days” in the following passages: 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:3,7-8.  The “coming” of Jesus is found in Matthew 24:3, 27, 32; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:26-27; and 1 Corinthians 1:7.  The words “that day” are in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32.  From those passage, Bible students from the first century until today, have laid claim to their generation being the one who would see the clouds produce a returning Jesus.

When Jesus did not return in the first century, as some thought he would, each generation after that claimed those passages must have been written to their specific time.  Although failure was their reward, some continued to recalculate hoping for success rather than disappointment.  Some thought the Lord would set up a physical kingdom and rule for 1,000 years on earth.  Some believed their church leader would be highly honored and amply rewarded by being God’s spokesperson upon earth.  Despite the varied beliefs on Jesus’ return, the results was in “hopeless prophetic guessing” which produced more divisions among believers (John 17:20-21).

2021 was not the year nor people Paul, Peter, James, and other inspired authors were addressing.  Their recipients were folks living when they authored their letters.  When they spoke of “the coming,” being “gathered,” or the “last days,” they were addressing those living in Rome, Colossae, Ephesus, Laodicea, Sardis, and Jerusalem.  Paul wrote to Titus, Timothy, and Philemon, not to you nor me nor any specific twenty-first century believer.  Each book may have some application which we may apply, but we are only being addressed indirectly.  If the 27 books were written directly to us, our name, nationality, or location would be mentioned rather than first century assembles and individuals.  If written directly to us, we would need to greet one another with a holy kiss rather than giving a knuckle or elbow Covid-19 bump.  Paul and Peter commanded their audience to greet one another in that fashion (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14)!  We substitute with a handshake.  We do not own slaves, so we mentally change God’s Word from the expression “slave” to “employee” to harmonize with our world, not theirs!  Such substitutions are necessary only because we are not the original recipients.

Believers from the first century until our day have believed, taught, and waited for Jesus to appear to our generation.  Why?  We accepted a false interpretation!  Would that not be a hope which was based upon a false belief which was established upon a lie rather than upon God’s truth?  If biblical authors were addressing an audience living in the first century, would biblical language not contain words negating an expectation in 2021?   Jesus himself told his apostles,

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23, NIV).  Notice, Jesus does NOT say, ““When you who are living in 2021 are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of the United States in 2021 before the Son of Man comes

Jesus promised the apostles that he would come before they had finished covering “the cities of Israel”!  Did Jesus not know what “before” meant?  The hour or day might not be known, but the apostles would know that the coming of “the Son of Man” would be before they could “finish going through the cities of Israel.

We read a number of passages on this topic, but mentally add a small difference to each.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be in 2021? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world in that year?” (Matthew 24:3).

Immediately after the tribulation of those days in 2021, shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. . .So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things in 2021, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation in 2021 shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:29-34).

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?. . .In 2021 the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they who are living in 2021 see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. . . .And Jesus said,. . . .in 2021 ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 13:4, 24-25; 14:62).

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for in 2021 your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:27-28).  (No redemption until Jesus comes?).

So that ye in come behind in no gift; you who are living in 2021 will be waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. . . .Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord in 2021 is at hand” (James 5:7-8).

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass in 2021; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. . . .Blessed is he in 2021 that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand will be in 2021.” (Revelation 1:1-3).

Behold, in 2021 I will come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. . . .And, behold, in 2021 I will come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. . . .He which testifieth these things saith, Surely in 2021 U will I come quickly.  Amen. Even so, in 2021 come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20).

THE PROUD PATH OF FOOLISHNESS!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03-11-2021

Since January 2020 most of us older folks have made our home our protective cave.  We ventured out just to see our shadow.  Masks were required because someone else’s sneeze might send us to the hospital.  Contradictory instructions were given but politicians became our major examples.  Old people do not like learning new habits.  We reluctantly did.  Wearing masks incites new procedures.  If you remove it to eat and have to sneeze, do you quickly return it, or sneeze into your elbow, infecting it?  So, some folks used their mask to strain their food! Healthy, I guess, but calories were lost.  So, I guess that is healthy?  We are old, so that did help digestion and some actually lost weight.  Most never understood how the weight loss happened.

As the days rolled into weeks and the weeks slowly inched into months, TV News programs revealed mankind’s superior possession of intelligence.  One day we were informed that wearing masks was the utopia of good health.  The next day those same intellectuals informed us that it was decided that such wear was stupid.  Some began to wonder if Forrest Gump was not more than their equal?  But the informed had spoken.  Folks played “Musical Chair” with masks.  Politicians showed us how to wear one without covering your nose.  Some became risqué by showing their naked nose and mouth. 

Two vaccines were produced, in record time.  Some were very critical in condemning this “record” since it was “too fast” and the results might be horrendous.   Yet, they were first in line.  People came by the thousands waiting patiently and impatiently in line.  Early birds hoping to beat the crowd remained in line for over three hours.  Of course, some found out, after waiting in line for a few hours, that it was for folks 75 and older.  Even if you were 74 years, 11 months, and twenty-nine days old, you were out of luck and did not receive the vaccine.  Age had its merits.  The younger folks questioned future lines to make sure their age was covered.  Some of those folks were reacquainted with their spouse during those long waiting periods in the car.

There were some strange rules levied that seemed useless, even stupid.  They were enforced since the powers-that-be had meticulously worked everything out.  Only one family member was allowed to visit a patient in the hospital and come and go as often as he/she desire on that day.  No other family member could see the patient until it was his turn to take that specific day.  Of course, some are super smart in getting around such rules, so identical twins ignored that one!  Some fraternal twins tried but for some reason they could not get away with it.  Fraternal twins that were male/female really ran into a wall of “denial.”  Some are still attempting to solve that fiasco. 

Politicians wore a mask when cameras were present.  When they thought they were not being photographed but were, the unwanted publicity exposed their hypocrisy and the public got to see their temper tantrums free of charge.  Some politicians harped about the public not following their righteous rules, but when they were caught doing the same, they claimed the “I’m somebody” to camouflage their inconsistency.  Hopefully, we will not forget the lessons of 2020.  We are often reminded of mankind’s weakness in repeating his stupidity. 

This country has never been perfect, nor will it ever be.  Believing our own lies has never built a viable society.  We continue to exaggerate the unthinkable.  We reach for perfection and pretend success.  Promises are made, never to be kept.  Hope’s rosy picture is painted in senseless confusion.   Ignorance is touted as the new intellect.  Truth becomes the next lie.  Man is awed by his own importance.  Mistakes are blamed on others.  Success is measured by the power one believes he possesses.  Man continues to walk in the footprints of those in former days who did “that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).  Our flaws rule us, our inconsistencies haunt us, and we continue to create and live in our excuses.  In our blindness we believe we see the perfect society when we have only viewed a copy of Hitler’s Third Reich.

Paul cried out what we need to understand.  Some do.  Some do not.  

O you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin.  Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in!  Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?   Thank God!  It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord.  He has set me free.  (Romans 7:24-25 TLB).

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