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FILLING IN THE BLANKS?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 12-02-2021

When the Jews began their return to Palestine from Babylonian captivity, only 50,000 of the displaced wanted to go.  During the seventy years of captivity, they had built houses, established businesses, were allowed a good measure of freedom, and had members who enjoyed interaction with the rulers.  Life in Babylon was a lot better than what they would find by returning.

The trip back was about 618+ miles.  It would not be pleasant.  They did not have Interstate nor State highways to travel on.  Restaurants, Rest Stops, Motels, and such were unknown.  Walking was their transportation and camping out was not a recreational vacation.  They did not have refrigeration to keep items from spoiling.  Someone would need to hunt, kill, return with the kill, skin it, cut it up, and cook it.  Older travelers would slow them down.  Finding water would be a problem.  Bathing would be a luxury.  Protection from the locals would require constant lookouts and a well-regulated defense to remain safe.

When the time arrived for that large group to leave Babylon, did those who stayed have different feelings about those who were leaving?  Did they think they were crazy for wanting to return to what had been destroyed?  Did those who were leaving think those who remained were void of trust in God?  The ones who were leaving would not find a welcoming party waiting to greet them.  Jerusalem without walls would open them up to marauding groups who would wish to rob or kill them.  They were leaving good houses behind with no guarantee of housing where they were going.  Their travel time would rule out planting and harvesting food.  The trip would be long.  Danger would be their traveling companion.  Would older folks making the trip make it?  Starvation could happen.  Rebuilding might end in failure due to those who now occupied the land.

What would you have done?  You have a nice house to live in.  You are surrounded by friends and relatives that are not going.  You have a great job and are making a good living.  You have no problem with the Babylonians, and they are not making life miserable for you.  Your children are educated by those who believe as you do.  Your older children have married and have your grandchildren and they are established here and do not plan to leave.  Why go on a trip that will be unpleasant and present unknown dangers?  Once resettled, life will continue to be hard due to those foreigners living there.  They will attempt to remove you by force.

Sometimes, Scripture does not offer details nor the conflicting decisions that had to be made.  These are just my thoughts.  What are yours?   

WHEN THOUSANDS OF YEARS ARE BUT A SECOND

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-25-2021

When Jesus returns, the dead will be resurrected.  Where have the dead, both righteous and wicked, been?  My parents died in the same year.  Where have they been since their demise?  Some would answer that they have been in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-23).  Yet that passage does not mention a resurrection nor a future judgment to separate.  Paul states that we will appear before the judgment seat of Jesus but does not inform us where the dead are who await that judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Some believe the righteous go to Abraham’s bosom until the judgment takes place.  If so, the judgment is not necessary because those with Abraham are the faithful.  They are not waiting to be identified as such.  Those in torment were not waiting to find out where they would go.  Some believe the faithful will go straight to heaven and be “with the Lord” (v. 8).  So, if one is “with the Lord,” why is he waiting for the judgment since his position already shows he is saved?  Will the Lord change his mind and weed out some of the faithful?  If one is “with the Lord,” will he be wondering if at the judgment he will be sent to hell?  Perhaps Jesus will congratulate those with “Well done” who already know their condition because of where they are?  If one knows where he will be throughout eternity by where he is before the judgment, is the “Well done” or “Depart from me” not redundant?  Will the judgment see some who were being tormented have a reversal and be pardoned, apologized to, and released to go to heaven?  Will some in heaven be dragged from the celestial presence of God and cast into hell because they were mistakenly allowed into the wrong realm?

So, where do the dead go from death until the judgment?  Are the dead, both saint and sinner, not raised until the trumpet sounds and all stand before Jesus?  Death is referred to as “sleep.”  When I had surgery, time meant nothing to me.  I was out several hours.  However, it seemed that I closed my eyes and immediately opened them and was still waiting for surgery.  If that happens when we die, then the passing of an hour or several thousand years will mean nothing.  What is important is what state we were in when we closed our eyes!  Will I awaken to hear “Well done” or “Depart from me”?  Whether your faith was in Jesus or not will answer that question.      

NO SILVER SPOONS

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-22-2021

In Jeremiah, when Jerusalem fell, captives were taken to Babylon.  When Jews were given the choice of returning home, the trip took an estimated 40 to 45 days of walking.  Ezra 2:64 gives the number of the returnees as 49,897.  Can you imagine the logistics of moving that many people 618 miles from one location to the other?  Today people have campers with refrigerators and stoves.  Where do you find plenty of wood to make enough fires for that number to prepare meals?  Today, we stop at a State Rest area for bathroom breaks.  While stopping at one of those areas, or to fill the gas tank, we usually buy a cold drink.  The path the Jews took did not have service stations nor Rest Stops with bathrooms and water fountains. 

The distance to travel was about 618 miles.  In today’s transportation that would take about 12 hours of steady driving.  If you were capable of walking, how far can 50,000 people cover in a day?  If a person walked the distance without stopping or slowing down, it would take him several days.  Almost 50,000 people would probably cover 10 to 15 miles each day.  At that rate, it would take about 41-42 days to make the trip.

If the group includes their livestock, setting up camp, and taking things down each day, preparing meals, and eating at least once each day, pacing themselves with children and elderly, the distance covered daily might be less.  If hunting was necessary, killing the animals needed as well as dressing them out would add to more downtime.  We often read passages like these as if they did things the way we do them.  Even if a trip took 12 hours, we have air-conditioned cars.  Unless water was crossed, I’m sure body odor among that group was noticeable.  Daily clothing changes would be a modern happening, but not back then.

When they arrived in Judah, neither furnished houses nor empty dwellings were waiting to be occupied.  Jerusalem had been burned down and the protective walls demolished.  If they were going to eat, fields had to be prepared, seeds planted, and harvesting performed.  Houses needed to be built or repaired.  City walls required restoration and gates needed to be constructed and installed.  The people who occupied the land did not form welcoming committees to greet those returnees.  Self-defense was an important topic to learn and be proficient in.  Spears and swords needed to always be at hand. 

God was with them, but silver spoons were not available and rebuilding and protection came through hard work and vigilance. 

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,  on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).

The lesson is ours for our benefit and growth in faith.      

THE CONTRADICTIONS OF “FAITH”

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-18-2021

Sometimes a person believes contradictory things.  He may not be aware of that condition.  Someone may introduce a thought which that individual has not considered.  He recognizes the possibility of being wrong.  He now has two choices.  He may correct that error or make excuses for it.  The church and eldership in Jerusalem, as well as Paul, had decisions to make that were not easy.  Though they were inspired by the Spirit, they copied Adam and Eve’s walk rather than that of Jesus.

If a person realizes he is wrong, he has a choice to make.  Truth needs to be embraced.  How far must he go in denouncing that contradictory position?  How embarrassing will that confession be?  Since he knows that his “faith” contradicts the truth, is he willing to live with that lie or embrace the truth?

A lifetime of belief is not easy to discard.  The loss of friendship, reputation, success, and livelihood can affect the decision one makes.  His decision can draw his family into a situation that may be very disastrous to all of them.  The apostle Paul had to deal with that kind of condition.  The Jerusalem elders informed him, “They (the church) have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (Acts 21:21).  That was a lie and Paul knew it.  Yet Paul did not defend himself nor correct those elders.  He accepted the compromise they suggested.  Why did he do that when truth was on his side?  Luke does not supply that information. 

Peter fellowshipped with Gentile believers until he heard members from Jerusalem were coming for a visit.  Then he separated himself from that fellowship.  Perhaps Peter was fearful of what those visitors might complain about with him being so cozy with uncircumcised brethren.  Perhaps he remembered how negative the church had been when they heard he had gone to the home of an uncircumcised Gentile who was also a Roman soldier.  Paul corrected him for his hypocrisy and the influence it was having on other Jewish brethren.  That action was not easy.  Peter’s fear led him from what had been right to doing what was wrong and influencing others to follow.  Paul’s correction was not enjoyable either and such action has the potential of causing hard feelings rather than solving problems (Galatians 2:11-16).

Paul and Barnabas were close in their work and friendship until a relative of Barnabas left their mission group and went home early.  Barnabas wanted to give the young man another chance, but Paul disagreed.  Scripture states that there was a “sharp disagreement/sharp contention/tempers flared between them, so they parted company (Acts 15:36-40).  Can you picture two brethren, with red faces, getting in one another’s face and raising their voices?  When someone feels he is right and the other is wrong, watch out!  Paul later confessed his judgment was wrong about Mark.  However, we don’t notice Barnabas apologizing for his “sharp disagreement or temper” with Paul.  Luke informs his readers about each man traveling with different people and going in a different direction.

Did John Mark disappoint Paul and Barnabas by leaving early?  Yes.  Were both Paul and Barnabas right in their convictions?  Yes.  Were they right in allowing their belief to develop as it did, with the results being a sharpness that divided them?  No.  Were those elders wrong for accepting the lying gossip about Paul?  Yes.  Did they repent?  Luke does not mention it.  They were under a lot of pressure from the membership even though the information they had was wrong.  Was Paul wrong in not standing up to the elders and those who gave the wrong information?  Yes.  He stood up to Peter, why not those elders?  These examples point out to us that no one is perfect.  We all have our short-comings or sins.  We make mistakes.  We make bad choices.  Some are life changing.  Yet, despite our stumbling, God’s grace does not abandon us.  Thank God for His grace and the provision of Jesus’ blood then and now!  

THE INVISIBLE SECRETARY

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-15-2021

Jeremiah was a prophet that had God’s promise that He would not allow others to kill him.  God kept His promise, but it did not excuse him from suffering.  He spent time in jail.  He was imprisoned several times.  His captors did not treat him kindly.  Plots were made by different groups, even family, to murder him, but God did not allow it.  Jeremiah was well known, but not popular with most Jews.  He was negative when others wanted him to be positive.  Most prophets in his day did not care to preach his message nor hear it.  Jeremiah was better treated by Babylon’s king than he was by his own.  Jeremiah would have directed his lifetime work in a different direction if God had not called him.  But call him He did!  Jeremiah did God’s bidding, but he did not wake up each morning with a smile on his face.

Jeremiah was not a preacher with crowds filling several campuses.  Actually, few were friendly with him.  Most did not like his preaching.  He wrote his prophecies down and they were delivered to the king.  That ruler had Jeremiah’s book read to him.  Baruch was his faithful scribe or secretary, but his job did not make him popular with the people.  I cannot imagine the verbal abuse he suffered as he made his way home each evening.  Perhaps his parents and siblings attempted to influence him to find better employment.  Siblings may have told Baruch that Jeremiah was a street that led nowhere. 

Did Baruch stay with Jeremiah because of the salary, prestige, or positive notoriety he would gain from that employment?  Did his family encourage him to work for Jeremiah or attempt to talk “some sense” into him?  On his way to work or return to home, did folks on his route slap him on the back and tell him what a wonderful thing he was doing by working for Jeremiah?  Did Baruch learn a “dark” vocabulary from people he passed by that recognized who his employer was?

If people thought Jeremiah was crazy due to his lessons of doom and gloom, would they not allow their hate for Baruch’s employer to also spill over on him?  Sadly, neither the king nor his subjects excused Baruch employer nor him.  The King did not think much of Jeremiah’s composition and showed his hatred with a knife.  An official told Baruch “to hide” and he and Jeremiah did (Jeremiah 36:19, 26).   

Bible students may admire someone like Jeremiah for his faithfulness in the face of hatred, threats, imprisonment, hunger, and such.  However, how many consider or admire Baruch’s position?  Think about what he and his family had to endure?  Would you have wanted to work for Jeremiah under those conditions? 

WHY DO IT?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-11-2021

Jesus went to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  John tried to refuse by saying,

“Why do you need to be baptized?  My baptism is for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4).  You don’t have any.” 

Jesus answered John with,

“You are correct.  I’ll just put if off until a more convenient time because I’m already righteous.” 

If that had been what happened with John agreeing, then the following would have been the results.  1). Heaven did not open.  2). The Spirit of God did not descend like a dove upon Jesus.  3). There was no voice which spoke from heaven saying, “This is my Son,  whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 

A future apostles stated, “I told you baptism wasn’t important to being righteous.  Jesus is our example of how insignificant it is.”  Another observed, “Yes, one can wait and do it later at a time more convenient to him.”  A third one observed that Jesus’ refusal to be immersed would keep 1) heaven from opening up, 2) God’s Spirit making contact with him, or 3) Yahweh expressing His love or pleasure for him.”

So, John’s baptism would prove that one was already okay with God before submitting to it?  If that was the case, why does Matthew inform us that John attempted to stop Jesus from being immersed, but Jesus’ reply was, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15)?  Jesus was sinless, yet he submitted to a baptism “to fulfill all righteousness.”  We are not sinless, so we need to be filled with God’s righteousness.  Despite that need, would it not be okay if we want to put it off until it is convenient with our schedule?  Perhaps I’m wrong, but is that not admitting that “fulfilling all righteousness” is left up to how convenient it is with us?  If it is not convenient, we are still okay because we intend to do that unnecessary act to fulfill all righteousness sometime in the future?

On the day of Pentecost several thousand were told to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins.”  About three thousand did (Acts 2:37-38).  Did any in that group of “about three thousand” argue with Peter, claiming they were already righteous, but would submit to baptism to show they were already beneficiaries?  Did the thousands who refused to be immersed, claim that their sins were already remitted because they intended to be baptized in a few more weeks?

Some claim they are immersed, not to be saved, but to obey Jesus.  Yet, those individuals will admit that if one refuses to obey Jesus, they will not be saved.  Some claim they are baptized, not to be saved, but to follow Jesus’ example.  Yet, the followers are not sinless as Jesus was.  If one puts baptism off, then they are not following Jesus’ example.  Jesus was immersed to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Yet, he was already righteous.  If we do not follow him, then we do not fulfill what he did, nor are we righteous as he is.  Did Jesus tell John, “Not today, maybe next week”?  Did he inform John, “I am already righteous, so I don’t need to be immersed”?  If Jesus wanted to “fulfill all righteousness” by being immersed, why do we feel “fulfilled” without it?  Just my thoughts.  What are yours?

THE SAGA OF EUTYCHUS

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, 11-08-2021

“And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead” (Acts 20:9).

We don’t know much about Eutychus since inspiration reveals him primarily as a sleepy listener who dies in church. Perhaps where he sat was not a wise choice. Without air conditioning in the first century, a breeze may have lured him into that window “pew” as a comfortable place to listen to Paul. Although Paul was an apostle of Jesus, he admits that when he spoke, it was “in weakness and in fear” and “my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:3). Perhaps Eutychus was a slave who had labored for his master all day long. Fatigue overcame him and sleep was the results? Sometimes even talented preachers have the uncanny ability to put listeners to sleep. I have been successful in having that talent multiple times in my sixty-two years of preaching!

When Eutychus fell from his third story pew, death was the results. Was Paul winding up his sermon when that incident took place? No. After restoring life to the young man Paul returned to where he had stopped and “talked a long while, even till break of day” (v. 11).

Have you ever been in a group and had an accident? Sometimes the results produces laughter from the group. If the accident is worse than expected, the laughter digresses to concern. Did Eutychus’ sudden departure produce a short burst of laughter as the assembly’s attention was diverted from Paul to Eutychus disappearing? Was surprise written on Paul’s face as he saw that young man disappear out that window followed by a short burst of screaming, then a noticeable “thud”? When the congregation arrived that evening to break bread and saw Paul and his traveling group, did they know his sermon was going to last hours rather than thirty to forty-five minutes? If some members were slaves who had slipped out of their master’s house to attend, were they concerned when light began to recapture the sky?

Was it because of persecution that the church began its meeting after dark (v. 8)? Paul’s entourage had arrived seven days earlier (v. 6). Luke reveals no other assembly than this night time one. If this Sunday evening assembly was not the results of persecution, then why were they not engaged in a mid-week meeting as well as a Sunday morning period for Bible classes and worship? Would such an example be used as a pattern for twenty-first century congregations? Was Paul’s instruction so long because he was exhorting them to be faithful?

When Eutychus disappeared out that window, the assembly was not dismissed. Luke records no dismissal prayer. They went where the young man had fallen. Imagine that crowd attempting to descend those narrow stairs to arrive at ground level. Was Paul first or last to arrive? There are no details from Luke. Paul did restore Eutychus’ life. This happened around midnight (v. 7). Did the assembly evaporate? No, Paul was not finished so the church went back to the third floor and Paul continued his talk. What about Eutychus? Did he return upstairs with them? Did he decide to sit in that window again, or did he choose a safer seat? Did he later tell his friends what happened to him and how he was raised from the dead? If so, did they believe him or think he was enhancing what had actually happened? Did he later tell his grandchildren about his death and resurrection? When he passed away did family, friends, and neighbors refer to him as the individual who was raised from death by the apostle Paul?

Who was Eutychus? Inspiration momentarily puts its spotlight on him as a sleepy listener who fell out the window to his death. Paul’s presence and preaching were enhanced by miraculously restoring life to the window seater. Inspiration does not give us the rest of his history. When heaven is a reality for the believer, perhaps we will have the privilege of hearing the rest of the story from Eutychus himself?

“QUICKLY, SHORTLY,” AND “AT HAND” MEANT 2000 YEARS LATER?

My Thoughts. . .

11-05-2021

Riots happen.  Covid-19 is imported.  People are infected.  Deaths end life.  Inflation soars.  Workers are absent.  Costs increases.  Shelves are empty.  Crime is rampant.  Businesses are closed.  Tempers flare.  Inconsistency is worn by Politicians.  Preachers write and sell books on The Last Days.  Believers’ empty bookshelves.  Fear explodes.  Expectations renew.  The end is near.  Revelation is being fulfilled!  THE day is at hand!

It is an old, old story.  Some believe the current events prove that this time, Jesus is finally going to come!  It took 2,000 years but after being disappointed time and time again, mankind believes the last days, the Rapture, Jesus’ appearance, and his 1,000-year reign is ready to bless the faithful.  Am I poking fun?  No, too many others have already filled that position.  They have given their empty, failed prophecies which disappointed their followers and revealed to the world what God said false teachers would do.  

It is sad when people believe they are being led by God to inform the world of the exact time Jesus is going to return.  Those who follow such soothsayers end up being disappointed.  Some shed tears because they allowed their prophet to make fools of them.  Some quit and renew their friendship with the devil.  Some renew their search, building a stronger faith which will lead them to the right prophet.  Some decide to never listen to anyone who claims God speaks to him.  Some see it as a way to make money while building people’s hope, even if it is false.

I do not know the number of book written about the return of Jesus to establish his kingdom.  I’ve lived long enough to see several failures.  Some apologized, then re-figured and sell more books to gullible disciples.  Some get comfortable on their house tops and patiently wait.  They are sincere, honest people who think they are blessed with the special knowledge of “when” it will happen.   There are at least two positions taken concerning the return of Jesus and the fulfillment of the events in the book of Revelation.

1). The book was fulfilled in the first century with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman army.  Jesus’ return is tied up in the old Jerusalem being destroyed and the new Jerusalem, which is spiritual, being established by God’s Son.  Salvation will be given to those who place their trust in Jesus. 

2). The book is a progressive one with events being fulfilled over a period of 2,000 plus years.   The first five chapters were fulfilled in the first century.  The prophecies continue to be fulfilled during the span of that 2,000 years.  The final fulfillment is close for Jesus to appear and establish an earthly kingdom which will endure for 1,000 years.

3. The number 2 explanation has multiple facets on when each event will take place.  The Rapture is moved around.  The battle of Armageddon is also placed at different end times.

What if the progressive fulfillment is completely wrong?  Those reasons are manipulated to fit in each authors view and timetable.  When the return of Jesus is given a date, failure always follows.  Some readers may not be aware, but the time of Jesus return has been set at 1914, 1917, 1942, 1985, 1992, and 1995.  That does not include prophecies made prior to 1914.  Despite the number, all daters have been disappointed.   All authors that have given us dates for the return of Jesus were disappointed that the Lord did not return.  Their disappointment should have been spent on themselves.  Each century produces those who are new at guessing.  Is it not strange that even Jesus does not know the specific date?  Yet, some feel they have special knowledge of that “when.”

Although most will ignore what I write, I continue to invite the reader to examine the first several verses in the beginning and end of Revelation.  Who is writing the book?  Who is he writing to?  Is an individual named as the receiver or is it to several churches?  Do those churches have a location?  Are they real places which existed in John’s day when he wrote the book of Revelation?  Does the writer at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the book indicate his audience is living prior to 2021 or existing after the twentieth century?  If he was addressing someone in 1821, he would readily be referred to as a false prophet.  Why?  Because nothing described in the book took place in that time period.  Does he say he is writing to folks who will live 20 centuries later?  Does he use descriptions which show the book will have a very late fulfillment or one that is to be fulfilled “soon” or “at hand”?  If we allow the writer to use words that referred to his day and time, what words would he have used so those people would think its fulfillment was in their time period?  If I said to the reader, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” would you think I was saying I’ll call you in 2,000 plus years?  What would that phrase mean to you?

The book begins with John writing, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:   Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.   Blessed is he 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.” (Revelation 1:1-3 KJV).

The books ends with the following.

“. . .the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be doneBehold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. . . .And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. . .And, behold, I come quickly;. . .He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20).” 

If you received these words from Jesus in the first century, would you think he was talking about a time period in 2021 rather than something that would happen in your lifetime?  Would words used by the Holy Spirit such as “time is at hand,” “quickly,” and “shortly” not be better understood by first century recipients than false teachers who lived twenty centuries later setting dates that were lies?

IS GRACE A CONTINUING NEED?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-01-2021

Was the woman who was brought before Jesus and charged, guilty of that sin?  She was caught in the act.  She did not deny the charge.  She was expecting to be stoned for her sin.  The ones who caught her made a correct condemnation of her act.  They also knew what the scriptures said about her sin and what punishment she must receive.  Jesus knew what she did.  He also knew the scriptures.  Yet, he told her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:3-11 KJV). Some today might condemn Jesus for ignoring scripture and being “too soft on sin.”  Since her accusers left, she did not have any eyewitnesses to her act.  Jesus did not ask them to spare her life.  He made a simple statement, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  What sins had they committed that quickly disbanded those accusers?  Maybe several of them had been that woman’s customer and that was how they knew where she was and what she was doing?  Notice how the woman’s partner is not mentioned.  Was he one of the accusers?  Scripture does not say.  Jesus did not condemn her, but his last words were, “Go and sin no more.”

Perhaps that woman learned from that episode and stopped committing adultery?  Did she stop “sinning”?  If Jesus could forgive a person of adultery, could he not forgive her of any other sin?  John 8 stirs up a number of questions.  Did she ask Jesus to pray for her?  John does not tell us.  Did she ask him to forgive her?  If so, John does not record it.  Did Jesus command her to “Repent”?  Again, John is silent.  We assume things which the passage does not reveal.  If she did not repent, does God forgive without repentance?  Later, if she stumbled, fell, and cursed, would God overlook that explicative without repentance or confession of sin?  Some believe this part of John 8 has been added by a later writer and John did not pen it.  Perhaps they thought it seemed to put Jesus in a compromising situation and to keep that from happening, it should be removed?

When an individual submits to that burial in water that Paul wrote about, and was raised to walk in newness of life, he was completely cleansed (Romans 6:1-11).  Although he is no longer “a slave to sin” and he has been “set free from sin” (vv.6-7), he does not remain sinless.  For some, that is a contradiction.  Paul informed Christians that all have sinned.  We are not perfect.  We continue to trust in Jesus because we have “died to sin” so it is no longer our “master,” and we are no longer its slave (v. 14).  Thankfully, we are now “under grace.”

Paul saw how some might think this gave them the freedom to sin.  He told the Roman saints, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?   God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2).  There are two extremes.  First, one may keep on living in sin thinking God’s grace will cover him despite that digression.  The second extreme is that one must remain sinless after becoming a Christian or he is lost again.  Both are extremes and each is false.  Since grace is in the picture, so is the cleansing blood of Jesus.  Notice Paul’s stated, “continue in sin.”  Should we once more become slaves to sin?  No.  Yet, Christians do sin from time to time.  Yet, that sinner does not lose fellowship with God because he continues to trust in the price Jesus paid.   

1 Corinthians shows how an entire congregation, despite their error in doctrine and practice, continued to have God to dwell in them.  Yes, God had Paul to write two letters of correction, but these were not written, sent, nor read in a few weeks period.  Despite their error Paul instructed them to discipline only one member and withdraw fellowship from him.  They did.  The guilty one later repented, and they accepted him back.  In the second letter he continued by warning them as he closed it.  Warnings, yes.  However, neither Paul nor God withdrew fellowship from them.   

Some believe an individual loses fellowship with God if he commits one sin.  That disobedience causes him to be lost until he repents and confesses it.  Having fellowship with the 1 Corinthian church today would be an impossibility for some to consider, much less practice.  Yet, God still indwelt them.  What would that do to any congregation that might contemplate withdrawing fellowship from Corinth?  Would they not be withdrawing from God since He continued to indwell the membership?  Was the Laodicean church not guilty before they received their warning letter?  Had God already vomited them out of His fellowship before they received and read it (Revelation 3:14-22)?

Extremes.  There are different assumptions by Christians on the topic of whether a believer is lost or saved.  Where is that illusive middle?  How far from the middle may one wander before he is no longer in fellowship with God?  One thing is clear.  It makes grace a wonderful gift from God for those who are members of the body of Christ.  Due to our imperfections, God knows that we continue to need His grace!

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