Saturday, July 5, 2014

Response to a response


Items in italics are from the joint declaration.
From point 1:
[i]According, indeed, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in baptism everything that is really sin is taken away, and so, in those who are born anew there is nothing that is hateful to God [/i]

Of which baptism do they speak? that of water, or that of the Spirit, which is what is spoken of in Act_1:5  "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
Baptism with water is but a figure, baptism by the Holy Spirit is the substance. Having grown up in the RCC, and knowing their emphasis on water (particularly infant) baptism, I suspect the reference is to the former. Former or latter, however, their conclusion is false, for baptism does not totally cleanse from sin.

[i]It follows that the concupiscence that remains in the baptised is not, properly speaking, sin. [/i]
If it concupiscence is not sin, pray tell exactly what is it then? In Romans 7:24 Paul cries out "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
To get the context of his lament, we should back up a few verses, paying particular attention to verse 20:
Rom 7:14  For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but [b][i][u]sin[/u][/i][/b] that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Paul knew full well that sin still dwelt within him, and it agonized him.

[i]For Catholics, therefore, the formula "at the same time righteous and sinner", as it is explained at the beginning of n. 29 ("Believers are totally righteous, in that God forgives their sins through Word and Sacrament ...Looking at themselves ... however, they recognize that they remain also totally sinners. Sin still lives in them..."), is not acceptable. [/i]

There is a critical difference between a Christian's (and here I use the term in the Biblical rather than cultural sense of the term) standing and his state. When he repents of his sin in heartfelt contrition, and receives Christ as Savior and Lord by grace through faith, his sins (past, present, and [u]future[/u]) are washed away by the blood of Christ, never to be held against him again. He is justified and declared righteous in the sight of God. This is his [i]standing.[/i]
His [i]state[/i], however, is one of failure and sin. In his mortal body he can never, despite his best efforts, measure up to the perfect standard of God's righteousness. Thus Paul's lament in Romans 7:24. Isaiah put it like this: Isa_64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Even the good that we do is tainted by sin. We are, and remain, sinners.

[i]2. Another difficulty arises in n.18 of the Joint Declaration, where a clear difference appears in the importance, for Catholics and for Lutherans, of the doctrine of justification as criterion for the life and practice of the Church.
Whereas for Lutherans this doctrine has taken on an altogether particular significance, [b]for the Catholic Church the message of justification, according to Scripture and already from the time of the Fathers, has to be organically integrated into the fundamental criterion of the "regula fidei", that is, the confession of the one God in three persons, christologically centred [u]and rooted in the living Church and its sacramental life. [/u][/b][/i]

(Regula fidei is latin for Rule of Faith.)
Lutheran's have historically held (and I hope they still do) to the doctrine of justification by faith [u]alone.[/u] For the RCC, the matter is different. They have, and continue to hold, as the statement above makes clear, that justification is a matter of faith, [b]plus[/b] obedience to the sacraments as dispensed by the RCC. There is no getting around this.

Paul addresses this point in Romans 11:16 "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Grace and works are totally incompatible as it relates to justification. It must be by one or the other. Any attempt to mix the two nullifies both. Please note the underlined clause in the paragraph above. Rome continues to maintain, even in this their response to the joint declaration, that it is only through the sacraments as dispensed by the RCC that justification can be accomplished. This has been their position for over 1600 years and it has not changed.

Point #3 seems to be a denial of irresistible grace, the Calvinist view that man is unable to resist the call and grace of God. I share the Catholic and Lutheran viewpoint on this and maintain that man CAN resist God's grace.
[i]3. As stated in n. 17 of the Joint Declaration, Lutherans and Catholics share the common conviction that the new life comes from divine mercy and not from any merit of ours. It must, however, be remembered - as stated in 2 Cor 5:17 - that this divine mercy brings about a new creation and so makes man capable of responding to God's gift , of cooperating with grace. In this regard, the Catholic Church notes with satisfaction that n. 21, in conformity with can. 4 of the Decree on Justification of the Council of Trent ( DS 1554) states that man can refuse grace; but it must also be affirmed that, with this freedom to refuse, there is also a new capacity to adhere to the divine will, a capacity rightly called "cooperatio". This new capacity given in the new creation, does not allow us to use in this context the expression "mere passive" ( n. 21). On the other hand, the fact that this capacity has the character of a gift is well expressed in cap. 5 (DS 1525) of the Tridentine Decree when it says: "ita ut tangente Deo cor hominis per Spiritus Sancti illuminationem, neque homo ipse nihil omnino agat, inspirationem illam recipiens, quippe qui illam et abicere potest, neque tamen sine gratia Dei movere se ad iustitiam coram illo libera sua voluntate possit".[/i]

I do not know Latin so I don't know what the final clause of this paragraph means.

[i]In reality, also on the Lutheran side, there is the affirmation, in n. 21, of a full personal involvement in faith ("believers are fully involved personally in their faith"). [/i]

I agree with the above statement.
As Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Notice he said work it [u]out[/u], not work [u]for[/u] it. The saved are to live a life of holiness and good works in fear and trembling. They are nowhere told to do good works to earn salvation.

[i]A clarification would, however, be necessary as to the compatibility of this involvement with the reception "mere passive" of justification, in order to determine more exactly the degree of consensus with the Catholic doctrine. As for the final sentence of n. 24: "God's gift of grace in justification remains independent of human cooperation", this must be understood in the sense that the gifts of God's grace do not depend on the works of man, but not in the sense that justification can take place without human cooperation. The sentence of n. 19 according to which man's freedom "is no freedom in relation to salvation" must, similarly, be related to the impossibility for man to reach justification by his own efforts. [/i]

Here the RCC is engaging in double talk. The first part of the sentence reads [i] As for the final sentence of n. 24: "God's gift of grace in justification remains independent of human cooperation", this must be understood in the sense that the gifts of God's grace do not depend on the works of man, [/i] and this is true. The gift of grace is not dependent on human merit or good works. The next clause of the sentence reads [i]"but not in the sense that justification can take place without human cooperation."[/i] Now the RCC maintains that justification [i]cannot[/i] take place without human merit and good works.
They are saying one thing in the first clause, and the opposite in the second clause. Which is it?

The very next sentence reads [i]"The sentence of n. 19 according to which man's freedom "is no freedom in relation to salvation" must, similarly, be related to [u]the impossibility for man to reach justification by his own efforts.[/u] [/i]"
Now they are back to affirming that justification on the basis of good works and merit is impossible, which is true. The RCC is doing quite a dance here.

They then go on to say [i]"The Catholic Church maintains, moreover, that the good works of the justified are always the fruit of grace. "[/i] This is true. The good works of the justified are [b]always[/b] the fruit of grace, or the result of the Holy Spirit working in us. Recall what Isaiah said "All [b][i][u]OUR[/u][/i][/b] righteousnesses are but filthy rags."

The next sentence of the paragraph states [i]But at the same time, and without in any way diminishing the totally divine initiative (5), they are also the fruit of man, justified and interiorly transformed.[/i] If by this statement it is meant that man is only the physical agent by which these good works are accomplished, I concur with that position. But if by that statement it is meant that man, in and of himself, is responsible for the righteousness of the deed being performed, I flatly deny that position.

[i]We can therefore say that eternal life is, at one and the same time, grace and the reward given by God for good works and merits (6). [/i]
I refer back to Paul's statement in Romans 11:16 "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." The RCC is trying to maintain here that eternal life is both a gift and a reward for good works. It must be one or the other, it cannot be both. You can give your child $20 simply for no reason, as a gift of grace, or you can give him $20 for satisfactorily performing a given task that you set before him. But you cannot give him the same $20 bill for both reasons at the same time. If eternal life is a gift of God's grace, then it is a gift of God's grace and not a reward for works. If it is a reward for works, then it is a reward for works, and not a gift of God's grace. This is the point Paul is emphasizing in the above Scripture passage. It must be one or the other. I maintain that it is a gift of God's grace. Will there be rewards for faithfulness? Absolutely. But justification, salvation, and eternal life are not among them. Those are gifts of God's grace and mercy, not of works.

[i]4. In pursuing this study further, it will be necessary to treat also the sacrament of penance, which is mentioned in n. 30 of the Joint Declaration. According to the Council of Trent, in fact (7), through this sacrament the sinner can be justified anew ( rursus iustificari ): this implies the possibility, by means of this sacrament, as distinct from that of baptism, to recover lost justice (8). These aspects are not all sufficiently noted in the above-mentioned n. 30. [/i]

To start: I maintain that Biblically, there [b][u]IS[/u][/b] no [b][u]sacrament of penance.[/u][/b] While Scripture does tell us to confess our faults to one another and to pray for one another (James 5:16), nowhere does Scripture tell us to  confess our sins to another man so that he may obtain God's mercy for us on our behalf. We are told to pray directly to God for forgiveness, never to a middle man. Therefore, I maintain that what Rome teaches about being justified anew and recovering lost justice through the non-Biblical sacrament of penance is nothing more than bilge and bathwater!
I further maintain that this one 'sacrament' has been responsible for the damnation of more souls than any other error that the RCC promulgates. By this one error, they have cut off the sinner form the only source of grace and forgiveness, God himself, and have substituted a man-made heresy that can never obtain grace and forgiveness for anyone.
"Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me. Amen." Martin Luther

[i]5. These remarks are intended as a more precise explanation of the teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to the points on which complete agreement has not been reached; they are also meant to complete some of the paragraphs explaining Catholic doctrine, in order to bring out more clearly the degree of consensus that has been reached. The level of agreement is high, but it does not yet allow us to affirm that all the differences separating Catholics and Lutherans in the doctrine concerning justification are simply a question of emphasis or language. Some of these differences concern aspects of substance and are therefore not all mutually compatible, as affirmed on the contrary in n. 40.
If, moreover, it is true that in those truths on which a consensus has been reached the condemnations of the Council of Trent non longer apply, the divergencies on other points must, on the contrary, be overcome before we can affirm, as is done generically in n.41, that these points no longer incur the condemnations of the Council of Trent. That applies in the first place to the doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" (cf. n. l, above ). [/i]

What is being said here is that although many differences have been resolved (mainly by doctrinal cave-ins on the part of the Lutherans) many more differences remain unresolved, some of which are very substantial and not simply a matter of semantics.

Please pay very close attention to what is being said in the second half of the above quote: [i][u]If, moreover, it is true that in those truths on which a consensus has been reached the condemnations of the Council of Trent non longer apply, the divergencies on other points must, on the contrary, be overcome before we can affirm, as is done generically in n.41, that these points no longer incur the condemnations of the Council of Trent. That applies in the first place to the doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" (cf. n. l, above ). [/u][/i]

Basically, what the RCC is saying here is that "We won't anathematize you for the points we agree on, but you're still going to go to hell for the ones we don't agree on."

Matthew 10:28  "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
The RCC, as much as they would like to be able to, cannot as an institution condemn [u]anyone[/u] to hell. They do not have that power, no matter how much they bluster. Only God can do that. And he has promised that  "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37

[i]That applies in the first place to the doctrine on "simul iustus et peccator" (cf. n. l, above ). [/i]

First and foremost among the doctrines covered by the RCC in this response for which Lutherans (and by extension all who hold this doctrine) are still anathematized by the Council of Trent is [i]simul iustus et peccator[/i]. According to what I have been able to uncover from Google, this means "simultaneously justified and sinner." If you believe that sin still lives in the heart of a justified believer, you are anathema to the RCC.
I [b][i][u]MUST[/u][/i][/b] believe it! Paul taught it: Romans 7:17  "Now then it is no more I that do it, but [b][i][u]sin[/u][/i][/b] that dwelleth in me."

Now for the [i]chutzpah[/i]! You know what chutzpah is, don't you?
That's when you murder your parents, then at trial throw yourself on the mercy of the court because you're an orphan.

[i]6. We need finally to note, from the point of view of their representative quality, the different character of the two signataries of this Joint Declaration. The Catholic Church recognises the great effort made by the Lutheran World Federation in order to arrive, through consultation of the Synods, at a "magnus consensus", and so to give a true ecclesial value to its signature; there remains, however, the question of the real authority of such a synodal consensus, today and also tomorrow, in the life and doctrine of the Lutheran community. [/i]

Let's look at each sentence individually.
[i] We need finally to note, from the point of view of their representative quality, the different character of the two signataries of this Joint Declaration.[/i]

In Rome's eye's the two signatories are not equals. They are each of different character.

[i]The Catholic Church recognises the great effort made by the Lutheran World Federation in order to arrive, through consultation of the Synods, at a "magnus consensus", and so to give a true ecclesial value to its signature;[/i]

Rome here is saying thank you to the Lutheran World Federation for holding gatherings to arrive at a "great consensus" and to give a stamp of church authority.

[i]there remains, however, the question of the real authority of such a synodal consensus, today and also tomorrow, in the life and doctrine of the Lutheran community. [/i]

In other words, we (RCC) don't think you actually have the authority to [b][i][u]give[/u][/i][/b] such a stamp of church authority.
What arrogance! Coming from a church that to this day still considers itself the only true ordained church of Jesus Christ. it is hardly surprising, though.
Perhaps this response is not what you were expecting. I cannot help that.
I leave you with that famous quote of Martin Luther:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Can I REALLY trust the Bible?

     One comment frequently heard these days is that "You can't really trust the Bible. Despite it's claims to be God's word, it's really just a collection of myths and stories written centuries after the events it supposedly reports actually happened." While it is a fact that not every name, place, or event can be positively traced through history or archaeology, it is also a fact that none of the names, places, or events have ever been dis-proven by science or archaeology, either. There have been numerous claims by supposed experts that refute a claim made by the Bible. When new evidence has come to light, however, that evidence proves that the Bible had it correct all along.
     Take, for example, the story found in Daniel chapter 5 where Belshazzar is referred to as king on the night Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and Persians. The Hebrew word used there for king is melek, meaning king or royal. For many years critics had great delight in pointing out that even the Babylonians own king lists had Nabonidus as the final king of Babylon. The Bible is in error and cannot be trusted, they crowed. Until....... " in the 20th century archaeologists found a cuneiform table, called the "Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus". Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus. After ruling Babylon for three years (553 B.C.), Nabonidus departed the great city and spent ten years in Tema in Arabia, during this time Nabonidus appointed Belshazzar as the ruler of Babylon. Significantly, when the Persians conquered Babylon, Nabonidus was not there, but Belshazzar was!"
     Thus, Belshazzar was ruling in Babylon the night it fell. This also explains why Belshazzar promised to make Daniel 3rd ruler in the kingdom and not the 2nd ruler in the kingdom as his reward for interpreting the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5:16). He could not make Daniel 2nd ruler in the kingdom because he, Belshazzar, occupied that position. 3rd ruler was the best he could do, and the Biblical account is proven correct.
      King David was, according to critics, simply a mythical figure made up out of thin air. He never really existed, they said. The Bible is in error and cannot be trusted, they crowed. Until.......In 1949, at Tel Dan in Israel, a stele (inscribed stone) was discovered that is a recount of a victory by a Syrian king over the king of Israel (the northern kingdom at that time) and his ally the king of the "House of David," or the southern kingdom. You will recall that David's grandson caused a split of the kingdom into two parts. Thus the historical existence of King David has been confirmed, and the Biblical account is proven correct.
     The word Hittite is found 46 times in the Bible, and the words Hittites is found 22 times, so these people are referred to 48 times in the Bible. The critics, however, used to belittle and denigrate these references. "There was never any such people or culture as the Hittites. They are just an imaginary race of people!" The Bible is in error and cannot be trusted, they crowed. Until.......In the 19th century, archaeologists uncovered the remains of Hittite cities and culture. There is a museum of Hittite artifacts today in Ankara, Turkey. For more information on the Hittite culture visit Thus the existence of the Hittite culture has been confirmed, and the Biblical account is proven correct.
     Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who sentenced Jesus to crucifixion, was once thought to be an imaginary figure who never really existed. The Biblical critics trumpeted that outside the Bible, no historical mention of him could be found. The Bible is in error and cannot be trusted, they crowed. Until.......In 1961, at Caesarea Maritima a limestone inscription was found which not only confirms his role as Judean procurator, but also links him to Roman emperor Tiberius, who is known to have been emperor at the time of Jesus Christ. Thus the historical existence of Pilate has been confirmed,  and the Biblical account is proven correct.
    Another tactic critics like to use is to take a mistranslation from the original language into English, debunk the English translation, and then claim the the original is in error. A case in point is in Acts 28:13, where Paul is recounting his journey on a ship headed to Rome. The text in English (KJV) reads; "And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:" Critics have taken great delight in pointing out that the compass, while having been known in China since 200BC,  was unknown in Europe in Paul's day, not being used there until the 12th century. The Greek word translated as compass is perierchomai. The word means to come all around, that is, stroll, vacillate, veer: - fetch a compass, vagabond, wandering about. When considering that the second sentence in the verse states that "after one day the south wind blew" it implies that the sailors were sailing aimlessly waiting for that south wind. The ASV translates the passage as "And from thence we made a circuit,". Young's Literal translation reads "thence having gone round." The English Standard Version reads " And from there we made a circuit." The New International Version reads "From there we set sail." So we can see that the original does not, as the critics contend, imply that the sailors used a navigational instrument which was unknown to them, but that the best way to read the passage is "we sailed in a circle (or circuit)." The critics argument is reduced to nothing.
    Job 26:7 reads " Job_26:7  He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing." It wasn't until men orbited the Earth that undeniable confirmation was obtained that the sphere of the Earth did in fact hang upon nothing, but Job recorded it 4000 years ago. The first clause in this verse is also interesting because "In recent years, there has been much speculation as to what exactly is behind the North Star, Polaris. Polaris, as described by NASA, is actually three close stars. 3 is an important number, mind you. NASA has also discovered that unlike any other star, there is an Empty Space behind the North Star. There is the Star, then behind it, empty space, more so than with any other heavenly body."
     I wonder how Job knew about that 4000 years ago, long before Robert Edwin Peary reached the pole on April 6 1909. Maybe the one who created it in the first place told Job about it? Hmmmm.........
     As I said previously, while not every name, place, or event can be proven historically or archaeologically,
hose that can be verified have been shown to correspond with the Biblical account. The same is true for scientific statements made in the Bible.When the Bible makes a historical, archaeological, or scientific claim the evidence uncovered proves the statement correct. If the Bible is correct in those respects, we can have a great deal of confidence and trust in its spiritual and theological claims as well.
    So, yes. You really CAN trust the Bible. It is God's love letter to you. In it, he reveals his plan of redemption for you so that you may enjoy everlasting life in his presence. It is his records of all that he has done for you to overcome and tear down the barrier of sin and unrighteousness that separates a sinful humanity from a holy and righteous God. He came to Earth as a man, Jesus of Nazareth, and laid down his life as payment for an eternal debt that YOU and I owed! He died not for his own sins, but for ours. Why he would do that is a mystery of the ages, but do it he did. All we need to do is accept that payment and it will be credited to our account, forever cancelling out the debt of sin that we owed. If you have never done that, I encourage you to do it right now. You don't have to clean up your life first, and you don't have to stop engaging in a particular behavior you know is unpleasing to God before you come to him. He will accept you just as you are, and then he will empower you to stop sinning, and he will conform you to the image of his Son. As one writer put it "He loves you just the way you are today, but much too much to let you stay that way."
    To receive God's gift of pardon, and the eternal life in Heaven that will accompany it, simply pray something like this in humble faith "Dear Lord Jesus, I accept you as my Savior. I receive that gift of pardon that you purchased for me. I acknowledge my sins, and repent and turn from them. Please come into my heart and life and make me the person you want me to be. I give myself to you, and thank you for what you did for me. In Jesus name, Amen."
     If you prayed that prayer in faith, believing that God will keep his word, then you have just passed from bondage into liberty, from darkness into light, and from death into life. I encourage you to find a good Bible believing church where God's word is proclaimed. Get involved, and study God's word to find his direction for your life. I look forward to meeting you someday in Heaven!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New post: 8-18-13 Don't get eaten!

     Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I hope today finds you happy and blessed.
     When I last posted, I left with a prayer of repentance for sin and asking Christ to be lord in your heart. I earnestly hope that you prayed that prayer and have received Him as Savior. If so, I have good news: You are a child of God, and belong to Him for all eternity. But there is a bit of news that should cause you to take heed: As much as Satan hated you in your unconverted state, he hates you even more now! He is going to do all he can to get you to turn your back on Jesus and go back to your sinful ways. He hates God and anything and anyone connected to him. But you do not have to be afraid of Ol' Slewfoot. He can not do anything to you that God will not allow him to, or that YOU do not permit him too.
     You see, he got his tail whipped at the cross. He thought he had gotten rid of the Son of God for good when he got the religious leaders and the Romans to crucify Him. Boy, was he stupid! The very act that Satan thought would be his greatest triumph turned out to be his greatest defeat! The grip that he had on the souls of men was forever broken, and his ultimate defeat assured.
     There is a verse in the Bible that too many just read past and never stop to consider its implications. Matthew , Mark, and Luke record it: And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. Now, the veil spoken of here was not some wispy little see through gauze thing as portrayed in some Hollywood movies. The veil was a curtain about three inches thick! Noone, absolutely noone, was allowed to go behind that curtain into the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God dwelt, except for the High Priest, and he could only go in once a year. The day he was allowed to go in was on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He had to go in carrying a special container which held the blood of a sacrificial bull. That blood represented the blood of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. The priest would pour the blood on the Mercy Seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. God would see it and His justice would be satisfied for another year. There was a very precise order in which these things were to be done, and if the priest messed up, God would strike him dead. Before he entered the Holy of Holies his fellow priests would tie a rope around his ankle so that if God struck him down, the others could pull him out without having to go behind the veil.
     That veil represented God's holiness shielding sinful man from His presence. In our sinful condition, we could never approach a holy God and live through the experience. But when Jesus died on the cross, God's justice was satisfied forever. The barrier of sin that kept God and man apart was torn down. There was no longer any need for that veil, so God reached down and tore it half from the top to the bottom! The way into His presence is open for all who come the way he has said we must come: through faith in the death of Jesus as payment for our sins, and repentance by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. For though who have done so, God ain't mad at you anymore!
      We read in Hebrews 4:16:  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. That word boldly actually means with confident assurance. It does not mean arrogantly. We are to come humbly, knowing that it is not through our own merits we approach God, but by the merits of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. We are to come with confident assurance that God, as a loving Father, will give us what we need to walk through our lives here in a manner pleasing to Him. Psalm 56:3  What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. When, not if, we have trials and difficulties we can put our confidence and trust in God because he loves us and will always be there to help us.
     Trials and difficulties come about for two main reasons: rebellion on our part, and the temptations and snares of Satan. Lets briefly look at these two reasons.
     1. Our own stubborn rebellion. When we receive Christ into our lives, our old sins are purged away, and our spirits are regenerated with a desire to love and serve God. God not only forgives our sins, but he forgets we ever committed them. Our sin nature, while muzzled, is still present within us, and far too frequently we give into our sinful desires. Not even the Apostle Paul was able to completely conquer his sin nature.
     In his epistle to the Romans, chapter 7, verses 14-25 we read:  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
       "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." Herein lies the dilemma of the Christian! Our spirits want to do what God commands, having been reborn and regenerated. The fleshly sin nature however wants to continue doing what is contrary and wrong in God's sight! What we want to do, we don't do. What we don't want to do, we do. Paul was driven to such despair that he cried out "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" The answer? Jesus Christ our Lord!
     When we willfully sin, and don't repent of it but continue in it, God will bring chastisement and discipline into our lives. Who among us did not receive a well deserved swat on the buns when we were little? Our parents didn't do that because they hated us, but because we were doing wrong and needed to be disciplined. In the same way (although not a literal swat on the buns) God  will bring discipline when needed "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Hebrews 12:6
     When we willfully continue in sin and rebellion, God will deal with it. He will do so in loving firmness, but deal with it he will. It is best if we confess our sin as soon as he makes it known to us, and to keep our sin account very short with God.
     2. Direct trials and temptations from Satan.Satan does, on occasion, directly attack a believer. This is rare but does happen. A few examples I think of are Job, when Satan attacked him to try to get him to curse God. Another example is Judas, when Satan entered into him to get him to betray Jesus. And probably the most familiar account is when Satan tempted Jesus after Jesus had fasted in the wilderness forty days. Satan also uses other people to try to get us to stumble and fall in our walk with God. He can send his fallen angels to torment us, as he did with King Saul. We are engaged in spiritual warfare, whether we like it or not. There is no getting out of it. It is a fact of life.
     Would any of us (in our right minds) go out to do earthly warfare or combat all by ourselves? We probably wouldn't get very far before being blown out of our socks! Why then do we think we can engage in spiritual warfare all by ourselves? Particularly if one is a new believer in the faith, which is primarily to whom this post is addressed. We must have an army with us, and supporting troops in the background. So let's examine some things a new believer should do to prepare for combat.
     1. Become part of an army. By this I mean find a good local congregation of Christians who truly love Jesus and join them. Do not be afraid to let them know you are new to the faith. They will take delight in helping disciple and train you. They long to see you grow in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Visit several churches in your area. Ask the pastor if you can schedule a one on one visit with him to find out just what he and his church believe. There are many incidentals that vary among congregations, but a good Bible believing fundamentalist (and NO, that is NOT a bad word) chruch will hold fast to the basic truths of the faith, such as:
     a. The Inspiration of Scripture. If the church does not believe that every single word of the original manuscript texts of Scripture is divinely inspired by God and without error, keep looking. The Bible says all Scripture is literally God breathed.
     b. The sinfulness of man. If the church does not believe that man is basically sinful and in desperate need of a Savior, keep looking. There are many so called churches today that have denied mans lost and sinful condition. Man is basically good they say. Well, if he isn't lost, he doesn't need a savior. Well, he IS lost and he DOES need a savior. Just llok around at all the horror and depravity in the world, THEN tell me man isn't sinful!
     c. The Deity of Christ. There are so many false churches and cults around now that keeping track of them all is an impossible task. No matter what the name on the building is, however, they all have one thing in common: They all deny that Jesus Christ is the second member of the Trinity, equal in substance and authority to God the Father himself. The Mormons declare that Jesus is a created being, a spirit brother to Lucifer. The Jehovah's Witnesses have him as a created being, also known as the Archangel Michael. The Way International denies the existence of the Trinity, therefore Jesus cannot be God. Some claim that God the Father manifests himself as the Father, OR the Son, OR the Holy Spirit. No matter what the group may call themselves, if they deny the Deity of Jesus as the second member of the Trinity, GET OUT OF THERE!!! The health of your soul depends on it!
     d. Salvation by grace through faith alone. Many so called churches may tell you that yes, salvation is by grace. Ask them to carefully define what they mean. Do they mean by grace, after you have done all you can do, such as the Mormons teach? Do they mean "You do your best, he'll do the rest?" What do they mean by grace? Grace has been defined as God's Riches At Christ's Expense. I like that. It sums it up well. If they do not teach that salvation is by grace alone, through faith in the sacrificial atonement of Christ for our sins, keep looking.
     e. The Atonement of Christ on the cross for our sins. Many groups nowadays totally deny that Jesus death on the cross purchased our forgiveness from sins. They deny that the cross has any real relevance to our Christian faith. Some state that it was just an accident or misfortune that Jesus died on the cross. They don't know that 1Corinthians 1:18 speaks of them: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
How can they be saved when they deny the only means in all the universe to save them?
     f. The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is another cardinal doctrine of true Christian faith that is denied by modernists and liberals. The Bible says in 1Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Without the Resurrection there can be no forgiveness of sins, because it is the resurrection that assures us that Christs sacrificial death on our behalf was accepted as sufficient by God the Father. If the prospective church denies the resurrection, they have no concept of what real Christian faith even is! So keep looking. After my conversion it took me several months of prayer and visiting churches before finding a good Bible believing fellowship.
     Make finding a good church home a matter of earnest prayer. Be open to the leading of the Lord in this matter. Much depends on it. If you go to a church, and you just feel that the Lord is telling you "This is not the place", do not feel bad about never going back there. God will lead you to the place you should be. Be open to his leading.
     Have you ever seen a picture of a large herd of zebras peacefully eating grass on the African savannah? Unknown to them a lion lies crouching in the grass, hoping for a meal. But which one to go after? Usually, the lion waits until one of the zebras wanders away from the herd. That is the one the lion will go after. The Bible says that our adversary, the devil wanders about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8
     Don't be that lone zebra. Find yourself a good herd and join it. You're much less likely to get eaten that way!

More to come................

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New post: Who'se side are YOU on?

In my last post, I left with the question: Whose side are you on?
During the Civil War, a minister once remarked to President Abraham Lincoln that he hoped "the Lord was on our side." Lincoln replied that "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
During this lifetime on earth, we are engaged in a war as well. We are not only combatants, but the prize as well. This battle is not fought with guns, planes, and bombs. This battle is fought with prayer and earnest reliance upon the mercy of God as expressed in the death of his son, Jesus, as payment for our sins. The enemy of our souls, Satan, is very crafty and cunning. He knows just how to use our own natural desires and inclinations against us. He knows how to implant a thought into our minds, and then pressure us into acting upon that impulse until we give in and sin. Then he immediately brings a sense of guilt, condemnation and shame. "See what you just did? How could God ever love someone who just did THAT??!!"
And with most people, he doesn't have to tempt very hard to get them to sin. Because sin is our natural inclination anyway. Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? "
Let's begin at the beginning and see how we got into this mess, and how we can get out of it.
Almost everyone can quote Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." But the beginning I am referring to takes place before this. Before God created the heavens and the earth, he created the angels.
In the book of Job, chapter 38:4-7 we read: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.  Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" 
In the Old Testament, the phrase "sons of God" is always used in reference to angels as being a direct creation of God. Only two people, in their natural birth state, are ever called a son of God. One is Adam, in Luke 3:38 "Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." And the other is Jesus Christ himself, in numerous passages in the New Testament. After a person is born again and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they become a son of God by virtue of the Holy Spirit directly regenerating their souls and spirit, but in their natural birth state they are never referred to as a son of God, but are called sons of Adam. They are not directly created by God, but created by their human parents. So we see here that angels were present at the creation of earth, meaning they themselves had to be created before the earth was created. How long before is something we are not told. And one of those created angels was Lucifer, whose name means morning star.
Isaiah 14:12  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! We are told the reason for his fall in verses 13 and 14 of Isaiah 14: "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
Lucifer was created as the highest of the angels. He was top dog of the angelic realm, the head of the angels union if you will. And his pride got the better of him. He became dissatisfied with his position. He wanted more. He wanted equality with God. He persuaded one third of the angels to join him in rebellion, and got kicked out of his position. He was sentenced to eternal separation from God, along with those angels who joined him in rebellion.I recommend you read Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:1-19, keeping in mind that God is addressing both the human king AND the supernatural demonic power BEHIND the king, who is Satan. How Satan could have committed such a treasonous act against his creator is one of the mysteries of the ages! But, nonetheless, commit it he did.
Bear with me here for a moment. Much of what follows concerning the creation of the earth and the reason for it is personal opinion and conjecture.
Journalism students are taught that there are 5 questions that should be asked regarding a news story: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Let's look at creation and ask these 5 questions.
WHO? God. He is the creator of heaven and earth.
WHAT? Creation. God created and sustains all that was, is, and ever shall be.
WHEN? Approximately 6,000 years ago. There are some fine Christian who believe in an older earth, and a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I disagree, but I am not going to discuss the issue at this time.
HOW? By his power he spoke all things into existence at creation.
WHY? You will notice I left this question until last. Why did God create the heavens and the earth? I'll tell you....... I don't know. The Bible really doesn't say. The best we can do is speculate. However, knowing something of God's character, I think I can make a good guess. Basically, we are an object lesson to the angels. Now, before you grab your pitchforks and light the bonfire to burn a heretic, let me explain.
Before Satan's rebellion, sin had never existed. Everything was peaceful, righteous perfection. Then Satan committed his crime, and was judged and condemned to eternal separation from God. Never having seen sin, and not having an understanding of what it could ultimately lead to, the unfallen angels may have said "That's a rather harsh thing to do, isn't it, Lord? Sure, Lucifer may have overstepped his bounds, but come on! Banishing him and his companions forever? Don't you think maybe you're overreacting just a bit?" So God, desiring to show his angels just what sin is and where it would lead, suspended Satan's sentence for a time and decided to create a world filled with creatures (us) whom he knew would rebel and follow Satan. He desired to show his angels what grace and mercy were also, since never having seen either the angels would not have a concept of those philosophies either.
 1Peter 1:12  To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angel desire to look into. ASV
In the verses preceding this, Peter talks of faith and salvation. Since salvation is by grace through faith, grace is also implicit in his discussion. Verse 12 above says that angels desire to look into these things. They do not have firsthand experience with grace, never having sinned and therefore having no need of it. They do not have the experiential knowledge that comes from having been given mercy and grace at the expense of someone else (Christ Jesus.) They may know what grace is, but they don't know what it IS! They have a head knowledge of it, but not a heart knowledge of it.
The angels also now know the incredible depths of depravity to which sin is capable of driving a person. They have seen 6,000 years of mans inhumanity to man. They have seen the wars, gulags, torture chambers, death camps, and killing fields man inflicts upon his fellow human beings. They have seen the sexual exploitation, perversion, immorality, abortion, disease, heartache and death caused by man's misuse of something God created to give a man and his wife pleasure and comfort. They have seen the lying, cheating, stealing, violence and murder man is capable of. They have seen little children kidnapped, murdered, dismembered, and thrown away in trash bags. They have seen teenagers shot dead just so the killer could have the victim's sneakers. They have seen mothers and fathers walk out of the house and abandon their spouse and children because they found somebody else to give them a new sexual thrill. They have seen it ALL!
They must be wondering why God doesn't just speak a word and annihilate every single one of us. (I have often wondered the same thing.) The answer is...... He loves us. Even with our natural inclination towards sin and rebellion, he still loves us.I don't know why, when I look at the way the world is, But he loves us. Probably the most well known verse in all the Bible is John 3:16 "For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
People use that verse to give themselves comfort, and it is indeed a comforting thought that God loves us that much. But most people never reflect on the clause "should not perish". While the verse does contain words of hope for everlasting life, it also makes that life conditional upon "believing in him". Believing in whom? Believing in God's son. It does not say believe ABOUT him, it says believe IN him. Back in my younger days, I used to enjoy going to Tuttle Creek  reservoir just north of Manhattan, Kansas with some friends of mine, one of whom was a Seventh Day Adventist minister. He was also a former Marine Corps Force Recon member. We would go rappelling off the bridge leading to the control tower. The first time we went, after we had the ropes tied in place, he made the observation that that rope was like Christ. You could believe all about it, but it didn't prove anything until you put all your weight on it. Then you were believing IN it.
Christ is the same way. There are many billions of people worldwide who believe ABOUT Him, but precious few who believe IN Him. And John 3:16 does not say believe about Him, it says believe IN Him.
If you do not believe IN Him, you will perish.
God truly does love us, but His holiness means He cannot abide sin in His presence. If we die with sin in our heart, we will most assuredly perish. Sin is a barrier that keeps us from being able to live in God's presence. If we cannot live in His presence, we shall spend eternity separated from him in Hell. Hell is not a place that man was ever intended to go. It was created as a place of punishment and banishment for Satan and his followers. Those followers were originally the angels who joined him in his rebellion, but now that number also includes all who choose to live in sin rather than come to Christ for forgiveness, cleansing, and regeneration, which is what the Bible refers to as being born again.
Sin is such a monumental problem that only God himself can rescue anyone from its domain. There is absolutely nothing you can do to work your way out of it and earn God's forgiveness. Going to church every day won't do it, giving all your money to the poor won't do it, volunteering at the local homeless shelter won't do it, absolutely nothing you can do will earn God's forgiveness from sin. Nothing.
And since you can't do anything, God has done it all for you. I heard someone once say that every religion in the world, except Christianity, is spelled the same way: DO. Christianity, however, is spelled DONE. Religion will have you running your tail off trying to earn God's favor by what you DO. Christianity says you can have God's favor simply by putting your faith and trust in what HE, through Christ, has already DONE.
There is a very high price to pay for sin. That price is the eternal separation from God in hell of the sinner. God doesn't want you to go there. God would much rather have you live with Him in Heaven for eternity. But before that can happen, the penalty for sin MUST be paid. God cannot just sweep it under the rug and forget about it.
I heard a story on the radio which I think explains the situation quite well. I do not recall exactly who told this story, but I think it was Dr. J. Vernon McGee.
Back in the late 1800's, there was a new teacher at a one room schoolhouse in a small mountain town. This teacher had been warned that the kids in that school were a tough bunch of kids. They had driven out more than one teacher. But this new teacher was pretty smart. On the very first day of school, as he faced his students for the first time, the new teacher announced "I'm not going to make any rules for this class." Of course, the kids thought this was great! No rules! Anything goes!
Once the hootin' and hollerin' had died down, the teacher explained "Now, I didn't say we weren't going to have any rules. I said I wasn't going to make them. YOU'RE going to make them! I will write them in the corner of the blackboard for everybody to see. That way everyone will know what the rules are. But rules are useless without a penalty for breaking them. I have a hickory switch (a thin stick) that can be used as punishment for more serious violations of the rules.So figure out the rules and penalties and I'll write them down."
The students came up with a list of sensible rules, and the teacher wrote them on the blackboard. Finally Big Jim, the biggest toughest kid in the school, said "One more, teacher. There shouldn't be any stealing, either! I'm tired of other kids stealing my things!" The teacher wrote 'No stealing' on the board. "Alright, Jim. What should the penalty be?" Jim said "Twenty licks with that hickory switch!"
"That's pretty rough, don't you think, Jim?" asked the teacher. "What do the rest of you think about that?"
The other students though that was a good punishment, and it would deter stealing. So the teacher wrote the penalty on the blackboard.
Everything went well until the middle of autumn. One day at lunchtime, Big Jim hollered out, "Teacher, someone stole my lunch! It was here, and now it's gone! There's a thief in this class!" The other students gasped, knowing what the penalty for stealing was.
The teachers voice was grave as he addressed the kids, who were sitting at their desks. "Children, someone has stolen Jim's lunch. I want the guilty person to stand up." Everyone was quiet. Nobody moved. "Please, don't make me add lying to the offense. I want the guilty person to stand up."
The class watched in stunned silence as little Tommy slowly stood to his feet. "Teacher, I... I took Jim's lunch. I know I shouldn't have. It's just that I haven't eaten anything since yesterday, and I was so very hungry. I'm sorry."
Tommy's family was the poorest in town. Nobody knew where his father had run off to. His mother did what she could to provide for him and his siblings, but there was never enough food or money.
The teachers voice cracked with sadness as he said "Tom, come up to my desk." Little Tommy slowly made his way to the front of the room. "Tom, you have broken one of the rules, and now the penalty must be paid. Take off your coat." Tommy took of his coat, which was really nothing more than a heavy flannel shirt. He had on a thin threadbare rag of a shirt underneath. The teacher picked up the hickory switch. "Tom, take your shirt off." Tommy's fingers trembled as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off. His chest was so thin every rib could be counted as they slowly heaved up and down in the chilly autumn air. "Tom, bend over and place your hands on my desk." Tommy slowly did as he was told. The teacher moved around behind him and raised his strong arm which held the switch. Some of the girls could be heard crying softly at their desks.
"I hate to do this, Tom, but I have no choice. There is a penalty for breaking the rules, and the penalty must be paid." He brought the switch down swiftly, but before it could strike Tommy, another strong hand reached out and grabbed the teachers wrist. Startled, the teacher turned and looked into the tear filled eyes of Big Jim.
"Teacher, " he said softly. "Don't beat little Tommy."
The teacher said quietly "I have no choice. The rules are very clear: No stealing. Breaking the rules incurs a penalty which must be paid. The penalty must be satisfied."
Big Jim said "I know that, Teacher. But I've been looking at those rules for over two months now, and I've noticed something. The rules give the penalty for breaking them, but they don't say who the penalty has to be given to, do they?"
"Well, no. They don't specifically say that."
 "Tommy stole MY lunch, so he committed a crime against me. He ain't strong enough to take this beating. It'll kill him. Since he sinned against me, and the penalty has to be paid, why don't you just go ahead and put them twenty licks on me instead?"
Big Jim removed his shirt, put his hands on the teachers desk, and said "Alright, teacher. Give me his punishment."
One by one, the teacher gave Big Jim twenty lashes with the hickory switch. Little Tommy just stood there, wincing as every blow landed squarely on the back of Big Jim. The teacher counted every blow. "Eighteen.... nineteen...... twenty!" Big Jim slowly stood up, his back bleeding. He smiled as put his arm around little Tommy's shoulder.
"It's okay now, Tommy. You can go free. I took your place."

This is what Jesus did for us. He knew we could never take the punishment God demands for sin and survive. So he took the punishment for us. He died on that cross in Jerusalem 2000 years ago to pay the penalty for our sins. We broke the rules, he took the punishment. He took our stripes, he will give us forgiveness and righteousness in return. What a deal!
All we need to do is accept the free pardon that he offers us. We do this by accepting him as Lord and Savior, and putting our faith and trust in Him as Captain of our lives. We surrender our will to Him, and allow the Holy Spirit to regenerate our spirit. We are then born again, and become a child of God.
On March 2, 1983 I was involved in a traffic accident. It could easily have been fatal ad my car been knocked a little further and gone into a creek. I could have drowned. That incident forced me to take a good long look at the way I was living my life. I was sinning against God right and left and  didn't care. But that accident got me to wondering what would have happened to me had I not survived. I would have been in hell, and I knew that. But what I didn't know was how to fix that problem. I didn't know how to change my eternal destiny. I cried out to God to show me what to do.
On April 3, 1983 in my apartment at 1035 S.17th. St., B1 at 9:20 AM he answered my prayer. I was watching a TV evangelist, whose name most people would know if I gave it. He was telling the story of Mel Trotter. Mel was a drunk. His family was destitute as nearly every dollar Mel got went to buy booze. He came home one day in a drunken stupor to find his little boy very sick, nearly at the point of death. The doctor was summoned. Upon arrival, he gave Mel some money and told him to go quickly and buy a certain medicine for his son, or his son would die. Mel took the money, and stopped at the tavern to buy just one drink to calm his nerves. Three days later he arrived home just in time to clean up to go to his son's funeral.
After the service, when no one was looking, he slipped the shoes off the little boys feet, and went and sold them for enough to buy a bottle of booze.
He left his wife and went to Chicago, hoping things would be better there. But they were just as bad in Chicago. In January, 1897 he was walking shoeless through the snow towards Lake Michigan, into which he intended to throw himself and end it all. On the way, he passed the doorway of the Pacific Garden Mission. He heard singing inside, so he stopped to listen. A man in the doorway invited him in to sit down and warm up. He listed to a sermon by the director of the mission, and when the invitation was given to receive Christ, he was the first one down the aisle! He went on to become a preacher, evangelist, and director of a mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
When the TV evangelist gave an invitation to receive Christ, I just bowed my head and asked "Lord, if you can do something with a man like that, do you suppose you could do something with a guy like me?"
At that instant, something inside me changed. I didn't know what it was. I didn't know what had happened. I just knew that something was different. I felt peace. Total peace. I felt more joy and love at that moment than I had ever felt before. I started laughing. I didn't know what I was laughing about, but I just couldn't stop. I know now it was "the  joy of the Lord." Nehemiah 8:10
One of my all time favorite Christmas movies is "Scrooge, a Christmas Carol." The version I'm referring to is the black and white version produced in 1951 with Alistair Sim.
Here's a YouTube link. Begin watching at 11 minutes into the clip. It will automatically go to the next part. Watch till the end. That's how I felt at my conversion.
If you have never made a confession of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, then your eternal destiny is going to be separation from God in hell forever. All who refuse to repent and come to him for forgiveness will suffer that fate. There are only two places where people will go upon death. Heaven or hell. The 'default' location is hell. You do not have to choose to go there. All who die after they are old enough to understand right and wrong, and are able to make a decision about Christ, will go to hell if they do not come to him. One of Satan's chief strategies is to tell people "Oh, sure. You DO need to come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation. But you don't have to do it today! Life is short. Live a little. Sin a little. You can get saved when you're old. Live it up in the meantime." And then someday never comes, and another soul goes to hell for eternity as Satan laughs himself silly over having deluded another one.
Let me be blunt: You may not HAVE another day to live. None of us are guaranteed another day of life, another hour, another breath. You may put off coming to Christ until tomorrow and die in a car accident or of a heart attack tonight. And you will go to hell just as surely as if you had vehemently told God you hated him and wanted nothing to do with him ever.
The choice is yours. Heaven or hell. Christ or Satan. Not choosing to follow Christ IS to choose to follow Satan. There are no two ways around it.
I hope you will choose to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. You may wonder "Well, how do I do that?" I'm glad you asked!
Romans 10:8-11 says "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." ESV

What you need to do is pray with your mouth (and I realize that some cannot speak, but if you will pray earnestly with your mind, God will accept that as well. He knows your condition.) for God to forgive you.
Ask Jesus to come into your heart, to wash away your sins, cleanse you, and give you a new spirit. It is that faith and trust that God is really looking for. Remember what verse 11 above says: Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. It could also be stated "No-one who believes in him shall be put to shame."
John 6:37 assures us that:  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. KJV
Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. What a promise! It means that you can come to God just as you are, all full of sin, unrighteousness, and iniquity. Just like Mel Trotter was. And he will not cast you out!! EVER!
Mike Warnke was telling the story of a man who once asked him during an evangelistic meeting "Hey, man, do I have to quit doing dope to come to Jesus?" All the Christians in the audience started giggling because they knew the answer, right? Of course you do! But when Mike said "No.", the Christians in the audience all sucked in their breath so hard that the vacuum sucked a passing paperboy right into the auditorium! The little guy never lost his cool, though he just turned to a guy and said "Paper, mister?"
The guy who asked the question said "I don't think you quite understand: Do I have to quit doing dope to come to Jesus?" Mike said "No!"
The man said "Okay, I think you still don't understand: Do I have to...." At this point Mike cut him off and said "Hey, man! I have a question for you: Do you get yourself all cleaned up before you take a bath?"
The obvious answer is "No." And you don't have to clean up the mess in your own life before you come to Jesus, either. That's HIS job, okay? All you have to do is be willing to let him do it.
If you want to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, to change your eternal destiny from hell to heaven, and to be the person God wants you to be, then just pray something like this, and mean it from your heart:
"Dear God, I am a sinner. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. But I am sorry for my sins, and i repent of them and ask your forgiveness. Please forgive me for what I have done, and wash all my sins away in the blood of Christ shed on that cross 2,000 years ago. Lord Jesus, I believe that you died in my place, that you took the punishment for my sins. I believe that you rose from the grave, and live to give forgiveness and life to those who come to you. So I come to you now, asking you to please come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior forever. I believe, based on your word, that I am now forgiven, cleansed, saved and free. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen."

If you have prayed that prayer in simple heartfelt faith and repentance, then  I can guarantee you, based on his word, that he HAS forgiven you. He has not only washed your sins away, but he has forgotten that you ever committed them! Your eternal destiny has changed from hell to heaven, and he will never cast you away. EVER!! You will still have trials and struggles in this life, we all do. There will be times when you give into temptation and sin. We all do. As long as we live in this body of flesh, we will still struggle with our sinful nature. The difference is that now the Holy Spirit will be there to help us. When we do sin, Satan will come up behind us and whisper in our ear "See what you just did? How could God ever forgive THAT? You must not really be saved if you still do things like that!" Just tell him to go to hell where he belongs! Then confess what you did, ask God to forgive you, dust yourself off, and keep on walking with him! He'll keep walking with you. And someday, He'll walk with you right through the pearly gates, and say "My child, welcome home!"

More to come............

Friday, July 5, 2013

What in the World is going on?

       I remember  reading a book by Mike Evans entitled "The Return." The opening scenario had a group of scientists, military types, etc. gathered around a super-computer that was crunching data compiled from different sources in an effort to determine "What in the World is going on?"
       The answer the computer gave was: The Return. The return of what or who? The return of Jesus Christ. Although the book was published back in 1989, events even then could be seen by those who knew what Scripture said about the time leading up to the Second Coming of Christ as setting the stage for the finale of the end of this age. Yes, yes, I hear you saying "Well, people have been saying this for hundreds of years. And he STILL hasn't returned!" You are aware, are you not, that that attitude itself is prophesied in Scripture? 2Peter 3:3-4:  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
        Simply because some have set dates for the Second Coming (in violation of Scripture, I may add) and have been proven wrong regarding those dates does not invalidate the truth of the event happening at all. Jesus himself told us that the Father has put the times and seasons of the end in His own power, Acts 1:7. God will not allow men to delay by even one day what He has decreed shall be accomplished.
       Lets take a brief look at some of the signposts given in Scripture regarding the season of his return.

       1: The regathering if Israel into her land as a nation.
       This is the cardinal sign among all others. There are two basic reasons why Jesus is coming back. The first is rid this planet of sin and evil, and the second is to fulfill the promises made to the Jewish nation. God gave the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) specific promises regarding the land of Israel, and of the Jewish people's place in it. They will inherit a kingdom which shall never pass away. They will dwell forever in peace and security. Thye will be the primary nation among all the peoples of this earth.
        In Luke's Gospel we read: Luke 1:32-33  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
        Jesus is returning to set up that everlasting kingdom, and he shall sit on the throne of David forever. Notice whom he shall rule over: the house of Jacob. Recall that in Genesis 32:24-26 Jacob wrestled with an angel all night. In verse 28, Jacob has his name changed to Israel. From thence to the end of Genesis he is called one or the other. So the identification of Israel with Jacob is clear. While Jesus will be ruler over the entire earth, his special focus will be upon Israel. However, from AD 70 until May 15, 1948 there was no nation called Israel. For 1878 years, there was no nation of Israel for Jesus to rule over!
        Israel is now back in her land, in fulfillment of prophecy. And it happened in one day, as Isaiah predicted: 66:8  Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. 

            2: The official language of Israel is Hebrew.
            During the time when Jesus walked in Israel, the Jew's didn't use Hebrew as their common language. They spoke Greek or Aramaic. Hebrew was used as a ceremonial language, much as the Catholic church uses Latin as a ceremonial language. The prophet Zephaniah predicted 3:9  For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. 
             Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was born in Russia in 1858. He became acquainted with Zionism and emigrated to Israel. He produced a Hebrew lexicon and the driving force of his life was the reintroduction of Hebrew into modern Jewish life. The Jewish nation now has one official language, Hebrew, in fulfillment of prophecy.

            3. The moral decay of society.
            Don't you roll your eyes at me! I know what you're thinking: There has always been rot and decay in society. It's normal. While it is true that there has always been an element of evil in society, it has never been so bad on a global scale as it is today.
            In 2Timothy we read: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  2Timothy 3:1-4
             Never before has society on a global scale seen such tolerance, acceptance, and glorification of that which God declares abominable in his eyes.. This world murders the innocent at at a rate of 45 million per year, according to the WHO. But they don't call it murder. It's "elective abortion." Call it what you will, it's still murder. And God hates it.
           Proverbs 6:16  These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  A proud look, a lying tongue,  and hands that shed innocent blood,
            Madame, if you have had an elective abortion know this: God can and will forgive you for it. If you humbly repent and ask his forgiveness, he will forgive you. Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. You are not outside the bounds of his love, but you must repent and ask forgiveness. 
            Everyday we see in the newspaper people marching in the streets demanding that society not only accept their sinful acts, but actually glorifying their behavior. This will not continue much longer. God will put an end to mans sinful behavior.

            4. A push for global government.
          After the flood of Noah's time, God's commandment to he people was to scatter and disperse to repopulate the earth. Instead, man decided to stay in one area and build a tower to the heavens. The king at the time was a man named Nimrod. The story is told in Genesis chapter 11. As it was, so it shall be again. The book of Revelation chapter 13 describes a coming dictator who shall arise and gain control of the entire world for a period of 7 years. 
            And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:1-8
            From the White House to the UN to the halls of the European parliament, there is a growing cry for a one world governing authority to get mankind out of the political, social, and economic mess in which it finds itself. Former president George H.W. Bush created quite a stir when he first used the phrase 'New World Order.' Now, however, nobody says a word about it when government leaders around the globe echo the same call. Even the pope has gotten in on the act: " During a recent speech he made before the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome on December 3, Pope Benedict XVI, the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, called for what can only be described as a unified world government, which he dubbed a "new evangelization of society" that aligns with the spirit of visions brought forth by previous popes."

            Not to be left out, pope Francis stated during a speech on January 1st, 2013 that: "While we must work hard to build a new world order based on truth, freedom, love and justice, as Pope John XXIII wrote in ‘Pacem in Terris’ half a century ago, we must also recognise that true peace is also a gift from God."

There will indeed be a new world order, just as prophecy predicts.
             5. A cashless monetary system.
           In Revelation 13:16-18 we read: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
            While there is much talk and speculation regarding exactly what this mark will be, I would like to focus on the result: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. In order for there to be such complete economic control, cash will have to be eliminated. Otherwise, there will always be a underground cash only economy. No mark? No problem! Just pay grossly inflated cash prices to your friendly neighborhood smuggler for your basic necessities of life. There is coming a day when cash will be done away with in the developed areas of the world. If you wish to buy or sell, you need to be part of the system, and that means you will need to have the mark. Refusing the mark will place you outside the boundaries of the global economic system, and you will be financially unable to do anything! Taking the mark, however, will cost you your soul.
            Receiving the mark will cost you your eternal soul:  And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Revelation 14:9-11
            The percentage money globally that actually consists of coin or paper hat you can hold in your hand is around 3 percent. 97 percent of all money consists of bits of information in a computer system. If you are unable to access that system, you are economically isolated. Have you used a credit or debit card recently? It takes only seconds for the transaction to be processed. The computers used by the worlds banking system are incredibly fast and powerful. We live in the first generation that has the technological capability to accomplish this prophecy. And it will be fulfilled.
            6. As it was in the days of Noah.
            In Luke 17:26-27, Jesus said: And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
            As it was in the days of Noah. Most people reading these verses think that Jesus was ONLY saying that life would be seemingly normal up until the time of his return. While I do not dispute that he said that, I do not think that that was the only thing implied in the statement "And as it was in the days of Noe." I believe he was hinting at something else, something far more sinister and, for most people, almost unbelievable. Let's go back to Genesis 6 and see what set Noah's day apart from all the other "normal" generations.
Gen 6:1  And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
Gen 6:2  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Gen 6:3  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Gen 6:4  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Gen 6:5  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Gen 6:6  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Gen 6:7  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Gen 6:8  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Gen 6:9  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. 

         Other than the sinful behavior of men, which has been occurring for the past 6000 years, what distinguished Noah's time? Verse 2: That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 
             Who were these 'sons of God'? The Hebrew phrase is bane ha Elohim. If you do a search for that phrase in the Old Testament, you will find that every time it occurs, it refers to angels. The theory that the phrase refers to the godly line of Seth is a theory that cannot be traced back any farther that the 4th century AD. The apostolic and early church fathers believed it referred to fallen angels, as did the Jewish rabbis of old. Given that history, and the witness of Scripture, I too believe that the phrase refers to fallen angels. These angels cohabited with human women and produced a race of beings known as the Nephilim.  They were a hybrid race of human-angel beings. Notice this phrase from verse 4: "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that". What does the 'after that' refer to? Recall that when the Hebrew's came out of Egypt, and were preparing to enter Canaan that Moses sent in 12 spies. When they came back, 10 of them said "And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. " Numbers 13:33
         So the Nephilim, which had been wiped out during the flood, reappeared during the time of the Hebrew conquest of Canaan. Satan tried again to corrupt the human gene pool.
            But let's get back to Noah. Genesis 6:9 says "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations." The Hebrew word for perfect is tâmı̂ym, which means entire (literally, figuratively or morally); also (as noun) integrity, truth: - without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerely (-ity), sound, without spot, undefiled, upright (-ly), whole. Noah, as a member of the fallen human race, was obviously not perfect on the moral level. But his bloodline had not been corrupted by the ploy of Satan to pollute the human genome, and thus prevent the birth of Christ. For if Satan had succeeded in corrupting the genetic structure of all human beings, Christ would have been unable to be born, because there would be no genetically pure bloodline for him to be born through. Noah, however, had not been tainted by the genetic corruption going on around him, so he was spared from the flood. One of, if not THE, primary reasons for the flood was to cleanse the human gene pool of the corruption of the Nephilim. During the time when the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, Satan  tried to corrupt the genome of those living in Canaan. This is why Joshua was told to exterminate every man, woman and child, not of the entire country, but only of certain tribes. Joshua didn't do so, though.
          Satan isn't done trying his genetic corruption, however. "As it was in the days of Noah." In Daniel 2:43 we read: And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
        The context of this verse is the famous dream of Nebuchadnezzar regarding the statue made of different metals. This verse is speaking of the ten toes, in reference to the final human kingdom before Christ returns. There is a very interesting phrase in this verse. Most people just blow past it at 90 miles an hour and never even realize it's there: they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men. Some commentators have said that this is the Roman soldiers marrying amongst the people of the lands they conquered, but in the context of the days of Noah I think it means something more sinister than that.
           I believe Satan is going to attempt to corrupt the gene pool once again. He has an undying hatred for mankind. He knows that his destiny is the lake of fire, and he is determined to take as many  people with him as possible. I also believe that his attempt has already begun. Many of those who have studied the UFO phenomenon have concluded that the ET's are not interplanetary, but inter-dimensional. They have also concluded that the main interest of the ET's seems to be a breeding program, designed to mingle alien DNA with human DNA. As it was in the days of Noah.
            I would encourage you to research this on your own, as you will probably be more convinced by what you discover than just me telling you about it.

            Jesus is most assuredly coming again. Nobody knows the day or the hour. I do not claim to know. But I can tell by looking at the signs that we are in the season of his return. We are the first generation since Israel has returned to her land that has the technological capability to create a functional cashless society, and structure it so that only those who meet certain qualifications can partake of the resulting financial structure. For centuries, people have wondered at and scoffed at the notion of everyone around the world being able to look at two dead bodies in Jerusalem, in real time, for three days (Revelation 11:7-11). We live in a generation when the clamor for world government is loud and increasing in volume every day. It won't be long now.
            Jesus is coming very soon. That much is certain. The question is: Whose side are you on?
            More to come.......