Archive for the ‘Shared Thoughts’ Category

Jesus taught us that “all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This is one of the great distinctions from those of other belief systems clarified by Jesus’ teachings on the oracles of God. Many religions out there aggressively preach messages of constraint, i.e., don’t treat people the way you don’t want to be treated. Often such religions and institutes affix to their messages oppressive obligations of repetitious prayer, have vain ceremonies and require their followers to maintain a cultural appearance of (perceived) piety.

Here Jesus takes us immediately into servitude to others, “Do for others what you would want them to do for you.” All those out there who continually harp on the difference between the law and grace, they would do well to pause and consider Jesus words here “for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus wasn’t throwing away the law and saying, “From now on, this is what we do.” He was actually warning everyone not to get caught up in mere religion, that this is what God has always really required.

In the Old Testament when Balak, king of Moab, consulted with Balaam what he needed to do that he might know the righteousness of the LORD. Being ignorant to the righteousness of God, he asked what was it he had to give. Listen to his question and Balaam’s reply –

 Micah 6:6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? Should  I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of you, do justly and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

Sadly, because the churches are no longer teaching from the whole Bible, many people nowadays fail to understand the distinction between the two separate aspects of “The Law,” that part which was fulfilled and done away with, and that part of which not one jot or tittle will pass away until after all is fulfilled.  Let’s look at Jesus words –

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Transplanted…

Posted: October 28, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Just a quick observation while reading Psalm 1 –

1 – Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.
4  The ungodly are not so…

It is both interesting and noteworthy that the Hebrew word “planted” in verse 3 actually has the suggestion of being “trans-planted.” In Psalm one, we see it as the grace and mercy of God literally taking the sinner, who was living in a parched placed and deprived of the refreshing grace and mercies of God, being now transplanted “by the rivers of water, that [the “sinner” now having been made “saint” may] bring forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither.”

All this we know from the first 2 verses is true, the rebellious sinner repented and now having affection gives glory to his God. For clearly, such affection has one who has acknowledged his sins and turned from them; and now being upright of heart hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness. This is incontestably evident in that his “delight is in the law of the LORD” and by his separation from the sinners among whom he did once walk, stand, and sit.

But please, bear with me as I ask for your consideration, should we preach only the goodness of God and not the severity? No, God forbid. May we never so fail as to not give the whole counsel of God to sinner and saints alike.

Romans 11:21 – For if God did not spare the natural branches, know then that He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness. That is if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

Please note that huge word, I dare say even the biggest word found in Holy Writ (apart from the various holy names given of our God and Savior). That word being “if,” signifying a term or condition not unlike all those in Deuteronomy 28, or I John 1:7,8. For where there is an “if” there is always a “then” –

I John 1:7 -But IF we walk in the light as He is in the light, [then] we [us and God] have fellowship with one another, and [then] the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 IF we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

For I often tell people, it does not matter how powerful the detergent is you take down to the pig pen, you will never get the pig clean until you take them out of the mud. All you accomplish is making the mud sudsy and wasting the detergent. Grant it, you might manage to get a few pigs to tear up from the soap in their eyes, but a “crying pig” doesn’t translate to a “clean pig.” Therefore, we must acknowledge our sins for what they are, an offensive odor in the nostrils of God and assault on His sovereignty. Only then, after we have confessed our sin in wholehearted agreement with His righteousness, will He forgive us and free us from its bondage so we can begin to walk Him and learn of Him.

We see all this in God’s desire to “trans-plant” His people who cried out unto Him, out of their slavery in Egypt and plant them in the Promise Land. Hence also, Jesus exhortation for us to take His yoke upon us that we might walk with Him, learn of Him, and ultimately become like Him; meek and lowly of heart. But, with many of those, who by the blood of the lamb to the door posts and lintel, that were brought out and baptized unto Moses in both the cloud (spirit) and the Red Sea (water), that many of them still failed to enter in because of their unbelief and murmuring hearts. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11.

So, is there a flipside to this being “transplanted,” where contrasting with the goodness of God we can see His severity? Yes.

Ezekiel 19:10 – Thy mother was like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters. 11 And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches. 12 But SHE WAS PLUCKED UP in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. 13 AND NOW SHE IS PLANTED IN THE WILDERNESS, in a dry and thirsty ground.

Brothers and sisters, our joy in the Lord is inseparable from our fear of Him; for it is based on the unchanging truth that God will do all that He has said. It is like one coin with two sides; joy/fear. One side with judgement that leads to mercy; hence goodness and joy. The other side being judgment that leads to His wrath for having His goodness and forbearance frustrated. Hence, fear and severity of judgment.

It is an incredible thing to fall into the mighty hand of God, for He alone can save men from their sins and enemies. But we must never forget, our God is a consuming fire. So beware of the divine end-time delusion sent upon the religious hypocrites which have no true delight in the law of the Lord; but rather delightfully walk in the ungodly counsel of false teachers, and stand with popular heretics who not only fear not God, but arrogantly sit in scorning judgment against the righteous.

Isa 66:4 – I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spoke, they did not hear: but they did evil before Mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, you that tremble at His word; Your [false] brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name’s sake, saying, “Let the LORD be glorified.” But He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

Malachi 3:15 – And now to us the men of pride seem happy; yes, the evil-doers are doing well; they put God to the test and are safe. 16 Then those in whom was the fear of the Lord had talk together: and the Lord gave ear, and it was recorded in a book to be kept in mind before Him, for those who had the fear of the Lord and gave thought to His name. 17 And they will be mine, says the Lord, in the day when I make them My special property; and I will have mercy on them as a man has mercy on his son who is his servant. 18 Then you will again see how the upright man is different from the sinner, and the servant of God from him who is not.

 

Bottom line? Prove all things and live for the Resurrected King of Glory… it will make it easier to die for Him.

 

There was a time when I honestly thought I was a Christian, meaning, that I was a real “follower of Christ.” But like so many others professing Christ nowadays, I believed what so many religious leaders nowadays teach as the Christian’s dilemma, that we will always be stuck in doing those things we hate and many times completely unable to do those right things we want. My question was and still is, just how is that being “free indeed?”

John 8:31 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed ;32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Romans 7:19 – For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  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.  24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

So, how are we supposed to reconcile those words of the Apostle Paul with the words of Jesus? Are we “wretched men,” or are we “free indeed?” Like so many, I was taught that Bible states sin was in me, and therefore, evil was always going to present with me. Thus, like Paul himself supposedly admitted, I too was always going to be sinning, and that like it or not, I am therefore incapable of ever becoming the person I pray to in Christ. That if I want any real peace of mind and heart, I just needed to accept all that as fact and quit being so hard on myself’ I simply need to just accept who I was “in Christ,” otherwise I would never have any peace. To this day I am continuing meet believers who wholly accepted it as sound doctrinal fact  and therefore teach it as so. Consequently, many of these have absolutely no real motivation to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” To me, that is both alarming and frightening, since without holiness no man shall see God on favorable terms.

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Holding the truth in love

Posted: October 2, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Many sincere Christians have been provoked into righteous indignation by those who reduce what Paul referred to as “the Power of God unto salvation,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to nothing more than mere theology. In doing so they rendered it a non-effectual redemption message, because it allows people to hear about God in the flesh dying on the cross for their sins without clarifying the necessities and biblical requirements for a personal willingness to change, obey, follow, and even die to self.

When for the sake of “unity” and “harmony,” true believers make concessions with others  who make a profession of Christ, they allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ is reduced to a mere theology. However, the end result can only be that people will most likely just become members of a congregation rather than maturing members of the Body of Christ. What a snare we fall into when men care about people’s feelings and how big, “successful” and “growing” the congregation is growing, if the precepts of righteousness are having to be cast aside, the Kingdom of God is neglected, and the righteousness of God is not being properly adorn by the body of Christ?

The answer is, carnal people care, people seeking acceptance by other people care, selfish and egotistical people care.

The purpose God has committed the Gospel into the hands of His people is that they might bring the glory due His name through its power to set captives free. However, it is the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH of the Gospel that sets men free. For if a person truly believes and obeys the Gospel, it places them in the “congregation of the righteous” and makes them members of the Body of Christ. Thus, true Christians are to be as the Apostle Paul said “faithful stewards” of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:1 – Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

1 Peter 4:17 – For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Yet, today there are many liberal preachers who are growing mega churches by generating feel-good-about-yourself religious social centers. Such men, and the growing number of women preachers too, are guilty of allowing the biblical requirements of true discipleship to become lost or discarded historical facts instead of present-day necessities for godly Christian lifestyles and fellowship with God.

John 8:31 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: why do You say, You shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abides not in the house for ever: but the Son abides ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

Luke 14:27 – And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.

Unless believers become true disciples of Christ, (or willingly come under the discipline and chastisement of Christ,) we are not children of God, but bastards (Heb. 12:5-8). Now this is not merely my personal commentary or opinion; this is what the Word of God says, and if we are not disciples, then we’re bastards which have no rightful inheritance to God or His Kingdom.

Hebrew 12:5 – And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him: 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives. 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chastens not? 8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards and not sons.

Now consider also these words –

Matthew 23:13 – But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

In Jesus’ statement, we can sense His disgust towards the hypocrisy of that the leaders of that present day religious system. It was a corrupt system whose leaders were failing as mediators and intercessors for people unto God, and that because its primary concern was to further their ministries at the expense of other people who were seeking God. Listen carefully to the certain fate of such hypocrites who keep back the truth – theirs is a greater damnation. And please, don’t be so naive as to think that the same hypocritical system isn’t flourishing today in the world’s present religious systems?

Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who find themselves frustrated with this facade of Christianity being promoted by this pseudo religious system should find some relief in those words of Jesus that such shall receive the greater damnation.” Although God is indeed long-suffering with the misplaced sincerity of the ignorant, He is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be” (Psalm 37:9, 10).

While true believers will often be provoked to anger by these hypocrites who keep others from coming to a saving knowledge of the truth, God’s word tells us not to “fret” over these wicked, (Psalm 37:7).

Psalm 37:7 – Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

However, we must not “give place to the devil” in our frustrations.

Ephesians 4:26 – Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

We give place to the devil is we engage in open slander or attack these hypocrites in a personal manner. That is not to say we shouldn’t mark these people as those “transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, [and therefore] have not God” (II John 9). But we need to be cautious because there is a point when flippant comments become nothing more than a person attack on others. At that point, such words not only cease to benefit the body of Christ, they can and often do cause damage to those who are young in the Lord.

Therefore, don’t neglect your responsibilities as a mature Christian to both God and His Church. As true believers and disciples of Christ we must both in wisdom and with restraint “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). BUT careful not to do so with any form of self-gratifying, personal vengeance such as slander or even an abusive rebuttal — even though you are correct. Truth must never to be used as a means of personal vengeance for the enemies of the Gospel are actually opposed to Jesus, not us. Their seeming opposition to us is only because they in opposition to the true God – just as they should only receive you IF they truly receive Jesus.

Jesus said, “If the world hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me” (John 15:18-21).

We must hold forth the truth in love and only use it as a weapon “against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are never to use the truth to viciously lash out at flesh and blood. Yes, many who hear it will discover the truth is in opposition to what they are doing, but we should never stand in physical opposition waving as it were the truth as a sword in the face of our neighbors. Remember, the truth is for men is intended to be a lamp unto their feet and a light for their path. For it is given to be the power of God unto salvation for those that believe  and follow it. It is meant to bring life through redemption and deliverance available in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let’s earnestly, yet humbly, contend for the faith and expel the lies by presenting the truth in love for the King who has saved us, and in love for those who have yet to hear and believe.

Live for the King!

 

 

Are you looking to improve your walking with God?

Here is an old book called “Walking with God” well worth reading. It was written Richard Baxter and first published in 1825. I had ordered this book since I was familiar with Richard Baxter’s work, having read “The Reformed Pastor,” a book which in my opinion is a must read for every man who has taken to himself the position of a “pastor,” or aspiring to be a leader or watchman in the church.

1Timothy 3:1 – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

However, when I got my copy of “Walking with God,” the print was very small and poor, making it difficult to read. So, I determinedly searched, found, and downloaded the book in order to have ease of reading. Naturally, the book, due to its era of being written utilized words and scriptural references in archaic formats, which I have no issue with. But wanting to make the book available to others which might be burden down by such, I slightly edited these aspects so as to provide family members, friends, and other readers a more contemporary format. Don’t worry, the book is in common domain.

Examples of editing: knocketh/knocks;  obeyeth/obeys;  shalt/shall;  seeketh/seeks;  saith/said/says; etc., etc.

Again, I lightly edited the book solely for added ease of reading and studying and can assure you that Richard Baxter’s original message and intent remains spiritually unchanged, solid, and intact. I know this book will greatly benefit, convict, instruct, challenge, and generally will just greatly bless anyone truly desiring more “meat” in their spiritual diet.

You should be able to download the PDF to your own device for further convenience.

WALKING WITH GOD

Format for your iPhone or other smart phones.

WALKING WITH GOD for Phone

Enjoy!

A short sermon I preached from about 5 years ago…

 
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Corinthians 16:22)

Whom shall God teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breast. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9, 10)

 

In order for anyone to understand anything, they must first be made aware of some basic principles. In math, for instance, one could not very well understand multiplication without first understanding addition.

True understanding can only come from knowledge founded upon God’s precepts. Therefore, this post is an effort to present those precepts that are necessary to know in order to understand the role of male and female, and “why” God created us such.

God created humanity to be both male and female so they could “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” In Titus chapter 2 there are many examples for this are given, husbands and wives, masters and servants, young to elders. We especially can even see it in children honoring/obeying their parents according to the commandment with the promise of a long life and how as God’s children if we honor/obey Him through our faith then we too have the promise of eternal life.

To begin, we must first acknowledge how it was the male who was first created in the image of God with a position on the earth similar to God in the heaven. Even nowadays, when in a right relationship with God, a man will faithfully represent God in all his dealings, both in his own household and with his neighbor.

Since true love and commitment must be of one’s free will, God designed humanity with the ability to choose to be either His glory or His shame in the earth. When a man (male) humbles himself and chooses to submit to the precepts of God, he becomes the glory of God in the earth. His life will then both affirm and reflect both the righteous judgments and attributes of God.

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That’s what God’s word tells us.  But many today aren’t “fleeing” from it, rather they are for all intents and purposes running madly to it. For some insane reason people are literally racing to expose and open themselves up to everything and anything sexual, as if somehow it is going to be the answer to their loneliness or boredom or their oppressive sense of rejection and insignificance. It has become so maddening that even some so called friends frequently engage in sexual immorality and openly make and accept challenges to do the most profane things with as many partners to see who can outperform the other. This is not only madness; this is as close as a society can get to mass suicide. Yes, you read it right, mass suicide.

Perhaps it is because people are just so willfully ignorant of God’s word or so insecure having grown up in such a self-centered generation where almost everyone seems infatuated with seeking their own gratification at the expense of whoever and/or whatever. The thought of it almost no longer shocks some people that there are those who are literally drugging their supposed “dates” and then raping them and then allowing others to rape them as well. These human beasts are literally doing this openly amongst their select group of perverted friends in a celebratory fashion. Packs of humanity who outwardly look like everyone else while actively preying sexually on others, and we’re not even off the subject of “straight sex!” All the while there are others in more acceptable positions that have established themselves as “respectable” in the community who are so slavishly engrossed in their own sexual decadence that they cannot but run to every opportunity of fornication regardless the risk to their families and careers . . . all for a moment of unbridled indulgence that promises only to send their world crashing to the ground all around them while the whole world sees and continues to be none the wiser. Do you really think these people started off this enslaved and wicked?

If this is touching you then please listen, God’s word tells us as plainly as it can, “Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.” Man cannot indulge in sexual sins and not do serious harm to his own self, physically (STD’s), emotionally and spiritually.

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Jesus Christ the man

Posted: April 29, 2017 in Shared Thoughts

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

It’s that time of year again when beleivers celebrate the Lord’s resurrection and the events ocurring there about. One of the techings that seems connected with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is how “he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” However, many believers miss what Peter was actually referring to in that verse, and that my firends is the topic of this post. But first, let’s start this topic off with looking at a few verses concerning God’s prophets and the Spirit of Christ for some context and supportive references –

II Peter 1:21 – For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

I Peter 1:10 – Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

“Holy men of God” were “the prophets” through which “God spoke” as they “were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and they were only speaking that which “the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.”

Such is why the Apostle Paul made his statement to the Galatians that, as a minister of the Gospel, he was crucified with Christ and thus Christ lives in and through him. But Paul doesn’t stop with applying this principle only to himself, for later he stresses how this principle applies to all who are Christ’s. For if we are truly “in Christ Jesus,” it is only because His Spirit lives in us; and if we are ever to truly be ministering life through the Gospel, it is because Christ is ministering it through us.

Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 5:24 – And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

For this reason, Paul testified to both the Thessalonians and the Corinthians that what he preached unto them was not merely the word of a man, but rather the very word of God. For Paul testifies what he had spoken was through the leading of the Spirit of Christ that dwelt within him.

I Thessalonians 2:13 – For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

II Corinthians 13:3 – Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Below another passage further establishes this truth that it was Jesus Christ himself, who by His Spirit, was ministering through the prophets of old. Unfortunately, this passage has also been greatly misunderstood by many throughout the centuries. Sadly, this confusion has given way for many erroneous teachings to creep into the church about Jesus, His death, and the completeness of the work of the cross.

I Peter 3:18 – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which [Spirit] also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The “popular” understanding of this verse is that after Jesus died, He then went to hell and preached to the spirits/souls that were in prisoned there; and some believe and assert/teach that of those in hell that “believed” what Jesus preached unto them were then set free. Added to these interpretations are other assertions such as Jesus had to die spiritually, taste hell itself, and be born again in order to defeat the devil on his ground, all this so that Jesus could take back from the devil the keys of death and hell. All of which are false.

Many believers raised in traditional churches assume these beliefs to be credible because they lack an understanding of the scriptures and the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed they may have been compelled to memorize. For when it states that Jesus was “crucified, buried, descended into hell and rose again the third day,” they assume it means Jesus literally went to hell, the place prepared for the angels that had sinned. However, this reference to the death, burial, and resurrection which is a true tenet of the Christian faith actually refers to Jesus’ body being crucified, prepared for burial, and placed in the grave for three days after which He resurrected.

Psalms 16:10 – For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

This psalm is speaking about the physical body of Jesus not being left in the grave to decay, or “see corruption.” It is not speaking about Jesus going, either physically or spiritually, into the hell which was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels. The word here translated “hell” in English is the Hebrew word “sheol” which was used sixty-five times in the Old Testament; thirty-three times implying the “grave” and thus correctly translated.

Adding to the confusion is how many people falsely believe that Hell is the headquarters of Lucifer, when actually it is a prison God made for the fallen angels and those who would imitate their lawlessness. The fallen angels and demons are terrified of hell. For when Jesus cast out demons out of the possessed Gadarenes man, they were terrified of hell and fearfully inquired if He had come to torment them before their time by sending them there.

Matthew 8:29 – And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?

Except for those fallen angels which were long ago cast down for their particular sins and are already bound in chains of darkness in Tartarus, the remaining principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world are still loose and share the sentiments of demons having a fear for the torment of hell, for they know this prison was created for them.

II Peter 2:4 – …God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.

Since Jesus created all things it would be foolish to assume He needed to go to hell in order to get the keys of death and hell, for He has always possessed them.

Psalms 68:20 – He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

Revelation 1:18 – I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

One only needs to listen carefully to what Jesus is saying to correctly discern what He is not saying. For many have become so affixed by popular theology that they can only read the Holy Scriptures in the light of the theology they were taught: rather than proving their theology by the light of the scriptures.  For in Revelation 1:18, Jesus clearly says “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” That is because once again to “confirm the covenant” He tells us that it is He who has “the keys of hell [meaning the grave] and death.”  After His death, Jesus ripped the veil of the Temple in two and “the graves were opened.” However, it was not until after His resurrection that “many bodies of the saints… came out of the graves… and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Matthew 27:50 – Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Ezekiel 37:12 – Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put My spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

While there are conflicting opinions on just who those saints were that “came out of the graves… and went into the holy city and appeared unto many,” I do not believe that these were the old patriarchal saints. The scripture plainly states that “many bodies of the saints which slept arose,” making it evident that not all of “the saints which slept arose.” Thus, I am persuaded these were probably saints who had recently died; for the patriarchal saints would not have been known by their appearance as there were no photos of them whereby the townspeople would have readily recognized them. Rather these were saints who like Lazarus were brought back to life in their mortal bodies. Incontestably, Jesus was the “firstfruits from the dead,” which means that all those who have died in faith are still awaiting the fulfillment of the covenant to be resurrected with their own glorified, immortal bodies at His return.

Hebrews 11:39 – And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

So let’s look afresh once more at that greatly misunderstood passage in I Peter and see if we cannot properly discern the apostle’s meaning.

I Peter 3:18 – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

First it is clear how Jesus suffered and “was put to death in the flesh,” but was then “quicken by the Spirit.” That phrase means His body was not resurrected by the power of that earthen vessel of humanity, rather by the Spirit of Christ that dwelt within. Paul had stated virtually the same thing in his Epistle to the Romans, which again can also be viewed as “confirming the covenant.”

Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Next, take notice in I Peter 3:18 how Peter states “by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”  What Peter is saying is that it was by the Spirit that Jesus once went and preached to the spirits in prison and not in His bodily form. This reveals that it was not Jesus the “Son of man” which went somewhere and preached, but rather the Spirit of Christ.”

Also, unless we pay careful attention to just whose “spirits” these are that are “in prison,” then like so many others have we too will run the risk of jumping to all sorts of erroneous conclusions; which is completely unnecessary since Peter clearly states who they are. These are the spirits of those “which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

Therefore, these spirits are not all the lost souls of humanity which died from the time of Adam to Christ; rather these are only the spirits of those who were alive during those the days “while the ark was a preparing.” This is an excellent example of how we must be careful not to apply content beyond what is written to the scriptures. So why then does it say it was Christ who preached to those souls which were alive in those last days of Noah while the ark was being built? Perhaps it will help to review what Peter said earlier in the context of this very epistle.

I Peter 1:10 – Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

Not only was Noah a preacher of righteousness, he doubtlessly was one of these prophets Peter was referring to who preached by “the Spirit of Christ which was in” him. Thus it was Noah who preached unto them “which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah,” but the people rejected what the Spirit of Christ had preached to them through the Prophet Noah and therefore they perished; their bodies decayed and returned into the earth but their “spirits” are now “in prison.”

No, Peter wasn’t saying after Jesus died that He went to hell to preach, for anyone entering into hell and offering any hope to those spirits would immediately find everyone grasping at any possibility of escape. Rather, Peter was affirming the omnipotence of Christ, that though He was a man who suffered and died in the flesh, He was much more, He was a quickening Spirit in Noah through which He warned the world that then was to flee the wrath to come, of which only the few righteous were spared while the disobedient perished.

Thus, we have a sound scriptural account of Jesus preaching before Israel was a nation or there was a Holy City of Jerusalem and Temple, even before the time of His own incarnation. Why then would we fail to believe that the Spirit of Christ will again be there in like power and authority via the Two Witnesses at the next coming end of the world which is now cresting our own horizon?

II Peter 3:5 – For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

These Two Witnesses will know exactly who they are; and by “the Spirit of Christ which is in them” they will testify in the last days how they are going be martyred and how they too, just like Jesus, will be raised from the dead. Though their ministry and testimony of Jesus the Christ will absolutely infuriate the world and most of the Jewish people, a remnant of the Jews will nonetheless believe and having been pierced in their hearts and convicted by the Sword of Truth will be watching there slain bodies and witness their resurrection from the dead. This remnant are those who will give glory unto God after their resurrection once again confirms the covenant of God, perhaps for the very last time before the whole world.

Revelation 11:7 – And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. 11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

The only way these Jews, or any one, can give glory unto God is to honor the Son, even as they would honor the Father. Thus, this remnant gives glory unto the Son as their Redeemer, Christ the Lord. The fulfillment of this will be the prophesied in-grafting of the Jews back into the vine, resulting in the completion of the angel Gabriel’s prophecy to Daniel by ushering in the fulfillment of the covenant, the resurrection of the dead.

Romans 11:15 – For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

It’s time to be looking up, for our redemption draws near…

 

(Sadly, many are completely ignorant of the extent of the various rebellions and sins of the fallen angels, including their taking daughters of men for wives and their offspring, the nephilim; a subject far too vast to cover here. I would simply recommend two books on the subject which are available online in PDF format for those interested. The first would be “The Fallen Angels and the Heroes of Mythology” by Rev. John Fleming, A.B., published in 1879. The second would be “Earth’s Earliest Ages” by G.H. Pember, published 1889.)

Part 2 of 2  of my series on hell 

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

God’s word is more glorious than even the wonder of birth; for in it He has given us some incredible insights into His own heart’s desire. His word is not merely a bunch of rules and laws made to regulate every aspect of men’s behavior and to oppress their freedom in life. No, God’s word is actually the only true wellspring of life, in addition to the only effectual means for guarding what He gives unto His people. Some may immediately feel compelled to challenge that statement, but I am not speaking about the bible you have on your shelf, I am speaking of that which came by unction of God’s Holy Spirit unto His prophets and apostles, that which is spirit and not merely “letter.”

The bibles we have are but books made of paper and ink, filled with letters that cannot do anything of their own, there is no power in them anymore than a flashlight has the ability to illuminate without batteries being in it. It is only a means, a tool whereby the supremacy of God’s spoken word which is ultimately spirit can be revealed unto us . . . that is if and when our heart is in the right condition.

Through God’s holy word comes first the revelation of His supremacy and preeminence, that “God is,” meaning there is in fact a God to whom all men are accountable. Secondly it teaches us how He has created all things in a state of “good.” God created the realms for life to flourish, the sea, the air and the land and then brought forth all manner of life and gave them not just the command to be “fruitful and multiply,” no much more than that, God gave forth the blessing of life.

(more…)

My Greatest Prayer…

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Shared Thoughts

My greatest prayer is that all the members of my family would come to a personal revelation of not only God’s great love for the world, but for each of them individually. That even if it was only them, God would have still sent His son and Jesus would have given Himself for them with no less resolve then He did for the whole world.

So while alone watching last night a display of God’s majesty in a lightning storm off in the distant sky I begin to think of that GREAT love wherewith He has loved me and faithfully continues to reveal Himself to me. As I sat alone in the dark I began to think on those two words, “Great Love,” and as I did with each letter in the word “great” I began to how they define that love God desires to share with those who would only stop and listen to Him.

For the letter “G” it was obvious that God’s love is most evident in that He “gave” His Son, but also in that He gave us life, and the ability to learn and love. With that I thanked God that He gave me a wife where I might grasp the both the joys and sorrows of love, in having become one with my wife in so many ways that I only feel fulfilled as a man with we’re side by side and the sorrow of having to be apart, be it circumstantial or because of a disagreement that needs to be worked through and resolved.

I also love the fact that God designed us male and female and that the celebration of our love results in the growth of our family and that God has blessed us with our four sons. Each of them unique and special, stirring with in my heart a special pride and joy in each of them, which helps me to realize how God is able to appreciate all of us as well as delight in everyone who comes to Him in faith in a personal and intimate way.

With the letter “R” there were many aspects of His love that came to mind. The first is that while I was dead in my trespasses and sins He still “reached” out for me and like a loving shepherd He lifted me out of a pit of despair and set my feet back on solid ground. After making so many mistakes and having endless regrets, He was faithful to “repair” so many things and relationships that I was sure had been hopelessly damaged, likewise He gently began to “restore” my soul by showing me the things in my heart that were so contrary to Him and life, so that I could see the destructive attitudes of my heart and the deceitfulness of my old desires.

It was only then that I could cry out in agreement with His judgments which enabled me to yield myself wholly to Him at which point He mercifully began to change my heart into one that truly hungered and thirst for His will to be done in my life. But of course there have been countless times I have failed Him and have wept before in anger at myself, only to have Him “renew” me with His presence afresh as He “replaced” my sorrow with gladness time after time.

With the letter “E” comes the revelation, or “enlightenment” that God’s in His love has given me. So many things were so beyond my comprehension that I couldn’t even have asked the proper question to get the answers He has given me to so many problems in my life. He truly knows my needs before I do and in His love has given me “everything” I need. In those trying times of temptations and hardship, God has often “enabled” me to endure such trials patiently, teaching me that I can trust Him always to see me through to where He desires to lead me.

With the letter “A” my first thought was how He has “always” loved me and been there calling me unto Himself. Yet in my old pride of life I stubbornly went my own way struggling to get by and often had to do without even the basics at times struggling to make ends meet. But having come to a personal realization of His great love for me I have learned that He truly does desire to give me “abundant” life, but that it is wisely hidden within Him and His great love. Sadly, so many cannot see what I now see with crystal clarity, that if God has given me His Son, He will also freely give all things that pertain to life and godliness.

Last, but no least, the letter “T.” I have learned God’s love always comes through for His children perfectly on “time.” That so many times I was impatiently wondering where God was in a situation in my life, and just when I was about out of hope and confidence, He was there right on time meeting the situation with precision in both time and substance leaving me ashamed I had been so weak in my faith. But through it all He “taught” me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I’ve learned His ears hears my cries and in His great love for me He even saves my tears, for even they are precious to Him: especially when they are tears of sorrow shared by His own heart for those who do not know Him as I do.

However, what would probably be greatest thing about God’s great love for me, He constantly works in His grace to “transform” me into the very image of His only begotten Son. To me it is absolutely inconceivable, yet God in His great love for me has allowed me a few precious moments of seeing how Christ is being formed in me; and I am confident what He has begun in me, He will complete.

So, I will again say, my greatest prayer is that each member of my family is that they too will come to their own personal revelation of God’s great love. I earnestly pray that a thousand years from now we will all be standing together worshipping our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Oh God, I pray Lord Jesus, let the circle be unbroken…

The Church In Sodom

Posted: May 24, 2016 in Shared Thoughts

church in sodom

Brothers and sisters, why do you think Abraham thought he could appeal to God, asking Him to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were just even fifty righteous men in the cities? Most people tend to think it was just “righteous Lot” who was living there vexing his soul among all those vulgarly wicked and profane sodomites. But do you really think Lot would live there alone if there were no other professing “believers” living there? When Ezekiel was sent to reprove Israel, God declared that, “As I live says the Lord Jehovah, Sodom your sister, she nor her daughters has not done as you have done, you and your daughters.” Do you think that there were no professing believers in Ezekiel’s days?

No, there were religious people all over the land, boasting in their arrogance and claiming to be God’s chosen people, prophets and priests and faithful followers of Jehovah. They were the called out ones, or so they thought. Those Jews in Ezekiel’s days were both shocked and surprise when judgment fell upon them, just as many of today’s professing Christians will be when they too cry out “Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name cast out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works?” Only to hear the Lord reply, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you who live working lawlessness!”

Likewise, righteous Lot was alone only in his righteousness, but there were many living in Sodom and Gomorrah claiming to be his fellow-believers in the living God. Therefore, Abraham asked God, “Perhaps there are fifty righteous within the city. Will You also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are in it?” and yet the longer Abraham thought about the “believers” dwelling in Sodom and the surrounding cities, he began to go lower and lower in asking God till he said “Oh do not let the LORD be angry, and I will speak only once more. Perhaps ten shall be found there?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.”

Seriously consider this, you who so confidently profess to be serving God, for out of Abraham’s appeal to God to spare the cities for fifty righteous, only one true believer was led out. That was a speculated “fifty” out of how many though that was professing faith? Abraham knew they were not all serving God, that many had deceived their own selves into thinking they were righteous, so fifty had to be a conservative number to start with. Then, knowing the holiness of God, Abraham began to whittle the numbers down till he reached ten, only a mere ten and God still said He would have spared the cities. And yet it was only righteous Lot with his two daughters who came out from among them, with his wife looking back perishing. Do you understand the math concerning this? Only 2% of Abraham’s original conservative number was saved. How can it be that so many Christians are failing to discern this and fear God?

My Testimony

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Shared Thoughts

As a child I was raised a Lutheran, and I can clearly remember one day when the Sunday school teacher was obviously feeling a little evangelistic. Up to then we would mostly spend our time coloring, doing flannel board lessons about bible characters, or just spend the time out on the playground while our parents were in Church. But on this one particular day she shared with us kids that if we had Jesus in our hearts then we would get to go to heaven, but if not, well… we would go to hell.

Now that was some pretty powerful news for kids between 6-8 years old. So I raised my hand and asked her, “How do we know Jesus is real?” After all, none of us had ever seen Him hanging around the church and all I had ever seen were drawings or paintings of Him. Now my question really threw her threw a loop, for after looking at me for a bit she honestly replied, “I don’t know, I guess we just better believe in case He is,” Well, that was it for me. If she didn’t have an answer for that one, why would I ask any more questions?

 However, that night in bed I remembered what she said and my thoughts went to a painting my grandmother had of Jesus standing outside an arched door knocking to come in. As I lay there I knew what she said was true even if she hadn’t been able to answer my question. Her crude little Gospel message was still sharp enough to pierce into my little heart. I was scared, and so I began to cry being frustrated that she wasn’t able to answer my question. For had she given me an answer, I certainly would have asked the one that was agonizing me that night, “How do I get Jesus into my heart?”

So as I lay on my back in bed I began to repeatedly turn a knob to an imaginary door on my chest and pretended I was opening a door over and over while crying, “Jesus, please come into my heart…” I wish I could say from that point on I have faithfully served the Lord, but that’s not the case. For though I believed in the Lord, there was still no one in my life that could effectively speak the things of God into my life. Oh I believed Jesus was real, but He quickly became only Sunday-go-to-church real. With no real mentor or example to teach me how to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” I eventually found church was no longer able to capture my attention. Church soon became nothing more than another meeting place that parents took their kids to.

As far as school goes, it was never a real attention grabber for me. The only thing that made any sense to me was math, but oh how I hated English, History, and Science. I just felt it all was completely irrelevant to my life. The worst thing they ever did to me was put me in sight of a window. For the life of me, there was no way I could focus in school knowing the whole world was going on outside.

Add to that, being a teenager in the sixties it was real easy for me to get caught up in the music and drugs and before long I was staying out all night. There was no vision in my life other than living the moment and doing drugs. I had good parents who loved me and disciplined me, but even though I loved them I just couldn’t keep their rules anymore. So after 9th grade I quit school and ended up running away from home when I was fifteen with a pregnant girlfriend. We eventually got caught across the state and had to go home, but it didn’t take long before I was back on the street. I assure you, a fifteen year old on the streets makes a lot of compromises to get by and crime becomes the norm.

Eventually I moved into some guy’s back yard toolshed with a couple other guys, each of us paying five dollars a week. Late one night we were all getting high on a construction site in the neighborhood with some other potheads when two of them began to brag about how great and powerful Satan was. I admit I was a bit taken back by them at first. But being stoned and thinking about my own destitute situation in life, I asked them very seriously, “Ok, if Satan is so powerful, then what can he do for me?” To my surprise they looked at me and got extremely upset and started cursing at me and just left. I wasn’t sure what really happened, I just thought they were extremely weird. But over the years I’ve concluded somehow they were given the message “No, leave this one alone.”

Eventually I ended up in a non-denominational house church that started what they called a “Discipleship Program.” I moved in with the pastor and a couple other men and started my discipleship. After years of involvement I was made a deacon, then an elder, and eventually even an assistant pastor. It was in that church that I met a very special woman and we got married. The church eventually started a school and a Christian dinner theater, but things in general didn’t progress very well. Sadly, some of the leaders didn’t really walk the Christian walk and soon alcohol, sex and sin was the hidden norm everywhere. Being consumed by the guilt of my own sins, one Sunday when my turn came to preach I decided to share my last message from the passage below.

Galatians 6:1 – Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

The focus of my message was simple, are you fellow leaders even spiritual enough to recognize when a man is overtaken in a fault? Or have you too already yielded to all your temptations. It was my last cry of desperation as I made plans to leave the church. My wife and I moved 300 miles away and within a year I was fallen again headlong into immorality, drug use and alcohol. I found out firsthand what a really big jerk my wife’s first husband was… even though to this day she has only been married once.

A couple of years later, and over a thousand miles away from home, separated and all alone on a blood moon eclipse night, I was so drugged out and intoxicated that my body was having alarming signs threatening me that that night might well be my very last. I cried out again to God, “Lord, all I wanted was to be a man of God. I believe in You, but I don’t believe in anything I was taught anymore. Why can’t I be an overcomer? Why can’t I do the right thing? Lord I just want to go home and start over.” I woke up the next day resolved to do just that, but I had so many things I needed to get right before I could. I tried my best to mend local relationships and wrongs committed and then sold everything I owned but my clothes and van and headed back home.

Once home I was trying hard to do the right thing and was graciously reunited with my wife. One Sunday we were with some other Christian friends as we all decided to visit a new Church started by a popular Miami Beach performer who supposedly became a Christian. Having been through so much sin myself, who was I to throw stones or to judge? So I went and listened to him preach as he hit on all the points that makes sinners want a happier and better life. He gave an invitation saying he knew there were many needing deliverance, and if you’ve been struggling with sin then come up and he was going to pray for you. Having struggled all my life with sin I went up.

There we were all lined up in front from left to right and he started praying. As he walked down the line he was laying hands on the people and they were all falling backwards. So I said to the Lord, “Here I am. No games anymore. If this is You Lord I want it all.” I figured God was big enough to knock me down like everyone else, so I kept my eyes open and waited my turn. When this man reached me he closed his eyes and laid his hand on my head, but nothing happened. I think he was more surprised than me. Suddenly while I am looking into his eyes he angrily says,” You’re not going to resist me you foul spirit!” And then he stepped into me and literally shoved my head backwards causing me to lose my balance.  I immediately stood up, shook my head in disbelief and went back to my seat. As I walked back to my seat I felt the Lord impressed upon me, “I am your Deliverer, do not look to man.”

I did however have the wisdom to understand God wasn’t telling me to ignore other believers or the gifts He had given them for His glory, but at that point in time He wanted me to seek Him and Him alone. It was there I made a decision to put everything I ever thought about Jesus Christ and Christianity upon God’s altar and to start proving all things afresh in the light of the scriptures. What I discovered shouldn’t surprise anyone, for we all heard it for years; the truth will set you free. For men’s problems are never the truth; it is always their unwillingness to fully surrender to the terms of the Truth.

I wish I could say from that point on everything was better, but the reality for me was like it is for all of us; whether we like it or not there is a war going on and until Jesus Christ returns we are all caught in the middle of it. The adversary has never been content to leave me alone, however he now knows that I know he has truly lost this war and his time is short. Nevertheless, he constantly does what he can out of hatred to God to oppose me, or tries to nudge me a little to the left or right, and when that isn’t working he tries to flatter me. He does anything and everything he can to try and get my eyes off Jesus Christ even for just a moment. Perhaps the closest he ever came to destroying me was using God’s own people as a source of discouragement to me, and with a root of bitterness springing up in me I almost threw in the towel and gave up, but my Jesus didn’t. He saved me.

For the record, I have been a pastor, worked for years volunteering by holding meetings at men’s shelters and Sunday night services at a rehab that was a volunteer/mandatory alternative to jail or prison. I even opened a Christian Coffee shop for a couple of years. Through it all, the heart of my preaching was never that men can escape hell and go to heaven, rather that through Jesus Christ all men can be what God always intended them to be, a reflection of His glory made fit for the Kingdom of God. For God made us in His image with the desire that we all be His glory in the earth and by the cross, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we can be.

II Peter 1:2 – Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Honestly, while life has never been easy, it has often been very good. But we have all met those who have had it worse than us. So like I often say, “Life’s not fair, live it none the less.” When people ask what I do for a living every so often I still reply, “I work with wood.” Being a tradesman who has always worked with his hands, I eventually became a building contractor. But while I was fairly proficient at the design and fabrication side of the construction business and ended up doing some pretty high end work, the logistical side never ceased to be a grievance to me with all the red tape and regulations. All that stuff just exasperated a guy who simply loved doing a good job for a fair price. My reputation was built on service and quality, and I thank the Lord for the good work ethic that He worked in me. More than once I have sacrificed profit and put money back into the job to assure the customer’s satisfaction. I’ve learned the Lord honors the man that keeps his word, even to his own loss or hurt.

Psalm 15:4 – In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but He honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

Thanks to the economy, I am currently a home inspector in the insurance industry. But I must admit at times feeling as if I am a bit outside the calling God had for me… perhaps like a Levite would, who having no earthly inheritance may have felt when they were forced to wander the land looking for a place to provide for their family due to the neglect and poverty God’s house suffered at times. Perhaps that’s part of the consequences of my sins in this life.

Still, without a doubt one of my greatest pleasures is reasoning the things of God with reasonable people. So please don’t assume the things I share are intended to be dogmatic statements that I am right and everyone else is wrong. Rather I openly share my thoughts simply because I believe them to be true and willingly submit them to the scrutiny of other believers. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate those who love me enough to tell me, “Brother, you’re wrong.” But not only tell me I am wrong, but will patiently labor with me while respecting my integrity and convictions till they can show me just where and how I was wrong. Lord knows how much I need such men and women of God in my life, we all do.

 Romans 14:4 – Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

All that said, for the record I did manage to get my GED, so I guess that’s the height of my academic credentials as a Christian author. Perhaps that really means I am still just a carpenter, a guy who occasionally works with wood and still loves to read his bible. But I would like to make one last point about myself, while I agree we will all disagree sometimes and somewhere, I refuse to “agree to disagree” as if that’s somehow a noble thing for believers in Christ. I can acknowledge when we disagree, but not “agree to disagree.” Simply because if we disagree, it can only be because one of us is wrong, or worse, we both are. How can that “agreeable” with any professing Christian? Rather we must all learn to respect the integrity of each other’s convictions and humbly labor together to understand each other if we are going to make any true headway towards coming to a unity of faith and a knowledge of the Truth. Remember, even at our best, we all only know in part. That’s why we have each other and need charity…

Ephesians 4:11 – And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Therefore, until we all meet each other on the other side, live for Jesus Christ the resurrected King of kings!

Trips to the Tomb

I know it;s an old post, but since it is Easter this coming Sunday I figured it would be a good repost it once more for those who may have missed it. I hope it blesses you.

For centuries there has been much confusion when people try to reason the different accounts of Jesus’ resurrection as recorded by the apostles. The fact that they all seem to have a different story to tell does not help. Perhaps, a good way to consider their seemingly different reports is to view them like transparent overlays, similar to the one’s we have seen in books showing the skeleton, then the nerves and blood vessels, organs, muscular and finally the skin and hair.

The Gospels, similarly, are each reporting different events which had taken place around a major singular occurrence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact is that these different events are recorded in God’s word and are therefore true. Perhaps the answer to the confusion is to consider that there were multiple trips made to the tomb.

The best way to determine the possible order of these trips to the tomb is to consider the different details that have been given about the time of day and light of the sun. Was the sun going down or coming up? These questions are actually quite easy to answer. However, we must remember that the Sabbath, like all the other biblical days, began and ended with sundown, see Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 and Lev. 23:32.

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