Jesus is not coming back…

…to sit on a throne in Jerusalem

On Thursday, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This had been a broken campaign promise of each of the last 3 presidents dating back to the 90’s. With this announcement comes renewed interest in Jerusalem and the supposed 1,000-year reign of Jesus.

Jesus is not coming back…to reign from Jerusalem.

The doctrine that Jesus will reign on a throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years prior to the Judgement is called “PREMILLENNIALISM.” To understand it requires a lot of squinting and taking very complex liberties with the Biblical Record. As a result, answering this error has been just as complex. Fortunately, it has a very simple solution.

Before we look at the answer, a little bit of background is necessary. Premillennialists hold many variants, but this is the one held by most: Jesus will first come invisibly, unknown by all except the righteous in an event they call the “RAPTURE.” Following this will be a 7-year period called the “tribulation.” After the 7 years the battle of “ARMAGEDDON” occurs and Jesus will visibly return to defeat the forces of evil and to establish His kingdom, physically upon the earth in Jerusalem, and reign as King for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. After this ‘millennium’ Jesus will raise the wicked to face the judgement.

3 Simple Answers

FIRST, it contradicts the prophetic Word of God. If this theory is true, then God goofed when He told Jeremiah,  “Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” [Jer 22:30;]. This was a prophecy regarding the last king of Judah, Coniah (also called Jeconiah & Jehoiakim). This man is also found in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:12. No descendant of this man, which would include Jesus, could sit on a physical throne in Israel. At Pentecost, Peter preached, by the Holy Spirit, that Jesus was on a throne and that throne is in Heaven. [Acts 2:34, Psalm 110:1, Mt 22:44; 1Co 15:25; Eph 1:20; Heb 1:13].

SECOND, it has been promised that the next time anyone sees Jesus it will be very visible and incredibly loud. Just before Pentecost in Acts 1, Jesus ascended into heaven. As the Apostles stood gazing at the clouds, 2 men in white apparel said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” [Acts 1:11]. Later, the Apostle Paul wrote: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:” [1Thessalonians 4:16]. The context continues into chapter 5 where it points out that the arrival of Jesus will bring destruction [5:3].

THIRD, all of mankind will be raised to face the judgement at one time. When premillennialists say that only the righteous will be raised, they’re in direct contradiction of Jesus. He said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (emphasis mine) [John 5:28-29]. Paul thought that everyone, the just and the unjust, would be raised at once [Acts 24:15].

I would encourage everyone to continue to study the truth about the 2nd coming of Christ, but I believe these are sufficient proofs. Sometimes the best answer is the simplest.

Bonus answer: Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” [Mark 9:1]. If His kingdom has not been established already, there are some very old folks walking around!

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Who Knew?

Over the last few weeks, sexual misconduct allegations have rocked the news & entertainment world (Sometimes I wonder if there’s a difference between news and entertainment today).Then just this week we saw the firing of Matt Lauer from NBC’s the Today show. The earthquake has shaken everyplace far beyond just Hollywood. Trembles are being felt in the workplace, in sports and at the highest levels of government. The pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace has begun to shift our countries mindset.

Women are now boldly coming forward to shine the light on crude conversation and lewd behavior. Let’s be honest guys, we’ve known about the vulgar way men tend to joke with each other when we’re not in mixed company. Many have heard stories (as it turns out they’re more than just stories) of ‘playboys’ taking advantage of innocent female coworkers. Many men, and even some women, would say, “boys will be boys.”

Who knew that this sort of sordid activity was wrong? WE ALL DID!! We all know that the harassment of women is wrong. We all know that sexual assault is wrong. It’s not wrong just because it is coming to light and our society finds it detestable. It was wrong long before these times. Who knew?

God did, for He deemed it wrong when He revealed His will to mankind for how we ought to behave. From the very beginning God began to show us how He expected us to behave toward the opposite sex. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” [Gen 2:24]. In the desert, He commanded us, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Then He said, “…Thou shalt not covet neighbour’s wife,” [Exodus 20:14, 17]. He then revealed to us in Leviticus 18 what ought not be revealed.

Who Knew? Jesus did. In Matthew 5:28 He said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Then He said, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” [v19].

Who Knew? the Holy Spirit did. The inspired Paul warned us through the 1 Corinthian letter, “…It is better to marry than to burn.” [1Cor 7:9]. Paul warned Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts” and to “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” [2Timothy 2:22, 1Timothy 4:12]. Paul wrote for us to know that, “fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints;” [Ephesians 5:3]. Who knew that sexual harassment is wrong? God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit knew, and He expects us all to know it as well.

I wonder what the world would be like if there was more concern given for God’s word. Perhaps these allegations and admissions will awaken us to the truth of God’s word, or at least remind Christians that our behavior is to be far above that of the world. That’s what Paul meant, “let it not even be named among you.”

But there’s more

Did you also know that the joking we excuse as locker room talk is wrong? In the same passage above, Paul continued, “nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.” [v4 ASV]. We ought to have known that the ‘locker room’ talk is never befitting of a Christian regardless of the company. Who knew?

GIVING THANKS

One winter, while a junior in high school in Fairbanks, a friend of mine invited me to have dinner with his family (we called the evening meal ‘dinner’ in Alaska). As his dad was plating the food and delivering it to the table one at a time, his mom began eating having been served first. As my plate was set before me, I refrained from eating as a courtesy toward the host. Mr. LaPerierre noticed me waiting and asked, “Spencer, are you waiting because you’re wanting to say grace?” At that moment, his wife, fork in mouth, looked at me with wide mortified eyes, filled with the realization that she may have committed a grievous faux pas.

Has something like that ever happened to you, folks begin shoveling food in their mouths before everyone even has a chance to sit down, much worse, discovering mid bite that a prayer of thanksgiving was going to be offered? Perhaps you’ve been the one with the fork in your mouth.

It’s called different things in different places. Some call it, ‘giving thanks’, ‘saying grace’ ‘asking a blessing’ or simply, ‘the blessing.’ As families come together this week to celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, the above scenario will likely repeat as folks stumble through an awkward and unprepared prayer, while the rest choke down a premature mouthful or pause mid chew.

Is it your habit to ‘say grace’ for your food?

It may not, and not just for Thanksgiving. According to a recent poll, only about 43% of Americans pray before a meal. Of those that pray, the researchers discovered they only pray 2-3 times per week. When they examined denominational backgrounds, 52% of Catholics, 60% of Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals prayed before taking a meal. Interestingly, 80% of African American families prayed, regardless of religious affiliation.

It was surprising to learn so many folks were actually praying in America. However, surprise gave way to disgust as the pollsters found that it wasn’t necessarily God being thanked. Eleven percent who claimed to be atheist, agnostic or irreligious said a prayer. An atheist man, cited in a news article about the poll, said that he and his wife give thanks to the spirits of his food. When they eat beef, they thank the four-legged spirits, and the winged ones whenever they eat chicken. When eating veggies, he thanks the veggie spirits. Sounds like a veggie tale to me.

What does the Bible say?

Many who are reading this article already have a good handle on this subject, and I hope that had we been asked, we would have skewed the polling higher. Prayer is as much a subject of scripture as God Himself. We all know that it says, “Pray without ceasing” in 1Thessalonians 5:17, but did you know that verse 18 says “in everything give thanks?”

Among the “everything”, food is a daily opportunity to “give thanks.” We ought to be thankful for our daily food, “which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth” [1Timothy 4:3b].

Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, lived an example of praying before eating. In John 6:11 He, “took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would.” Then, during His final meal with His disciples, “he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” [Luke 22:19]. On the very night that he would be betrayed, Jesus knowing all things, was thankful. How simple a thing it is, and so worthwhile, to pause and to pray.

 

 

Our most Holy and Righteous Father,

Thank you for this beautiful day

For we know Father, only you can make our day.

Thank You for this food,

Which You created

And for the nourishment within it.

May it provide us the strength

For continued service in Thy Kingdom.

Please forgive us our trespasses,

For they have been many,

And we have been weak.

Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.

Amen.

Pierce my Ear

There’s a peculiar law in the Old Testament regarding slaves…

Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.” [Exodus 21:1-6]

It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the idea that God allowed slavery. What’s also strange to us is that a slave could submit himself to slavery (why would anyone do that?), and if he wanted to leave, the master had to let him go free. Even more strange to our sensibilities is that the slave could decide to remain with a master he loved. We’re most familiar with the brutal history of slavery in our own country where a person was stolen into slavery, or born into slavery and could never leave of his own free will. So, how could it ever be that a slave would ever love his master enough to stay?

As much as we detest the slavery we read about in history (and rightfully so), that slavery bears no resemblance to the master / servant relationship we read about in scripture. Some will say that any form of slavery is detestable, biblical or otherwise. Before you jump to that conclusion, let’s examine why God might use the example of slavery.

Slaves of Christ

The New Testament uses the biblical example of slavery to help us to understand our relationship with Him. Just as in the Exodus 21 passage, we come to Him of our own free will, and He BUYS us. The purchase price being His own blood.

For ye are bought with a price” [1Corinthians 6:20]

We can choose to leave this arrangement, also of our own free will. While nothing can separate us from the love of God [Romans 8:38-39], we can separate ourselves from Him. [Hebrews 2:3, 10:28-29, Galatians 5:4; 2Timothy 4:10].

When we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, [Believe, Repent, Confess, Baptism & Faithfulness] we are selling ourselves into permanent slavery. We’re essentially saying, “we will never leave Him, we are His slaves forever, and He alone is our Master!”

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” [1Corinthians 7:23]

Although the thought of becoming a slave holds a very negative meaning in our culture, the Holy Spirit had no trouble using this institution as an example. When you consider the love behind the sacrifice of Christ, you realize that God had placed an incredible value for your life.

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]

This value wasn’t based upon how good you looked, or how good you were, or how much money you had. No, the cost of buying us was His own life. Additionally, Jesus promises His slaves an incredible and eternal reward. He said to His disciples…

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

[John 14:2-3]

When we consider the price paid, and the promises made, it begins to make sense how a slave might Love a Slave Owner. Understanding these things will give us strength to endure this life.

Looking again at Exodus 21, we note verse 6; “and he shall serve him for ever.” Applying the picture of slavery to us, we need to note that by becoming a slave to Jesus, we are placing His will above our own. We will have no other master, including those things that tend to rule in our lives [e.g. sin Romans 6:6; money Luke 16:13]. Thy will be done, becomes our song.

When we truly understand this picture, our entire attitude should shift toward humble appreciation for our Master. Let us not be like those slaves who search for holes by which we can escape, for we serve a Loving Master. Rather, let us strive to serve Him in everything that He has commanded and when we’ve done all that we are commanded, let us say…

We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

[Luke 17:10]

 

 

“Pierce My Ear”

By Steve Croft

Pierce my ear O Lord my God

Take me to your door this day

I will serve, no other God

Lord I’m here to stay.

For you have paid

The price for me

With your blood, you ransomed me

I will serve, you eternally

A free man I’ll never be.

Chorus:

So, Pierce my ear, O Lord my God.

Take me to your door this day.

For I will serve no other God.

O Lord I’m here to stay.

If it’s my time to go…

You’ve heard someone say this before, “If it’s my time to go there’s nothing I can do about it.” It’s usually said just before they participate in some risky activity like, skydiving or free climbing (when a person climbs a mountain without safety equipment). Another way they might say it, after surviving some calamity, “I guess it just wasn’t my time to go.” The question I ask, is it scriptural?

The root of this idea may be found in Job 14:5, “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” The popular interpretation is that God has already determined when each individual person is going to die, and it can neither be prevented, nor quickened.

A New Testament passage seems to be making the same assertion in the Lord’s parable of “The Rich Fool.” In this parable, the rich man is found with an abundance of wealth and decides he needs to build bigger barns and take it easy. Then, God says, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” [Luke 12:13-21]

Is this what the scripture is teaching? Has God already decided that some will live to be very old, whereas others are going to die young? If this is true, does this teach us we can live a reckless life?

Isaiah wrote, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” [Isa 1:18]. We need to use our heads and examine the scriptures to find out if these things are so.

My grandfather used to answer folks who said these things by asking, “Why don’t you go out and play in traffic? If it’s not your time to go, you’ll be alright.” Or he would ask, “If I bring you a rattlesnake will you play with it?” While certainly not authoritative, these questions do make you reconsider the position.

What’s the Bible say?

When we go back to the beginning in the garden, we discover some interesting things about this subject. The punishment for eating the fruit from the KOGE tree was death. Yet, when they ate of it, they didn’t die immediately. The reason for this is necessarily inferred that Adam & Eve had eternal life prior to eating and lost it afterward. This is confirmed by the passage, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” [Romans 5:12a].

In another passage God said, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” [Psalm 90:10]. If we made doctrine based on single passages, why don’t we ever say that people live a minimum of 70 years, or maybe 80? Because observation tells us otherwise.

In the proverbs, one could lengthen life by keeping the commandments of God, “For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” [Proverbs 3:2]. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote, “…time and chance happeneth to them all.” [vs 9:11b]. When we look at “the whole council of God” we come to a better understanding of these things, so what is it?

The conclusion of the whole matter.

First, mankind does not have an eternity to live on this planet. This is what is meant when scripture says his days are numbered. There’s a finality to this carnal world. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” [2Peter 3:10].

Second, it is true that God knows the end from the beginning, [Isaiah 46:10]. This is foreknowledge, not predestination. He may know how long each of us is going to live, but we don’t.

Third, if you haven’t already figured it out, our lives are short, especially when you compare it to eternity. “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” [James 4:14]. Since we have no idea how long we’re going to live, nor do we know how long the earth shall remain [Matthew 24:36] …

…We ought to take every day a lot more seriously. In the 2 Peter passage it continues, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” [vs 3:11].

We all think we’re going to live a very long time on this planet and we have eternity in our hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. The reality is that we’re going to live a very short time here, and eternity elsewhere. God wants us to live that eternity with Him, I hope you do too.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” [John 14:2-3]

Why I left the Baptist church

via Biblical Insights, April 2005, pp 20,21

There’s a proverb that says, “a wise man learned from the mistakes of others; a fool learns only from his own.” When asked to prepare a short treatise on my conversion, I jumped at the opportunity to do so. There was a time in my life when I was a lost person who thought he was a saved person, just like Cornelius (Acts 10) and the “many” of Matthew 7:21-23. Anything I can do to help other people who are either personally deceived, or are working with those who are, 1 will always do.

Reared a Good Calvinistic Baptist

My immediate family didn’t attend any church regularly until I was about 12 years old. We began attending church when an associate pastor of the local Baptist church moved across the street from us and invited our family to join them at services. Perhaps realizing that it was not wise to neglect the spiritual development of their children, my parents agreed to go, and my active spiritual life began. Having not really been involved in church earlier in my life, I really knew almost nothing about the Bible. I developed a strong spiritual interest, and I was eager to learn all that I could.

In my late teen years, I began to play guitar professionally in a Christian rock band. Also, I took a job working at the local Christian bookstore. Part of my job requirement was that I’d be very well read on the inventory within our store. As a result, even at the young age of about 18 years old, I had read probably hundreds of books on theology, doctrine, and Protestant church history. I probably understood Calvinistic theology and Premillennial eschatology as well (or better) as the Baptist Church staff I attended. My reading would have been essentially what those in mainline protestant denominations or evangelical churches embrace.

I distinctly remember the day that I told my family of my desire to go to seminary and become a Baptist pastor. They encouraged me in that, and said that people had prayed for generations that a preacher would arise out of the family. The Baptist Church of which I was a member also encouraged me, and I began to do a considerable amount of work within the congregation. Ultimately, I began doing preaching work at Baptist churches, presentations before youth groups, and worked as an assistant to the Sunday school director.

While I was working with the Baptist Church, I was also attending a Baptist University in preparation for my seminary studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (Ground Zero for the modern Premillennial eschatology movement). It was fairly normal for me to give “faith only” invitations, work at evangelistic rallies, deliver sermons and messages, and teach classes involving sometimes intricate areas of Calvinistic theology and eschatology.

To be completely honest, most people attending Baptist churches don’t really know their theology. Baptist theology is deeply rooted in Calvinism, yet most Baptists would deny they are Calvinistic. The entire basis of “once saved, always saved” is that you cannot be lost, because you did nothing of your own accord to be saved in the first place! I was a little unique in that my reading schedule at the bookstore had resulted in me not only knowing what I believed, but also having a thorough understanding of exactly why I believe it. Further, I was extremely zealous and evangelistic in teaching the “truth” of Calvinism, and all that it contained: original sin, the impossibility of apostasy, unconditional predestination, etc.

Although churches with Calvinistic theology are perceived as teaching “faith only” salvation, in truth they teach “nothing only” salvation. A genuine Calvinist would tell you that you have done absolutely nothing for your salvation — you were unconditionally selected before time began by God. A common Calvinistic line is “you did not choose God; God chose you.” Because this essentially makes all evangelistic activities pointless, this element of Calvinism is generally forgotten.”

My Beliefs Radically Changed

I met a young lady who was attending the church of Christ in the neighboring town. We started dating, and I agreed to visit her church on Wednesday evening. When I got there, I was astonished to find that I disagreed with almost the entirety of their doctrine and theology. This was clearly not the “faith only salvation,” “once saved always saved,” unconditional Calvinistic theology that I embraced so dearly. In fact, I had determined that my new goal was to convert the entire congregation to the “truths” of Calvinism, and committed to attending their midweek Bible study every week until I had succeeded.

Because I was now attending their Bible study, the church there began a new Bible study on denominational error. As our study went along, we evaluated characteristic error taught within various denominational churches. Much of the error we were studying were things that I held very dearly as true.

Perhaps the very first element in my theology to fall was the idea that denominations were acceptable. Within most denominational churches, it is often accepted as a good trait that there are so many different churches to choose from. That way, people can always find a church that they agree with. Of course, the problem with this is it sets man as the ultimate arbiter of truth, rather than the scriptures. God’s expectation of us is that we conform ourselves to the truth of the word of God, not that we just move around until we can find people who agree to ignore the same portions of scripture (see Rom. 3:4).

Much to my surprise, I found myself completely unprepared to deal with the rather pointed questions I was being asked about my beliefs. What about men with long hair who claim to be godly? (see I Cor 11:14). This was problematic for me because I was a long-haired hippie type playing in a Christian rock bank. When asked about the frequency of which we observed the Lord’s Supper at the Baptist Church, I could only reply that we did so quarterly, four times a year, for no other reason than “that’s just the way we do it” (see Acts 20:7). When asked why I didn’t teach baptism was essential to salvation, I would rely on passages such as John 3:16, while admittedly ignoring passages such as Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. I did not understand the principle of homogeny of scripture (John 10:35; Acts 15:15), and was genuinely surprised to learn that I had significant holes in my Bible knowledge.

I had preached. taught. and performed concerts in and around Baptist churches for years. I was attending a Baptist University. I had at this time read extensively on doctrine and theology. I had been formally educated in Biblical languages. But one thing I had not done was actually read the Bible much. Amazingly enough, I had logged thousands of hours in studying about the bible, but comparatively little time actually in the Bible itself I began to see where my studies had almost systematically avoided large segments of scripture. You can imagine my shock when someone read me James 2:24. I think I probably responded somewhat like Martin Luther. and thought to myself, “that just doesn’t belong in the Bible.” I was amazed that I had never seen that before.

I remember sitting in a Baptist worship service when the senior pastor’s wife went to the pulpit and proclaimed, “Many people are proud to be Christians. But I want you to know, that I’m proud to be a Baptist.” I remember exactly where I was sitting. I will never forget it. Never. I was absolutely devastated. I remember thinking to myself, “This is so wrong! We have a woman preaching about how proud she is that we have divided up the body of Christ. I just can’t do this anymore.” I determined right then that I would not be a Baptist pastor. Instead. I changed my plan to pasturing a nondenominational evangelical church. I was making progress, but I still wasn’t there yet.

My plan to “convert” the local church of Christ was not going as I had intended. Instead, I found major tenets of my theology being shot down one right after another. Clearly man had a free will, as God had given men many occasions to make a choice. It was also evident that the Bible taught about a faith that did not save. Even with my Baptist Church invitations, I appealed to Romans 10:10 which teaches the necessity of confession. For years I had managed to miss that faith plus confession did not equal faith only. Our salvation was not unconditional, but was very conditional upon an obedient faith.

And then I had the night at the church of Christ that I will never forget.

I was sitting on the back row, when someone in passing read I John 3:15: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back! I remember feeling somewhat shell-shocked at that passage. I had to have been visibly stunned. I turned to the person next to me and said. “Do you realize that this passage says if you are a murderer, you don’t have eternal life?” She said, “Of course, everybody knows that.” I replied, “You’re wrong — everybody doesn’t know that.”

Within Calvinistic theology, once a person has eternal life, it can never be forfeited. I had already determined that man had a free will. Therefore, I knew it was within the realm of possibility for a Christian to choose to commit murder. And if that Christian could choose to commit murder, I John 3:15 said he would not have eternal life. “Once saved, always saved” was not true.

I spoke with a preacher at the church of Christ, and told him my concerns. He pointed out that I took passages out of context in order to support a position I had already decided upon. To avoid this problem. I read through the entire Bible in essentially one sitting over the course of three or four days. Thereafter, I went back to the Baptist Church and told them I was leaving. My final stop that day was for scriptural baptism (Titus 3:5; Col 2:12). I am now privileged to preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Denomination Dictionary

In Genesis eleven, the story of the Tower of Babel, we read where God confounded the language of mankind. One of the lessons we learn from this true story is that language has the power to unify people. Sometimes for evil, but it can also unify people for good.

To be united we need to speak the same language, and equally important, we need to define the words the same way. Though we can use our smartphones to communicate with folks who speak another language, it’s challenging to communicate with people who speak the same language but use different definitions.

One of the complications of evangelism is the fact that the terms we use are defined differently in the denominations. It’s nearly impossible to communicate with another if we’re not speaking the same language.

So that we can evangelize more effectively allow me to provide a list of common Biblical words and what they mean to the person in a denomination.

CHURCH: A building where believers gather to worship, fellowship, have trunk or treat or play games.

What Does the Bible Say? The church is the ‘Called out.’ It is the group of people which God adds a person to when they have obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [ Acts 2:47]

The church is the body of Jesus Christ, and there is only one. [Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4]

One must be in the church to be saved for Jesus is the savior of the body (the church). [Ephesians 5:23]

CHRISTIAN: Any person who believes in Jesus, but not necessarily an obedient or repentant person.

What Does the Bible Say? A Christian is what scripture calls those who have obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ and are faithfully following the doctrine of Christ.

WORSHIP: The feeling that one’s whole life pays homage to God. The activity one does to pay homage to God, as long as it feels good, includes mechanical music and is followed by a lunch. It is not necessary to follow the biblical pattern to ‘worship’.

What Does the Bible Say? Jesus said that the people who worship must do so in spirit and truth [John 4:24] which means that it is heart filled as well as scripturally authorized [Matthew 18:20]. He also said that it’s possible to worship in vain [Matthew 15:9].

BAPTISM: An outward sign of an inward grace.

What Does the Bible Say? Baptism is IMMERSION in water [Ephesians 5:26] which models the DEATH, BURIAL & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Gospel [1Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:1-4; 2Thessalonians 1:8]. It is an essential part of salvation for the person AFTER he, Believes that Jesus is the Christ, Repents of their sins, and Confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God [Matthew 16:16-18; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom 10:10].

GRACE: The free gift of salvation that Christ gave by dying on a cross. There is nothing a person can do to accept that free gift…except believe (unless you’re a Unitarian who thinks every person is saved without believing). Repentance is also not required, unless you’re a member of the church of Christ, in which case that person must repent of believing that repentance is an essential part of salvation. However, if you don’t bring forth fruit of the non-requirement of repentance, then you probably weren’t saved in the first place.

What Does the Bible Say? Grace is the gift of God [Ephesians 2:8], through Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, becoming the propitiation of our sins [1John 2:1-2]. Everyone can access this gift through HEARING the Gospel, BELIEVING, REPENTING of our sins, CONFESSING that Jesus is the Christ and being BAPTIZED into Christ for the remission of sins. [Romans 10:10, 17; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27].

LOVE: An emotion one must have toward everyone regardless of their lifestyle which does not judge or condemn, neither does it try to convince others to change.

What Does the Bible Say? Love is PATIENT and is KIND [1Corinthians 13:4], but it also REBUKES (convince of right or wrong) and CHASTENS (discipline / instruction). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” [Hebrews 12:4-11].

These are just a few examples of the many Biblical words that have been redefined by denominations. My intention is not to mock, rather it is to point out that there is only one truth, and that truth is God’s word. The redefining of these words is causing many to be lead astray. Effective evangelism recognizes that the world is speaking a secular language different from the language of the Bible.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17

Fake ‘Good’ News

There is much in the world of politics being called “FAKE NEWS.” Although that’s a kitschy catchphrase, the concept is hardly new. We can trace it all the way back to the very beginning when the serpent tempted Eve with his own FAKE NEWS on God’s command. “Ye shall NOT surely die.” [Gen 3:4 emphasis mine].

In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the children of Israel not to change God’s word. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” [Deut 4:2]. In the New Testament, John as given the same warning in Revelation 22:18-19.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9]

As you can see, “FAKE NEWS” has been around a very long time and it’s especially troubling when it enters the realm of teaching God’s word. We are told, in Mark 16:15, to preach the “gospel” (which literally means ‘good news’), but today we have so many folks teaching a “FAKE GOOD NEWS” which Paul called a PERVERTED GOSPEL. [Galatians 1:7-9]. You won’t believe what people are teaching today about the Gospel of Jesus…

JUST ASK JESUS INTO YOUR HEART. This perversion is the most common “FAKE GOOD NEWS” that I hear. This alteration to the Gospel message follows the exact same pattern Satan used in Genesis 3 by just adding a simple 3 letter word…NOT. In Mark 16:16 it says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” However, those being deceived are being told, he that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved. It’s as plain as day, Satan’s devices are being utilized by those promoting error, just add the word NOT.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” [2 Corinthians 2:11]

ONCE YOU’RE SAVED, YOU’RE ALWAYS SAVED. Although this is a wonderful idea, it is nowhere taught in God’s word. It is true that a Christian can have assurance of eternal life, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” [1 John 5:13], but it never teaches that you can never walk away from it. This is the warning given by the Hebrew writer,

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” [Hebrews 3:12]

GOD DOESN’T CARE HOW YOU WORSHIP IF YOUR HEART IS IN IT. Another way this “FAKE GOOD NEWS” is propagated is with this statement, “I DON’T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.” Both statements place the speaker in the position of God!! Just because you can’t see anything wrong with it doesn’t make it scriptural. The only way you can know what God care’s about is if you read what He revealed. Do these people even know that it’s possible to worship in vain?

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9]

GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY… Lastly, for the sake of this article, this piece of “FAKE GOOD NEWS” is probably the most deceiving. Everything about this statement sounds great. To argue against it poorly is to sound like you’re advocating that God wants us to be unhappy. What people forget is that sin almost always looks attractive. God’s word says sin can be, “pleasurable” in Hebrews 11:25; “enticing” in Colossians 2:4 & Proverbs 1:10. God has given us wonderful blessing to enjoy [1 Timothy 6:17], but Satan has taken these pleasures and perverted them with his lies to turn us away from serving God. Our Father in Heaven DOES want us to be happy, and has given us instructions through His word on how to have joy in this life.

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” [2 John 1:9-11]

Friends, my hope is that all of you want to go to heaven to be with the Lord. I do too, but no one shall get to heaven by believing the “FAKE GOOD NEWS.” I know that you love God. He sure does love you, [John 3:16]. He sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us back to Himself and I know you love Jesus too. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He is the only way. [John 14:4-15].

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

Taking a Knee

There has been a lot of news of late about football players taking a knee during the national anthem. What we’re witnessing are people, players, TV & Politicians vying for our attention in the most irreverent way possible, by making us angry. It seems to me that the real controversy here isn’t about patriotism, social justice, racial inequality, or free speech. It’s not even about the flag or the national anthem. It’s only about one thing – Gratitude.

You see, the reason anyone can “take a knee” is due to the fact that men and women of all colors spilled red blood on the ground to form this great country and to protect it from those who would want to see it fall. To be ignorant of that point is proof that many in our country have grown to be ungrateful. People often take for granted those things, the price of which was paid by another.

But this article is not for politics, it’s to give a biblical perspective on the world. You see, we’re not immune to becoming ungrateful. It’s easy for us to overlook the sacrifice and spilled blood that bought the church, that bought our lives [1Cor 6:20]. We too, take for granted those things that were done for us. And sometimes we forget that God is Sovereign, that Jesus is King and that He Reigns. [1Peter 3:22]

It reminds me of another person where it appeared he was being treated unfairly. A man who found himself in the middle of a discussion between God and Satan. His name is Job, and as he was living his life, minding his own business, everything changed. In a very short time, he lost all his 10 children to tragedy, he lost all his wealth worse than any stock market crash, he lost his health and then he lost the support of his wife. Last of all he lost all hope of receiving sympathy from his friends. You can read about it in the book of Job, chapters 1-2. Have any of us, or those players, suffered this kind of loss, experienced this kind of injustice?

Life is unfair, it’s cruel and often makes no sense. That was Job’s situation, he didn’t know why he had suffered so much pain. So, what did Job do? HE TOOK A KNEE!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, [Job 1:20]

Taking a Knee

Job didn’t give up, he didn’t curse God as his wife suggested, and he didn’t believe the false narrative of the mainstream. He maintained his integrity and remembered his creator. [Job 4:17, 36:3] This is gratitude. He could have easily believed the lie, but he had so much love for the truth [2Thess 2:10-11].

In good times, it’s easy to forget what God has done for us [Mat 5:45, Acts 14:17]. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. [James 1:17] In bad times, it’s even harder, often resorting to blaming Him or even doubting His existence. We can learn something from Job. We can learn to seek God in the good times and the bad.

But that’s not all. Job TOOK A KNEE on another occasion. At the end of the book, Job TOOK A KNEE for those who had been condemning him incorrectly. [Job 42:8-10]. It was after he prayed for his friends that God restored to him all his wealth.

With Job in mind, let’s see how we ought to ‘take a knee’…

  • Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
  • 2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
  • 1Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

One more thing, while a few are “taking a knee”, there will come a day when EVERYONE will ‘TAKE A KNEE’ as they face the judgement.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:11

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; Philippians 2:10