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

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Whose right

You read that correctly, the question is not ‘who is right’ rather it’s ‘who has rights’. There has been a shift in this country toward the idea that it is GOV that confers (grants or bestows) rights to its citizens. In a recent article, James G. Dwyer said, “…that’s the state that empowers parents to do anything with children, to take them home, to have custody and to make any kind of decisions about that.”1 What he is saying, as well as so many others, is that GOV is the one that gives people rights.

Before we go forward, let me say that this article is intended to help the Christian understand the truth regarding the world around him. We live in a world run by man and overrun with sin. We must live in this world without letting its errors separate us from the truth. [1Corinthians 5:7-10]

As Christians, if we’re not careful, these erroneous ideas will creep in and lead us astray. Therefore, we ask the question…

WHO CONFERS RIGHTS?

Is it true that government (GOV) bestows upon its citizens certain rights? When you examine history, the answer appears to be yes. All over the world, it has been the kings (GOV) that determines what a person may or may not do within its borders. It is this idea that has lead so many into revolution in attempts to regain rights.

Then along came certain men, on this continent, who thought a different thought. They wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”2 Did they come up with this on their own or was this just a new way of thinking about government?

We’re spelling it wrong.

The idea that mankind has rights, from their Creator, did not come from the mind of man, it came from GOD. Our founding fathers had the idea that people have GOD given rights and the role of GOV is to protect them. How did they come to this conclusion?

From GOD’s holy and divine word. If we examine scripture, we will find Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

  • LIFE – Genesis 1:26-27 teaches us that it is GOD who gives Life. The Psalmist wrote, “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments” [Psalm 119:73]. And again, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” [139:14]. GOV has no power to give life, only to take it away. Even then we see it’s limit for Jesus has said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” [Matthew 10:28].
  • LIBERTY – This is the idea of free will. We all have the freedom to choose. We know this because GOD gave us a command. By giving a command, it’s automatically known that man has free will. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” [Genesis 2:16-17]. Liberty is the freedom to choose. This doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for our choices, but it does mean that GOD gave us freedom. GOV can try its best to control people, but they cannot control one’s mind.
  • HAPPINESS – or rather, the pursuit of it. GOV can never provide happiness, only destroy it. GOD gave us this pursuit, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And GOD said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so” [Genesis 1:28-30]. GOD gave us all things to enjoy. Paul said to those in Lystra, “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” [Acts 14:17]. Happiness comes from GOD, never is it found in gov.

This article can only be complete when we note what GOD says about the ‘RIGHT’ of gov. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” [Romans 13:3-4]. Look closely, it is GOD that gives man his rights and it is GOD who gives gov theirs. The ruling powers are SERVANTS of the most high GOD!!!

In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’

[Daniel 4:17b]

“Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.”

[John 19:11]

 

1 – http://medicalkidnap.com/2017/09/12/law-professor-attacks-homeschoolers-believes-state-should-choose-parents-for-babies/

2 – Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Like a Hurricane

For over 2 weeks, hurricane news has dominated this countries attention. It began when Harvey struck S.E. Texas, and the relief efforts, then all eyes quickly turned to watch hurricane Irma.

For many, prayer has been the only thing that gives them comfort, while others are using these storms as evidence that God doesn’t exist, for if He did, then why does He allow such suffering?

One editorial cartoon mocks those who praise God for being rescued.

Many of us became very angry when we saw this cartoon, but when your blood stops boiling, the question about how to answer those who mock us, comes into view. How are we to address those who use natural catastrophe as proof that God is not real? They will pose these 3 problems…
1) “If God is real, why does He allow suffering?”
2) “If God is all powerful, then He must not be all good, because of suffering.”
3) “If God is all good, then He must not be all powerful to allow suffering.”

FIRST, the problem of suffering from natural disasters is not automatic proof that God is not real or uncaring. On the contrary, it offers proof that GOD IS REAL! When someone attempts to disprove God by pointing at suffering, their idea of suffering can only be true if there is a standard of good, and there is someone who sets that standard. That someone is GOD.

If God were not real, there can be no standard by which to determine if something is wrong. For there to be a wrong, there must be a right. For those who reject God in favor of evolution, then every natural disaster is just the result of the continual process of evolution. Therefore, your subjective feelings are the only standard by which you object to natural suffering. You may not like it, but without God, you cannot say that it is bad. It’s just nature doing it’s job.

SECOND, we should ask the skeptic how they would put one of these things (the earth) together. How would they run the world? How would they deal with free will and the problem of sin? How would they create a planet where gravity only works when we place something down, but never breaks bones when a person trips? How would they get heat to cook food and to keep us warm without the possibility of forest fires?

Would they interfere every time something bad was about to happen? If they prevented every injustice, would there be free will? If they stepped in to prevent every death due to natural catastrophe, would the people simply regard that as just the way nature works and be atheists anyway? How would they feel, if they could put one of these together, when their creation considered their benevolent activity as just nature doing what nature does?

LAST, If God were not real, the atheist has no answer for how wrongs are eventually made right. For the Christian, we believe that all wrongs will be righted and that all evil will be dealt with. The word from our Lord says; “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” [Romans 12:19]. We believe that we all must appear before Him and; “…that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” [2Corinthians 5:10].

Here’s another thing, if God is not real, then there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen, and if Christ has not risen then we are still in our sins and we are a pitiful people. I thank God daily for the blessings in Christ Jesus. I may not understand all suffering, but I do believe in God and…

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [2Timothy 1:12]

The Fatherhood of God

FATHER’S DAY is upon us, as we take time out to honor our father’s in the flesh it seems appropriate to look at how Scripture describes God as a Father.

It may surprise you to learn that the Old Testament portrayal of God as Father is quite rare. He is referred to as the Father of the nation of Israel [De 32:6; 1Chron 29:10; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4 Jeremiah 3:19; 31:9; Mal 1:6; 2:10]. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” [Isa 64:8]. It speaks of Him as the Father of certain individuals, [2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Psalm 68:5; 89:26], and in other places, the idea of Fatherhood is present although the term is not used [Ex 4:22; De 14:1; 32:5, Isa 1:2; 8:18; 9:6; Hos 1:10; 11:1].

As we survey the New Testament, all that changes. The frequency of calling God the Father increases dramatically. Most likely because Jesus said, “Our Father which art in Heaven…” when He taught His disciples to pray, [Mat 6:9]. Jesus, rightfully so, calls God “Father” nearly 200 times in the gospel (over 100 times in the book of John alone). Another word for Father Jesus used was “Abba,” found only 3 times in the New Testament [Mark 14:26; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6]. In Vine’s Expository Dictionary it says about “Abba”, “It approximates to a personal name, in contrast to ‘Father,’ with which it is always joined in the NT. This is probably due to the fact that, abba having practically become a proper name, Greek-speaking Jews added the Greek word pater, “father,” from the language they used. Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; ‘father’ expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.” (Vines, W.E., Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005 print page 1)

Should we call God “daddy”?

I’ve noticed a trend among some to refer to God as “daddy” as an attempt to make God sound more familiar to them. They suggest that since the Aramaic word “Abba” is used by children and our nearest English equivalent is “daddy” we have liberty. Their reasoning is flawed since the term is used by older children and adults alike. I’m not a fan of that. Although He is called our Father, we still ought to honor Him with respect, He is still the Almighty God.

God is our Father

There should be no doubt that God is our Father. As the Creator of all things which includes mankind, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” [Gen 1:27], He is our Father. Let us never forget that. Our Father, the Creator, provides for His creation, despite our sin toward Him, in this we ought to be very grateful. “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” [Acts 14:17]. Because of His goodness over all mankind through His creation, some make the mistake of thinking that this will equate to salvation. For that we need to consider God in another sense, as a Father through adoption.

God, our adopted Father.

Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4-7 that through Christ we may become children of God through adoption, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” It should be understood that some shall NOT be adopted by God to become their Father, and shall NOT inherit the promises. The question becomes, how do we receive this adoption?

Just a few verses earlier, Paul wrote, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” [Galatians 3:26-29]. Friends, don’t miss that. We can all become children of God, He can be our Father by faith when we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID

Some of the biggest challenges I face as an evangelist are the things people THINK are in the Bible or they BELIEVE Jesus taught.  The evangelist, like the statue carver, must chip away everything that doesn’t belong. Some of these beliefs are so firmly attached that it requires a lot of pounding. Below is a list of things folks THINK Jesus said, but never did. Perhaps this list can help you in your personal work. (editors note; there are far more than these listed and may show up in a future article. Seb)

The uppercase words are ‘things Jesus never said’

Jesus never said… “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, TO ASK ME INTO THEIR HEARTS.”

What He really said…  ”…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” [Mat 28:19]

 

Jesus never said… “Mt 7:1 Judge not, AND REMAIN SILENT WHEN YOU SEE FOLKS DO EVIL.

What He really said… “that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Mat 7:1-2

 

Jesus never said… “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them TO CHOOSE 1 OR MORE OF 58 GENDERS?”

What He really said… “made them male and female,” Mat 19:4 [cr. Gen 1:27]

 

Jesus never said… “IT’S MY OPINION”

What He really said… “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Mat 28:18 [cr. Mt 7:29]

 

Jesus never said… “If the world hates you, REMEMBER, CHANGE WHAT YOU TEACH TO CONFORM WITH THE TIMES, MAKING IT EASIER TO FOLLOW SO EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU AGAIN.

What He really said… “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

 

Jesus never said… “Neither do I condemn you, go and DO WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY.

What He really said… “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” [John 8:11 the woman caught in adultery]

 

Jesus never said… “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to ETERNAL LIFE, and many there be which go in thereat:

What He really said… “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [Mat 7:13-14]

 

Jesus never said… “I am A way, A truth, and A life: ANYONE CAN GO TO THE MOTHER ON THEIR OWN.

What He really said… “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [John 14:6]

 

Jesus never said… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my churchES;

What He really said… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” [Mat 16:18]

 

He also said… “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” [Mat 7:24]

And, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

Arguments I can (not) answer

THERE ARE THINGS people say to me that are so very easy to answer, yet impossible to answer. Sounds confusing? Allow me to explain…

Recently, a man I was sharing the gospel with told me that God speaks to him directly. I asked, “how do you know that the voice in your head is God and not something else?” He emphatically replied, “you can’t tell me that God isn’t talking to me!”

No, I can’t…tell him. Oh, I could give him a sound, Biblical answer like, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” [2Thess 2:11]. I could show him the example of Jacob believing a lie about his son Joseph being dead, then NOT believing the truth when he was told that Joseph was alive [Gen 37:12-33; 45:26]. I could show you passage after passage directing us to the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD for our communication from Him. I could show you that the written word of God…

  • Must be Read – Eph 3:3;
  • Is Complete – 2Tim 3:16-17
  • Devine – 1Thess 2:13
  • Final – Jude 3; Gal 1:6-9
  • Causes Belief – John 20:31
  • Calls – 2Th 2:14

…but he already told me I can’t tell him, therefore I can’t.

It’s sad really. Folks are so convinced of lies (I blame the false teachers in denominationalism [Mat 24:5,11]) that it’s near about impossible to convince them of the truth. In another instance, I showed a “faith only” fellow 1Peter 3:21 [The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us] and asked him what it meant. He said, “I know what it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean you need to be baptized!” He was already convinced of what it DOESN’T mean, that he couldn’t read the words and learn the truth.

_________________________

It’s easier to convince a person of a lie than it is to convince them that they’ve been lied to.

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Rather than become discouraged, the Scriptures from God teaches us that the real problem is a lack of love for the truth. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” [2Thess 210]. Once the moral compass of truth is gone, then all we have left is our own lusts and desires.

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Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts. Rom 1:24

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When the moral compass of God’s true written word [John 17:17] is ignored, is it any wonder why people are all over the map with their beliefs, worship, methods for salvation and so many other erroneous ideas? Without the truth of God’s written word, it becomes easy to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine.

_________________________

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. Eph 4:14

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Friend, if you’re one of those people who believe that God is “CALLING YOU” or The HOLY SPIRIT is leading you separate and apart from God’s written word, then you’re just being led by your own personal thoughts, lusts and desires. [Mat 22:29]

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Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15

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Let’s look at it one more way…

If God is telling men what to do, separate and apart from God’s word, then why are there over 30,000 different Christian denominations? Is God an author of confusion, does He mind that we’re all saying different things?

_________________________

For God is not the author of confusion.

1Corinthians 14:33 

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1Corinthians 1:10

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I ain’t afraid of no Ghosts

IT’S THAT TIME of year again here in Borger Texas, Halloween. The time when many decorate their homes with ghosts, goblins and witches.  Even Netflix is promoting a plethora of scary zombie movies. The conversations about ghosts and goblins increase as well. I’ve spoken to several folks who actually believe in a potential zombie apocalypse. A zombie is a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, in other words, the walking dead.

Regardless of the pop culture surrounding zombies, I ain’t afraid of no zombies either. I’m not afraid by faith. When we say “by faith”, what we mean is that we have revelation from God on any given subject. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” [Romans 10:17; Deut 29:29]. God has told us a few things about the evil spiritual realm.

[This article revisits a theme I wrote about in June, “Is demon possession possible].

What does the Bible say about the evil spirit world?

God revealed through the scriptures some things about spirit beings, or angels. Angels are beings with a higher nature than man [Psalm 8:5; Heb 2:7, 9], but some of them sinned against God [2Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6]. This fallen group seem to be identified as the devil’s angels [Matt 25:41; Rev 12:7,9]. They are identified by other terms as well; “demons” [Luke 11:15], “evil spirits” (Acts 19:12-13], “unclean spirits” [Matthew 10:1], or Satan’s angels [Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9].

Though very little is said about the demonic & demon possession in the OT, in the NT it appears to have increased. Jesus, along with his disciples, frequently encountered the demonic and were able to cast them out of possessed peoples [Matt 1:21-27; Mark 9:14-29]. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” [Luke 10:18-20]. The context shows that He was speaking about the disciples’ power over evil spirits and the weakening of Satan’s power, including his influence.

This ability matches the prophecy from Zechariah; “I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land” [Zech 13:2]. Peter & Jude refer to evil spirits being in chains and bound [2Peter 2:1-4; Jude 1:6]. Revelation describes Satan being “bound” during the time in which Christ reigns over His kingdom—which is the church [Rev. 20:2]. This evidence points to the conclusion that demonic activity does not happen today, because the evil spirit realm has been “bound” awaiting the final judgement.

Then there’s the living dead…

Most of what we declare about ghosts is from the imaginations of the minds eye of fiction and not by faith (by revelation from God). Even in the Bible, we see the disciples “imagining” that they saw a ghost when they were actually seeing Jesus walk upon the water [Matt 14:26]. But it was their fear of the unknown that created the thought of a ghost, for they had never witnessed anyone ever walking upon the water. It’s important to note that the spirits of the dead are not the same as angels or demons. It is only after the resurrection of the righteous dead that they become “equal to the angels” [Luke 20:36]. Just because the disciples “supposed it was a ghost” is no evidence that ghosts exist [Mark 6:49].

Where do our spirits go when we die?

According to the word of God, all of the dead go to a place of the dead called in New Testament Greek, “Hades”, (translated either; hell, Hades, or grave) the place of departed souls [Luke 16:19-30; Acts 2:27]. All of the sinful angels are bound in a part of Hades called “Tartarus” [2Peter 2:4]. We conclude from these passages that the spirits of the dead & bound are not allowed to roam the Earth nor haunt us. In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, [Luke 16:19-30], the rich man begged that Lazarus be sent back to warn his brothers, but this request was denied.

There are only 2 instances in the New Testament where departed spirits, other than Jesus Himself, were allowed to return. The first was the return of Moses & Elijah in Matt 17:3. This was to show that the Law of Moses & the prophets are fulfilled in Christ Jesus, for God spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”  The second, when the graves of the saints were opened after the resurrection of Jesus in Matt 27:52-54. In both instances they were for a very specific purpose, to testify to the validity of Jesus’ claims, and have since ceased. We can have confidence in the scriptures that we need not be afraid nor be deceived about any evil spirit, zombie or ghost [Eph 5:6, Col 2:4,8,18; 3:6; 2Th 2:3], sound theology has a way of doing that!

Preacher or Pastor What’s the difference?

MOST FOLKS, myself included, have a hard time remembering names. However, many can remember what you do, probably because it’s more tangible than a name.    Let me share with you a conversation that I have nearly every single day;

Them: Hello pastor.
Me: Hello, I’m not a pastor, I’m a preacher.
Them: what’s the difference?
Me: a bunch, would you like to study it?
Them: No, I’m good.

This typical conversation has been condensed for space. I’m never short with them, always jovial and kind, but I do use it as an opportunity to engage in a gospel conversation with folks.

This article is for them. For all of us really. It will be posted online as a tool you can use when they ask you, “what’s your pastor like?”

What’s the difference?

Although all pastors are preachers, not all preachers are pastors.

PREACHERS: These people are “a herald, i.e. of divine truth (especially of the gospel)” WE Vines. Although any one can be a “preacher” when they speak about the Gospel, there is a position in the local congregation which is called “the evangelist.” According to scripture, this is a male who is a herald of the gospel during the preaching portion of the worship. He stands up and preaches the gospel, [2Timothy 4:2; 1Timothy 2:12; 1Corinthians 14:34]. It’s unpopular to say “male only”, but this is the teaching of the New Testament. In no way does this teaching speak to the worth of women, rather it is just a defining of roles. [Galatians 3:28]

In short, a preacher is an evangelist who, in addition to going out to spread the gospel, publicly preaches the gospel during the worship of the local congregation. Paul wrote to the evangelist / preacher Timothy, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” [2Tim 4:5]

PASTORS: This is a specific position held in the local congregation, the qualifications of which are in 1Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9. There are some additional information about “pastors”, also called “elders” in Acts 20:17-35. Here we find that these men are to watch over the local church and to feed the flock; “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]. From this verse it becomes clear why Elders are also Called Pastors.

An Elder / Pastor can also be an evangelist, laboring as his vocation in the Gospel. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” [1Timothy 5:17]

What’s Your Pastor Like?” This is another question that is frequently asked. What they’re trying to determine is his speaking ability and personality. This questions is often asked by a person who’s thinking about visiting a particular church. While there’s nothing wrong in asking about the speaker, it shouldn’t be the FIRST nor ONLY prerequisite for choosing a church. (Other poor qualities for choosing a church are; games, entertainment, cafes of field trips)

One should seek first the truth; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” [Mat 6:33]. I’ve written about this in a previous article, “How to start a church” [April 19, 2015]. The basics of which are 3 points:

  • Reliance on God’s word for their only Authority. [1Peter 4:11]
  • Correct Worship in spirit and truth. [John 4:24]
    1. Assembling on the correct day, partaking of the Lord’s Supper [Acts 20:7]. Preaching, praying, singing (without the aid of mechanical music) and giving [Acts 20:7, 8, 36; Eph 5:19; 1Cor 16:1].
  • Doing the work of the church; Spreading the Gospel, Edification of the saints, and benevolence for needy saints. [Mat 28:18-20; Eph 4:12; 1Cor 16:1]

More could be said about this subject, hopefully this article has peaked your interest in confirming for yourself about the truth of all matters. Search the scriptures yourselves to learn all the counsel of God.  [Acts 17:11; 1John 4:1-3].

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good
[1Thess 5:21]

What if We’re Wrong?

A VERY COMMON question that I hear when speaking to someone about the Church of Christ, the Bible or obeying the Gospel is, “What if you’re wrong?” It’s a fair question, so let’s answer the question about salvation, from the viewpoint as a member of the church of Christ compared with the viewpoint of the major worldviews.

Calvinism, which is the foundation of the doctrines for the Baptist, Lutheran, and most protestant churches, teaches salvation “by faith only”. Every teacher of that doctrine, regardless of church affiliation, has said that when a person believes that Jesus is the Christ, then that person is saved. They cite passages like, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8. They go on to teach that a person who is saved by faith can never lose their salvation regardless of the sin they commit.

If we’re wrong, then we’re still saved. Members of the church of Christ believe that salvation IS BY FAITH. On this we agree. The difference is that we understand faith to INCLUDE obedience to God’s word. We cite the only passage in scripture that actually says, “by faith only.” That passage is found in James 2:24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

They may argue that we’re adding to salvation and that salvation is by faith plus nothing, therefore we (members of the church of Christ) are not saved. The problem with this logic is that they forget their own teaching. A person who believes that Jesus is the Christ cannot ever lose their salvation. Once again, members of the Church of Christ are still saved even if we’ve committed the sin of addition under their doctrines. (If any are saved at all when you look at their false doctrine on predestination which says that God alone chooses who will be saved & lost and neither can ever change regardless of belief.)

Modern day Judaism teaches that one is saved if the balance of their life is good. One Jewish teacher said, “In Judaism, it is entirely up to you. If you do good, you will get good.”

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. The byproduct of obeying the gospel, which includes becoming a faithful “do gooder”, puts us into salvation according to modern Judaism. We believe, according to scripture, that we should avoid evil and do good. In Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Read the rest of that passage and you’ll see more of what I mean.

Buddhism has a final goal of achieving Nirvana which is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. The right way to Nirvana, “… starts with understanding of suffering, not by mere mind, but by the purified mind.” The Sallekha Sutta is one of the key suttas that describes the true meaning of Practice towards attaining Nirvana. This describes that Right View (Samma Ditti) is the most important factor that Buddhists should develop to start to become selfless.

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. In Scripture, a Christian is to be selfless and to purify the mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” [Romans 12:2]. Also in Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”

A Christian is also commanded to be selfless. Verses like Matthew 25:31-46 and Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Islamism is a bit more difficult because it’s confusing. On one hand, you have millions practicing the “peaceful religion” of Islam, and on the other, you have radicalized and violent practitioners that seek to kill anyone that rejects Muhammed. How are we to know if they’re right or wrong?

We can know by consulting their own book the Quran. It says, “If thou (Muhammed) art in doubt concerning that which we reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scriptures before thee.” [Sura 10:94 – Yunus]. The Prophet Muhammed was told to refer to the Christians for fuller spiritual understanding! There are even more passages within the Quran telling the Muslim to consult the book of the Jew & the Christian in addition to the passages that talk about Jesus and Mary in a positive light.

Therefore, according to their own book, they are to read the Bible. The Scriptures are the foundation of what we believe, [1Timothy 3:16]. Jesus said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we are told to go back to the Scriptures and once again find ourselves obeying the Gospel!

Catholicism says that the Pope is the head of the church on earth. The word Pope comes from the Latin word “papa”, which means father. A quick look at Scripture and we find Jesus saying, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” [Matthew 23:9]. Again, members of the Church of Christ have it right.

I’ve gone through many of the worldviews and answered the question, “what if we’re wrong” and have found that, according to their views, we’re saved. Shouldn’t THEY also answer the question? Let’s do that for them.

My denominational friend, if you’re wrong about your religion, your denomination or your practices, you have no way to change it at the judgement day. Therefore, REPENT before it’s eternally too late. 

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:5