Do you remember when you were without hope?

You may be thinking that this title refers to that time in your life when you had great financial distress, but it doesn’t. Or you may suppose that it refers to that time when you may have been in fear for your life at the threat of a thief or a maniac, but it doesn’t. Or you may be thinking it’s referring to the loss of a parent or a spouse, but it doesn’t.

It’s referring to Ephesians chapter 2: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,… That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Too many people are hopeless, and far too many Christians are displaying hopelessness as well. It’s very easy to get caught up in the concerns for this life and to forget that there’s an eternity awaiting us. Paul is saying that without Christ this life is hopeless. Without Christ this life holds no promises.

The writer of Ecclesiastes makes the same point in a very powerful way. He writes about seeking success, wealth, joy and meaningful work, but at the end of the day it’s vanity, “grasping after the wind.” He’s not suggesting that these pursuits are worthless. His conclusion is the same as Paul’s, without God in your life all these things are hopeless. His conclusion of the whole matter is, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]

Have you ever met someone that appeared to have nothing, no money, had physical disabilities or otherwise devoid of many of this world’s goods but was happy? I have, many times. I met a man, whom I’ve told you about, who had a disease called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). It is a disorder in which muscle tissue and connective tissue are gradually replaced by bone (ossified), forming bone outside the skeleton. He was one of the happiest guys I knew. I loved being around him because he brightened every room he entered.

How can anyone in a condition like that be happy? It was by no cause of his own, it happened to him beginning from his youth up. He experienced daily pain because of his disease but brought joy to those around him. How did he do it, what’s the key? I’ll tell you, he looked forward to being with God. In other words, he had purpose. This is true of nearly everyone who, despite the difficulties of life, are happy. They have found purpose, meaning and a direction.

THE KEY TO TRUE JOY…PURPOSE

People with purpose are some of the happiest people on the planet. They will endure great pain & struggle because of purpose.

I read about a study where scientists tossed lab rats into a jar of water that had been placed in total darkness to see how long they would swim to survive. In total darkness it took 3 minutes before they gave up. Then they took the rats and placed them in the same conditions, but this time with a small ray of light at the top. How long did the rats struggle this time? 36 hours! When they had a light, a possibility of escape, they were able to endure.

Think about how strong we can be when we have hope, true hope that is in Christ. We can face tomorrow when we know that we’ve been reconciled to God in Christ. Paul finishes his command to remember by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

So, let us be reminded that without Christ we are without hope, without the promise of heaven, but IN CHRIST we have both the promise of heaven and hope that He will return to take us there. [Gal 3:27 put on Christ in baptism]

The next time life gets you down, and it will, look up and be reminded that God loves you, and that He sent His Son to provide you a way of escape.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11]

Never Growing Weary

Years ago, four of us hiked the Brooks-Range in search of Dall Sheep in Alaska. For 3 days under the midnight sun, we hiked the mountain sides with full packs loaded with supplies nearly has heavy as my 130# self. It was excruciating yet exhilarating all at the same time. I had little experience with that level of exhaustion that came partly from the exertion and partly from the altitude. Each night as we bedded down from our 16-18-hour exercise, we looked forward to what we might find on the next. It’s a memory that remains vivid some 34 years later.

Have you ever noticed that there are different kinds of tired? There’s the kind of tired that comes when you hate what you’re doing, and the kind of tired that fulfills you when you’re doing something you love. There’s some sort of psychological cause behind the fact that a person will take himself to the breaking point when he is engaged in the activities he loves (hiking the mountains of Alaska) and is exhausted with much less effort in the thing he despises (splitting logs for the wood stove at home, a chore I wish to forget). We need no more illustrations for every person can see this upon examination of his own life.

The Holy Spirit knows this about us, that we can endure great hardships where faith, hope and love abide. He inspired Paul to write in Galatians 6:9:

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

When we are directing our physical bodies toward the hope that we love, the joy of this gives the body energy to make the work seem light. In our love for Jesus we can experience the feeling He described in Matthew 11:30;

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Think hard about this principle, for it will be profitable to you. Every activity with which we engage our physical bodies that is out of force, fear or necessity and does not arise out of love and service is immediately met with resistance from within and produces loss of energy resulting in a tired body and mind.

Seldom do we complain of fatigue about long nights spent in play but be asked to work night shift and suddenly the head can’t wait to hit the pillow. What do we learn from this? That one will endure any hardship if he loves the reason that he does the work. Money doesn’t give endurance, the real pay comes out of the love to serve our Savior, Christ Jesus. Force can win for a while, but love will give us the strength to endure. And love Him we must, for without it we shall miss the peace and joy that comes from above.

God gives us plenty of reminders, in His word, that we can endure hardships, face persecutions and afflictions that come from living an obedient life in Christ. For He is with us and has provided us a hope, a reward in Heaven. [cr Heb 11:6]

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” [Mt 24:13]

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” [1Cor 15:58]

Christ doesn’t expect us to endure anything He Himself hasn’t already done. He led the way through the example of His own suffering for our sake; “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” [Heb 12:3]

We can do it, endure this life with unlimited energy, when we continually remind ourselves of our primary love and service to our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Rewarder Christ Jesus.

be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” [Rev 2:10b]

What comes first Water or Salvation?

People in the denominational world want to rid water from God’s plan of salvation. Oh, they’ll say it’s important, one false teacher even said, “Baptism is not essential to salvation, but you aren’t saved if you refuse it.” That’s confusing. When you show them the simple instructions of the Master, (Mark 16:16) they still can’t see it. So, let’s take a different approach by asking, WHAT CAME FIRST, WATER OR SALVATION?

When you open your Bible, you won’t go far before you come to THE STORY OF NOAH’S ARK (Genesis 6-8). A novice could answer the question, WHAT CAME FIRST, WATER OR SALVATION?

Noah was commanded to build an ark. He moved with Godly fear and built the ark, according to the pattern (Heb 11:7). He entered the ark with his family. God closed the only door. It rained. The ark rose above the water. Everyone outside of the ark died. The ark landed on Ararat. Noah & his family were saved. He Heard God’s instructions, Believed, Obeyed, WATER.

A LITTLE FURTHER ALONG and you’ll read of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage (Exodus 1-14). Once again, a casual reading reveals a similar story. Moses heard God’s instructions. He believed. They obeyed God’s instruction. They found themselves by the red sea with Pharaoh’s army in pursuit. They walked on dry ground surrounded by WATER. They were free on the other side of the water, while Pharaoh’s army drowned.

And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” (1Cor 10:2)

KEEP READING and you’ll come to the story of a man named Naaman who had leprosy (2King 5:1-14). He HEARD about a cure and BELIEVED it was true, so much that he brought great wealth to pay for it. However, those weren’t the instructions. The instructions were to dip seven times in the Jordan river. He became angry and wanted a modification to the instruction. That wasn’t in the message either. So, after a little reasoning with his servant, humbly he went to the WATER in obedience. Then, and only then did he receive the cure.

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT we read of a man born blind, (John 9:1-7). This story has some amazing similarities to the others. He HEARD some instructions. BELIEVING them, he went in faithful OBEDIENCE to the pool of Siloam. WATER was the dividing line between blindness and sight.

WITH ALL THESE ACCOUNTS before us, we ask again, WHAT CAME FIRST, WATER OR SALVATION? The answer is clear…WATER. God desired water to be the dividing line between the Fully convinced believer and Salvation.

NOW, AS WE LOOK AT His command for salvation under the New Covenant, what do we find?

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

(Acts 22:16)

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (1Peter 3:21)

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

(Acts 8:12)

THIS IS THE PATTERN of the New Covenant. Jesus commanded baptism, the Apostles taught it and believers obeyed it prior to their salvation. The question now becomes; do you love Jesus enough to do what He says? (Luke 6:46; John 14:15) Or will you follow the pattern of the Pharisees? “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” (Luke 7:30)

For further study there are additional scriptures on the (here).

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]

Has God Really Said…?

There is such a thing as a bad question…

In Genesis 3:1, Satan asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” This first question in the Bible, and such like it, have been on people’s lips ever since. Has God really said…you must be baptized…you must worship and so many more.

Normally the only bad question is the one not asked, and this wouldn’t be so bad if it was asked by a seeker. Unfortunately, it’s not asked by the seekers, rather, the deniers. Let’s examine this question considering God’s revealed word regarding the creation.

HAS GOD REALLY SAID, ‘HE MADE EVERYTHING IN 6 DAYS?

The short answer is, yes. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:” [Exodus 20:11]. If “in six days’ doesn’t mean six literal 24-hour days, then we have a problem. Just as Eve believed the serpent about eating the fruit and lost paradise, if we fail here, we will lose the scriptures, literally! The theory of evolution is at odds with the biblical record. I recently learned that the Catholic church has accepted the possibility of evolution and since 1950, sees no conflict with evolution and the Bible. I see a conflict, and I hope you do as well. If evolution is true, then God has lied, but that’s not possible. God cannot lie [Titus 1:2] and the Bible contains His word [2Timothy 3:16] therefore the Bible is true. I realize this looks like circular reasoning, but God has no reason to lie or He is no God at all.

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…God lied about the thorns. “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree…Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” [Gen 3:17,18] Evolutionists tells us that the fossil record reveals both death and thorns for 350-400 million years. Who would know, them or God? Historical science is based entirely on theories, and evolutionists interpret the data through the lens of millions of years. Before they even examine the evidence, they already ‘know’ that whatever they find will be really old. That’s not even good science, for it rejects any evidence that suggest a young earth. God said that thorns came AFTER Adam’s sin, not before as evolutionists suggest.

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…God lied about the reason everyone dies. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:17] God created everything and at the end of His creative work He said, “…it was very good.” [Gen 2:17] Are you saying that millions of years evolution, which requires death, as being ‘very good?” God never intended for us to die. We see evidence of this in the incredibly long pre-flood lifespans. There is also evidence of arthritis, cancer & disease in dinosaur bones in the fossil record. If dinosaurs truly lived millions of years before humans, then God called death & disease ‘very good.’

THEN…it also makes the Holy Spirit a liar, for He revealed to Paul, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” [Romans 5:12]. If evolution is true, then the Word of the Spirit is false, for He revealed that death came AFTER sin. He also wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 6:23] If evolution is true, and I hope you realize that it is not, then the wages of LIVING is DEATH, a direct contradiction to the Scriptures. Who are you going to believe, God or men?

Scripture teaches that in the beginning there was no death and there will be no more death when Jesus returns. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” [1Corinthians 15:26]

The Almighty God was there, and like any history, those today only know of historical events through the eyewitness accounts. None of us was there, and therefore must rely on the evidence. For Christians, we have God’s own eyewitness account that tells us death and thorns were brought into the world as the result of Adam’s sin. If we cannot trust His word on a simple thing like thorns, how could we trust Him about what He says about salvation?

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…the redemptive work of Jesus and the defeat of Satan is called into question. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” [Hebrews 2:14] If the Genesis story is not real, then Satan had nothing to do with death. This line of reasoning also brings the New Testament into question. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” [1John 3:8].  It was through Satan’s lie to Eve that brought death into the world. God really did say, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

We need to trust in God’s word and not compromise with the misinterpretation of historical evidence. Early Christians never worried about how to stretch the 6-day creation into millions of years. No, they wondered something completely different.  They asked, “why did God take six days?!”

What is the key to effective evangelism?

IS THERE A ONE WORD ANSWER to getting more bible studies? The key to evangelism is not probing, listening, preaching, talking, assessing, pain, and especially not manipulating. The key that opens the heart is HARMONIZING.

But you’d never know that from most or our actions. Evangelism is about understanding the other person and their needs. Their fears. Their desires. And their sense of need for the Gospel. People have different motives to respond, and it’s the evangelist’s job to uncover them – and harmonize with them.

REALITY: No two opportunities are alike.

We must adapt to uncover the motives and objectives, understand the opportunities and barriers, meet the needs and desires, and harmonize with the person and the personality. This is the point Paul was making in 1Corinthians 9…

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]

Ever since becoming a Christian, I’ve searched for magic verses, those one or two passages that answer every error. I’ve collected tracts with hopes that these one sheet papers could somehow win souls without much difficulty or controversy. And I’ve tried different methods & systems designed to lead people to obey the Gospel. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” tract, verse or method. It’s not that these can’t work, rather that they don’t always work. What I’ve found is that I focused too much on getting through the material rather than focusing on and HARMONIZING with the individual. One instance, a person had asked a specific question, though I knew the answer was much deeper, they couldn’t hear it. I never heard from them again.

No one tract, verse or method will work all the time — BUT specific elements of any may apply. I’m NOT saying don’t learn the tract, verse or method — all Bible knowledge is valuable. What I am saying is be yourself, not the method.

REALITY: People don’t always respond the way you expect or hope.

Here are some more clues:

  • The more we believe in Christ, the Scriptures, and yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have. [Romans 8:35-39 …height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]
  • The more care we show toward others, the more people will come to know, respect us, and listen to us. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]
  • The more we follow up and follow through, the more growth God will provide. [1Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.]
  • The more we study, the more we will know how to react to any situation. [2Timothy 2:15-16 Study to show thyself approved unto God]
  • The more we harmonize with the person’s situation, and offer answers they can apply — answers they perceive as truth, the MORE CONVERSIONS. [Acts 18:28 ‘Apollos’…showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.]

Always Keep this in mind. We are all EVANGELISTS, and people are expecting us to ask for a change. Don’t disappoint them. Just remember that God gives the increase and it’s our duty to serve Him. When people see that in us, they will be more likely to respond.

As mature Christians, our job is to identify with the person and take what we’ve learned in the Scriptures to lead them to the truth about Christ, which is the only true motivation that leads to conversion. Without a conversion to Christ, there is no conversion.

Harmony is understanding, not manipulating. It’s sensing the tone of the situation, and comfort level of the person — And gives them enough trust to hear.

Even though I haven’t found the perfect “system of evangelism,” I am still searching for “the best way” to teach. And what I have discovered along the way are elements, mostly personal (non-manipulative), that when mastered will create an atmosphere where people will listen to the Word.

Here are four elements to master in acrostic form, when mastered, are the surest (and shortest) formula to long term success. A.M.E.N. These have nothing to do with systems, manipulation, or pressure. These words, elements, and characteristics create harmony.

  • ATTITUDE – a positive & joyful countenance. [1Peter 3:15]
  • MEANING – Having a firm understanding of what you are saying and what you are affirming. [1Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 5:12] “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Peter 4:11].
  • EMPATHY – Love is kind…does not envy…does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [1Corinthians 13:4-6]
  • NECESSARY – Realize that without evangelism, neither you, I nor anyone else can be saved and that it’s necessary for our own salvation as we seek to obey Christ. [Matt 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-17]

Every evangelist I have ever met wants to have more meaningful studies — and the best way to do that is to never manipulate. Manipulation makes people defensive, reluctant, and distrustful. Mastering these elements will make people attracted to you, like you, trust you, believe you, have confidence in you — and then — study with you.

Is God Speaking to you? pt 2

LAST WEEK’S article began the discussion about the problems with a personal revelation from God today. These articles are a response to those who believe, feel or otherwise think that God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is communicating with them SEPARATE & APART from God’s written word.

In the previous article, we discussed the first 2 problems. FIRST, it’s error and is contrary to God’s word about His own revelation. TWO, is the problem of AUTHENTICITY. How are we (or you) to know that this feeling inside of you is coming from God.

Allow me to clarify something. I do believe that God is communicating with mankind, but that the communication is through His divine, preserved written word, as was shown in the last article.

The next two problems are; REVIEWABILITY & ACCESS.

The THIRD problem with a personal revelation is REVIEW:

If Personal revelation is true, then why are there over 30,000 different “Christian” denominations? How would we become unified except by some standard upon which we all could review? I’m unable to STUDY your statements because of 3 problems;

First, It’s all in your head. Have you noticed that not everyone is hearing these voices? You might say that it’s a problem of “faith”, and you’d be right. But Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. This means that it is YOUR faith that has trouble. For we have faith because of God’s written word. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;” If this “revelation” is in your head, how are we to know what God said? Furthermore, how am I to REVIEW the information? Oh, I know a way; IT COULD BE WRITTEN DOWN. Which is what God did in the first place.

Second, there’s the problem of memory. A person’s recollection of conversations is very poor. A study revealed that you remember approximately 20 percent of what you hear, 30 percent of what you see and 50 percent of what you hear and see together. Here’s a question; How much can you recall when you have at your fingertips the entire revelation of God? Answer: All of it, because you can look through God’s word continually.

Third, human communication is difficult, even under the best of conditions. But with all the communication methods available, the only one that allows for a continual REVIEW of God’s word is when it is written. A WRITTEN WORD IS REVIEWABLE BY EVERYONE.

This is what happened in 2Kings 22-23. The book of the Law was found in the temple. It was read to King Josiah (22:10), then it was read to the people, both small and great (23:2) and they could obey it. Today, we can read God’s word and understand the mystery of Christ. This is what made the Berean’s honorable. They searched the scriptures daily [Acts 17:11].

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” Eph 3:3-4

The FOURTH problem with a personal revelation is ACCESS:

Are you going to come over to my house at 3am to let me study God’s word? What if I’m out of cell range? What about the different languages of the world? These difficulties were solved by God when He directed the inspired writers of His word to WRITE IT DOWN. 1 Corinthians 14 demonstrates the difficulties that come from oral communication. One man said to me, “you can verify what I’m saying by comparing it to the Bible.” If I must go verify it with the written word anyway, why do I need you?

What does the bible say about ACCESS to His word?

I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 1Thess 5:27

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed2Thess 3:14

For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 2Cor 1:13

Well over 100x in the New Testament, both Jesus and His Apostles refer to the written word. We could continue with more scriptures to drive the point home, but these are sufficient. The question of “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHURCHES” now has its answer. We’re not all speaking the same thing, and the best way to become unified is when we all go back to the written Bible of God.

“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]

You’ll be shocked to know what one church is doing on Christmas

How’s that for a title? Did I get your attention? I’ve noticed that many websites use shocking titles to attract readers so I decided to give it a try. The trouble is, what I’m about to tell you is shocking for all the wrong reasons.

You see, our local congregation, The Frankilin St. church of Christ in Borger Texas, is NOT changing it’s services on Christmas day. This news is shocking because so many denominations have altered their services to celebrate a man made holiday instead of the God commanded commemoration of our Lord’s death.

Look at what was written to the 1st century church:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
[cr. Mt 26:26; Mr 14:22; Lu 22:19]

Many will rationalize their decision to cancel services by saying, “it’s for the family.” That sounds great, but what about the family of God? “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” [Gal 3:26]

So, we shall be worshiping the Lord, as He described, on the day He ordered, in the manner in which He authorized, to remember His death as He commanded.

Besides, when you think about presents, what is the greatest gift ever given which was given for the whole world?

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:15

 

Local church cancels Christmas

…kinda, a church in Dumas, Texas has cancelled their corporate worship in favor of each family worshiping at home. Since Christmas falls on a Sunday, many churches are altering their normal worship times and services to accommodate the holiday. I learned about this through a Facebook discussion thread which involved members of this particular denomination and an evangelist who was simply wondering why.

One person said; “Many of our local churches are having only a worship service with no Sunday school or Bible study classes. Some are having no nursery or children’s classes. Some are having their services at a different time. Some are having music only, no sermon.”

Here is an explanation from one of the members of the denomination that has canceled their worship; “We have been preparing ourselves to lead worship with our own family and friends, in a small group setting as was done in the days of the early church.”

As the conversation progressed, the one who raised the question came under attack. Ironic, the very ones who were critical of any rebuke began rebuking the one who wanted to study!

What is the real issue?

Is the issue really about the public rebuke of a denomination? No, the real issue is where do we get our permission for worship? Let’s look at it this way;

Let’s say you had purchased a singing telegram service. This service is where people come to a place you decide, at a time you decide, sing a song you decide, for a person you decide. What is supposed to happen is that those people you hired (bought) are supposed to follow YOUR instructions.

What would you do if, however, they changed the plan? What if they change the time, place or elements of your desires? What if they go to the wrong place, or do the wrong thing or even worse, sing to the wrong person?

You’d demand a refund!

This is how many of us understand God regarding His worship…

  • He required it; John 4:24 MUST worship in spirit AND IN TRUTH.
  • He provided the instruction; John 17:17 His word is Truth.
  • He purchased the people for the worship; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • He ordered that His commands be followed; John 14:15; Mat 28:19-20, Mat 7:21-23
Unity

Everyone wants unity, and I’m no different. The question is, how? Is unity only a product of tolerance when everyone does whatever they want? Or perhaps, is unity a product of people following the instructions?

Am 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (NKJV)

 

 

Is Demon Possession Possible today?

is demon possession possible

Folks today believe in the demonic possession of a person. They have this belief because of the many passages in scripture where people are possessed. [Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; 17:18; Mark 5:1-20; 7:26-30; Luke 4:33-36; Luke 22:3; Acts 16:16-18]

The teachers of this doctrine explain demon possession today by saying that a person “allows” the demon to enter them by rejecting God’s word, allowing your heart to be ruled by habitual sin, inviting Satan [or one of his angels] to enter.

They also teach that a “true Christian” can never be possessed, because they have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, [2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; 1Corinthians 6:19], saying that the Spirit of God would not share residence with a demon.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

It is true that demon possession occurred in the OT [seldom, if at all], in the Gospels and in the first century church, but the question is; Can demon possession happen today?

First, it should be noted, that not every association with Satan qualifies as demon possession. For example, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” [John 8:44]. He was not speaking as if the devil gave birth to them, rather their actions indicated they were following Satan’s teaching.

Second, concerning demons, we are told: There are being called “angels” [Psa. 8:5; Heb. 2:7, 9] which are higher in nature than humans. Not knowing when, some of these angels fell / sinned [2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6]. These fallen angels seem to be the same angels as the devil’s angels [Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9]. These may be called, “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].

Third, the bible teaches that evil spirits and demons would depart. In Zechariah 13:2, referring to the age of the Messiah, God promises; “… I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.” This is fulfilled in the Gospels as the disciples were able to cast out demons and Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” [Luke 10:18-20]. This shows the weakening power of Satan and his angels.

Finally, in the New Testament, there are two references to the binding of fallen / sinful angels. “For if 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;” [2Peter 2:4]. And in Jude 1:6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” These are bound, awaiting the judgment.

Sound Doctrine provides comfort

I’ve shown these things to folks and some have gotten very upset with the idea that demon possession is no longer possible. What a strange reaction. The truth should provide us with much comfort, it does me. Imagine living a life where the possession of your person is possible.

Movies like “Damien” and the “The Exorcist” have generated fear, in the hearts of men, that it is possible to be possessed, but I find comfort in the Scriptures of God, clearly teaching that we should never fear Satan and his angels.

One final note, some people say, “The devil made me do it” when referring to some sin they’ve done. No sir, he did not. God teaches us in the book of James, “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 1:14-15]. We can follow the teaching of Satan, but we are accountable for the sins we commit. I don’t need Satan to help me to sin, I’m doing a fine job all on my own.

— Spencer