Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What to do when the promises come through.

Deuteronomy 12

 1These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
 2Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
 3And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
 4Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.

Israel had been in bondage for 400 years. They spent their days in bondage, longing for their deliverer to come and take them to their promised land. Day after day of hard labor. Night after night of tending wounds from the taskmaster's whip. They longed for, prayed for, and looked for the realization of the promise given to them by God: 

Exodus 3:16-18

King James Version (KJV)
 16Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
 17And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.            

This promise gave them hope! It kept them alive and willing to endure the troubles they faced every day. God sends Moses, he delivers them, and they begin the march to the promised land. They go through battles, famine, lack of water, lack of faith, daily drudgery. Finally, as they begin to prepare to enter into the "land flowing with milk and honey", God gives them a stern warning. 

I'm about to do what I said I would do, BUT when I give you your promised lands, there are some things I expect from you. 

1)Realize that your promised land is not without difficulty. There will be enemies who will try and destroy you. You will have to fight to keep what you've been given.

2) Do not intermingle with their culture and especially their religions. In fact, you are to go in and clean house. You are to take MY culture to this new land. You are to destroy the sacrificial places that they have set up to their false gods. Do NOT believe the lie that all religions lead to the same place. I am your God and you are NOT to bow to and worship their gods. Burn down the groves where they have performed rituals to the fertility goddess. Tear down the high places where they sacrificed to the sun. Take over the land and follow me, changing the land for my glory.

How many of us have lived in misery for years, barely hanging on to the promises that God has spoken to us. We endure the trials and hardships, all the while aching for the day of deliverance to come. We are tempted to give up and walk away, but we know we can't- that way leads to death. 

Finally, God tells us, "I'm about to deliver you." We shout for joy and begin to pack, but do we hear the rest of what he is saying? Listen, dear friend. For if we stop with the message of deliverance, then we will not be prepared for what we face when he does. 

Yes, we all have a place of service. We are called to serve God and each other in whatever capacity he chooses and wherever he tells us to go. It may be across the street, across the state, or across the world, but he has a plan for what he wishes to accomplish in our lives.

When that day comes, it would behoove us to listen to the rest of the story.

1) Know that our place of service, our promised land, is fraught with danger. Our enemies will be there trying to destroy us. We are to go in, take charge, and defeat them in the name of Jesus. 

2) Know that we cannot accept the lie that all roads lead to heaven. We cannot worship with them in their false religions. We are NOT to bow to their ways of doing things. We are to go in the power of his might, and through HIS word, tear down the false religious systems and let God be God! We are to take over our promised land and follow HIM- allowing him to change things there for HIS glory. 

Whatever little things that have been hindering our walk with God that are in our lives, need to be dealt with. We cannot hold to the world and to God and expect to win the battles ahead. We must allow God to show us our hearts and to deal with the wrong things we are shown there. If we do, God will do great things for us and through us. If we do not, we will fall. 

Israel did not follow God's instructions. Even though they received their promise, they could not keep it, because they compromised and fell. 

When God gives us our promised land, we will do the same thing they did? Or, will we pray, fast, stand, and fight the way God tells us to? It's up to us. He has given us clear instructions, will we obey? 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What about the Epistles? Are they for everyone?

Romans 1

 "1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
 2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
 6Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:"

1 Corinthians 1

 1"Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
 2Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:"

2 Corinthians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:"

Galatians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
 2And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:"

Ephesians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:"

Philippians 1

 1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Colossians 1

 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
 2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1

 1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1

 1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Timothy 1

 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
 2Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Timothy 1

 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
 2To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1

 1Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
 2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
 3But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
 4To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Philemon 1:1
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,

Hebrews 2

 1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

James 1

 1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

1 Peter 1

 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
 2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

2 Peter 1

 1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

1 John 2

 1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

2 John 1

 1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

3 John 1

 1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Jude 1:1
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

2 Timothy 2:15

King James Version (KJV)

 15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth 

 I realize that this is a whole lot of scripture- much more scripture than I usually use in a typical post. To some this will seem like overkill. However, sometimes, in order to understand a truth of the word of God, this is necessary.

There are many groups out there that espouse many different doctrines. They all point to scripture and on the surface, from a certain point of view, they all seem to make some logical sense. Yet, they cannot all be correct. Scripture commands us to study the word of God and to RIGHTLY DIVIDE (correctly understand) it.

There are many different beliefs on how to be "saved", or "born again". Everyone points to a pet scripture to try and prove their belief. One of the more popular ones is to use these verses: 

Romans 10:9-10

King James Version (KJV)
 9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Ephesians 2: 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

1 John 1: 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.                                   

They say, from this- and adding John 3:16 to it- that we are saved by simple belief in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and all we have to do to access this is to believe and repent. 

Sounds good on the surface! Yet, in order to correctly understand a scripture, we must first understand the context of the verse. What is the conversation about? Who is the verse written to? This second question is the sincere point of this blog post. 

Who was Romans 10 written to? Sinners? Or saints? Unregenerate people who have never known the saving Grace of God? Or people who have already become God's children?

Answer:Romans 1: 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
 6Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:"                                 

So Romans 10 was written to people who have already been saved! The same can be said about 1 John 1:9. Who was this Epistle written to? 

1 John 2: "1My little children..." What does John mean by this? His fleshly children or spiritual children? 

 John 1

 1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

3 John 1

 1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

It is evident from these scriptures that John called his spiritual converts his "children". He's not alone in this. Paul did the same thing in 1 and 2 Timothy 1 and Titus 1, calling Timothy and Titus his sons in the Gospel. 

What about Ephesians? Who was this Epistle written to? 

Ephesians 1

 1"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:"

So, again, this letter is written to people who are already saved. Indeed, all the letters (Epistles), from Romans through Jude are written to already saved people. 

So does it follow that the doctrine of the majority of today's "Christian churches" is true? No. 

Does the Bible give any examples of teaching salvation to unsaved people? Yes. What does it say there that we must do to be saved?

John 3:1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
 8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
 9Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
 10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
 11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
 12If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
 13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Here Jesus explains that we must a) believe (verse 16), b) be born of water and of spirit" (verse 5). 

Most groups whole heartedly accept verse 16, but either ignore or try and explain away verses 3-5. Rather than try and argue here, lets look at how this teaching translated into what the Apostles taught to unsaved folks. 

Acts 2: 37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

The day of Pentecost comes and the "church" is born (Acts 2:1-4). People gather and Peter preaches the first sermon of the church's history. The power and truth of his words is so convicting that his hearers become convicted of their own sins. They immediately ask, in essence, "How do I rid myself of this sin". 

It's a valid question. It's not very hard, if a soul is honest, to admit that we are sinners in the eyes of God. So what do we do with that knowledge? Peter gives us the answer.

Acts 2: 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

This answer agrees with everything Jesus taught in John 3. Jesus said we must believe. A person will not repent of their sins unless they first believe God exists and that they are indeed a sinner in need of a savior.

Jesus said we must be "born of water". Peter said we must be "baptized in Jesus name for the remission of sins". Paul says in Romans 6:4 that we are "buried with him (Jesus) in baptism". Peter says in his Epistles that we are saved by water in baptism, just as Noah and his family were saved by the waters in the flood. 

Jesus said we must be "born of the spirit". Peter said we would "receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". Paul said in Romans that if we don't have the spirit then we are "none of his". 

Read Acts 19:1-7 and Acts 8 and 10. The same plan of salvation is taught here as Peter taught on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

The Epistles are great scripture, but they are all, as you can see by the scripture references above, written to already saved people- explaining how to stay saved, not how to get saved. 

To get saved, do what Jesus, Peter, and Paul all taught:

Acts 2: 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011


1 Samuel 15:22-24

King James Version (KJV)
 22"And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
 24And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice."                                                              

Exodus 22:18
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

We've just come through another Halloween season. Whether you take part or not is not what we are here to discuss today. What is an irrefutable fact, however, is that- all in all- it is a very demonic and evil holiday. It is represented by monsters and ghouls, vampires and werewolves, and witches. 

Most of us today- those who call ourselves Christians- wouldn't even think of getting involved in witchcraft. We understand that it is evil, demonic, and an abomination in the eyes of God. 

There are many forms of witchcraft. From Satanism to Wicca there are terrible false religions based upon it. There's astrology (Chinese or otherwise, it doesn't matter), Ouija boards (presented as a game), tarot cards, TV shows, Movies (Harry Potter is a great example of the glorification of witchcraft), etc. 

We are told that there is both good and bad witchcraft. This is a lie. God is very clear on his opinion of witchcraft in all forms. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Witchcraft, in the eyes of God, is a sin worthy of the death penalty- period! No such thing as a good witch!  

I know. I can hear you saying, "But we live under Grace now. God doesn't enforce that any longer." My response to you is "Yes and No." 

Yes, we live under Grace. We are all given ample time to get things right between us and God before we have to meet him on judgement day. 

No, your wrong about God not enforcing the penalty. While it is true that we are not to kill witches any longer, it doesn't change God's view of it. It also doesn't mean God has forgotten his own penalty. The price will be paid. It's a delayed penalty. Delayed, in case the wrong doer should decide to be born again and have this and other sins washed under his blood. But, for those who insist on continuing, hell will be very hot.

However, there is another form of witchcraft today that is alive and well. It is more dangerous than open witchcraft because it is so smooth that most don't notice it. Though most people don't go around casting spells, there are many that fall into this sin because it seems so natural to us. 

We live in the "land of the free". We have been taught that we can do anything we doggone well please. We scoff at constrictive laws that limit what we can do. We are free to chose how we will live and what we will do. Unfortunately, our freedom- as blessed as we are- has given birth to a much more dangerous sin than divination or necromancy. It's called REBELLION. 

Rebellion, in the eyes of God is a very serious thing, indeed. So much so that he tells us that there is no difference between witchcraft and rebellion. A witch, in the law, is to be stoned. But what about a rebel? 

Being from the south, the term rebel is a term of endearment to us. We revel in our rebellion. We're proud of it. Yet, how does God see rebellion against him? 

The first sin was actually not in the Garden of Eden. The first sin was done by an Archangel named Lucifer. 

Isaiah 14:12"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
 13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High". 

The first sin was rebellion! What was the result?

Ezekiel 28:13"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
 14Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire (the stars).
 15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
 16By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
 17Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
 18Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee".     

He lost out with God and lost his position. HE became the center of the universe in his own mind. HE looked at his own talents, beauty, and abilities and decided that he had the right to do what he wanted. Who cares what God thinks? He's an old fuddy-duddy anyway! He just doesn't want me to have fun! I deserve to be exalted- not him! These others should lift ME up and worship me! 

One thought at a time. One little bit of pride on top of another led to conceit. This conceit led to rebellion. His rebellion led to he and 1/3rd of the Angels that followed him ending up cast out on their ears. They also have a future date with a lake of fire that will torment them forever. All because of rebellion! 

In humans, rebellion brings sin, as well as is sin. It leads to drug addiction, sexual sin, alcoholism, divorces, illegitimate children, self-centeredness, murder, abortion, and stealing. It destroys relationships, breaks up homes, and brings chaos in society. Worse, our attitude towards others ("Who do they think they are? They can't tell me what to do!") translates into our attitude towards God ("Who does he think he is? He can't tell me what to do!") 

In our honest moments, we realize that we truly can't make it on our own. When we're truthful, we realize that the best we can do is make a mess of things. When we reach that point of honesty, we are left with two choices. 

1) We can dive off into entertainment, drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex. This begins a seemingly endless cycle. We do what makes us temporarily feel good. Then, when we come down off that "high", the sin makes us feel even worse about ourselves. We see ourselves for the wretch that we are. Then, we dive off into more of the same (or worse), in a vain effort to try and make ourselves feel better about ourselves. 

We truly will do anything to try and cover our own sins. But, in the end, it doesn't work. If a person stays on this road, they will wind up dead. All they will have to leave behind as a legacy is a wasted life and a trail of tears- with no good eternal future to look forward to.

2) We can turn to God in honest repentance! We can go where the masses refuse to go. We can put down our pride. Stop our rebellion. And throw ourselves on the mercy of the judge! When we do, we will find something amazing happens! 

MERCY! A new lease on life! A new chance! We can obediently follow Acts 2:38 and be born again! ALL of our past sins washed in his blood! All of our weaknesses given to him. Our future will then be in the hands of the master, the creator, the author and finisher of our faith! 

He will take away the addictions. He will transform our lives into something beautiful. He will make us into a useful member of the kingdom of God. 

But, the choice is ours. What do we do with it? Do we submit to him and stay submitted to him, and be on our way to eternity with him? Or, do we refuse him and keep on destroying our lives? Does the rebellion end in Grace? Or does the rebellion end in hell? One way or the other the rebellion will end. Which way will yours?