Pray, and Pray Now – John 16:26-27


At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. – John 16:26-27

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We live in a great age in the prophetic timeline. We live in the time of the Grace of God. We now have access to God in a way that the prophets of old so desired, and yet went to their graves not realizing. Moses met with God at the burning bush, had multiple conversations with God, and even went up to Mount Sinai several times to meet with God in the exodus. He saw the Lord descend from heaven in a pillar of fire and smoke. He even had a glimpse of God as he passed by Moses.


Abraham saw the angels of God and even the Son of God, talked with God, and was even called God’s friend. However, neither of these were allowed into the holy of holies. Neither of these had God indwell them with his Holy Spirit.


Even John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets who was on the cusp of the dispensation of the Gospel of Peace and the sending of the Holy Spirit did not have access to the Father as we do today.


We have intimate access to God that was previously not know. Even when Jesus told his disciples these words, “until now you have asked nothing in my name”. But now in that day, in this day we can ask in his name. We have a guaranteed audience and have been given access to the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. No other religion in the world can make that claim, only Christianity. Therefore, we can ask in his name.

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We are to ask and to continue to ask. Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And so in this day we are to pray in his name and to pray continuously in his name. We must understand that we have full access and permission to approach God the Father in the name and authorization of Jesus Christ. For Jesus said, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you”. No instead he tells us that I do not need to go to the Father on your behalf, because the Father himself loves you and desires to hear from you directly. The Father loves us because we love his son and obey him. The Father knows that we love his son because we obey him. (John 14:23; John 15:16; 1 John 3:21-22; Philippians 2:11)


The Father testifies of the son on more than one occasion saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) Because we have loved his Son the Father loves us. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). He knows that we love him because we listen to him, and we keep his commandments. (John 14:15)
But as we read what Jesus said in our text, that the Father loves us “because ye have love me (Jesus), AND have believed that I came out from God.” So then loving Jesus unto obedience is necessary, but also the believing that he is the Son of God, and that he is from God. Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me…” (John 6:39).


What then is the will of him (God the Father) that sent him (Jesus the Son of God)?
• That all that the Father gives him should not be lost, not one
• That all that Father gives him should be raised up on the last day
• That all that see and believe on him (Jesus Christ) should have everlasting life
• That all that see and believe on him (Jesus Christ) should be raised up also on the last day


Therefore we can come before the Father with boldness to lay our petition before him. To pray and to seek and to find. For he says in our text that all we need to is ask. Ask for it. Ask for what it is that you desire of a sincere and concrete heart. In other places he tell us to seek, and to seek earnestly. So then we are to seek in earnest fervent prayer. For James, the half-brother of Jesus tells us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16) In east-Texas we would say that man’s words “hold water”. There is weight in the fervent prayer of a righteous man. It is because of who he is, who he knows, and what they mean to one another. Trusting in someone’s words means to trust that someone. John the one whom Jesus loves, said, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) It is with great relief that Jesus tells us in our text that all we need do is to ask.

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In the time of the Temple period only the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. The High Priest had to go through quit a lengthy ritual to enter into the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt. To fail at any point in the preparations could lead to his death. Now we have free access to God. We can enter his gates with full joy knowing that we need not fear death. We do not have to worry if we have been properly cleansed, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has taken care of all the requirements and removed all uncleanliness from us. We do not have to earn the right, pay a fee, or even plead for the audience. We only have to come and ask. Simply ask. We must never fail to ask. To ask should be our first act.

If one has never asked God for anything, then they must be an unbelieving, unregenerate soul. For if we truly believe that we can have anything we need to please the living God and to be of service to him, to receive the rewards he gives to those who ask, then surely we would ask. It is true that if you do not believe, you will not ask.


Therefore,
• If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God (James 1:5)
• If any lack in our health, let him ask
• If any lack in our homes, let him ask
• If any lack in a sound mind, let him ask
• If any lack in matters of the spirit, let him ask
For we know this, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask of him?” (Luke 11:13). We do not need a formal set of words. We only need to ask. Just as we would to anyone in whom we trust.


We do not need to worry about how accurate our word order is, or how proper our speech. There is no special formula. There is only the sincere desire of the need from a pure and upright heart. Not a seeking of evil, but because of a great care for goodliness and the desire in righteousness. For how can we ask in his name and pour out a selfish desire? Lord, please listen to me for his sake (Jesus).


When I was a young man, I went over to help my dad with a plumbing issue that he had. I did not have the right tools and could not afford the tools needed to complete the task. My dad sent me to the local hardware store. He told me that I should go see the owner and explain what tools and material were needed and who they were for. Then once all the items were totaled up the owner told me all I had to do was to sign on the receipt. I told him I did not have the money for the items, he told me it was ok, because I asked for them in my father’s name, and he trusted my father’s name. He knew that my father’s name was honorable and that he would take care of the bill. I left the hardware store with everything I needed to complete the repairs because I had asked in my father’s name.


You see Jesus says, use my name when speaking to the Father. For Jesus also said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) We are allowed to use that honor in speaking to the Father. The honor associated with the name of the only begotten Son who the Father is well pleased in. Therefore, this should be our governance, if Christ would not pray for it then I should not either. If our desire should conflict with the desire of the Father then we should decline our will to his. Who would dare bring shame upon another’s name by asking inappropriately for something that would be out of character for the one of who’s name they are asking in?


Surely if I would have gone into that hardware store and asked for an excess of materials, or for items that were not warranted for me to use for the job I was sent for, then he owner of the store would have been wise and denied my requests. In addition, any other time I approached and used my dad’s name, then he would have had suspicions against my motives. Eventually, he would not let anyone receive goods on my dad’s name. I would have ruined the reputation of my dad’s name. Shamefully many Christians have already ruined their witness for Christ, by abusing his name. We therefore should not, cannot defile the precious name of Jesus with such a request.


What then is the “day”? For Jesus does say, “At that day ye shall ask in my name…”. It is the day in which he has returned to the Father. It is the day in which the Comforter has been sent unto us. In reading the preceding chapter we see that this in all in the context of persecution. In that day, when persecutions arise, you will ask of the Father in my name. One thing is guaranteed that when persecutions arise so does the voices of the children of God.


Was not Gideon found hidden in the winepress while threshing his wheat in order that the Midianites might not discover him? Did not Israel turn to the Lord and cry to him for deliverance because of the persecution of the Midianites? Did the Lord then answer, and give Gideon all that was needed to deliver Israel from the Midianites, and return the prosperity of the land? Undeservedly, they asked. The Lord was gracious in his deliverance. Why? Because he loved them and desired to do good things for them.


The Lord God desires to do good for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Psalms 37:4 – Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.


If you are in persecution for Christ, then you shall ask in his name, and it shall be done unto you. When they beat upon for your testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pray, and ask. The Holy Spirit will equip you in your time of need. For the scripture reads, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10: 19-20)


We pray not only in persecution, but also in deliverance and in the days of plenty. We then give thanks and ask for the continued blessings of God. We ask for wisdom to remain obedient and to never become slack in our praises. Ask and he will give you, because he loves you, and desires good things for you. Pray therefor for your real need. The hunger and desire to the believing is to be in his presence. Does not he say, in that day YOU WILL ASK?


You will ask because it will be your God given desire to pray. The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance all things that we have been taught concerning the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit who prays for us and who teaches us to pray. So in our time of Joy we ask, and in our time of trial we ask. In the suffering of those we love, we ask. We ask in his name. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) For the labor of which we must set upon is intensive. We have not yet entered into his rest, for those who have entered into rest, labor no more. We instead look to him and pray in his name, our high priest unto God the Father, knowing that he has provisioned for us access to the grace of God. We can labor then and not faith, because we can pray, and ask what we will, for his will. We can pray, and pray without ceasing. For in that day, this day, we can ask what we will of the Father in Jesus’ name and the Father will give to us, because of the love for us and the honor to the Son. The Father is honored that the Son has been obedient and glorified the Father with his children. Every good Father loves his children. Pray, and pray now.

Martyrs of Nigeria

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116.15)

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I read today from, The Christian Post, about Reverend Silas Ali of Evangelical Church of Winning All, and how he was brutally murdered. This church is located in Kaduna State, Nigeria.  Their pastor’s remains were found after a search was made when he had come up missing.  The police speculate that he was attacked around Kibori, near Asha-Awuce, where his body was found.  He had been mercilessly hacked to death by machetes.  While the assailant(s) are unknow, there is a pattern of Christians being killed Nigeria without any signs of relief. 

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law repots that thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria.  They report that at minimum of 3,462 Christians have been killed in just 300 days.  They have been killed by Islamic extremists, and the government appears to be helpless to deter the genocide. [1]

We need to pray for Nigeria and for our Christian brother and sisters that are in harms way.  We need to pray for their strengthening and faithfulness.  As the apostle Paul says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…” (Ephesians 3)

We need to pray for the conversion of the souls of the Islamic extremists.  We need to pray that the Lord will open their eyes to the truth.  The truth that Jesus is the Son of God.  We need to pray that their hearts will be made ready for the planting of the seed and that they will receive watering of the seed of the Word, and that this will flourish into a white field ripened for harvest.  For we do not war against the individuals who commit such atrocities, but rather the spiritual principalities who have blinded the unfortunate followers of radical Islam.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

We must also encourage one another in this life and remind one another that we serve a God of the living, not the dead.  For the psalmist says, “For though hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from failing.   I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:8-9).  Who is this God?  Why he is the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified and was buried, and then triumphantly defeated death, by raising himself from the grave.  It was he who left us no doubt when he said, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32) 

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What then do we have to fear of men?  Though they kill the body, they cannot kill the soul.  For the soul lives on.  Those who love the Lord and die for him are greatly loved.  The Lord spoke to us in the psalmist and let us know, “precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  What a labor of love it is towards the Lord God to lay down one’s own life for his sake.  The LORD loves and rewards those who are faithful unto death.  These extremists who think that they do God a favor by killing his children have only joined together the Father with his loved ones and have heaped coal upon their souls.  We should pray for their salvation, because they act in ignorance.  They have been deceived into thinking they are doing a favor for God and gained his approval.  Instead, they have gained his wrath to be poured out upon them, in everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire which was made for the Devil and his angels.  Much like Paul who was deceived by the foolish teachings of his own religion and persecuted the children of God, these men have gone astray.  However, like Paul, they can be made to see the error of their way, through the Lord Jesus Christ.  They can be given the opportunity to see, and hear, and to repent and turn to the God who loves them. We pray therefore that they will see the truth in Jesus Christ and come to repentance, and then reproduce disciples who love the Lord Jesus Christ. 

References

Kumar, A. (2021, September 13). Migerian Pastor Macheted to death; body foung by search party. Retrieved from The Christian Post: https://www.christianpost.com/


[1] (Kumar, 2021)

Is It Lawful to Put Away Your Wife -Just Because?

The Christian Husband and Divorce

Photo by L.N. Smith, 5 December 2008

I am amazed at how many professing Christians get divorced.  One study finds that a person who has strong religious beliefs has a risk of divorce that is 14 percent less than those who do not have strong religious beliefs, in the United States.  Something that I found interesting is that cohabitating prior to marriage actually increases the chance of divorce by 40 percent. [1] The numbers of divorced Christians may include the ones who have previously divorced prior to becoming Christians and therefore may have skewed the numbers a bit.  In addition, many Americans profess to be Christian but rarely attend weekly church services.

Of these who call themselves Christians and divorce or separated are reported to have these following beliefs, according to Pew Research [2]

Divorced or Separated Statistics on Beliefs

69% Believe in God with absolute certainty

57% Believe that religion is important to one’s life

32% Attend Church Services at least once a week

61% Pray on a daily basis

25% Participate in prayer groups, Scripture Study groups, or in religious education

34% Consider religion as a source of guidance on what is right and wrong

31% Believe in absolutes of right and wrong

39% Read scripture at least once a week

36% Believe that the scriptures should be taken literally

73% Believe in Heaven

60% Believe in Hell

These are frightening statistics for me as a Pastor.  That means that most of the people who call themselves Christians, are not.  It also means that most those who are, are confused, and mislead.  They are confused and mislead because they have listened to what the world says a Christian is and have not taken the authority of scripture seriously in their lives.  God call this foolishness, and it is dangerous.  Even at looking at this one statistic of divorce, we can see that worldliness has had a devastating effect on our Christian homes.  We see that in these broken families that 69% believe in God and that they believe in Heaven.  However, we also see that only 36% believe that scripture can be taken seriously.  They have no definite sense of right and wrong morality.  They have instead been seduced into the philosophy of situational ethics.  This stance takes the position that there are no absolute codes of moral context to ethics, instead decision is made depending upon the context of the situation.  So then, it is not wrong to have an abortion if the lady does not feel equipped to raise a child, instead of seeing the unborn baby as an image bearer of God and a special gift given by God to the mother, and understanding that taking of a life is wrong, especially if the life is totally defenseless and cannot speak for itself. 

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These professing Christians are actually not Christians at all.  They do not attend bible study groups, church services, read scripture for themselves.  They do not pray, because they do not think that God hears them, will answer, or even cares.  All of this is from their own self-imposed ignorance of God.  No, they may say that they believe in God, but in practice they do not.  This is why their families are in shambles and reeling in divorce. 

Now, I have upset some of you.  Well, I can only say read on, because this letter is written in love.  My heart is broken over the divorce rate of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  So then we will look at what God says.  In just one area of this debacle. We will deal with the husbands, “so-called”, rights of divorce.  You know… “boo hoo, my wife doesn’t do everything I want…” or “I’ve grown bored and need to live life…”, or what ever your spur of the moment, “just because” reason for seeking a divorce from your devoted and loving wife.  You see here in this scripture; we see the Pharisees came to ask Jesus about this very issue.  Now the Pharisees were the religious elite.  They spent years in seminary, they knew the 1st five books by heart.  They were the teachers of the law.  They sat in on the counsels to determine if a law was broken and if there was a penalty to be paid.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:3-6)

Do you see that?  These fellers thought that they would be slick.  They tried to catch Jesus off guard.  The know what the actual will of God was.  They also knew why Moses allowed Divorce.  They knew that the covenant of a man and a woman was to be an example of the covenant between God and man.  They knew these things and more that we are not going to discuss right now that concerned marriage.  But we will look at the husbands’ responsibilities in the marriage toward his wife and the response that Jesus gave concerning that.  They thought that they would be able to accuse him before the Law, because Moses had allowed divorce.  So, if he said that is was Lawful then this gave them authority, but if he said that it is not lawful then they would say that he did not honor Moses or the Law, or the prophets. 

But instead of Jesus being caught off guard, he went to a time that superseded the Law. This is because his priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Aaron.  Aarons priest hood was anchored in the Law.  But Jesus’ priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek.  This priesthood is preceding to the priesthood of Aaron and of the Law of Moses.  Jesus, therefore, goes back to the beginning.  He can do this because he was there, in the beginning.  All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made.  Jesus is an eyewitness to the war in heaven and the affairs of the Garden. See, Jesus said, “at the beginning made the male and female.”  This means that God purposed the sexes and created them distinctly for a specific reason.  This purpose of the man and the woman to unite as one, marriage, would be the very reason why a man was to leave his parents, and woman to leave her home.  This is their purpose, not to be single, not to play the field, and most certainly not to have casual sex.  But we men are a selfish bunch.

We love to put our own needs and desires above anyone else’s.  Why not we are the strong ones, who have to go out and show our dominance in the home and in the workplace.  We are the “king of the house”.   Husbands are those of us who should no longer need to “sow our oats”.  We have put those childish things aside.  We should instead show do respect to our wives and a singleness of heart.  Even as a Christian we should show do respect to God for who he is and have a singleness of heart towards Christ Jesus who is our bridegroom. 

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Saint Peter puts it like this, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) We should have an understanding that we are the provider and the safety and the strong hold for our wives.  We are their protector.  We are to protect them from the harm that comes from without the sanctuary that is our marriage.  We must realize that we are not put in authority as a husband to rule over them, but to help them.  We are not better than they are, we are both heirs of righteousness in Jesus Christ as a couple.  We are the one flesh that we were made by God to be.  Remember what God said in Genesis? “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This is the cause… to cleave to his wife and become one flesh.  Shall a man divorce his own hand?  Or shall a man remove his own eye for “just because”? This word cleave means to hold fast to or to cling to.  The husband is to hold on to his wife and not let go. 

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.. “ (Ephesians 5:28-31)  Ok wait a minute.  This is a deep concept here.  You hear what the saint says here?  He said the same thing I just did.  No healthy, in his right mind, man hates his own flesh.  It is in our DNA to protect ourselves from harm.  It is our instinct to protect ourselves from harm.  That is why we have that little chemical that flows through our veins and muscles that gives us the emergency burst of energy we need for a “flight or fight” response to danger. This is saying that we husbands are of one flesh with our wives and that we should treat a threat against our marriage in the same manner as we would a threat to our own body.  We should fight unto death or take our wife and flee.  Especially where sexual sins are concerned, we should flee and not allow ourselves to be tempted. 

Before we move on out of this chapter in Ephesians, you better get your bible out!  Paul compares the marriage of a husband and wife to the relationship of the Church and Christ. Even as Christ is to present his bride spotless before God the Father, so are to present you wife spotless before Christ.  What? You say?  You don’t believe me?  Listen to Jesus’ very own words on divorce, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32) What a shameful mess we are in today that divorce is so vast in the church. Husband! Present you wife and your marriage as a sweet smelling incense before the throne of the Lamb. 

The least of the Apostles, who was born out of season says that we should honor our wives out of love. Listen to what he wrote the church of Ephesus and Colossae.

  • Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3:19)
  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)

Wow, Paul says that a husband should not only love his wife but to love her sacrificially.  This is not a sexual love.  It is not even a “feeling” of “being-in-love”, no sir this is a mentally committed love that chooses to put the wife’s needs above his own selfish desires.  This is the love that God gives us.  This is the love that God expects from us towards him.  This is how he expects the husband to demonstrate his love for God, in that he should love his wife in the same manner.  This is the love you wife deserves, and it is the love that you deserve to give her. That is why the Apostle Paul also tells us, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) Husband pay close attention, he says first love you wife, then the wife should show you do reverence. Not the other way around.  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. (1 Corinthians 7:3)

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How do we do this?  Well, we must keep in mind that God gave us our wife as a help-mate.  The husband and the wife are a team.  We are to share intimacy in all levels of our lives.  We should know that we have been given to one another as a blessing from God.  This life is hard and has all kinds of trials and distractions.  There are many hardships, and the heart of man is a lonely place.  That is why we have been given a wife.  To share in these moments of traveling from hilltops to valleys.  To support one another and encourage one another in the hard times, to cry with in the times of heartbreak, and to rejoice with in times of joy.  This is the relationship that God lives with us, through our wives. God gives us wisdom in this.

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

We would do well to remember that this world has perverted the institution of marriage, and the sanctity of the wedding bed.  God gave us this gift of one wife.  We should consider it an honorable institution and one worth fighting for.  There are great rewards in marriage and there are terrible consequences to walking away from it, once we have taken a covenant vow before God.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)

So is it lawful for a man to put his wife away for any reason (just because)?  According to man, it may be done.  However, according to God, No it is unlawful.


[1] (Wilkinson and Finkbeiner, LLP, n.d.)

[2] (Pew Research Center, 2021)

How Are Ye So Far Removed?


There is something that puzzles me greatly in the American churches. Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries partnered together to conduct a survey that they refer to as the State of Theology. Now this survey was conducted which included the results of 3000 Americans. This survey asked questions like:

• True or False: God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake
• True or False: There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
• True or False: God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
• True or False: Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God
• True or False: Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God
• True or False: The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being
• True or False: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation


Now these are just a sampling of the questions that were asked in this survey. These questions can tell where an individual stands on these issues; and they are issues. These are the issues of life and death. What you believe on these affects your eternal fate.


We should expect that those who do not call themselves Christian should not believe in certain things that are in the bible. However, we should expect that “evangelicals” should believe what the bible says, and that the bible has authority over every other ancient and modern writings, philosophies, cultures, religions, or political and economic influences. While there is a wide difference in what people say that an evangelical is, the National Association of Evangelicals makes these distinctions to identify its members to the world.


• The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
• It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
• Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
• Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.


An evangelical should not be defined on political, social, or cultural trends that are made up in American or world societies. They should be distinct and adhere to these basic beliefs at a minimum.


Historically evangelicals have shared a strong conviction that (1) it is their duty to convert others to be “born-again”, (2) it is their duty to actively express and demonstrate the gospel through missionary work and social reform programs, (3) they have typically taken the defense that the Bible is the ultimate authority on spiritual matters and obedience is a necessity, and (4) the historical crucifixion of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible for redemption of humanity.


It would seem then, that an evangelical is someone who confesses to believe in Jesus Christ for their savior and Lord. This survey shows that many evangelicals to not believe in basic biblical truths.
Many evangelicals do not believe:
• Jesus is God, Creator, and has always existed
• The bible and the information within it are accurate and true
• Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation
• Belief in Jesus is a requirement by God to receive eternal life
• The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Trinity of God
• Hell is a real place where the unbelieving will be punished forever
• Jesus will return to judge all the people who have ever lived on earth
• Sex outside of marriage is a sin
• Abortion is a sin
• The Bible condemns homosexuality and all sexual immorality along with other sins


I cannot understand how those who say that they believe in the authority of scriptures can be so mislead that the very foundation of their belief is Jesus is in error. Paul the Apostle would have said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; bur there be some that trouble you , and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) How is it that you who call yourselves followers of Jesus Christ, who have professed to believe the gospel are so far removed from the very truths you profess to believe. If you do not believe the gospel that was first delivered to you, and have taken on a new gospel, then you do not believe in the gospel of grace that was revealed to you.


This means that their faith would be in vain. John wrote, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Again he wrote, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) The question is, do you believe what was written for your benefit? We are given the scriptures so that we can know what it is that we should know about God and to know that what we believe is correct. If we are told in just these two samples of scripture that Jesus is the Son of God and, we are commanded to believe that he is the Son of God; then failure to believe means that we are lacking something very important in our faith. The truth that Jesus is God, and that he is the Son of God is a requirement of belief in Jesus that cannot be ignored. If we then do not believe in this, we are not believers in Jesus, and we are not saved. We have simply… NOT believed on the name of Jesus.


Scripture also tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) It is just as simple and clear as that. You see God does have all authority. He has chosen that men can be saved in only one way, believe that Jesus is God and that he became flesh and died for men, that their sins may be forgiven. This is the only way, belief in Jesus. This is what believing in Jesus means, if you don’t believe everything the scriptures say concerning him, then you don’t believe in him, or in the authority of his name as the living Son of God.


The problem is that we have progressively listened to the serpent in the garden. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he made her to question the authority of the Word of God that she had received. Once this doubt was in her head, she was vulnerable to the rest of his attack. Here is the account of the temptation of Eve in the garden.


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:1-6)


In here we see somethings that we should take note of, as those who believe. The first is that the form that Satan had taken. He was in the form of a serpent. The serpent in creation was subject to Adam and should have been confronted and put in his place with the authority God had given to Adam. Instead of putting the serpent to silence Eve listened to him. Second, the serpent is described as more subtle. This means that he was very intelligent and quite crafty. Notice that his approach is to say “Yeah, hath God said”. Did God really say this? Surely God didn’t mean you could not eat of that tree… Right there he usurps the very words of God and pulls the authority associated with it into question. If what she thinks that God said is not what God actually said, then it may not be wrong to eat of every tree in the garden after all.
Thus, it is with society. The serpent had slowly taken away the belief that what God has given us in scripture is accurate. This has been done through philosophies, pseudo sciences, textual criticisms, false teachers, errant preachers, and teachers who do not teach the whole counsel of God, and cults. Worst of all is that there is a new English version of the Bible out every day it seems. With so many versions in just English alone then how can you know which is the word of God? These have eroded trust in the bible and those who wield it.


If the Bible is not accurate, it cannot be trusted. If it cannot be trusted, then it may that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. It could be that we could save ourselves. It could be that God cannot tell us what is right and wrong. It could be that there really is no heaven nor a real hell. It could be that we do not even need to be saved at all. Do you see the progression?


Still there is this verse that calls to us. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” What things have been written that we may believe? Well that is the entirety of the Holy Bible. We are taught in the scriptures who God is. God is the creator, and as such he has supreme authority. In fact, his authority is beyond question. So, if God says something, it is fact and is trustworthy. If God caused 40 different authors located in three different continents over a span of almost 2000 years to reveal himself to us and to tell us something so urgent that we need to know, then shouldn’t we listen to it and take it for truth also?


These things are written so that you may believe… that seems like such an important statement. What then can we believe if we take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. To start with we can believe that Jesus is God, and Creator. (John 1:1-3) Here the Apostle John tells us that Jesus is the living breathing Word of God. He says that Jesus was always with God from before the beginning because he is 100% God. John tells us that God did not make anything without Jesus, because Jesus is the one who created everything. So, in Genesis when it say, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, that was Jesus who did the creating. In the first few verses of Genesis we see all three parts of the Trinity of God at work. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all in existence, and in union together. (James 2:19; Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4) Here we see that there is only one God in existence. This sole God created everything we have ever known in our lives and in the history of mankind. The theory of evolution is just that a theory. In fact, there are three different theories of evolution in existence today and they have all changed over time, as new science if brought out. This new science is more and more proving the Genesis narrative of creation.


Jesus as God has always existed. Since he has always existed, he was not created. Instead, he was the one who created everything. This gives him full authority over all of creation. This means that everything else written in the Bible is true also. So later when John also writes to us, “and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14), that this same Jesus, who is the Word, who is God, became a man and then walked among us. You see, Jesus was not a man who became God. There is no place in the bible where a man has ever become God. Neither is there anything written in the bible that says any other spirit, angel, or creature became God. There is only one God. No other God has ever existed. Anyone who tells you that you can become a god, or that Jesus is one of many Gods is telling a lie, from Satan. By the way, Satan is not a God either.


This Jesus, who is God in the flesh, walked among us and did teach many things about God, and how we should live, and what heaven is all about. He also taught us what hell is like. He affirmed the scriptures that tell us that God is a God of justice and he pours out his wrath on the unrighteous (sinful and rebellious). But Jesus also let us know of the great love and mercy that God has. Jesus was not just a great teacher of spiritual truths, he was the embodiment of the truth of God. This same creator who originally breathed life in to the first and every man since creation, also came to ensure that we can have eternal life in the presence of God. He was perfect and did not sin. Then Peter tells us this Jesus “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Why did he do this? Love. God loves you.


We cannot earn our way into heaven. We cannot buy our way into heaven. We cannot be a good person at heart and gain our way into heaven. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So here we are. We have all sinned in some way. Even if we had not the original sin of rebellion that was passed down from Adam, we have all still sinned. That is evident in our life. If does not matter how insignificant we may think our sin is, or even if we do not think it as a sin. If we have murdered, or if we have just told a little white lie or taken a pen from the office stationery at work, it is still a sin. The cost for that sin is death. Death is the result of failing to meet the standard of God. Because God is so holy, things that are not holy cannot enter his presence. Jesus made the way for man to enter the presence of God. He took that price of sin, the debt you owe, and paid it. Jesus died in your place. Jesus died, no one else. There was no angel, no ancestor or yours, no saint, and certainly no devil that stepped in and took the shame of your sin and bore it on their shoulders and died because of. That is why Jesus is the only way to heaven.


Then something happened to attest to us that Jesus is indeed God. He overcame death. Only God can defeat death because only God has the power and authority to. You see, death did not come into existence until after the fall of man. The fall of man did not happen until after the creation. God was before the creation. Jesus is the creator. God is the only one who can bring man back to God. Since there is only one God, he sent a piece of himself, as Jesus, for the specific purpose of redeeming us and all of creation back to himself. Jesus came, died, was buried, and rose from the dead, then he ascended to heaven where he resides waiting to return to take possession of the earth. But, to take possession, he will have to judge all of creation. Love is what keeps him on his throne in heaven. It is the will of God that no one should perish in hell. He desires that all should be saved. So, he is giving you every opportunity to live. You see in we are deceived by the devil so easily because we like to sin.
Let us go back and visit John again. John 3:16 is one that everyone loves to quote, the believer and the unbeliever also. But we never seem to get past to the other verses that accompany it. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He 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. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21)
God does love. God did sacrifice his only Son for this love. God does require that you believe on this sacrifice and honor the name of his son, Jesus. Salvation is a free gift given to those who believe. But, did you catch the latter verse? “…but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” The ones who do not believe are already condemned; not chosen to be condemned. No, these are already condemned because of their own lack of belief. They have chosen to “not“ believe and chosen to reject Jesus, because they love their sin to death. That is why we are so easily deceived. We love the darkness. Only those who love the light, receive the truth.
What should we do then? “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19) Well, we should repent. Repentance must come before salvation. Repenting is a confessing to God that His ways are perfect and that you are not. You agree with his authority to say what is acceptable and what is not. Then confessing those things to him that you agree are not acceptable, those things we call sin. Confessing to lay those down and to never return to them again. Luke 13:3 tells us that except we repent… we will die. Repentance is first. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Confession is a part of repentance.
We do not need to confess to a man, in fact in some cases it may be better not to. Confession is made to God, it is him of whom you are believing in, not a man. So, then repentance and confession are made to Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 tells us, “That 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.” The key here is to believe. Believing on Jesus is a choice. It is a choice and not a feeling. You are choosing to believe what the scriptures have said about God, and Jesus as the Son of God, and the sacrifice he made for you. This is what we call faith. We believe, not because we have seen, but because the trust that what God has said in the Bible is accurate and trust worthy. Without this giving of our trust in the truth of God and Jesus, then it is impossible to receive salvation. “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It does not matter if you call yourself a Christian already, what matter is does Jesus know who you are?

Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23) Paul, one of Jesus’ apostles, tell us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We need to make sure of what we believe and why we believe it.


If you are not yet ready to believe, keep seeking him through his scripture, the Holy Bible. The Bible is what God has chosen to reveal himself to us by. Do not be a fool. There is no need to look anywhere else to seek God. Find a church, get into Sunday School, and attend a Pastor’s class or two and study earnestly in your bible. When your ready, ask God, and he will reveal himself to you.


Bibliography
Ligonier. (2020, 09 08). The State of Theology. Retrieved from thestateoftheology.com: https://thestateoftheology.com/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkdFeFl6RTRZemcwTmpGaiIsInQiOiJMVnBwTmQwNEs3blk0TW5oZ054ZGRuV2pTUnBibXcxdUxkSHlQU2hDQWxvU1RDamw4dmUrakRPa0ZcLzAyTlp3WDFFaDUxR0lHUmNUa0Q2cUZSRGZ1clJ5Q29WSWZNeXVmN1JGZHh4M2NMZldFMndEVHQ4Mzd0YzZ2RXZtMk1Jc0EifQ%
National Association of Evangelicals . (n.d.). What is an Evangelical. Retrieved from nae.net: https://www.nae.net/what-is-an-evangelical/

An Encouragement from Psalm 135:6-7

Founders of The Way of Christ Ministry

In Psalm 135:6-7 it reads, “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. “


What a great display of the power and majesty of God. He is over all creation, because he is the creator. He orchestrated all of these things from the very foundation of the universe. He has the power to control the rivers, seas, air, and the earth. He controls the comet, gives light to the stars, and does all kinds of marvelous things that we cannot see with our eyes. Yet in Matthew 10:29-30 it tells us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father knowing.
He knows us so well that he has numbered the very hairs on our heads.

Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” He created and sustains all things, living or dead. This same God who created everything, sustains everything, and numbered the hairs on you head, cares for you also. I echo what he told us in John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me (Jesus).” He loves and cares for you. I speak to you who believe on Jesus Christ for encouragement. Some of us are literally going through a storm right now. God is there. Some are dealing with a loss pf income, job, finances, food, a loved one; God is there. Some are dealing with disease, fears and anxieties, even thoughts of suicide or of harming yourselves; God is there. Where ever your dark place is right now, or what ever you are struggling with, Jesus Christ is there with you.


“Let us arise, and go up to Bethel (the house of God); and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” (Genesis 35:3) Isn’t this awesome to know that we can go to the house of the LORD and plea before his alter and know that he will listen, and answer us? In our day of distress we can bring ourselves to his altar and just lay it all out there, and trust in him to handle what we cannot. Something more important for us to understand. His deliverance may not be what you think. Here we see God is praised because he walked through the difficulties with Jacob. God led Jacob through his distresses. Even when Jacob was not obeying God, God still sought to guide Jacob, and to give him counsel.


The previous verse says, “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments.” (Genesis 35:2) Jacob knew that in order for God to be able to fully bless us, he and everyone in his house and who traveled with him would have to stop chasing other Gods and lean only on the one true God. Let us take the same example, stop pursuing other Gods. Submit to the ONE GOD the Father, through Jesus Christ. Since I am talking to Christians, then you have already professed that he is the LORD. So let us observe him and respect him as our loving LORD who cares for us. Let us trust him. Let us bring our concerns to him and offer ourselves as a clean sacrifice, and accept his will for us. Let us, let him walk with us through the trials, this is our deliverance! Let us rejoice in this time where the God of creation is so near to us, taking our hand, and leading us. Let us be in observance of his love and guidance. We are not alone. We are being held by the creator and sustainer of the universe. Amen

Is the Rapture True?

Is the Rapture True?Clouds 1

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Podcast Version 

I was asked about a YouTube video concerning the doctrine of the rapture. The video was made by a pastor, and tells that the doctrine of the Rapture is a Satanic doctrine. He states that the Rapture Theory started in the 1830s by a woman named Margaret McDonald. Mrs. McDonald had a dream that she thought was an evil dream. She shared this dream with two preachers and then they turned it into the Rapture Theory. His argument is that there are no reference works regarding the rapture prior this event. He states that the manuscripts, which we study from, never mention the word rapture. This is a brief explanation that he gives, but you can see the arguments that he uses to say that there is no rapture. (Murray, 2019)
These things confuse believers on what the scripture says. I submit to you what the scripture has to say concerning this troublesome doctrine. I will show you some things in the scripture and you can then decide if the argument I make is worth listening to. All the scriptures referenced will be taken from the King James Bible, who’s source manuscripts easily out-date the 1800 time period.
In looking into this doctrine of the church, with the study of “the manuscripts”, we can see that at least one rapture event is prophesied in scripture. Some theologians even argue that there will be several, separate rapture events in the end times. These include the rapture of the church, the rapture of the two prophets who are martyred by the beast in Revelation 11, and the rapture or Jews who believe. However, for this topical discussion we are concerned with the rapture of the church. However; even in this focus, the rapture of the church is believed by different Christians to occur either before the tribulation period, halfway through the tribulation period, or after the tribulation period. Since this question is whether a rapture occurs at all, we will focus on this topic; Is the Rapture True?
This word “rapture” is an eschatological (study of end things) term used by Christians to refer to the gathering of believers who are lifted from this earth and joined with their glorified bodies and Jesus Christ. I will have to admit that the word “rapture” is not used in scripture. That is to say; in our current English language, the word rapture in not in scripture as that exact word. This does not mean that the rapture event is not discussed. Jesus does tell us, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
It is noticeably clear in this passage that Jesus wants to comfort his disciples, and those who believe in him. In fact, later in the same chapter he says that he is speaking to those who love him and obey his commandments. In the ending of the previous chapter and on into this verse Jesus is warning his disciples that he must return to his Father. He wants them to know that his death is not a mistake, and it is not the end. In fact, it is a new beginning. Just as in Genesis the Lord said, let there be light, Jesus sheds light on the events to come. He is going away and leaving them there. While he is away, he is preparing for when he returns to take them to where he has gone. Now this does not say rapture, but there is a clear message that Jesus is returning, and he will take those who love him back to the Father to be with him. This is one reference in scripture where this topic is mentioned by Jesus Christ himself and recorded by the Apostle John. The gospel of John is believed to have been written around 85-90 A.D. This is a little before the 1800s.
Now I know, you are thinking that is a nice passage, but it does not really say that we will be taken to the skies. It just says that Jesus is coming back, and he will take us with him. Now, before we move further. Even if there were no other verse that spoke of this subject in scripture, I would still be excited. You see this does say, that Jesus is returning! It does say, he is preparing a place for us! It does say that he will receive us to himself! In other passages concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ it says that he will come in clouds of glory. It also says that he will return in the same manner that he left. Well, when he left, he arose into the clouds. We even have an event from the Old Testament where God raptured a prophet. The passage is 2 Kings 2:1. In this passage the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind. See then that the rapture event is not a new thing for God.
We can go even further back to Genesis 5:24. Here there is another man, named Enoch, who loved God and was obedient. This verse tells us that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Wow! God took Enoch! It does not say that Enoch died. It says that “he was not”. He disappeared; God took him. See God’s method of rapture is not limited to sweeping us up into the clouds. He does not even need to descend to the earth to do it! He is God and he is amazing!
Let us now move to another Apostle. This is what the Apostle Paul has to say concerning this topic in his first letter to the church at Corinth dated approximately A.D. 55.
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:49-57)
In this chapter Paul makes several contrasts and comparisons to what being a carnal man and a spiritual man in Christ means, and the changes that occur within us and to us. In this portion he tells us that corruptible things cannot enter into heaven; instead we need a heavenly body. We need one that is no longer corrupted by the things of this world. The things of this world are unclean, sinful, and full of death. God is life. He is a living God; of the living in Jesus Christ. Our current bodies of flesh and blood cannot join him. Paul tell us that God is somehow able to overcome this obstacle for us. Paul calls it a mystery. God is going to give us a new body. This new body will not die, it is not corrupted by sin. Paul says that this transformation will happen instantly, at the sound of the last trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise from the grave and be incorruptible. Then those of us who believe, that are still alive will be caught up also. We will all be changed, and death will have no hold on us. Jesus Christ has defeated death for us. This is amazing news!
So far we can see in just these few passages that:

• We don’t need to worry
• Jesus ascended into heaven and is returning
• Jesus has prepared a place for us
• Jesus is going to raise us up to be immortal and incorruptible

I still hear the nay Sayers out there; “I still don’t see where the word rapture can come from”. Well let us continue to seek out what the Apostle to the Gentiles says. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers concerning the rapture because some of them had been taught, by a false teacher, that the believers who had already died would miss the rapture. This false doctrine was causing many believers to lose heart, especially those who had a loved one who had already died. They wondered if they would see them again, or if they had believed in vain.
Paul wrote in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
First Paul writes that they do not need to be worried about the fate of the fellow loved ones who have believed in Christ and have already died. They did not miss the rapture. We have a hope that non-believers do not have. We that believe that Jesus died and rose again, including those in the grave right now, the Lord will bring them to his kingdom, when he comes for everyone else. He even, says that the Lord, himself, will come down and raise them from the dead. They will be raised up before he receives those who believe on him and are alive. Paul tells us that “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up”. This “caught up” is our primary concern in this text. This is where the rapture doctrine is pointed to directly. The word rapture comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. It is used as rapiemur, which means “we shall be caught up” (Ladd, 1978) This Latin word is used in translation of the Greek harpazo, meaning snatch away, or seize. I think that we can see that the word rapture and the doctrine are well rooted in scripture, and the source manuscripts. These manuscripts also easily out-date the dream of a woman from the 1800s and the supposed false doctrine of two unnamed preachers.
Here for further study:

• Luke 17:34-37 – I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.
• Revelation 3:10 – Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
• Matthew 24:29-31 – Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Here I echo the same concern that Paul said, “I would not have you to be ignorant”. I implore you to search the scriptures for yourself, and to not take the word of any man over what God himself has spoken. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Don’t let yourself be taken by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Bibliography
Ladd, G. E. (1978). The Last Things, An Eschatology for Laymen. Grand Rapids : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. .
Murray, P. D. (2019, July 13). Satan’s Message – Im Going To Fly You Away. Retrieved May 11, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8go4ClW2bk

 

The Message, Not the Messenger

The Message Not the Messenger: Acts 26:16-18

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We often feel we are inadequate or lack enough training or knowledge to share the gospel.  Some of us think we don’t have the ability to be a great orator. We get tongue tied, or speak to softly, or stutter. Some of us are held back from the shame of our past. We wonder how could we ever confront someone on what is right or wrong with the things we have done in our past?  Maybe its that we are not the right color, or the right age, or that we are just a new Christian. Insecurities creep in from every direction.  Our insecurities help is to make millions of excuses why “someone else” should tell people about Jesus and not us.

We compare ourselves to Billy Graham, or some other big named evangelist and tell ourselves that I could never be that useful to God.  We may even compare ourselves to the Apostles and say man, I wish I could be like Luke and write amazing things about Jesus and the church.  We may tell ourselves, I could never be like Paul and plant churches everywhere I go.  To often we look at our own limitations and not what God can do; if we were to just be obedient.

Peter was just an average guy  when he was called by Jesus.  He was a fisherman who made a living by the sweat of his brow and the sores on his hands. Peter denied Christ when he needed him most.  Peter was a man of shame. He had to overcome this in love of Jesus Christ. Paul murdered Christians and suffered beatings, sicknesses, and ridicule.  Paul had to be encouraged in his ministry by other believers, and even had to have a personal physician.  Paul had to overcome all of this in the love of Jesus Christ.  Both men, and even Luke had their failings from the past to look beyond.  They had to keep looking forward to the day of redemption, and to be faithful to the commandment from Jesus that they had received.  The commandment to go and tell.  We however continue to look at our failures and let them assure us that we are unworthy to carry such a message.

The truth is, we are unworthy to carry such a message.  However; we are also uniquely qualified to carry the message of hope.  We to must overcome our past by the love of Jesus Christ. You see we did not earn the privilege to speak on his name.  We received a task that is a privilege to perform for him.  We know our dreadful past with all of the horrific things we have done against God and others.  But we are not the only ones who know.  Those who God sends us to, they know it also.  Our friends and family, wives, siblings, children, parents, they all know who we used to be.  More importantly, we know who we used to be. But we have something to share with them.

What we share with them is hope.  We share with them Jesus and a new life that is free from the past.  We show them by our lives that they do not have to be the same way they are.  There is a way to live without shame, addiction and rejection.  None of us started out the way we ended up.  We all wanted to be something better than what we became.  We show them how Jesus can make us free to live life in a better way than we ever dreamed.  We can have redemption, hope, joy, and love!  We can be loved!  We can love others too! The gospel of Jesus Christ is that and so much more.  But, we hide this important message from them because of our insecurities.  We forget that it is not us, but the Spirit of the Living God who resides in us that gives us the ability to bear witness of the things he has done for us, for them.

We don’t see that before Billy Graham was a world renowned evangelist and clergy to the Office of the President of the United States, he was just another guy.  He gave his life to Christ at the age of 16.  He was a farmer’s son.  His first ministry was to lead prayer meetings in a trailer park.  He applied to be an Army Chaplain and was denied do to a lack of formal experience.  He then became a Pastor of a small Baptist church.  He began to host a weekly radio program.  Billy Graham looked for opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eventually he became the first full time organizer of Youth for Christ.  This is what God used to open doors all across the world for many generations.  Billy Graham was of humble beginnings, without experience, and largely unlearned, and often felt inadequate to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ. But he was obedient.  It is God who made Billy Graham, Paul, Peter, Luke, and all the other historic men and women of God who they are today.

In Acts 26 we get a look at Paul, or Saul at this time.  It is strange, but; when we consider who would have been the first martyrs of the church we would assume that it would be one of the twelve apostles.  You know the guys who were right there, and saw it all go down.  I could see Peter volunteering himself to go first.  After all, he did tell Jesus that he would go with him unto death!  However; this is not the case.  Instead, the first martyr recorded was a young man.  This youth was named Stephen.  Stephen was one of the deacons of the church.  He tended to the widows, orphans, and other needs of the church and it’s members.  Like other early followers, he was not restricted to just administrative tasks, but was active in spreading the gospel himself.  This is something that we should all learn.  Even though he was a deacon, he understood that his work for the gospel of Jesus did not end there.  He didn’t say, “I’m a deacon, not a preacher”.  In fact, if you study the book of acts you will see that all of the first deacons were also preachers, and evangelists.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what seminary or special training that Stephen went though, or how powerful of a speaker he was.  It does not tell us that Stephen was anything exceptional.  With the exception of this, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8)  Stephen was full of faith!  That is it.  Because Stephen was full of faith, God did great wonders and miracles through Stephen.  So this humble young man who believed enough to share his faith soon got into trouble with the local religious groups.

Stephen was brought up on charges of blasphemy for proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  Stephen was stoned to death for his testimony of Jesus.  Now a man named Saul, was one of those present and took pleasure at the stoning of Stephen.  This Saul, would become known as Paul, the same one who would latter change the world with the doctrine of salvation by grace, hated believers in Jesus Christ.  Saul even went further and received authorization to persecute Christians throughout the Providences of Asia.  This meant he had permission to go from town to town and arrest, beat, and stone to death anyone who he witnessed or was witnessed to him, as a Christian.

Paul himself testifies of his own evil deeds that he did.  He tells King Agrippa that he threw many “followers of the way” (Christians) into prison and saw to it that they were executed. Paul himself would testify against them in courts. He said that he often punished them in the synagogues.  He would back them into a corner with his knowledge of scripture and his intellect and force them to commit blasphemy in front of the Pharisees so that they would be stoned to death. When the persecuted fled Jerusalem, then Paul proceeded to hunt them down throughout Asia.  Now, I ask you.  What have you done that is shameful?  What has disqualified you from sharing the gospel?  How many innocent lives have you taken?  How many followers of Jesus Christ have you condemned to death?

OK, so this Saul was on a hunting trip to catch more followers of the Way. Then while Paul is riding along and anticipating his trophies to be won, suddenly, he runs right smack dab into Jesus.  Jesus blinds Saul with his glory and then confronts him on his sin.  Saul, like you and I, repented.  Saul saw the error of his ways, his foolish pride and arrogance, his sins against God himself.  His errors in the past swept before his heart and his mind’s eye.  Saul was immediately sorrowful and his shame was displayed before him.  He suddenly understood how shameful he was.  He was not the righteous soldier of God he had imagined in his vanity.  Instead he was a murderer of the ones that truly loved God.  Saul had worked his whole life and studied hard to be pleasing to God, and yet he had not seen the light.  He was lost, more than any other man. He also knew that his actions, above of all other men’s, could not be forgiven.  The pride that had blinded him, was now gone.  Saul was broken.

Then something happened.  Jesus forgave Paul.  He forgave him of everything, with nothing left out to hold over his life.  Just like Jesus forgave you and I.  But that would not be the only thing that Jesus did for Saul.  Jesus sent Saul on mission. Acts 26:16-18 tells of about this, “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Paul was to rise to his feet, but to never think to highly of himself again.  Paul’s humility would be the strength that God would use to spread his gospel of grace by faith.  Jesus told Paul, “rise and stand upon thy feet.”  Jesus told him to stand up, I have a job for you.  Jesus confronted Paul of his sin.  Once Paul confessed and repented, Jesus stood him up and gave him purpose.  The Lord gave Paul a new life and a new purpose, in and for Jesus Christ.  Now that Paul had been delivered, he was not to return to his old life.  Paul would no long serve his own purposes.  Paul, now that he was redeemed was now a servant of the Lord who had redeemed him.

Paul’s new purpose was to go where the Lord directed and “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

How did Paul start out this mission?  He was humble.  He was blind.  He was dependent upon those around him.  He was led about by the hand. He had to wait on the Lord.  When Paul first started preaching, no one listened to him.  His past immediately came up, and people did not trust him.  They didn’t believe in his conversion.  Then when they did start listening they tried to kill him.  Does this sound familiar?  When you first believed in Christ, were you not treated in such a way?  Did friends and family disbelieve the sincerity of your conversion?  Did they say things like, “Awe you just on a Jesus kick!” Afterward, they would then grow tired of you talking about Jesus and even begin to be confrontational, or avoiding you.  See these same things you go through, even the great Apostle Paul went through.  All of these feelings of inadequacy.  Things that encourage you to just crawl in a hole and not mention the name of the one who redeemed you.  They are real things the enemy uses to silence us.

See we are all the same.  We are all just servants, none of us is better or more important than the other. We all need to be obedient and follow the calling of Christ.  This mission that Jesus gave Saul, it the same one he gave the other disciples.  It is the same one he gives us as new disciples.  This is part of our inheritance.  We have the great privilege to speak life to people in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ.  Let us then do like Saul, who became known as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Let us get up and put our old lives behind us.  Live the life and purpose that Jesus has now given to us.  Go on mission to tell others about what God has done for you.  How he has delivered YOU from death and shame into love and life in Jesus Christ.  Have we forgotten that the Lord told the Pharisees, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”   We are who the Lord chose to reveal himself to; those who are sick, and feeble, those who are in need.  He did not come to call the religious, but those who are lost and need redemption.  He did not call the perfect, but those who are broken and distraught.  Those who need him are the ones he came to deliver.

We who have believed have now been made anew.  Like a new garment that is clean and nicely pressed we have a new life.  The Spirit of God has come to indwell this new wineskin, not the old. Jesus had laid his hands upon us and healed us from our infirmities.  Jesus removed the shackles of death and the bondage of sin (addictions) that once crippled us.  He has raised us up to be glorified in him, to him, and for him.  We like Saul have been redeemed, bought, for his purposes.  It is by faith that we have been made whole.  Faith that God exists. Faith that Jesus if the Son of God.  Faith that Jesus dies and was buried for our sin.  Faith that we will be resurrected just as he resurrected.  Faith that he will return to establish his kingdom here on earth and destroy his enemies. Faith that we are delivered to eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is our hope in this life.  We have this newness of life in Christ.  Death died with the old man we used to be.  Now we have a new life in Jesus Christ.  This new life is free from sin, shame, and death.  We have nothing to fear in this life and can then love as Christ has love us.  There is nothing that anyone can hold against this new creature in Christ that we have become.  Paul told Timothy, “let no man despise they youth”. Let no man despise you’re youth, in age or spiritual maturity, for many elders in the church have gone to sleep spiritually.

So again let us, open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among we which are sanctified by faith that is in us concerning Jesus Christ.

Brief Look at KJV, NIV, NASB, and New World Bible: Sampling of Scriptures

Brief Look at KJV, NIV, NASB, and New World Bible: Sampling of Scriptures

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OK, I had some great comments from the last time I showed you some bible verse comparisons between the KJV and others. I have one or two more here that compare the KJV to NIV, NASB, and the New World Bible.  Now I will tell you ahead of time that there has been a constant effort in those who wish to establish a one world religion to remove strong language in the Bible,  change our vocabulary, and alter our doctrines in order to make it easier for professing Christians to be more tolerant of other pagan beliefs and other religious practices.  The effort is to join east to west and lay the foundation of this New World Order that we know will be eventually ruled by the Antichrist.

“Certain words have gathered theological significance through the years and to change them might be to change doctrine… Do the changes in meanings come from new evidence or simply NEW THEOLOGY.” (Foster)

If subtle changes were then made to the meaning of a word, we could change the word without offending anyone, or we could also choose to use the word and correct the previous meaning.  If we say used the word “Christ” then the Christian would assume that we are speaking of Jesus Christ.  Then we could use the term Christ as we saw fit.  So Christ could actually mean “the One”.  At the surface this does not seem like a bad thing, and we could reach a commonality in the term Christ and, the One.  On the surface this seems totally acceptable.  If anyone argued, we could accuse them of being a hater or an extremist and ostracize them from the norm of society.

On a deeper look we can see in new versions of the bible that where the KJV refers to He (God the Father), or the Holy One the newer versions simply say “The One”.  This is the same term used by Universalist and Luciferians to refer to the unknown power that binds the universe, and is seen as a part of the universe.  In the New World religion, you will become “one” with the power of the universe when you leave this earth, you trade your mortality for immortality, no sin to worry about. No punishment from God, because we are all a part of “The One” energy of the universe. Thus God cannot judge anyone.  He accepts us all, no repentance is needed. This is a lie from Satan, and it is leading billions to damnation and the lake of fire.

In the meantime, the One Word Religion has separated the name of Jesus from the identity of the Christ or Messiah.  One step removed.  Then someone can easily say that they believe in Jesus.  But this does not mean that one believes in Jesus as the Son of God, or the Messiah who was prophesied to come. Instead, Jesus becomes a good man, or a great teacher, maybe even a prophet of great importance.  His message becomes a philosophy of love and universal acceptance from god.  Since he is no longer the Son of God, then he does not necessarily represent the God of Moses, who calls himself the “I AM”.  Instead God becomes a universal principle and not a true persona. If God then is not God, then Jesus Christ is not the only way to him, or to eternal life.  In fact, God has nothing to do with real eternal life, if Jesus is not the Son of God.  What a complex lie has been weaved to entrap the world.

Once this is done then we need only refer to Jesus in impersonal pronouns instead of his name Jesus of Nazareth, or his title Jesus Christ.  We have effectively removed all deity, identity, and relevance to the name of Jesus.  Yet for those who still need his acknowledgement we can say that we believe in him, we of course mean that we believe in his ideas.  This is the way of the New World, One World Religion (Luciferians). We have not even discussed how to change the meaning of the word “Christ”, but you can see the potentially dangerous slope that we venture on.  While Christians argue about which Bible version is the true word of God and confusing the masses, we expose the flock of Jesus Christ to these evil minded antichrists.  I want to call your attention back up to the quote from Mr. Foster, notice that they are not talking about just taking the “oldest and best” manuscripts and making sure that they are given a word for word translation.  Now I know some of you are saying, you can never have a word for word translation from one language to the next.  This is a truth I will not argue, however; you can have an honest Spirit led, God fearing, best effort in translating an accurate reading of the text.  What this guy is talking about in this Luciferian scandal is to ignore the text, and change the meaning to fit what they want it to say.  This is a transliteration, not a translation.

When a preacher opens up the King James Bible on Sunday morning and begins to read and to preach, he is taking a trusted translation of the Bible and sharing in confidence that this Word has been tested with over 400 years of blood, sweat, and tears.  This version of the Bible had been a grand influence in bringing hundreds of thousands to believe on Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  This version is what most people heard around the English speaking world who have led people under the direction of the Holy Spirit into a personal, loving relationship with the God the Father.  This version is what tells us that those who are saved are done so by the grace of God alone, and that we are adopted children of the God of all Creation.  God is not a part of creation, or a universal principle.  God the Creator, exists, and for over 400 years, this has been the Bible that has told us the truth.

Now suddenly we are told all of the translators were untrustworthy, uneducated, and charlatans.  We are told how the King of England forced them to change the meanings of the text to suit his needs.  We are told that it is too difficult for the average believer to read and understand. I think we have listened to too much Catholic influence.  The text on most new bibles comes from the very source text that the Catholic church uses for it’s Bible, which is not the one used by the King James Version.  These lies and hiding of the text, twisting the word, and only  letting the “ordained” read the text and give interpretation are all hallmarks of a cult mentality.

This preacher we mentioned earlier who opens the Authorized Version (AV) and reads and expands upon the scriptures.  This God fearing man who brings a message after careful study, heavy prayer and who is relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach him, is now given the weighty task of teaching others.  But he is reading the translation to them, then, and only then does he attempt his explanation.  He does not just tell them, this is what the Lord says.  No, he reads to them what the Lord has said, then he explains to them what the Lord has given him concerning the text.  The individual believer is then responsible to search the scriptures themselves to determine in the Holy Spirit whether what the preacher has said is true.  This is not the case with a bible that has been transliterated instead of translated.  A transliterated Bible is one that the interpreter has stepped out of interpretation and started deciding what the text is meaning, instead of what it says. Often this is done to support the agenda of a particular cult.  Jehovah Witness have admittedly done this with the New World Bible Translation.

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures does not follow this common practice. It uses the name Jehovah a total of 237 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. In deciding to do this, the translators took into consideration two important factors: (1) The Greek manuscripts we possess today are not the originals. Of the thousands of copies in existence today, most were made at least two centuries after the originals were composed. (2) By that time, those copying the manuscripts either replaced the Tetragrammaton with Kyʹri·os, the Greek word for “Lord,” or they copied from manuscripts where this had already been done. (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania)

You need to get busy in your own research, stop being bullied into submission.  I think that it is funny that we hear preachers say that you cannot understand the King James, or the 1911 bible.  I also want to make note that this is the same excuse the Roman Catholic Church used to gain control of the entire Roman world.  They told everyone that they could not properly understand they text of the Bible, (which by the way is the same one your using in a new version), and that it needed to be explained to you by those who were closest to God. I think that preposterous.

The Authorized, 1911, KJVs  are still written in what is considered modern English, and were written at what we consider a 6-8 grade reading level, depending upon the study.  I want to also remind you that it was written so that the common people could read the text themselves.  These common people did not go to school.  So what you are saying, is that, even though you went to 12 years of school under the modern “enlightenment” we live in, you cannot read a bible that the common people with no formal education could read.   I don’t think that the problem is with the reading level of the version, it is somewhere else.  A little bit more, most new versions of the Bible start at an 8th grade reading level.

Now we see the confusion of the text, and the confusion of the words in the text, and then we have the influx of the New World terminology.  Remember the difference that the purposely separating the name of Jesus from his title Christ did in changing doctrine.  This is what Mr. Foster was speaking of in the above quote.  As a part of this changing of meanings of words and making them irrelevant we can then just drop some of them.  Words proper references like Lucifer, the Dragon, Diana, devils, and Satan can then be omitted or changed to more generic terms that still allow the Luciferian to tell the Christian that “we all believe in the same God”.  Even though, when you look at the meaning of their terminology, it is painfully clear that we do not! Now that we are all questioning the authority of the “original” texts, the literacy of the language, and the meaning of the words use, we can edit, or delete portions of the scriptures that are no longer valid, or could be misleading to our cause.  No one would be any smarter, and no one would even care.  If anyone did raise a fuss, we can just tell them that they are ignorant, and do not know as much as we do.  We can even train their pastors and teachers coming out of seminary, confusing them right out of the gate.  Progressive liberalism, comes from the changing of the text.

Finally, here are some examples for you to consider.

REFERENCE AUTHORISED VERSION (KJV) NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV) NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION (NASV) NEW WORLD TRANSALTION (NTW)
Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. Omitted Subjective foot note Omitted
Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him: “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If, though, you want to enter into life, observe the commandments continually.”
Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Omitted Satan Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Omitted Satan In reply Jesus said to him: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’ Omitted Satan
Acts 8:37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Subjective foot note Subjective foot note omitted

 

These are only a small sampling of hundreds of scriptures.  I might add also that different versions of the NIV, NASB, and NWT treat the verses differently.  Some versions will include omitted verses or phrases, some do not. This should also be a testimony of the lack of reliability of the text in those versions. The acceptance of these translations in the church has weekend the church and kept believers in a shroud of darkness and insecurity.  The bold passion that believers in Jesus Christ had is non-existent in the church today.  Church pews sit empty while supposed believers are out exploring New Age religions and philosophies.  Pagan religions are practiced in many “Christian” homes.  Christians seek out their fortune with palm readers and astrological charts in the newspapers or online fortune tellers.  This is the very sin that God allow Saul to be killed over.

Instead of reading their Bibles to get wisdom from God and his word, they seek out philosophies, and eastern mysticisms to guide their way.  Instead of seeking to live sanctified lives and becoming more like Jesus Christ and God their Father, they are trying to become one with the FORCE.  Shame is brought upon the church.  They wonder why they cannot win someone to Christ.  I will tell you why, a lot of people who “profess to believe” actually do not.  They themselves are still searching for God.  This is in large part because they are not being taught the whole counsel of God.  This discussion we are having here is a major reason.  The enemy has done what he always does.  He perverts the truth.  Mixes lies with truth and causes doubt.

This is what Satan, that old serpent, did to Eve in the Garden of Eden at the very beginning.  That devil caused Eve to doubt what God had said, and why he said it.  He gave her his transliteration of the word of God.  The devil has always caused us to question – what God said, and so do his children. Peter warns us that these days would come.  “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1-2) Wow! Peter says that even then there were false teachers among them.  While the Apostles were still alive, false teachers were already twisting their words, and changing doctrines. We must take this seriously.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and told him that he should refrain from being in the presence of false teachers. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)  We should not fellowship with those who spread these false doctrines.  They cannot be referred to as Christian if they deny the deity of Jesus Christ.  I will leave you this last scripture to meditate on.

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

References

Foster, Lewis. Selecting a Translation of the Bible. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Co., 1983.

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The Divine Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. 2020. Jehovah’s Witness. 28 04 2020. <https://www.jw.org/en/library/bible/nwt/appendix-a/divine-name-christian-greek-scriptures/&gt;.

 

Luke 8:22-25 He’s Just Asleep in the Boat.

Luke 8:22-25 He’s Just Asleep in the Boat.

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Did you ever wonder what it means to meditate on the Word day and night?  It means that we should constantly be studying the scriptures and contemplating what God is trying to tell us.  We should discuss them with the Lord, with our own hearts, and with one another.  We should be in a manner of constant encouragement and refinement of our thoughts and attitudes concerning life, our families, communities, and God himself.  During this time of uncertainty we can take a look at an event in scripture that is recorded in Luke chapter 8 and see how we can chew up this passage, digest it, and make it part of our life.

luke 8

Jesus Calms a Storm

22  Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24  And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25  And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. (Luke 8:22-25)

The term certain day shows us that this was an actual event that took place.  The event has a particular time, place, and people involved.  For the writer and those involved, it is a matter of history and fact.  They lived this event.  The things that unfold in this short story are real and binding on the hearts of the witnesses, this is their account as relayed to Luke.  The events are further corroborated by Matthew in his gospel account in Matthew 8:23-27.  So here we have two witnesses of this account in writing.  This is very important.  You see in Deuteronomy 17:6 it tells us, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” (Deuteronomy 17:6) You see here that all it takes to sentence a man to death according to Hebrew law is for two witnesses to bring a credible witness against the accused.  If this is what is required to condemn a man to death then it is enough to validate this event.

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So we see that the disciples and Jesus were on passage on a boat and when Jesus went to sleep, a violent storm came.  The wind was howling, the boat was taking on water, these men felt that their lives were in danger from forces they could not control.  Take note, these were not inexperienced Saturday afternoon boaters.  Most of these men were fishermen.  These men were of strong hand and backs, they had been in a storm or two in their years of fishing.  If you have ever met a sailor, they often pride themselves on the storms they have endured on the seas.  However; this was not the same kind of storm that these men had endured before.  This storm frightened them to the point of fearing death.  It was pretty easy for them to see that the boat would likely be crushed in the waves, the wind and water was overtaking the boat.  They had no control over their circumstances.  All of their lives were passing before their eyes.  Wives lips that would never be kissed again, children that would never be played with again.  The sunrises they would miss.  Songs that they would never sing again.  As they looked over their possessions, their homes, their clothes, money, land, and more they began realize how little value those things actually had.  They could see that they had focused their whole lives on things that really didn’t matter.  Their children, their spouses, their families, and their God are the things that mattered.  Now they could see that each of them alone would have to face God and each give an account for their lives and sins.  “Oh my, did I confess all my sins during the atonement?”  “Did God actually forgive me?”  “If only I had a Rabbi here now!”…. “Wait… I do!”  Then they turn their eyes toward Jesus.

Jesus is sleeping.  In all of this storming wind, spraying of water, beating of the waves, screaming of the men, Jesus is steadfast asleep.  He is in a place of safety and comfort.  Peacefully like a baby he is there sleeping, probably laying in a puddle of water, soaked from head to toe, but asleep none the less.  Lenny LeBlanc released a song a few decades ago that I use to love listening to.  The name of the song was Asleep in the Boat.  It talks about a promise God made, and that he is always there, just as Jesus was here with his disciples.  Just like when we are in the storm, He is here for us.  I often wonder what Jesus was dreaming about.  I wonder if this scripture from Isaiah 49:15-16 is what he was thinking of, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me”. 

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Jesus could have been dreaming of his home that he left behind, or how much he missed being with the Father.  He could have been dreaming that the swaying of the boat in the waves was him being rocked in the arms of his loving Father.  We could spend all day just contemplating this little portion of the scripture.  Something to contemplate.  Jesus might not have been asleep at all.  He may have been there just listening and observing with his eyes closed.  Waiting for just one of them to say, you know if Jesus is not worried, then neither am I.  He could have been waiting for them to just ask for him to help.  He could have been waiting to see if they had learned anything in how to pray.  After all they did already ask him how to pray, and he gave a line-by-line example of how one should pray.  He had already taught them on many things concerning faith and waiting on the Lord. He could have been testing his disciples to see how they were developing.  I wonder sometimes if I could pass such a test.  Looking death right in the face, would I have enough faith to just lay down and sleep, trusting in the Lord for whatever his will was. There is allot to contemplate concerning God, and ourselves in this passage. One thing for sure, the disciples did not care that he was sleeping peacefully.  They woke him up.

The fear and anxiety the disciples were experiencing was relayed in their choice of words; “Master, we perish”.  They were saying that they just knew they were all dead men, including Jesus.  There plea to Jesus is not one of faith that he can deliver them.  It is a last ditch effort that maybe the preacher can pray for us and God might hear him and just maybe he will save us.  They had no idea that this is the real-to-life, Son of God that they have just awoken and revealed their total lack of faith to.  Now something to once again stop and meditate on.  How often do we do this? How often do we look at the circumstance and look at God and assume he was asleep.  Do we actually believe that he has our best interests in mind?  What if his will is different than ours?  Do we have faith to accept that will, knowing that even though we cannot understand it, that he is doing what is best for us and keeping us in his plan?  That my fellow believer is steadfast faith.  This is nothing that Jesus didn’t do for us.  He led by example.

In the Garden the night before his execution when Jesus prayed the scripture uses phrases like, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death”…”he went forward an little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: never the less not what I will, but what thou wilt”.  See Jesus did exactly what we are expected to do.  Pray for our need, but submit to the will of the Father.  Know that what he is asking us to do is needful and necessary.  If Jesus would not have suffered for us, then we would not know the Father.  If you do not have times of suffering, someone else who may have come to know Jesus by the example of your faith, might die in their sins.  We have to trust in his will, that is faith.  Standing in that hope and knowledge of the love of God towards you is exercising that faith.  So then the disciples awoke Jesus in some vague hope that he just might be close enough to God to do something.

Well it turns out that Jesus has some authority that the disciples were not aware of.  Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. When the disciples had finally exhausted themselves and all of their resources and were still hopeless in their situation, they called on Jesus.  Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and the waters and the wind and the waters ceased… and there was a calm.  This says “a” calm.  It was dead silence.  No one had ever seen the winds and raging seas obey a man.  The closes things to this was the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River.  I imagine that Peter and the rest of them were thinking the same thing.  Holy MOSES Batman!  One thing is for sure, there fear of the things of nature turned into the fear of God.  Things that no man could control were controlled by the words spoken by Jesus.  “In the beginning was the Word”… “Then God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”… “I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop”… my there is a lot to meditate on in this little section of scripture.  You see they did not know that the very God who created the oceans, and established their boundaries was in the boat with them.  Even when he rebuked the waves, they still did not fully understand.  That is the way we are.  We believe that the Lord has saved us and that he still delivers us out of our troubles, yet we still doubt him and need constant reassurances from him.  We often fail to trust him, even though we know that he is right there in the boat with us.  We confess that he has all authority, then we act like we are hopeless and being tossed about the seas, instead of being rocked to sleep in his loving arms.

Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith?”  That translated into “Where is your faith?”  We Jesus in all fairness we don’t know of when you promised to deliver us from a storm!  Really?  Let us go to Psalms.  “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:29-31)  Oh, you mean that?  Just because it is so specific and says exactly what happened in this event, somehow that applies.  Yes, you see to meditate on the scriptures is to learn of the Lord, and ALL of his ways.  We are to write his words upon our hearts, on our foreheads, on our street corners, and on our door posts. We are to tell them to our children, sing of them in our gatherings, teach them in our schools, and most of all encourage one another in their meanings.  God loves us so much he wrote a whole 66 volume set of books for us to learn about him, his provisions, and his love for us.  Meditate on that.

1 Thessalonians 5 Encourage Ye One Another

1 Thessalonians 5 Encourage Ye One Another

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Paul tells the Christians in Thessalonica, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”  We can learn something from this simple advice given by the Apostle to the Gentiles.  The wherefore concerns what he has just spoke about. What has he just spoke about?

Well in the previous chapters he talked about how we should be living out our daily lives as believers in Christ Jesus.  In chapter one he commended the faithful witness of the Christians in Thessalonica. He called them examples of righteousness to Macedonia and Achaia.  He praised them for their fervent spreading of the gospel throughout the region.  He recognized the changes in their lives, turning from idols to believing on the Lord’s deliverance of them from the wrath to come.  In the second chapter; Paul reinforces the witness that thy have learned by example from him and his party and how they love the hearts of the Thessalonians and desire to be with them again.  Paul expresses his love for them and their love of him and Christ in him.  He encourages them and say that they share the same hope, “For what is out hope, our joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (v.19)

In the fourth chapter Paul tells them as you have learned from us how to walk in faith, continue in this so that you will increase the pleasure you give to God in your love and obedience.  He reminds them that walking in the spirit is walking in sanctification.  Those who are called of God are not called to uncleanness, but to holiness.  We who love God cannot continue in the sins that we used to walk in.  We should have a different attitude.  We should actually despise our old lifestyle, wanting nothing to do with it.  Instead we should seek to become more knowledgeable about the Lord, his Kingdom, and his will. Then he answers some questions about the rapture and the resurrection.  This is important to the advice his gives us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

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We do not have to fear the times that we live in.  All of these things are given to us as a sign.  A sign that the Lord’s return is imminent. Just as persecutions were on the rise in ancient Rome against followers of the Way so are the prevalent today.  Today we have another 100 year event.  It seems the past few years we have had a 100 year event, of some sort, every year.  This 100 year event for 2020 is the pandemic; COVID-19.  This event has attacked every part of society in every part of the globe and will undoubtedly change the way many things are done in the future.  The way we interact with one another will be different.  The way that foreign government interact and support one another.  Even the sovereignty of nations will be changed.  Individual freedoms will be forever effected.  Powers of local, state, and federal governments will be increased.  Universality of mankind will grow in acceptance, doing away with many boundaries we previously had.

This virus is already affecting all of those things and more.   We are losing family members.  Some are questioning God.  Some are flat out angry with God, and have chosen to reject him.  Others have renewed their faith.  Some who have stopped praying and seeking God decades ago are now seeking him out.  This same dynamic plays out in the family circle.  Many families are being drawn together.  Forgiving one another for offences long forgotten.  Parent spending time with their children.  Children once starved for attention from their parents are now being filled up with love.  However; with these things we see unfolding.  The changes in the governments, religious acceptance, the move toward universal-ism and far more set the stage for the events which must unfold.  With these things, and the very upfront reality of death.  Paul tells the Thessalonians, and us to comfort ourselves and one another.

We know the times and the seasons in which we live.  This have been told to us before.  Jesus himself told us of the signs that would show as his return grew closer.  He told us those things so that we could take comfort in them.  When we see these things happen, we know that he already told us and that it is part of his plan.  These things have to take place in order to save as many as possible and to spare them from the wrath to come.

For us, the follower of the Way, we have supreme knowledge and comfort.  We know, that everyone has an appointment with death.  As far as death is concerned, we know that we are just passing through this world.  We are not to cling to things of this world.  We know that the things of this world are temporal.  That means that everything of this physical world fades away, it is temporary.  Things rust, mold, decay, turn to dust, and even dust disappears eventually.  Scripture says that the life of a man is like a vapor.  It is here one moment and then gone.  For us who believe in Christ, we have a more complete knowledge in knowing these things.  We know that there is life after death.

We know that we do not fade away or become a part of the cosmos and loose who we were.  Instead, we have a new life.  We know or true life is spiritual, not the flesh.  We know that God has made a way in Jesus Christ for us to live this eternal life in his presence without fear, without death.  We know that our sorrow will be taken away, and that God himself will wipe away our tears. We can believe this because Jesus Christ not only died for our sins, but he conquered death and arose from the dead.  He is alive, and because he is alive, we who believe have been grafted into his life eternal.

This guidance, given by the Spirit through, Paul says that we should take comfort in what he has just said, and as we take comfort, we are to encourage one another.  What he just said is that Christ is eternal.  Christ is returning.  We know this because of the signs all around us. We then walk in the light of Christ. So we can take comfort in these things that are unfolding around us. This comforting is a two-fold process.

 

We take comfort in the Lord and then this gives us the ability to comfort others. What is our comfort?  We know that we dwell in him.  We are his children.  1 John 4 says that we who know God know that God loves us; for God is love.  He manifested this love in Jesus Christ; that we might live through him.  We are able to love one another because the love of God is in us. We also know that his Spirit is in us because without the Spirit, no man can confess Christ.  With this comfort in our hearts we know that God loves us and that he is faithful.  We can then encourage one another in these odd days of fear, sickness, and death.

We can comfort one another by doing what we are called to do.  Remember Paul complemented the Thessalonians in walking upright before man and the Lord. This example of godliness they lived encouraging him and the whole region about Thessaloniki.  People were being saved and believers were being encouraged by the life that they lived.  Lives of holiness and dedication to Jesus Christ.

We see that walking in the Spirit through living a sanctified life encourages others around us. We can give hope to others in the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can teach one another of the faithfulness of God in his Word and in the testimony of our own lives in him.  We can also pray for one another.  Pray without whole hearts.  Pray aloud.  Pray boldly.   Pray in faith and in hope.  The Lord says that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much (it means a whole lot- have great influence).  Guess what, you who have believe on the name of Jesus, you have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus.