Luke 13:34 Tough Love

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O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

Ref: Luke 13:34; Zechariah 2 Chronicles 24:20; Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51

While the Lord says that he has sent prophet after prophet to lead Israel to repentance time and time again they would not listen and continued in their idolatries.  Jesus has someone specific in mind when he is talking about the prophets they killed.  He has a bold example of the killing of a prophet the exemplifies his meaning. Both Matthew 23 and Luke 11 elaborate on this prophet.  His death is quickly mentioned in 2 Chronicles, almost as an incidental circumstance that many Jews dismissed as a part of their checkered past.  The death of this prophet would seem to be insignificant in Gods plans, however, we see that God did not forget him.  Jesus is giving testimony of what King David wrote, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15). If not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Almighty God knowing, and the blood of the righteous cry out to God day and night, surely the death of his loved ones echoes through his heart at all times. Here in Luke 13 Jesus tells us that, not only does he remember, but this very generation will be held accountable for the blood, of all the saints, including this one unremembered prophet.

This generation thought of themselves as more enlightened than their predecessors.  They told themselves that they were better then their forefathers, that they would not have killed the prophets of old if they were sent to them.  They are far superior in understanding and more fearful of God then their generations before them. But Jesus says, no.. I have sent you prophets, and you have killed them also.  One such prophet that we know of is John the Baptist who was beheaded.  Jesus also knew that they would soon kill him.  Not only that Jesus knew that they would also kill those who follow after him, in his name.  Here Matthew’s version of this event:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:29-37).

The prophet Zacharias was slain in 2 Chronicles 24:20 because the princes of Judah pleaded with the king to allow them to let them worship other Gods. The king consented and this led them to trespass against God and to violate their covenant relationship with God. The LORD in his mercy sent them prophets to warn them of their trespass and to have them repent and return to him. But they rejected the words of the LORD sent by his prophets.  Then the scripture says, “Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear. And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.” (2 Chronicles 24:17-22).

Just six short verses and the fate of the nation was sealed, by their own actions, not Gods.  But did you catch the last verse? It says, “The LORD look upon it, and require it”.  For those who do not understand plain English, it says that the Lord saw this and held them accountable for the death of his servant Zechariah.  Now here in the New Testament passages we read we see that God has not forgotten the death of Zechariah.  We find a truth about God that many want to ignore.  God does remember.  God does hold us accountable. 

We all love to hear about the love of God, but many want to ignore the part where God requires that all sin be accounted for.  The distorted Gospel of Love and Prosperity has mislead millions into a watered down Christianity. Many Christians in western society do not even see the need for Christ to be involved in their salvation.  They believe that God forgives all and that they can do as they please with no fear of death or judgement.  They do not understand that it is the love of God that sent his son, Jesus (Emmanuel – God with us), to come and to sacrifice his life so that we might have eternal life. Might is the operative work that Jesus himself uses, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17).  That is that salvation is made possible though Jesus Christ, but it is ONLY through him that a man can be saved. (Acts 4:12) Faith in Jesus as the Son of God, and the Lamb of God, who came to sacrifice himself for us, is the only way, by trusting in this grace of God, can a man be saved.  It is FAITH in Jesus.

Unfortunately, many in this world have been so lied to that they don’t even know what they are being saved from of why it is necessary.  They think that just saying they believe in Jesus and getting baptized has saved them.  But this in not according to scripture, they have believed a half-truth.  They do not know that salvation comes by true repentance, and faith. This real repentance and faith in who God is, what his wrath is, and the mercy he has shown in Jesus Christ requires a change in our hearts and in our lives. They do not understand the scriptures that say we have not been delivered from sin, so that we might sin more. That is because the church of the west has failed to keep its own doctrines. We are not so different from the Jews of their time who say that they would not have killed the prophets yet could not see that they are just as guilty.  So, we say, if we were alive when Jesus was here, we would have believed, and changed, and would not have killed him.  We would have listened to God.  Yet here we sit with all out 20/20 hindsight, and yet we still act as if Jesus does not really exist, and we don’t listen to God, and remain in our sin. 

The western church sees confession of Jesus as a means to bind God into their selfish desires.  They wish to remain in their sins, to enjoy the freedom of sinning as they please and require that God just accept them as they are.  If he is loving, then he must accept them and their sin.  Surely, he wants them to be happy.  In addition, since they sometimes show up at church, God is expected to bless them for giving the time of day.  They recite promises of God and expect that he his honor bound to keep them, even though they have not met the scriptural basis for the promised blessing.  In truth, they have not even read, much less studied to see the conditions of the promise.  Yet every man that walks today is an authority on God. 

By way of example, did you listen to what Zechariah told the princes of Judah? “Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.” (2 Chronicles 24:20) There it is plain as day. The blessings of the LORD come from obedience to the will of God. God is not a god among many gods.  Jesus is not a way among many ways to God.  The Word of God is not a truth among many truths. God says I am the LORD thy God, there is no other salvation. (Isaiah 43:5; 45:5) Thou shalt have no other Gods. (Hosea 13:4; Exodus 20:2-3) Thou should not make unto the any graven image, or any likeness… not bow down to them. (Exodus 20:4-5)

This is the same thing that every prophet has ever said, this is what Zechariah said, and this is what Jesus said.  God is merciful and loving.  He reaches out in love to be your God.  He rewards those who love him with his loving kindness, his presence, and all the benefits of him being their God. Their only God.  Those who love him and keep his commandments. Those who say they love him and demonstrate their love for him, he will be their God. Those who do not keep his commandment, obviously do not love him.  The LORD does not want lip service. He does not want divided loyalties.  Those who do not follow his commandments with their heart, he will visit their iniquity upon them and their descendants.  That is serious stuff.

Now in this passage, Jesus is talking to the children of Israel. He says, “O Jerusalem”. Jesus is in mourning over the judgement that they have continuously brought upon themselves.  God did not want to pronounce judgement, he desired to protect them from their enemies, and most of all from themselves.  We who have children can certainly understand this dilemma.  Sometimes, you must make the call you dread the most.  Sometimes the only way to teach a child is with tough love.    So if God would not spare the judgement of his own chosen people, the ones he called his first son, then what keeps him from judging his adopted children, or even more so, those who have rejected him? You see the same commandments he gave to Israel are what he gave to us.  That we should love the LORD and love one another.

  • Mark 12:29-31 – And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
  • John 13:34 – A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  • John 14:15 – If ye love me, keep my commandments.

You see the things of this world are perishing.  People’s opinions are never important.  Money never lasts.  Values are lost or waisted on things that are destroyed by rust, or moths, or eventually buried in dust.  “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:17) This is not an Old Testament scripture.  It is important to see that the will of the LORD must be adhered to in order to be saved.  You see, in order to know the will of the LORD, you must first acknowledge that God does exist.  Then you have to know that he let us know what his will is.  That means that you have to accept the bible as the Word of God.  In it contains the plan of salvation from cover to cover.  This plan points indirectly and directly to Jesus Christ as the way the LORD desires that men should be saved.  It is his WILL than all should be saved.  But they must come to him though his son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus says if you love me… This means that you have to believe on him, that he first loved you, and that he gave his life for you.  You must believe that he is God and there for LORD.  If he is LORD then you are his servant.  Servants love their LORD and are obedient.  Servant can only serve one LORD.  Jesus says, If you love me… keep my commandments.  Love the LORD your God with everything in you and love one another has he, the LORD, loves us.  How much does he love us?  He loves us enough that he died for us, in our place.  How much should we love God?  How much should we love one another?  We can put aside of selfishness and piety now.  We can just rest in our love and trust of Jesus and love one another because the LORD loves us. 

The Story of Samson

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The ministry of God’s Judgement through Samson (1085-1065 B.C.) is found in the seventh book of the Old Testament.  It is in chapters 13-16 of the book of Judges where we find the story of the last judge of Israel mentioned.  The story of Samson is also the longest narrative of a judge in this epic volume.  It takes place in a time where God had delivered Israel into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years prior to his appointment of Samson to “begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13.5).  The completion of the Deliverance would not be until the reign of King David (2 Samuel 5:17-22). It is like the beginning of our deliverance from death in Jesus Christ.  Jesus began his redemptive work on the cross, but it will not be completed until the final chapters of Revelation when the wrath of God has been poured out, Israel is delivered and after the final judgement, where death and the hell are cast into the Lake of Fire.

This is an interesting position in history to consider for a moment because Samson is from the Israeli tribe of Dan.  When God originally led Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, God told them to go and conquer the people of the land and take possession.  The tribe of Dan failed to do this in the lands that they were given.  In fact, the land that they were originally given was in possession of the Philistines.  If they would have been in obedience to God, then the oppression and long wars with the Philistines would have been avoided. (Tribe of Dan Facts, History & Descendants | What Happened to the Tribe of Dan?, n.d.)

Samson is the 14th in a long line of Judges covered in the book so named.  In the 13th chapter we see that the birth of Samson was announced to his parents, prior to his being conceived, and that Samson was set aside by the Lord for a specific purpose. The purpose was to be a deliverer for Israel. Because of this, his mother was not to pollute her body with “wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing” (Judges 13:4).  This would show the importance of how an expectant mother should be careful of what she exposes her yet born baby to while she is pregnant. Anyway, Samson himself was to be a Nazarite his whole life.  The Law of the Nazarite is a very serious and particularly holy law of separation of oneself to the Lord. It is detailed in the book of Numbers 6:1-21 and involves special sacrifices and ceremonies.  In addition, it has a strict code of sanctification that involves abstaining from drinking anything made from the vine, cutting of the hair, and not touching anything that is dead.  You cannot even be in the presence of a dead body, even it by accident.  As we read the story of Samson, we see that he violated every condition of the Nazarite vow.  We see that even though you have strength, it is nothing without fellowship with God, and that God resist the prideful.

While Samson was set to be the example of a righteous deliverer, he failed to live up to the expectations.  Samson breaks vows, marries outside of his people, visits harlots, drinks to drunkenness, engages in vengeance, and is prideful, arrogant, and self-centered.  Yet we also see that God’s will is not thwarted concerning his mission for Samson.  The story of Samson in the bible jumps from his birth to his adulthood.  We find then that he is asking his father to arrange his wedding to a Philistine woman.  Despite the objections of his parents, he persists until his father makes the arrangements.  On the way to the wedding Samson is found to be in a vineyard. There Samson is attacked by a lion and he kills the lion with his bear hands (Judges 14:5-6).  Later as Samson is in route to claim his bride, he sees the carcass of the lion and in it is a honeycomb that bees have built.  Samson takes some of the honey and tastes that it is sweet and then brings some to his mother and father.  Samson does not tell them about the lion, nor about where he got this honey.  Remember the conditions of the Nazarite, he cannot be in the presence of the dead, much less touch a dead animal, especially eat from the cavity of one.  Samson has made himself unclean, and worse he has made his mother and father unclean without telling them.  See how fast our secret sins can affect those we love? 

Samson it seems has desired this wedding to have an opportunity to come up against the Philistines. Now for those who are unaware this is the third mention of Samson being around wine.  First was in the vineyard with the lion, then he passed back through the vineyard, and now at the wedding feast.  Now it does not say that he was doing any drinking, however he at the least is demonstrating a dangerous pattern of exposing himself to the availability to drink.  This pattern would continue and eventual assist in the painful downfall of Sampson. The availability and expectancy to drink is especially assumed at the wedding feast.  These were weeklong feasts where alcohol was consumed liberally.  Remember how Jacob was deceived into consummating a wedding to the wrong girl because he drank to much at his wedding feast (Genesis 29).  It would seem likely that Samson would have drunk wine at such a festive occasion so far from home.  Especially because Samson sought an occasion to start an incident with the Philistines.

However, instead of consulting God, Samson has come up with his own plan on how to start a fight with the Philistines through this marriage. In the process of marrying this Philistine woman, Samson has disregarded the wishes of his father.  Still, he has decided to make a wager with the guests at this wedding party to solve a riddle that they would not be able to solve.  He has decided to use this event with the lion and the honey as the answer to the riddle. “out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Judges 14:14). He knew that they could not possibly know the answer to the riddle, as the lion. He also knew that they would not be willing to pay the debt of the bet. Then when they refused to pay up to their end of the bet, he would have cause against them. 

But the Philistines have told his bride to find the secret to the riddle or they will burn down her father’s house with them in it.  Instead of confiding in Samson, she tricks him into the answer to the riddle and tells the Philistines.  They tell Samson the answer and then Samson must live up to his end of the bet.  His end was to deliver 30 sheets and 30 changes of garments (Judges 14:12).  Samson was angered at the double-cross.  Once again Samson does not consult God. To live up to his debt, Samson goes to another Philistine camp and murders them and takes their belongings and give it to his wedding party and then leaves without taking his bride.  Later Samson cools of and returns to collect his bride, but the father has given her to another man. 

Samson again, fails to consult God. Instead, Samson, in anger, traps 300 foxes and ties firebrands to their tails and sets them free upon the Philistines fields.  The foxes burn up their fields, vineyards, and olive groves (Judges 15:4-5).  This infuriates the Philistines.  The philistines then burn to death Samson’s bride, and her father. Samson avenges himself against the Philistines, without consulting God, by murdering them (Judges 15:7-8).  This leads to the Philistines coming against the Israelites and demanding that they turn over Samson or deal with the consequences.  After some convincing from his brethren, Samson nobly agrees to be bound and handed over to the Philistines in order to protect his people. 

Once in the Philistine encampment the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson, and he breaks his bonds and picks up the jawbone of an ass and slain a thousand Philistines (Judges 15:14-19).  This was a good turning point for Samson.  He has waited upon the Lord and the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies.  Samson judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years (Judges 15:20).  But this is not the end of the story on Samson.

Samson falls for another woman who would be his undoing.  The scripture does not say if she is a Philistine, but she is clearly in cohorts with them.  She is offered a large sum of money by the Philistines to gather the secret behind his strength and to report it to them, so they can take him.  Samson’s playing with her is very similar to us when we play with sin.  Samson was with a woman who he should not have been with and played with her on the things that God had given him and what God had forbidden.  That is his exceptional strength was dependent on his obedience to God with his Nazarite vow.  As we have seen Samson violated the first part his commitment (Judges 14:8-9,19; 15:8,15), likely ignored the second, and now he would end up betraying himself into the violation of the final responsibility (16:13-17).  Samson would toy with this gift of God and it would cost him his freedom, and his health, and his relationship with God.  Scripture tells us the Samson “knew not that the LORD had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20).  Samson had crossed the line in his sin and God abandoned him to his sin. (1 Samuel 15:23; 16:14; Romans 1:26; Hebrews 10:26). The result of Samsons life of sin had slowly led him into more and more bondage, until he had become a slave to those who he was sent to conquer.  He had been deceived, weakened, bound, and blinded by his sin both physically and spiritually.  How many Christians today live in poor health, weekend, and blinded physically and spiritually by their disobedience and lack of sanctification? 

Still Samson is seen as an example of faith in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:32).  So then, Samson was redeemed despite his life of prideful disregard for the will of God and the Vow and Calling he had received.  Samson in seeing the error of his ways and the life he waisted had repented and turned to God in faith.  Samson prayed to God for the will of God to be done in him, even though he knew it would cost him his life. Here is yet another parallel we can see in our savior who prayed in the garden for the will of the Father to be done, even though he knew that he would have to die to complete it. God granted Samson his strength one last time and Samson destroyed the Philistine’s temple to Dagon and killed thousands of Philistines in sacrificing himself for Israel.  Samson died a hero, but more importantly he died in faithful obedience to God.

We learn many things from Samson.  We see that sanctification protects us from our own evil desires. We can see that toying with sin leads to sickness, blindness, away from fellowship with God, and eventually death.  Sin always leads to death in the end.  Here is what James writes to us, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15).  If we would only listen to the words of wisdom in the epistle of James, and the example of Samson.

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We also see that God will leave us to our sin if we continuously reject him. (Isaiah 59:12) We see that God expects us to honor our vows before him.  We also see that God gives us strengths and abilities that should be used to glorify him, but often we use them to glorify ourselves.  We see that having a great gift from God does not make us godly.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  It does not matter what our gift is, if we abuse it in self glorification then we have waisted the gift God gave us. Like Samson, his great gift of strength meant nothing until he matched it with obedience in faith in God. God was the deliverer of Israel; Samson was the servant of God in the end.

This gives us hope in Christ.  We who have accepted Christ and yet have squandered the gift of life that he has given us and disobeyed his commandments to be sanctified, sin no more. Perform our duties of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; We who have failed to teach and Baptist in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is this, “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).  His purposes will be fulfilled, and we can partake if we just humble ourselves and submit to his will.

In the Beginning

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“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

This is a simple statement.  Yet this statement is all inclusive and it assumes one key element.  It is all inclusive in that it includes Space, Matter, Time, and Scientific Laws.  The phrase, “in the beginning” implies that there is the start of a time frame.  Time has a starting point in the initial creation of the heaven and the earth.  Note also that heaven, at this point, is singular. This would also mean that these, the heaven and the earth are somehow contained in something. 

When I teach a class on Genesis 1:1 I often draw a cube on the whiteboard and explain that this is very similar to the aquarium that someone would put into their home.  In order to set up an environment to keep fish in, one must first have the space to put everything into. In this manner is how we can see that a container is necessary for God to put the heaven and the earth into. We also know that the universe runs in set patterns and dependencies.  Everything has its place and function.  There are scientific principles and laws of nature that govern how things interact within the universe. By way of example, we have the Law of Gravity, the Laws of Physics, and such things as these. We also have quantitative Scientific laws like mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. All of these things existed from “in the beginning”.  

To have intelligent conversations on any subject, certain things must be agreed upon as a starting point. This first verse of Genesis is assumptive that we can agree that God exists. Therefore, it does not explain the existence of God, or where he came from. It does not do so, because the purpose of the story being relayed is not to explain the existence of God.  It is given us the explanation of our existence. So, it only tells us that God it is who created.  God created everything.  Knowledge of God is assumed, even if we do not know who he is.  God himself is taken as a literal, legitimate individual.  What we learn is that it is God who had the ability to create things. Scripture says that a fool says that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). 

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The assumption is that any intelligent person in their right mind should know that there must be a God.  The understanding that the universe could not have come into existence by itself is something that anyone who has intellect, should know. Therefore, the notion that the universe suddenly created itself, or that it somehow was always in existence is for the weak minded and unlearned.  All that one has to do is to look and see how everything in this universe breaks down, wears out, and degrades over time, if it does not have something else to maintain it, or to act upon it for its restoration or betterment.  Nothing in nature ever evolves into a higher lifeform. The necessity of God for creation and maintenance is plain to see throughout the universe. It is a universal law.

The Jewish and Christian beliefs of God creating everything from nothing is not shared with any other belief system in the world.  This is referred to in the Latin, “creatio ex nihilo” (creation from nothing) and has been a long-held belief in Christianity dating back the beginnings of the Church.  The idea that God is so absolute in his power that he can cause something to be in existence from nothing is what makes the Judeo-Christian God unique from all other God’s and belief systems in history.  This ability makes him the only creator in existence. 

Some other Creation Stories:

  • Greek Mythology – In the beginning was chaos.  This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Norse Mythology- In the beginning was a chasm. This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Rig Veda (an ancient Sanskrit writing) – There was the “first fashioner” he created Earth and Sky, but before him there were cosmic waters. This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Chinese Mythology- Heaven and earth were in a state of chaos or cosmic egg for 18,000 years and it broke apart and formed the heaven and the earth. This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology- the Earth was made from the killing and dividing of another god. 
  • Egyptian Mythology has three different creation myths.  The predominant one has two gander producing eggs that are the sun and the earth.  This is not a creation from nothing.
  • Zoroastrian Mythology- creation was made after a cosmic war between “lies” and “truth”.  Truth won and created the earth, then tried to destroy it, but cosmic man thwarted the plan by returning to earth as a plant stalk and repopulating the earth with vegetation. From the stalks we then see the produce of the first man and woman.  This is not a creation of everything from nothing.
  • Hindu and Buddhist see the universe as eternal with no beginning or end, it has always existed
  • Scientology from what I can see of it seeks to claim that it is the oldest of creation beliefs and that the cosmic lifeforce may have initiated a spark on non-active substances and then created all things. This still is not a creation from nothing.

Now I know that these are extremely abridged versions of these beliefs.  But I only have them here to show you that Judaism and Christianity are not the only cultures who believe in a creation event that is not some string of cosmic accidents that somehow led to men being formed.  Instead, in these we see that generally all cultures in history have believed that there was an actual creation event in antiquity, and that one or two gods or entities are responsible for this spectacular one-time experience in cosmic history.  The purpose of Genesis 1:1 is to introduce God (the I AM) as the ONE who is the actual creator.  This is where Judaism and Christianity differ from all other people, religions, philosophies, and theories that have ever populated the earth. We believe, according to scripture, that God is the one who created all things from nothing.  That means that there was absolutely nothing when God created everything. God is the point of origin for all things we know. This means that everything we have ever seen, touched, smelled, and felt comes from God who created all things:

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  • Psalm 90:2 – Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
  • Colossians 1:16-17 – For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
  • John 1:1-4 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
  • Revelations 4:11 – Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Therefore, having read these verses, we can see, with just a quick glance, that God existed before the creation.  There is only one God and he created everything.  All powers and authorities within this creation are subject to his creation authority.  We can also see that everything was created for his own pleasure, not ours.

Yet there is another theology out there that rejects this whole premise of a God, or even an unnamed divine essence that created everything.  They reject all matters of faith in the claims of science.  This theology is known as Atheistic Humanism. They are armed with what they call scientific evidence that destroy the faith-based creation of Christianity.  They attempt to remove God from the creation event.  In doing so they are attempting to remove his authority over them.  The approach is simple, their claim is that someone who could believe in an invisible God to create everything and to just take it on faith is unhealthy thinking and ludicrous.  However, when you get to investigating what Atheists accept (believe) as truth, you will find that it also takes a great amount of faith.  Lee Strobel who has become famous for switching his stance from atheism to Christianity tweeted, “To continue in atheism, I would need to believe that nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I simply didn’t have that much faith.”[1]

I like you have known quite a few individuals, some friends, some family, who have looked down their nose at me for believing in Jesus Christ, and for taking the Word of God at face value.  Yet this statement made by Mr. Strobel is one that I have heard from many people who used to be atheist.  At some point their mind realizes that everything they believe to be true is just that… it is a belief and when confronted with the lack of real evidence to support their rational mind, they concede that this belief takes just as much faith as believing in Jesus and the Word of God.  Then they begin to ask questions.  They begin to want real answers.  In finding no answers anywhere else then turn back to that ignorant Christian, and to what God says.  They begin to examine the Word of God and for the first time they begin to see what God has been telling all of us.

Isaiah 45:11 – Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

The Lord is not hiding in the darkness and hoping to not be seen.  Instead, he is putting out an invitation to all men.  To seek him out.  He says to ask about the work of his hands.  The entirety of creation speaks to his glorious work. (Psalm 19:1-7; Romans 1:20) God wants us to know that he is the creator.  That is why Genesis 1:1 starts with “In the beginning God Created the heaven and the earth.”. Later the gospel of John tells us that in the beginning was the word and that all things were made by him. (John 1:1-3) The very word of God is tied to his being the creator.  “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6) God’s revelation of himself in the first verse of Genesis, and the steps that he took to create everything, is his guarantee of his word.  It is given to us so that we can have confidence in everything else that is revealed in the scriptures.  The first sentence in Genesis is the foundation of all Jewish and Christian faith.  God exists.  God created everything.  God is all powerful.  God has all authority.  The word of God is trustworthy.  Psalm 148:8 says, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”  What a strong foundation for faith and hope.  If he created all things, then he can make you a new creation in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God tells us that we can ask him about his works.  He tells us that the heavens declare his majesty.  Everyday we can look up to the skies and see proof of the work of his hands.  The creation shows knowledge.  No matter what language you speak or education level you reach, God’s creation is speaking to you about the God who created all things, including you. 

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The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:1-7)

It is amazing to me that this verse speaks of the cycles of nature and the manner in which the sun circles the earth.  This reveals from the very beginning that people of faith have always know the earth was circular, well if they read anyways.  Approximately 150 B.C. the ancient Greeks made a globe to represent the earth.  It is believed that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (1st five books of the Old Testament) around 1445 B.C. I make this point to show you that men and women of faith do not need to fear what science says.  Instead, we should run to science and get involved and ensure that the science being performed is in fact science.  Just because someone claims a theory, that does not make the theory true.  The book. “On the Origin of Species” published in 1859 which is used to promote the theory of Evolution has yet to be proven with the principles of the scientific method.  Yet it is taught as an indisputable fact.  Now this undisputable fact is not just one set of facts or a unified theory either.  Darwin had four principles to his theory. Enst Mayr writes saying that Darwin had five theories of evolution. [2] Within each of these theories there are many more theories that have changed over time. Other theories on the origins of like include:

  • The Big Bang
  • The Electric Spark
  • Extra-terrestrial Origen (Panspermia)
  • Spontaneous Origin
  • Biochemical Evolution
  • Community Clay

These are just a few of the many that Humanistic Theology seeks to use in their running away from the truth. When you look at these theories (fancy ford for “belief”) you will see some very big leaps taken on speculation. Talk about “faith”.  It is a tragic comedy that those who believe in a constantly changing and scientifically unsupported theory are calling those who believe in an unchanging biblical view of creation to be fools. We see the proper demonstration of the pot calling the kettle black. 

Christians have been told that they are stupid and ignorant to believe in the Bible when science so clearly disproves it.  I would say yes, Christians have been stupid and ignorant, but not because of science disproving the Bible.  Because science has not disproved the Bible, instead the deeper the science and the more serious the scholar and the archeologist looks, they find that the Bible is validated by the scientific studies performed.

Therefore, we have been stupid for trusting the wrong source for our information.  Trusting in the religion of humanism and being willfully ignorant to the fact that lies are we listening to are well within the scope of words among prideful, self-seeking men.  Especially those who hate and reject God and are willing to go to any length to discredit his word.  We are ignorant of what science truly says concerning creation, the flood, and the events we now see unfolding as we come to the end of the age.  Just as the Word of God revealed the beginning it revealed the end also.  God is the one constant from the beginning to the end.  It is his design, his plan, and it is for his purposes.

No, the Christian does not need to fear science.  The Christian should seek out honest science and seek out the truth of God revealed in the Holy Bible.  God has never said that we should bury our heads in the sand.  Instead, he says to think, gain wisdom, seek knowledge, get understanding.  “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7) God does not want us to be ignorant of his creation.  Creation teaches us about God. Good science that follows the principles of science and discovery teaches us about this creation that God has made.  In this proper study we can find out so much about God and his handywork.  We can see how much love he has poured into the universe, the earth, and into men and women like you and me. 

There is an importance in what we discover in scripture and in science.  We find that we can trust the scriptures as passed given and preserved by God as they have been passed down from one Godly man to the next generation.  There are clear points in scripture where the author has put their own pen to the page and those are noted in the passages.  But the events that happen in the first chapters of Genesis, especially “in the beginning”, could have only been know by God.  It is God himself who passed these events to Adam.  We must therefore take what we have been given by God as the very Word of God and accept the truth of what it says.  We must take the text of the Creation as literal events and not try to bend them or twist them in order to make them fit into the theories of men.  I repeat the warning of Paul the Apostle, “Let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightiest be justified in thy sayings, and mightiest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4). If we cannot believe that God performed creation that way that scripture tell us that he did, then we cannot believe anything else that the scripture states about God, Sin, or Salvation in Jesus Christ. 

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Therefore, humanistic theology tries so hard to discredit the first 11 Chapters of Genesis, especially the creation.  If it did not happen the way it is recorded, then everything else is subject to ridicule and reinterpretation.  This is the same approach that the serpent took with Eve in the Garden of Eden when he asked, “Yeah, hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1).  I encourage you to put away the fables of men, and to study the scriptures and the science for yourself.  There are plenty of resources available today for you to look at the science that disproves the theories of men.  You will find that the only reason you are having problems is because of your own ignorance and unfounded fear of the evidence concerning creation.  Evidence that supports a short earth.  Evidence that supports a catastrophic flood.  Evidence that proves that man was a purposeful and fully functional creation, unique from anything else on the earth.  Man was not the biproduct of an accident that took billions of years to form, instead he was a thought out, purposefully engineered creation by a God who loves and cares for him, and for you as a unique and designated offspring of that life.  Adam was designed for a purpose, and so are you. 

Strobel, L. (2017, Dec 12). @LeeStrobel Tweet.


[1] (Strobel, 2017) Tweet from Lee Strobel Dec 24,2017@11:22AM

[2] (Gruyter)

Bibliography

Gruyter, W. d. (n.d.). https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9781400854714.755/pdf. (D. Gruyter, Ed.) Retrieved Apr 21, 2022, from https://www.degruyter.com/: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9781400854714.755/pdf

Luke 13:6-9 Dung Up Your Roots

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

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This passage is a call to repentance.  It is not only to the sinner, but to those who think that they are holier than others.  If you look into the text preceding this parable, we see Jesus is responding to a common belief that has somehow tricked down through the ages.  The question is do people suffer as a punishment from God for sin?  More specifically do people die as judgement from God for sin?  IN the case of the Jews, they wondered if the Gentiles would receive a greater punishment because their sins were worse than the Jews? Jesus, tells them that those who had suffered, referencing the verses before, were not any worse a sinner than those of whom he was talking to.  Then he tells them directly that their fate is the same, unless they repent.  Then he illustrates his reasoning with this parable in Luke 13:6-9.

In this illustration, we see the owner of the fig tree who is talking with his servant about the tree.  The tree was planted with the owner hoping to have the fruits that it would yield.  He probably imagined like many of us would, that the tree would be a big and strong tree with many fruits.  He may have imagined that he could one day lay under the shade of the tree and reach up and take a fig and enjoy the sweet delights of his investment.  Maybe he could share some with neighbors, or make delicate cakes or jams with the honey like figs.  He could gain joy from showing his tree off to his friends and telling them how it was just a twig when he had first planted it. 

But today, was one more day among many where he had walked out to the tree and it sat there, fruitless.  Most fig trees take three to five years to start ripening fruit.  We should assume that because the master was the owner of the vineyard, that he had already considered this. He waited until the customary time that they tree should be producing the fruit he so loved to eat.  The story even tells us that it had been three years. So, year after year this owner waited in patient hope that the tree would start new stem growth and produce ripe figs in due season.  Finally, the day has come.  The owner can no longer justify to himself the need to let the plant continue to waist valuable soil in his fields.  He calls his servant, “Cut it down and burn it.” He says with a sad and frustrated heart.  So many hopes for the little tree were now gone.  It was time to make room for another tree that would hopefully bear some fruit. 

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The servant, however, pleads on behalf of the tree.  Please! Let me ease the ground surrounding the roots of the tree.  Let me then put dung on the roots.  Let me soften the soil and put in some fertilizer and give it another season to have a chance to mature and to be pleasing to you.  Then if it bears fruit, we can continue to care for it and rejoice over the tree.  But, if it does not then we know we tried everything and gave it every opportunity to produce good fruit and I will remove it from the field.  The master then relents and continues in patience as the servant begins his tasks of breaking up the ground and seeding the dung about the roots of the tree, then I would imagine the faithful servant waters the soil and undoubtedly prays for good fruit in due season. 

There are some things to learn about God in this parable.  Some spiritual truths lay hidden in the telling of this story by Jesus.  It is an example of the expectations, judgement, and patience of God the Father.  We can see the interceding of the servant.  Much like the intercession of Jesus Christ, our great high priest before the mercy seat of God.  I think it such an amazing thing that God has taken the time to give us his reasoning as to why he does some of the things he does.  Surely if God has taken to time to give the why behind the what, we should sit up and listen. 

Expectations of God

Here in this analogy given by Jesus, we see a very reasonable expectation.  The owner of their vineyard expects his fig tree to give him good fruits.  He expects figs to come from his fig tree. Now we can understand that likely Jesus was talking to Israel who had been planted in the promised land and was expected to be God’s people.  As God’s chosen, they were to be an example to the nations of how to worship God.  Israel was to expound upon the nations of the world that Jehovah was the only God.  They were expected to bear fruit for him. 

In like manner we as the Church are expected to show forth fruits in showing that Jesus is the only name by which a man can be saved from their condemnation. (John 3:15-19) But not just any fruits.  We are expected to produce good fruits.  Fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). The fig tree was expected to produce figs.  We are expected to produce fruits according to our kind also. (2 Corinthians 9:10) The Apostle Paul confirmed this to the Romans saying, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”(Romans 12:1) Here we see that Paul explains that if you believe in God, then it is reasonable that you should do what he expects, that is to produce good fruit.  In the following verses in Romans 12 we see that this good fruit of self-sacrifice includes: non-conformity to the world, transformation by renewing of the mind, being an example of what is good and acceptable to God, being humble, and walking in faith. Sounds like the same things that God expected of Israel.  Listen this is not to be saved, but to those who have been redeemed.  It is a reasonable expectation for them,… for us,… the redeemed of the Lord.

In Matthew 7:16-20, Jesus tells us exactly what is expected.  He says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” The apostle Paul tells us the manner and reason for our salvation.

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. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The problem with the fig tree is that it was producing no fruits at all.  They were neither good nor bad, they were nonexistent.  By their fruits you shall know them… A fig tree that does not produce figs is a dead fig tree.  James writes, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”(James 2:26) Now take a look at what Jesus said, “every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” A dead tree does not bring forth good fruit. A dead tree is good for nothing and is cut down and burned.

Judgement of God

In the Gospel According to Matthew we see just how sudden and final this judgement is by an example that Jesus makes of an actual fig tree.  Here is that telling. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Matthew 21:19) The master came to the tree, expecting to find the good fruit that he desired.  In finding no fruit, the tree was judged to be just as bad as a tree that brought forth bad fruit.  The lack of fruit condemned the tree.  Jesus just said since you will not bear fruit, I have not need for you to take up space in the field.  How many ministers have stopped producing fruit by being complacent in their Sunday schools, and pulpits?  How many churches had failed to produce fruit after years of neglect in their neighborhoods?  How many of us who claim to believe in Jesus have never labored to produce the fruits of righteousness in our lives?  We have failed to tell family members.  We live in complacency.  We tell ourselves that everyone knows that we are Christians and if they want Jesus they will come and ask.  We ignore the commandment to preach, teach, and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19-20) We know what is good and acceptable to God.  Shall we not be judged? James tells us, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17).  If then, what we fail to do is sin to us, are we not like the fig tree? Have we not behaved like Israel? Are we not in error of our reasonable sacrifice?  No wonder so many churches are dying.  Think not that even though we are forgiven of sin, that we should not be held accountable for our deeds, or lack thereof.

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Romans 2:6-10 – Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Was not the Lord talking to the church when he said, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:5)? But even so in this statement we see the patience of our God.  He says to remember, to repent, to do the first works… or else!  He will come and remove thy candlestick.  The master of the vineyard said, cut the unfruitful tree down.  It serves no one any good.  Judgement came to the unfruitful tree, and to Israel, and to the unfruitful church.

Patience of God

We however are blessed.  Like to good master who waited patiently for many years for the fig tree to mature our Father waits patiently for us.  He is not hasty to be angry with us (Ecclesiastes 7:9). He forbears us with love.  He is long suffering towards us. The psalmist writes, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Psalms 86:15) This truth is echoed throughout scripture.

  • 1 Peter 3:20 – Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  • 2 Peter 3:15 – And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  • Numbers 14:18 – The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
  • Exodus 34:6 –  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

So, in here we see all kinds of examples of the patience of the Lord.  We even learn that the longsuffering of our Lord is what gives us our salvation.  This gospel of Grace through Faith is the result of God patiently suffering for us to redeem us at the proper time.  The perfect example of this is how Jesus prayed for Jerusalem when he spoke, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Yet there is even a limit to the patience of God.  Just as the master prepared to lay the axe to the fig tree, so to we see the chilling statement the Jesus added after his plea to Israel. “Behold you house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38)

Provision of Christ

Like the servant of the master who breaks up the ground and fertilizes the roots with dung, Jesus intercedes for both Jew and Gentile.  For the scriptures do say this concerning the work of God towards us who believe on the name of Jesus.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27) So here we have the servant dunging up the roots.  We are weak in our flesh, yet the Spirit strengthens us in our hope of what we cannot see.  The Spirit intercedes for us with prayers that cannot be understood, nor voiced by the lips of men.  It is the Spirit that lives in us that knows our every weakness and what is necessary for us to grow in our faith.  He cries out to God the Father to ask for the things we need to remain faithful.  The we see here also that Christ himself intercedes for us in Romans 8:34. The Word of God says that who can condemn us?  Surely it is not the one who died in our place and who rose again.  The very one who sits at the right hand of honor and authority of God the Father does not seek to judge us.  Instead, he also intercedes for us before the Father.  The scars from his wounded hands, feet and side are a constant witness to the Father of the atonement that he has made by his own blood.  Why then would he commend his anger towards us, of whom, he has cleansed?  So we have no fear of eternal condemnation.  Our salvation is intact in whom we have trusted, in Jesus Christ the Son of God who is the Lamb who was slain for our sin. 

Knowing this then are we ok to become complacent at our good fruit?  No we are should be ashamed at such an attitude of complacency.  Once again, I defer to the Apostle Paul on this matter.

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What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)

We are now dead to the old world and to the old ways of living in the world.  We have become strangers in strange land.  Our soul existence is in Jesus Christ.  We cannot be charged with sin, and yet we cannot return to our old land, as Israel tried to do when delivered from the bondage of Egypt.  We have been delivered from the slavery of sin and death and must now press on the promised land of the Kingdom of God.  With so great a provision made for us, that we are now new creations in Christ and called the sons of God, how can we not seek to be fruitful in good works?

John 6:28-29 – Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is what makes us to be fruitful.  We believe in Jesus Christ.  We walk in faith looking forward to the completion of our redemption.  We walk in the boldness of being the children of God through Jesus Christ.  We put away the shameful behaviors because they no longer define us. Remember James told us that faith without works is dead.  So then work out your faith.  Not for salvation, but because you believe that you are already dead to sin, and alive in Christ.  If you are alive in Christ then you are free to bear the fruits of righteousness today. So dung up your roots and be fruitful. Pray and study that you may be encouraged and your faith may be increased, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Go get your shovel.

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)

Survey of the Epistle of James

Survey of James

            James is often referred to as the guide to practical Christian living.  That is to say that it gives us a picture of how we should put in effect the things we have seen, and heard concerning Jesus Christ.  James answers the questions concerning how a Christian should live out Grace in relation to the Law.  James is one of the letters known as the General Epistles.  The General Epistles are sometimes referred to as “Universal” or “Catholic” letters because they are not addressed to a specific church location.  These letters include 1st and 2nd Peter, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, the letter from Jude (the half-brother of Jesus), and of course James.

Authorship

The author of this epistle identifies himself as James (1:1) and only claims to be “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”.  There are several men named James in the New Testament writings.  We have a need to examine the information available, in these documents, concerning these men to determine the authorship of this jewel of church doctrine we refer to as the Epistle of James.

James: the son of Zebedee and Salome; who is the elder brother of the apostle John.  This James was one of the twelve selected by Jesus to be his closest disciples and his apostles.  He was a fisherman by trade and it appears that he was a partner with the apostle Peter (Matthew 20:20; 27:56). This James, along with John and Peter were a part of the inner circle of the apostles and was privy to events that most of the disciple would not have seen. He was allowed to see: the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2); the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37-43); and he was present with Jesus at the prayer and encouragement of Jesus in the garden of gethsemane (Mark 14:33-35).  He was called to be an apostle (Matthew 4:21-22; 10:2; Mark 1:19-20; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13) by Jesus Christ.  This James and his younger brother John was also referred to as a son of thunder because if their unbridled passion for Jesus (Mark 3:17).  As an apostle he would have been witness to many great things that Jesus had done in his ministry and of the resurrection. However, despite all of the great reasoning that this James might have been the author, there is one thing that excludes the possibility.  The Apostle James was the first Apostle to be martyred in 44 A.D by King Herod (Acts 12:1-2).  This letter is believed to have been written between 45-50 A.D. In addition, the council of Jerusalem concerning the argument of the circumcision of the Gentiles did not occur until Acts chapter 15. So the James mentioned in that passage was not the Apostle James.   

There were a couple of other mentions of different men named James in the New Testament.  These men were only mentioned once and then were lost to obscurity.  It is unlikely that these were the one who wrote such powerful theological addresses as are found in this letter.  No, there is one more James that was there from the beginning, but who was not an apostle.  This James would have had all the knowledge of Jesus’ whole life, death, and resurrection.  He would have been a Jew, and held the respect of the Apostles and the Jews.  This was James the brother of Jesus (half-brother).

James the half-brother of Jesus, although he was present from before the start of Jesus’ public ministry, was not a believer in Jesus as the Son of God until after he was a witness of the resurrected Christ.  In seeing the death of Jesus and then seeing him alive, James became a devout follower of Jesus.  He was the head of the Jerusalem council and was a respected pillar of the church and of the Jewish community.  He would have had the knowledge and understanding in seeing the whole earthly life of Jesus, listening to his teachings, and witnessing the miracles, and the resurrection.  This put him in a unique position to be a teacher and evangelist to the Jews concerning the Hebrew scriptures and how Jesus fulfilled the Law and the prophets.  Even his initial criticisms of Jesus would have been a great witness to the hard-hearted Israelite of the love of God towards them that was revealed in Jesus Christ the Son of God. 

Historical Settings

            At the time of this writing the church was still distinctively Jewish in nature because most of it’s members came from Jewish backgrounds and traditions. The letter suggests a simpler form of hierarchy in the local church.  The church leaders are referred to as elders (5:14) and teachers (3:1).  There is no mention of the soon to develop strife over Gentile circumcision. The Greek term for synagogue is used to designate the gathering place of the church.  Many believe that this letter and the letter to the Galatians are the earliest recovered letters in the New Testament.

            The Jews in Jerusalem were scorned and driven out by persecutions, not from Rome, but from their own kinsman.  Many Jewish believers in Christ would have lost their social status, homes, family ties, access to the temple and suffered economic loss and hardships that come with the inability to make a living because of their persecution.  Many left Jerusalem in order to make a living elsewhere and to escape the persecution. 

Major Themes

The letter is written to these Jews who had scattered abroad (1:1).  They were under severe persecutions and distress.  James writes to encourage them.  He tells them that the trials in which the find themselves in are expected and that they are for their betterment.  James tells them that these trials are being used to mature their faith.  They bring patients in the waiting of the fulfilment of their hope.  He encourages them to seek wisdom from God and that God has not abandoned them.  This is important because they had been ostracized from the religion of their youth and they needed to know that they had not erred.   He shows them in this letter that they have not abandoned God either, instead they have grown closer to God then they could ever imagine.  He also instructs them on how to live in the freedom that God has given them in Jesus Christ and how they should treat one another in order to be pleasing servants of God and his Messiah.

Key Verse: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22)

Doctrine

James deals with a lot of controversial doctrines.  Even Martin Luther argued as to whether the Epistle of James should be in the Canon of the Bible because of the doctrinal approach that James appears to take.  It is important when we read through the scriptures that we understand that not all scripture is written to everyone.  That is we must pay attention to who the author is addressing his letter to and see what issues they are dealing with.  As in this case James is writing to Jews who have believed on Jesus Christ and are still in the process of dealing with this new way of life.  They came from a rigid system of rituals and prayers that had added to what God actually said and excessively burdened the seeker of God.  Remember Christianity was not a religion, the religion was still Judaism.  In this James unpacks the differences between the works oriented Jewish religion to the works resultant way of Christ.  Many Christians these days would do good to study this book and see how we are to live in obedience, now that we have been freely saved by God in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. 

The Doctrines that James deals with are a living in Christ once you have believed and received this forgiveness, not an earning of salvation through works.  James starts with the doctrine of persecution and it expectancy and the resultant spiritual growth. Then he moves into how to live a sanctified life.  This includes patience, slow to wrath, not rushing to judgement.  James presents the doctrine of humility by not judging other believers by appearance, money, reputation, or prestige.  The secret to this is that we are all servants who serve the same master.  Then James begins a discussion of the doctrine of Works by Faith.  Many confuse this portion to think that James is saying that to have faith you must do these things.  James is not saying that at all, he says that faith has certain works that accompany it as a byproduct. Without works in faith, you do not possess faith.  Because if you believed then you would act a certain way and be obedient to the will of the LORD.  

Then he discusses by example the use of the tongue, the truth of pride and wisdom.  James then tells them that if they were walking in the spirit (faith) then they would not have quarrels amongst the brethren.  So, peace and love in the church is a result of waking by faith.  James’s doctrine for walking in faith is to (1) Submit to God, (2) Resist the devil, (3) Draw close to God and let God draw close to you, (4) Be sincere in your repentance, and (5) Put away pride. James also sets the doctrine of laying on of hands. James urges his readers in the same manner that the author of Hebrews does, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

Outline

  1. Greetings and Encouragement 1:1
  2. Trials 1:2-18
    1. Purpose of Trials 1:2-12
    2. Pedigree of Trials 1:13-15
    3. Purpose of God in Trials 1:16-18
  3. The Word 1:19-27
  4. Christian Conduct 2-5
    1. Partiality 2:1-13
    2. Actions of Faith 2:14-26
    3. The Fire in Tongue 3:1-12
    4. Real Wisdom 3:13-18
    5. Worldliness 4:1-17
    6. Proper Views 5:1-12
    7. Prayer 5:13-18
    8. Conversion of the Erring 5:19-20

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/

Overcome Because Greater is He – 1 John 4:2-4

Is the Spirit of the Antichrist in Turkey?

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. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:2-4)

In the early church the spirit of the antichrist was very evident in Rome. Emperor Nero systematically rounded up Christians and put them to death in very grotesque and very public executions. The Christians were shunned and marginalized in Roman society because their beliefs did not fit in with mainstream Roman culture.  This identity given to Christians as being less of a person and a person to be ridiculed made it easy for them to become the emperor’s scapegoat.  The dehumanization of the Christians in Rome made it easier for the Roman citizens to accept and participate in these horrible acts committed against their own brothers and sisters of Rome.

You see in the summer of AD 64 approximately three quarters of the city of Rome had burned.  The prevailing suspicion was that Nero himself had ordered the arson in for his own amusement, or for his plans of revitalizing Rome, buy getting rid of the slums of Rome.  Either way, the citizenry was up in arms, and Nero needed to deflect the attention from himself.  He therefor pointed the finger to the Christians.  After all they were the ones who claimed that Rome was wrong in its Idolatry, sexual immorality, and in many other ways they just didn’t fit in with aspects the liberal Roman society.  Public announcements were made.  Christians were the enemy of the state.  Historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 BC) wrote in The Annals concerning the Great Fire of Rome.

44.2. Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations.

44.3. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated.

44.4. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps.

44.5. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the race-course. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man. (Westmont.edu, n.d.) (Clayton, 1947)

Christians in the Roman Empire were ostracized from society by:

They were accused of atheism because they did not accept emperor worship, nor polytheism.

The were generally form the poorer sections of society

Christianity was put on the list of illicit sects a little after 50 AD

Christianity was declared illegal in 64 AD

They were accused of secret immoral worship ceremonies that included cannibalism, incest, and bestiality

They were considered social radicals because their beliefs were at odds with acceptable Roman practices and indulgences

This edict of Emperor Nero started 120 years of open, socially acceptable, state sponsored terrorism on Christians.  This would include the martyr of many Christians.  Some estimate the number of Christians martyred to be up to 2 million.  This would also include the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Just as Rome made a step-by-step approach to the eventual attempted genocide of Christians for political purposes, in the past; we see modern day Turkey using the Christians as a means of attempting to reestablish the Caliphate. In a purposeful process Turkish Christians are being used as a scapegoat for failed governmental policies and actions.  “Turkey’s Christians are becoming a welcome scapegoat for Ankara. Erdogan has miscalculated on various fronts in Syria and Libya and is now looking for someone to serve as a distraction.” (DW, 2020)

Turkey is in the process of becoming a Sunni Muslim state. As a part of this state sponsored movement and its anti-Christian theology Turkey has refused the readmittance of protestant ministers into the country.  Posted anti-Christians slogans on billboards, and bus stops and recently mandated that all Christians leave Turkey in 10 days.   This mandate includes American or other nationalities that are married to Turkish citizens, even if they have children. This divides families and even mother’s and nursing babies. The Hagia Sophia (God’s Holy Wisdom) is a Christian church that once served as the center for Orthodox Christianity, and is also designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site has been converted to a Mosque and the ancient mosaics inside are now in danger of being lost forever.  This makes the 3rd Byzantine era Christian church to be recently converted to a mosque. This is part of a larger step that Islamic leaders see in reestablishing the caliphate that includes the overtaking of Athens, Greece and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

This is the spirit of the antichrist.  It is spread all across the globe.  Even in America we see that recently a nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska was persecuted by Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Kamala Harris, D-California whose questioning reasoned that a Christian could not hold a public office.  Fox news reported that on campuses throughout the United States, Christians are openly ridiculed with hate speech and false accusations by academics, social groups, and organizations. (Ingle, 2019) 

Christians are being accused of being insensitive, hypocrites during the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues with church closures, preaching of condemnation from sin, judgement from God and other twisting of Christian values and ethics.  Christians who meet in in-person services are blamed in the media for the furtherance of the spread of the Corona Virus. Christians in America have been marginalized as church services and ministry positions have been deemed unnecessary and non-essential.  Church member have been fined and pastors arrested for acting within their 1st amendment rights. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridg-ing the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Constitution Cente)  No law is supposed to be made to prohibit the free exercise of religion, curtailing the freedom of speech, or the right of peaceable assembly.  Moreover, it is the right of the people to request the government to account for overreach of authority.   But these things are to come.  We know this because we were told of these things by Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus said in this world we would have tribulation.

We can read in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus warns us.  We will be delivered up to be afflicted, and killed.  We will be hated by all nations.  Many will be offended by us, and by him (Jesus).  We expect these things.  Many of the old Baptist preachers used to preach on a regular basis of the suffering of the saints and the expected persecutions that we will endure.  They used to tell us how we should look forward to pains of self-sacrifice for Christ.  Peter and some of the other Apostle when imprisoned and beaten rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ. (Acts 15: 40-41) Paul himself recounts how he multiple times he was spat on, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked and endured many more sufferings for the cause of Christ over decades of service.

Today we have gotten to far away from that.  We have dropped our spiritual guards as it were.  Our eyes have stopped looking to God.  Our lips do not open for our afflicted brethren.  Instead we pray for a new car, or a new house.  Maybe we pray for God to let our favorite team to win the game.  How superficial are our prayers? Our knees fail to bend to the Lord God.  We no longer seek the will of God in our lives, but our will in Gods. We have lost our salt.  Instead of being a good and faithful servant who wisely invests the resources and time of his master, we have become selfish, and lazy.  We seek our own comfort over the mission to which we have all been appointed to by Jesus Christ. We are to be his ambassadors and to speak of his name at every opportunity, boldly declaring his mercy.  We know the signs.  We know that the time of salvation is now. We know that as it draws closer to the end of the age, that persecutions will get worse. I wish to encourage you though.

The Lord God is over all of creation.  He is infinite.  That means that he is totally self-existing.  He has no beginning.  There is no point in which he did not exist. Because of this, he has no ending.  There will never be a point in which he does not exist.  He is before all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17) God is immutable.  That means that he never changes.  Since God never changes that means that who he is never changes.  His love never changes. His righteousness never changes.  His WORD never changes.  He simply IS who he IS.  He himself said, “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)  Because God never changes, he is ever faithful. So when scripture says that the mercies of the Lord endures for ever; that is what He does. (Psalm 16:1; Psalm 136)

He remembers our lowly estate.  He remembers that we are created by him.  He remembers that we are broken because of sin.  He remembers that we are not as faithful as he is.  He remembers that we have limitations to our endurance.  He remembers that way to often we are weak and self-centered.  Yet his mercy endures.  He commands his love towards us.  That means despite it all, he chooses to love us each day, each moment. It is his grace that is sufficient for us; not our own working.  His love does not depend of who we are, but who he is.  He gives us of himself.  He gives us victory over the world and over the antichrist.  God told us through the writings of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:18, “I will be a father to you, and you shall be the sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  John says, “See what king of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)  This special honor is for those who believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and as Lord. (John 1:12) By this truth we have already overcome the world and the antichrist. 

We have already been delivered from death to life. Because of this we do not need to fear the antichrist nor the world.  They can only kill the body, not the spirit.  This body must be shed because it is corrupted.  We know that if you put a rotten apple in a barrel with good apples, in short order the good apples will rot. So it is the same with the kingdom of Heaven.  Corruption cannot enter in.  So we must be removed of this rotten body and be given a new one.  This happens in the resurrection.  Since Jesus was raised from the dead, we know that we also will be risen from the dead, because scripture says that we will be like him.  This is our hope in the future.  But it is not our only source of joy.

We must remember that the Lord is ever present, and that he is always by our side.  He is not estranged from our afflictions, nor unaware of the presence of our enemies; for our enemies are his enemies.  In fact, they are our enemies because we are his.   So, it is not that he assumes our enemies for us.  Instead, his enemies assume us as enemies.  That means that he is obligated to respond on our behalf. This brings us to an awesome point in scripture, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) Even more we know that we are overcomers because all temptation is common to mankind.  There is no new temptation of trial that a man has not ever endured before.  God will not leave you to be tempted beyond what your capable of handling; instead, he provides a way to escape it.  This gives us another advantage in enduring. (Philippians 1:29) 

Here is a secret.  You who are believers in the death, burial, and resurrection already have everything you need to have this victory.  Read what John wrote, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-4)  Paul again tells us in Romans 8:1, “Thee is therefor now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Faith in Jesus is our secret to eternal life.  Faith in Jesus is our secret to overcoming the world.  Faith in Jesus is our secret to enduring trial, tribulations, and persecutions.

We can see that (1) Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ (Son of God) is come in the flesh is from God. (2) Those spirits who do not confess Jesus Christ (Son of God) are from the Antichrist, not God.  This includes Muslims, Hindus, Atheist, Gnostics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and more. (3) We were for warned that this evil spirit would come and that it was actually already here.  This would probably be better to understand is we said that the spirit of the antichrist is already here and will continue to be here, gaining influence and power.  (4) We are the children of God – see point one. (5) Because we are the children of God we have already received victory through our faith in Jesus – see point one.  (6) The Spirit who resides in us is bigger, stronger, and of more authority and might then the spirit that is in the world (spirit of the antichrist-see point two).   

Now that we have nothing to fear in life or death we are free to truly live for Christ.  We can love others because we have been loved of God.  We can forgive others because we have been forgiven by God.  We do not need to fear sickness, or death because God has already given us eternal life.  We do not need to worry about earning it, or losing it, because it was a gift by a self-sufficient God who needs absolutely nothing from us.  We can turn our attention to our suffering brothers and sister.  We can get involved in the nitty gritty of standing up for them. 

Our duty is to seek the Lord on their behalf.  We are to send them relief.  We are to provide them the resources that they need to endure. They need food, water, clothes, bibles, financial and legal support. These are things we can do.  These are totally biblical things we can do. How can we say that we love them and not assist them? Paul went on a circuit from gentile church to gentile church bringing money and other resourced gather from the route back to the persecuted church at Jerusalem.  This was not a church tax, it was a benevolence given to the saints in Jerusalem that would have starved without it.  Many of the Mediterranean churches members gave sacrificially to this relief effort. 

We can get involved with the political and legal processes available to us, especially here in the United States.  Paul himself used his Roman citizenship, his Jewish standing, and his legal wit to advance the gospel and to curtail the efforts of the overreach of local authorities and even governors and kings.   We have the right to exercise our votes in the House of Representative, and the Senate at state and federal levels.  We need to get involved and ask candidates for the President of the United States, Governor, and even the Mayors office how they will represent us as Christians.  We need to know where they stand on abortion, or on sexually immoral practices, the role of the judge and their view of the division of powers in the Constitutions of our States and the United States of America.  We need to know how their policies on policing, foreign aid, and humanitarian relief for Christians throughout the world. 

We also must not forget that this battle is a spiritual one.  So we must be educated on the Word of God in order to know the will of God.  The will on God is not a feeling, or a dream of vision that came to us in the middle of our routine eyelid maintenance.  The will of God is that none should perish, but that all should have everlasting life.  We must be active in evangelism, the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the education of the disciple.  We must pray without ceasing.  By that I mean real heartfelt prayer for believers, leaders of government, missionaries, pastors, deacons, and more. 

Bend you knees, lay prostrate before the God who is above all.  Plead with your heart for this and the other nations of the world.  Pray for those who are now locked up in cells for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Pray for the conversion of those who oppress our brothers and sisters.  Have joy knowing that you are an overcomer.  Have joy that the God who created the universe hears your prayers and listens intently to the sorrows of your heart.  He has an open ear for your prayers because you love his Son, Jesus Christ.  He can hear you because of your faith.  Your faith in Jesus had accounted you as a righteous believer.  He hears you.  You are victorious.

Bibliography

Clayton, F. W. (1947). Tacitus and Nero’s Persecution of the Christians. Classical Quarterly, 41, 81-85. Retrieved 7 16, 2020, from http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_s0009838800026082

Constitution Cente. (n.d.). The Constitution of the United States . Retrieved from constitutioncenter.org: https://constitutioncenter.org/media/files/constitution.pdf

DW. (2020, June 23). Opinion: Christians a Welcome Scapegoat in Turkey. Retrieved from DW.COM: https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-christians-a-welcome-scapegoat-in-turkey/a-53918937

Ingle, D. K. (2019, February 27). Opinin: Christian Persecution not just happening overseas — many in us targeted for their faith too. Retrieved from Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/christian-persecution-not-just-happening-overseas-many-in-us-targeted-for-their-faith-too

Westmont.edu. (n.d.). Tacitus and Piney On the Early Christians . Retrieved from Westmount.edu: https://www.westmont.edu/~fisk/articles/TacitusAndPlinyOnTheEarlyChristians.html

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