Are Mormon Doctrines Christian Doctrines?

Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

If you look at Later Day Saints (Mormon) websites and publications, they clearly state that they are Christians and that they believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.  However, they have many non-Christian doctrines, and even some that refute their own claims of being a Christian religion. Below are some that I found in some quick searched of their material.  Some of these below may seem ridiculous or minuet, however, there is a clear progression that shows the rejection of many Christian doctrines.  It can be easily said that the Mormons might know the name Jesus, but that they fall short on knowing Jesus, and much more so in trusting him for salvation.  On the one hand they say that Jesus is their salvation, but on the other they say that there is no salvation outside of Joseph Smith.  Just that alone would label them a cult, not Christians.  

  1. It is a sin to drink caffeine. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is formally known, determined that a reference to “hot drinks” in religious texts only applied to tea and coffee, not all caffeine products.” (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41351251)
  2. Baptizing for the dead, you can be baptized for someone who had died and remove their sin
  3. Mormons used to believe that people of color could not be saved because they fell from heaven with Lucifer, changed in 1978.
  4. Believe that they are the real Christians.  The time between Jesus and Joseph Smith was the age of apostacy and so the only true church is the one who follows Joseph Smith’s teachings. (Some believe that Joseph Smith will be a part of the Holy Trinity. 
  5. The Garden of Eden is in Missouri.
  6. Jesus has a goddess as his wife.
  7. Jesus had children with the goddess mother.
  8. Jesus and Satan are brothers.
  9. There is not just one God but many “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light,” (Book of Abraham 4:3)
  10. salvation is attained through obedience to the law and doing good works (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W Kimball, page 206)
  11. There is no salvation without Joseph Smith as a prophet of God (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, page 188)
  12. God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).
  13. God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428)
  14. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22).
  15. God is in the form of a man, (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).
  16. “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
  17. After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354).
  18. There is a mother goddess, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
  19. God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).
  20. The Trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).
  1. “As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements -‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,’” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 79).
  2. “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation,” (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206).
  3. Good works are necessary for salvation (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 92).
  4. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” (2 Nephi 25:23).
  5. Must be certified as qualified to enter the Mormon Temple. “Every individual who qualifies for a temple recommend is also qualified as a faithful Latter-day Saint. He or she will be a full-tithe payer, will observe the Word of Wisdom, will have good family relationships, and will be a better citizen of the community” (“Opening Remarks,” Ensign (Conference Edition, November 2005, p4)
  6. Joseph Smith received ancient scriptures – previously unknow – from an angel

A short list of scriptures from the King James version on what the scriptures say concerning some of these claims by the Latter-Day Saints.

  • Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
  • Ephesians 4:4-7 – There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
  • Isaiah 43:10-11 – Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
  • Galatians 1:8-9 – But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

There are many more scriptures that we could bring to bear upon the false doctrines of the Mormon Church, but these are clear enough to point out that their doctrines are different than the doctrines taught in the Holy Bible.  This is because their cannon of scripture is different then all other “Christian” religions. The Mormons has redefined what it means to have a cannon.  Their cannon it 2 fold, it is expanded (in comparison to other Christian religions) and it is “open”. “The first is that compared to the rest of the Christian world, ours is an expanded canon. In addition to the Bible, we accept as canonical three other books of holy scripture—the Book of Mormon (531 pages), the Doctrine and Covenants (294 pages), and the Pearl of Great Price (61 pages).” (https://rsc.byu.edu/historicity-latter-day-saint-scriptures/latter-day-saint-concept-canon).  An open cannon means that is it open to new revelation, interpretations, and additions, as is needed. 

This information will undoubtedly make its way into a class on cults that I will develop, but lately I see a bunch of people trying to unify Christianity with Mormonism.  I believe that you should search the scriptures yourself and do your own investigation into what the scriptures say, what the Mormon doctrines say, and see if they line up.  What I have provided in this short and insufficient paper is a starting point for your own prayerful investigation. I repeat the words of the Apostle Paul, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

In the Beginning

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

“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). 

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

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:

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • 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. 

Photo by S Migaj on Pexels.com

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. 

Photo by Muhammad Rayhan Haripriatna on Pexels.com

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

Is this “The Greatest Story Ever Told”?

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

I heard this on the radio this morning.  The host said, “What if I told you a story about someone who could heal all your hurts.”  Then they went on to say, “well it is not a story”.  It is the greatest story ever told.  They went on to explain that Jesus came to heal all of their hurts.  Then they just said that we should have joy over that. It was not a bad thing to say at the first hearing.  I assumed that their reference was to the movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” that was released in 1965 by directory George Stevens.  This is a movie adaptation of the biblical telling of Jesus of Nazareth, from his birth to his ascension, after his resurrection from the crucifixion.  Or maybe it was referring to the Gather song, “It’s Still the Greatest Story Ever Told” which sings of the coming of the messiah as the baby Jesus, and how God became his own flesh and blood creation out of love for mankind.  Now, this is the greatest story ever told.  It also happens to be true.  God became man.  The Creator became his own creation to reveal his love of his to his creation. But to say that Jesus came to heal your hurts is the greatest story is a sweet little lie, or at the minimum a very incorrect statement, and no where near the truth.

Photo by Rodrigo Souza on Pexels.com

You see, since the ancient of times, we have had great men of renown (Genesis 6:4).  We have had wise men, like Solomon to give us sage advice and provide a model of sound judgement.  Men like his father King David to show us how to protect the weak and provide for one another have been around since the beginning.  We have even had men who have walked and talked to God, men like Enoch, Job, Noah, Moses and Abraham.  We even have references to peoples hurts and sicknesses being healed in the Old and the New Testament, without it being a miracle.  The author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts was a physician himself.  God, from his throne was already reaching out to his people and healing their lands, their health, and giving them protection from their enemies.  Jesus did not need to come here for any of that kind of stuff.  Jesus did not come here for that kind of stuff.  Did Jesus heal?  Yes, he did.  Did he come here to heal, yes, but not superficially.  Does he care for you and your problems? Yes, he does.  But that is not the reason why him coming is, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.  You see we can already do all of these things for one another, if we so chose to do.

We can provide emotional support and care.  We can provide medical treatment, and life saving measures.  We can prolong life beyond what would have been.  We can deter the effects of many diseases and even put many in remission.  We can provide food and clothing to the orphans and widows.  We can encourage one another when going through rough patches.  But what we cannot do, is restore our relationship to God.  We cannot raise ourselves from spiritual death, and make ourselves holy before God. This is what makes “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.  God sent his only Son to restore our relationship to himself.  Only God can give life.  Only God can sustain life.  Therefore, only God and bring us back to life.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the beginning God created man with his own hands, and gave him life.  Genesis 1:26-27 – And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 2:7 – And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Here we see the special relationship that God and man had from the very beginning.  God created man with a special vision and purpose in mind.  He created man as a model after himself and man was to be the caretaker of creation.  He was God’s representative on earth.  God planned him out, formed him with his own hands from the earth.  This shows man’s relationship to God and to his creation. The God breathed life into man.  God gave man life in an intimate and direct manner.  Then man became a living soul.  Man from the very beginning was flesh, spirit, and soul.  Man was alive and if you were to continue reading in Genesis you would see that he was in fellowship with God.  He walked and talked to God with no mediator in between, no fear. 

Then a horrible event took place.  Man was deceived by an enemy of God, who was once one of God’s chief angels.  This fallen angel wanted to God.  So he used cunning words to deceive the woman and the man that God was unfair and unjust.  This deceptive picture of God caused man to question God’s word and authority.  This led to the first sin of disobedience against God.  Because man’s image of God had been distorted by what they were told about God, they believed incorrectly, and sinned.  This is the same reason that I am writing this today.  This false image of who Jesus is and why he came is a deception that must be confronted, lest anyone come to Jesus for the wrong reasons, and miss out on the real reason he came.  Did Jesus heal people of their hurts, diseases, and deliver them from devils?  Yes, he did.  However, those were just signs to prove his authority for why he really came.  The reason he came is so much more important than just physical healing or food for your stomach.  He came to give you life, life that you have never had before.  He came to deliver you out of the hands of death.

You see sin, brought death.  Not just spiritually, but physical death also.  Diseases, famine, pestilence, injustice, mental illness, and far more are all brought about by sin.  These are not brought about by God, but by our fallen condition, caused by sin.  We have never known a day without sin, since the fall of mankind in the beginning.  This is part of the reason we cannot redeem ourselves.  We do not even have an idea of what true justice, or righteousness looks like.  But God does.  He above all knows the cost that sin has had upon us, his special creation.  Therefore, Jesus came to make us his righteousness.  He was sent by the Father because someone had to die for the sin that we were trapped in.  It had to be someone who had never sinned, nor was a receiver of the curse of sin through the bloodline of Adam. 

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  This is the statement made by God through the apostle Paul. The only payment for sin is death.  That is the only reward that sin ever brings – eternal death.  But God gives eternal life through Jesus Christ.  The apostle John recorded the words of Jesus as this, 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. (John 3:16) So, let us take a moment to reflect on these two statements made by God.  Sin, of which we are all guilty of by inheritance, action, or omission is punishable by death.  There is no alternative to this debt.  Unless the debt is paid for us. 

Now, here comes the Creator.  He loves us so much, that he created us with a special purpose and in an intimate manner and remembers the intimacy we once had.  He desires to have this intimacy once again with his creation (you and me) so much that he decides to pay the death penalty for us.  He does this though sacrificing his own son, Jesus Christ. Since Jesus died in our place, anyone who believes and accepts this payment of our death debt through the death of Jesus can be saved based on that belief. Now we who believe are brought from death to life.  We are not just spared death and given a life, but we are given eternal life.

So what is eternal life? Jesus put it like this, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3) Eternal life is the restoration of the creation to the Creator.  We once again are able to walk in fellowship with God.  Remember, he is the source of life.  Life emanates from him.  Without him there is no life. We are tied into the source of life for eternity because he is eternal.  He does not change, nor die, and neither do we.  We have eternal life through Jesus Christ unto God the Father, sealed by the Holy Spirit.

What is the difference in what you believe? He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36) You see we must have a clear understanding of who Jesus is and why he came.  He came to do far more that just heal our hurts.  He came to restore our relationship to God himself.  He came to deliver us from death and from the wrath of God.  Those who reject him, or who do not believe on him, are already under the wrath of God.  Deliverance from the wrath of God comes in this way…

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)

Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe that he was sent by God the Father to redeem you.  Believe that Jesus did everything necessary to redeem you though his death, burial, and resurrection.  Believe from the heart is not a feeling, but a choice to fully believe this as the truth.  Belief on Jesus is what makes you righteous before God, and confession of this faith in Jesus Christ is what ties this belief to your acceptance of salvation.  This is because it is prof of your belief.  Not for God, but for yourself and for those who need to hear the truth.  God Saves… this is “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.  It is the story of how God loved you so much that he sent his son Jesus Christ to die for you, so that you could live with him.  God has done for you what you could not do.  He saved you from wrath, and death.  He gave you eternal life. 

Martyrs of Nigeria

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

Photo by McBarthu2122 Obeya on Pexels.com

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) 

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

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)

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

Jacob and Redemption in Christ (Genesis 35:10)

“And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.” (Genesis 35:10)


The name Jacob means “seizing by the heel”. Jacob was named this because when Jacob and Esau were born, they were born as twins. Even in the womb they struggled against one another. Esau came out first which meant that he was the eldest and that he would have the inheritance of his Father. Blessings would have been bestowed on him, as the first born, that far exceeded the blessings received by his younger brother Jacob. Jacob was born holding onto the heel of Esau, as if trying to stop him from being born first. Now this is probably just a little of my mind running into fantasy, to imagine that an infant would know of such things as inheritances and birthrights from the womb. However, the fact that these two fought with one another in the womb is documented in the scriptures.


There is another meaning to the name Jacob, supplanting. Supplanting is defined as to replace, displace, supersede, or to take the place of another, as through force or scheming. We would consider this deception. So much so that Jacob’s name has become to be called “deceiver”. Jacob had most definitely lived up to his name. In his younger life Jacob tricked his older brother, Esau, into selling his birthright to Jacob for a pot of chili. He took advantage of his brother in his weakened state and took away his future as the air to Isaac and the promises of God inherited from Abraham. Later Jacob would deceive Isaac into bestowing the greater blessings of God onto him instead of his older brother. He did this through an elaborate scheme that involved many levels of deception and lying.

Yet the inheritance had been passed on and so had the blessings been given to Jacob because of his scheming and deceptions. God is honorable and faithful, so he keeps his word to Abraham, and Isaac in honoring their designation of Jacob as the heir and patriarch of the family. These events were not a surprise to God. He even predicted that these events would transpire. When Rebecca, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother, was feeling the struggling in her womb, before their birth, she asked God why this was happening. God’s reply is recorded in Genesis 25:23, “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger”. Thus God gave Rebecca a prophecy concerning not only her sons, but the nations that would descend from each of them. Still we look at Jacob and we say to ourselves, “what a despicable man he was”.


What kind of selfish, arrogant man would lie, steal, and cheat their own family brother out of what was rightfully his? Who would be so selfish to tear his family apart for his own desires? What kind a callous heart it must take to deceive the father that had protected and cared for you your whole life. What a shameful display of arrogance to take advantage of the blind, and elderly. Only a dishonorable, opportunistic man takes advantage of the hungry and feeds them with such devastating deception? We can point the finger all day long at Jacob; can we not? Still we must be honest enough to see a little of Jacob in us as well.


Have some of us not deceived others for our own gain? Have some of us not told a little lie to ease the harshness of the truth in our selfishness? Mother’s hide snacks from the children. Children seem to never know “who broke the lamp or got into the cookie jar”. Husbands and wives lying to one another about where they have been, what they were doing, who they were doing it with. Shaving a little time here and there at work, stealing from their employers. Maybe false reporting on earned income for taxes, or other things of like these. There are countless ways that we put our own selfish desires ahead of others and lie and deceive others to get ahead. We deceive others by omitting information, denying the truth, exaggerating information, and even fabricating information.


There is even a definition for using “true” statements to give a false or distorted view of the truth in order to influence the impressions of other and mislead their decision making. This is referred to as paltering. If you have ever watched syndicated news or a politician, you have probably been a victim of such a ploy. My dad used to always tell me that if someone asked you a question, always tell them the truth, but; don’t tell them any more than they asked for. That is sound advice from someone who is trying to tell themselves that they are an honest man, who does not want someone getting the wrong impression from knowing the whole of the truth.


Let me further illustrate. One night, when I was a teen, I borrowed my step-mom’s car. I ended up getting in an accident and I totaled the car. When my dad asked why I was driving, I told him I just wanted to go see a friend. That was the truthful answer to his question. What I didn’t include was that I was going to see a friend that my dad had told me to stay away from. You see I did not tell him that I was in disobedience of his wishes. This lie saved me from a severe punishment. I am sure you can find in you past some kind of half-truth you have told to get away with something or to avoid chastisement.


We are not so far from the shameful actions of Jacob, are we? You see we are a namesake to our father. We lie because that is what we know how to do. Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a lair, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)


Jacob lied because he was carnal. He was of the kingdom of Satan. One of the Hebrew names for the devil is cheater. This also carries the following synonyms: deceitful, deceiver, fraudulent, swindler. See when we act in these manners, we are also acting like Jacob. Jacob was acting out his sinful nature, given to him at the beginning by the fall of man, by the deception of Satan. We also are a product of this sinful state. We do not know what it means to truly be “good”. We could care less about trying to be good. Like Jacob, we are also of our father the devil, there is no truth in us. The good news is that God already knew this about Jacob, and he already knows this about us. God already had a plan for Jacob that started before he was in the womb.


God told Jacob, “thy name shall not be called any more Jacob”. God removed Jacob’s identity. He removed the shame associated with the name of Jacob. Jacob, had left his home for 20 years, running from the things he had done in his past. Now God was giving him a second chance at life. A life that would be far greater than the one he had left behind. God not only took his old name away; he gave him a new name. This name would be a greater name then the one he previously had. He was given a clean slate and a new promise and a new way of life. A life that would bring the promises of God to bear in his life, the life of his descendants, and the lives of everyone in the world. God would fulfill his promises to Abraham. This is such a great picture of what Christ has done for those who believe on him.


Revelation 2:17 tells us a promise made by God. He says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Isn’t that awesome, we have a new name in Christ. We have a new identity that is given to us by God himself. This name is holy to the Lord. Only you and the Lord will know your new name. Your slate has been wiped clean. You have a new identity. You are no longer the shameful creature held in bondage by sin and death. Instead you will be alive like never before. You will eat of the blessings of God and be called by a new name, a redeemed soul!


The Apostle Paul also tells us about this when he writes to the Corinthians. Paul tells us that anyone who believes and follows Jesus Christ is a new creature. He uses the verb “is”, it has already happened. The old person we used to be and all the things we did in the past are gone. Everything about us has become new in Christ. Paul tells us that this process if part of our reconciliation to God. This is only possible through the blood of Jesus Christ, who was made sin for us. Jesus was the righteousness of God. He was guilty of no sin. However, he accepted the blame and penalty for our sin. In this way, our sin was transferred to him, and his righteousness was accounted towards us. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Now, John says, not only are we forgiven, but we have a new heavenly Father. (1 John 3:1)


Now with this new identity, and this new Father, we can be like him instead of our previous father. We no longer must submit to the will of the flesh and Satan. We are set free from that previous live and now obey our spiritual Father in Heaven. Just as Jacob no longer had to live under the shame of his previous life, but instead could live a victoriously and blessed in his new life, we can also live a blessed and victorious life in Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed, not because of what we did or even our own will. We have been redeemed because of what God did of his own will, because he loved us even when we were his enemy. But now, we who live in faith in Jesus Christ are no longer his enemies.

We are his son’s and daughters. We are his ambassadors. We are the witness of his love and his grace. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came and took the blame for your sin, and died in your place. Knowing in your heart that his death paid the price for your sin, and you believe that he was resurrected on the third day, then you have eternal life. Now that your eternal salvation is secure in Christ, you need to testify to that end. You need to take your first step in obedience and be baptized by emersion. Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary in your testimony. Baptism is recognized throughout the world as a mark of believing in Jesus Christ.

The Message, Not the Messenger

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

brown rock formations
Photo by Shvets Anna on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is That What He Said? Hebrews 1:1-3

In was looking at a post on Facebook that was made concerning Hebrews 1:2.  When I saw the content of the post, I was taken back in horror.  In the thread of the message the one who posted said, “God spoke himself into existence in his own image” (referring to Jesus).  I immediately went to Hebrews and read it, just in case I was ignorant of this fact.  I always like to get a little context in a verse that someone quotes, so I started from the beginning.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:1-4)

 Okay, now this does talk about God the Father, and Jesus the Son of God.  This set of verses is more concerned with establishing the superiority of Jesus over the prophets.  It is not a creation verse at all.  God, is not speaking anything into existence.  How could God speak himself into existence?  I mean I know that we tell ourselves that God can do anything, but there is a definite law of logic being broken here.  That being put aside, let us look at another aspect of creation.  Genesis chapters one and two explain the events of creation.  It never mentions God creating himself or his son. In addition, it says at each stage of creation and then at the final stage of creation that it was “good”.  This means that it was pleasing and completed.  But there is something else in this event that you may not be aware of.  Turn to the Gospel of John.  Starting at verse one it reads, “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 anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)   John 1:10 goes on to say concerning Jesus that, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” So this means that Jesus was not created by God in the flesh, or that Jesus was a man who eventually became God.  What this means is that Jesus always existed as the Son of God.  It also reveals to us that Jesus is the one who created everything, by his word.  He was the word of God who said, “Let there be light”… So what does this set of verses say?

First it tells how God has changed his messenger with mankind.  It starts by letting us know that historically in many different ways (though laws, kings, judges, ceremonies) in different places (lands, wildernesses, mountain tops), God spoke to men through designated men, called prophets.  These prophets are men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jonah who God gave messaged to and signs to prove his message.  However; now God recently chose to speak to us through his only begotten son. (John 3:16) This term, “in these last days”, refers to the time period between the birth and ascension of Jesus Christ. His Son (Jesus) was chosen as the beneficiary of all things, and was the creator of the universe and all that is in it.  It was Jesus who revealed to us the nature of God the Father himself. 

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (John 14:9-11)

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (John 7:16)

What the Law and the Prophets could not do, in that they were limited both in time and ability, Jesus was able to commit and fulfill to mankind.  You see Jesus came as a sort of ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven, in order to reveal the love of God to mankind.  He demonstrated this love in his message, his daily living, his miracles, and in his death, burial, and resurrection.  Then he describes Jesus, he says “being the brightness of his glory”, this does not mean that he was a reflection, but rather an outshining light or radiance.  This means that Jesus was an exact representation of God’s essence and nature. This is why Jesus said, “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)  You see what Hebrews 1:1-3 is saying?  Jesus, who is the very Son of God, came and directly revealed God to men.  The ultimate authority in the universe.  He could have come to condemn.  He could have come, as the Greek and Roman gods were believed, to play cruel games with us.  But Jesus did not come to judge us or to play games.  He has all authority in the universe to do whatever he chooses; he chose to love us.  God was not born a man, he became a man.  He came to seek us out, and show us the way.  “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

As Hebrews 1:3 says, he purged himself of our sins.  Purging is a process of elimination. That means that he had to receive our sins in the first place. Once he tool our sins on him, he was judged for the sin and died.  The penalty of sin is death. He took this penalty on for us.  But he went much further, in assuming the responsibility for the sin, he removed it from us.  Being God, he cannot die, so then he purged himself of our sin.  This means that the sin that held us is permanently gone.  We have been set free from that penalty, and the bonds of sin. Jesus now has taken his rightful place and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.  Jesus is there in his throne, with all of his power and all of his authority.  That is what the author of Hebrews is talking about. 

I encourage you to look into the scriptures to see if what I am saying is true.  It is my desire that you do not take my word, or anyone’s word over scripture.  Test, and challenge what is said by your teachers, pastors, and myself.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Wake Up Christians in America

NazarineCaptureISIS

The Christian Post reported on a study that was released by Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity; which said,that over 900,000 Christians were Martyred for their faith in the last 10 years. This plays out to an average of one Christian being martyred every 4-6 minutes. In America we would like to think that the martyrdom of the saints is a thing of ancient past.

We have books in our bookshelf that give descriptions of the early church and other time periods where Christians were martyred, sometimes by other christian sects. We pull the book down and haphazardly read an account and say, wow, I would have stood up just like that Christian. We then pat ourselves on the back, because we are such a good christian and then put the book back on the shelf, and sit into our lazy chair to watch some comedian on TV made fun of Christians or God. In truth, persecution of Christians world wide is higher than it has ever been.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, more Christians were martyred than any other time in history. That means that more Christians have died, for their faith, in the last 118 years than in the preceding 19 Centuries. The numbers are growing, while we sit and grow fat.  We bury our heads in the sand and tell ourselves it does not concern us.  Yet this relentless murder of Christians is pandemic of the entire world, including in America, where violent and legal attacks are carried out on a routine basis against Christians.  NE News Now reported that across the globe there are more than 200 million Christians that are threatened because of their faith. This is a consensus revealed in 105 of the 190 nations in the world.

All of this goes on while,in American church, we have watered down gospel. A gospel that actually is not the gospel is preached instead.  We have become a nation of Christians who have ears that itch to have pleasing self-centered, even devilish doctrines entreated to us. World know preachers of mega churches go on interview after interview and openly proclaim that they do not teach the gospel, because there is no money in it. Instead, the church in America had been inundated with a “name it and claim it” gospel. Sin and consequences are not discussed in the pulpit. American churches have desecrated themselves before God and man, and no longer stand for the truth.  Instead of confronting sexual immortality, and infant murder, they welcome it into their churches and in some- even ordain that which should be expelled.

Self-help and the way to financial happiness have become the mantra of the mainstream American church. We are so absorbed and praying for that new house, or new car, or other ways of pleasing our own covetous desires that we have left God out or our churches, schools, business, legislation, families, and our own hearts. We no longer care to reach the lost, instead we try not to offend them and try to act like them, to show how accepting we are.  We have lost the love that gives us the need to be objective and warn the lost that they will die in their sin without accepting the truth of Jesus.  We have become the ones that the Lord said, “In that day, I will say, depart from me for I never knew you.”

You know how I know this? Take a look at John 15:18-27.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.He that hateth me hateth my Father also.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Here Jesus says that the world will hate you. We can expect this because it hates Jesus. A young Pakistani Christian invited some friends and family to his home after he was converted from Islam to Christianity. He showed them the Jesus movie. They told him that if he didn’t stop showing that movie he would be killed. He continued his mission, and invited another small group to his home and showed them the Jesus movie. Two nights later, a group of men stole into his home and cut him to pieces. Stabbing this young Christian to death because of his love for Jesus.

Jesus said that if you were of the world the would would love it’s own. But because you are of the Kingdom of Heaven, the world doesn’t know you. Because they do not know you, they hate you. You are reminder to them of sin that they are guilty of. You are a reminder that there is a just and righteous God who will judge sin, and who will destroy all who live in sin. They hate you because you have spoken to them and revealed sin. This is the same reason they hated Jesus.

But Jesus said that he has sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit. Who indwells all who believe. The Spirit of God in Christ is who gives us the ability and courage to speak the truth. We, who believe, are not concerned with these worldly issues. Who cares who said what? Who cares about that new car, or new house? We are not of this world. We are just passing through while on mission. We are missionaries of Jesus, each one of us. We are here to do exactly what Jesus did, bear witness to the truth. We are here to tell the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are here to expose the lie of the false teachers and false prophets who teach that God will give you a new boat if you just pray hard enough or give enough money to their false religion.  We are here to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People are dying for Christ.  However, allot more are dying without Christ.  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).  Maybe we need to stand up, before there are none of us left to bring the message.

Ref:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-900000-christians-martyred-for-their-faith-in-last-10-years-report.html

https://onenewsnow.com/persecution/2015/09/20/every-5-minutes-a-christian-is-martyred

https://www.christianpost.com/voice/christians-massacred-call-to-grieve.html

https://www.christianpost.com/news/nigeria-christians-slaughtered-by-fulani-militants-at-baby-dedication-children-among-the-dead.html