Friday, April 30, 2010

Have You Backslid?

How does a person backslide from his position of obedience and salvation to being a disobedient, rebellious sinner without the saving favor and grace of God? Many religious teachers and ministers have taught that it is not possible to lose that relationship with God wherein one has become a born again, child of God. The doctrine of “eternal security” denies the possibility of losing one’s salvation. What does the Bible teach? A honest and careful study of the scriptures will prove that it is possible to “fall away” from a saved relationship with God.

The process of backsliding begins with losing interest in God. It is the gradual shift of one’s interest in God to some other person or thing which has become important to the individual. Satan is the adversary and tempter of the child of God. Every person will be tempted; however, it is the duty of every Christian to resist and overcome temptations. With the gift of salvation, Jesus Christ gives the child of God grace, strength and power to resist and overcome temptations. The Christian should not and must not yield to the temptation to disobey the commandments of God to satisfy one’s own desires.

Revelation 2:4-5, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

A portion of the church of God, addressed in this passage of scripture, had left their first love. They willingly walked away from their zealous love for God and His favor. They turned away to the desire of something other than God and His Word. The things of this world became more important than their obedience to God. They became distracted by the temptation to allow a person or thing, other than God, to become the most desirable thing in their life. They grew cold in their zeal and fervency for the things of God.

Luke 8:13, “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”

What do you do, what have you done, in your time of temptation? Have you fallen away? Have you loved the things of this world more than you love to do the work of God? Have you neglected your duty to be a witness for Christ in the saving of souls? Have you left your first love? Remember, in my message to you yesterday, I reminded you of the scripture which commands men to “be zealous therefore and repent.” A person’s repentance must come forth from a broken and contrite heart. There must be a zeal and a fervency in one’s repentance. After a person repents, they must maintain that same fervency in their obedience to all the light and understanding which the Holy Spirit gives to them.

The Holy Spirit will teach the new convert all things. He will guide and lead the child of God from grace to grace and from glory to glory. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to perfect us and return us to the image of the Father in which man was originally created. Jesus Christ has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to minister to His disciples. We can not progress in the things of God without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

There is one and only one unforgiveable sin; it is the sin against or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. To speak evil of the Holy Spirit after you have been enlightened, tasted, partaken and experienced the power of God’s holy anointing is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. There is no forgiveness for this great evil. Many people have backslid without speaking evil of their experience of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit. These may have opportunity to return and be restored.

Matthew 24:11-12, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

Remember the words of the children’s song: “Be careful little ears what you hear.” What you listen to can rob you of your faith and obedience to God. Many false prophets have gone out into this world teaching and preaching things which are not righteous and just. They may believe that they are serving God. However, if their doctrines are contrary to the truth of the Bible, these errors may cause serious harm to your relationship with Christ. To avoid backsliding, you must seek after truth with your whole heart. You must not neglect your duty to study to show yourself approved unto God. We are warned that if the blind lead the blind, they both will fall into the ditch. Prove all things. Know who is leading you and what they are leading you to believe.

The love of many have waxed cold. Many have already left their first love. They have backslidden from their holy state of salvation. They have yielded to the temptations to love this world more than God. Don’t follow them. Listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit as He tenderly calls you into the pathway of righteousness. Don’t just read God’s Word, study it. Hide it in your heart that you might not sin against God.

Hosea 4:4-6, “Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”

What a sober warning to all those who are not zealous and diligent in their study of the word of God. There is grave and imminent danger in being willfully ignorant of what the Bible teaches. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” This warning is to the priest, the preacher and the people. Woe to the people when ministers are striving with ministers because of a lack of knowledge. Such has been the conditions in this Seventh Seal, Evening Time apostasy which has come upon the church. It is not the will of God that any should perish and backslide. If you will be zealous and keep yourself from evil, you will not backslide.

Now, go get your Bible and your dictionary and study. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. Prove yourself faithful in obedience. Where you spend eternity will depend upon how you handle the Word of God.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Zealous of Good Works

The Bible teaches us that “zeal” is an important characteristic of how we act. The word “zeal” means: ardent desire especially to do or have something; and, impassioned eagerness especially in favor of a person or a cause: active enthusiastic interest mounting to fervor.” Zeal is the opposite of apathy and lethargy. We are surrounded by congregations of people who profess to be Christian but who do not manifest spiritual zeal in righteousness. All too often, the ones in whom we note any passion or zeal is with those who are cultish and devilish. Many who have fallen into false religion are zealous. There are those who have been snared with fanaticism who are zealous. But where is the zeal of the saints who stand for truth and righteousness? Where is their zeal for the salvation of souls? Where is the zeal to gain possession of the gifts of the Spirit?

Zeal must be present in our repentance. And, zeal must be present in our Christian conduct as we press forward in being “zealous of good works.” Consider what the Word of God has to say.

Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Was your repentance characterized by zeal? If you were lukewarm and apathetic in your repentance; then your Christian conduct will reflect the same condition. The Word of God teaches us that we must present ourselves, body and soul, upon the altar of sacrifice with a certain spiritual wholeheartedness. Our relationship with God must exhibit a definite diligence, a complete consecration and continue in ardent acts of obedience. Jesus said that if you are lukewarm, He will spue you out in rejection.

Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

What are the good works of salvation and Christian virtues? Have you examined your daily habits to know that you are walking faithfully in the Spirit? Would a close examination reveal that your zeal is in your secular vocation, your hobbies, your recreation, your possessing of stuff and your social reputation? In what areas of your life do you manifest zeal? Is the “zeal of the Lord’s house” evident in your life? Perhaps your zeal is mis-directed. Perhaps you are zealous, but not according to the knowledge of truth and righteousness.

Acts 22:3-4, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.”

Paul was zealous before his conversion on the road to Damascus. He was zealous in his father’s religion, not in God’s religion. He was zealous according to what he knew, but what he knew was wrong. Zeal is needful. It is not the single test of salvation.

Psalms 69:6-14, “Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.”

Do not be surprised when people oppose you for being zealous for those things which please God. If your zeal exposes a weakness in others, they will be uncomfortable with you and likely try to change you. People want others to be like them, not zealously different. I have heard ministers say that we do not need any “spiritual giants” today. What I thought they meant was that we do not want anyone to get out of order and become zealous in fanatical, religious error. After being excommunicated for being an advocate of greater spiritual zeal, I am not sure what they meant. I was cast out and cut off because I spoke of a closer walk with God than what I had personally obtained. I had a vision of a more zealous church body than what I had experienced. I had a burden but not the experience of great faith and great power with God through Holy Ghost guidance and anointing. I was seeking more of God without “rocking the boat.” I was falsely accused of hypocrisy and the “sin of omission.” While other ministers were telling me that the church of God was more glorious than it had ever been, I believed that Jesus Christ had much more to give to His Bride, the church of God.

John 2:16-17, “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

When John and the disciples of Christ, saw His works, they were reminded of the words of King David who was known for his humility and zeal for God. Today, people like to talk more about David’s sins than about his humility and consecration. I believe that David repented of his sins with strong contrition. I prefer to follow his example of humility and devotion rather than being always critical of his failures. I heard one church of God preacher say that David was a “bloody, mean man.” I believe it is more beneficial and productive to view King David as the Lord did. 1 Kings 15:5, “Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.?” I do not intend to excuse any sin; however, it is better to remember a man for his righteousness than for his failures which have been forgiven by a merciful God.

Romans 10:2-3, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Kind of Love is This?

Have you considered the word “love” and what it means? How do people exhibit love? What are the characteristics of love? Are there different kinds or types of love? Do you have love? What is it that you have which you call love? The Bible, the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and the Merriam Webster Dictionary will teach us about love, so that we can define it, examine it and identify it.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9-10, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” In this verse we have two expressions about love.

The first is “Let love be without dissimulation.” The subject of this expression is the pure love of God which is identified by the Greek word “agape” which means benevolent affection toward another person. The emphasis should be put on benevolent which is “a kindly disposition to promote the happiness and prosperity of others or by generosity in and pleasure at doing good works.” This “agape” love is the pure love of God. It is not selfish, lustful, covetous or self-serving. Agape love is characterized by holiness, righteousness and its willingness to give instead of receive. It is sacrificial at all times. The word “dissimulation” means hypocrisy. Agape love is never hypocritical. It is sincere, honest and trustworthy.

Secondly, Paul speaks of “brotherly love”. This expression comes from the Greek word “Philadelphia” which is literally translated “city of love”. It identifies that emotional bond of affection between two brothers, fraternal twins; i.e. the sincere care of one person for the well being of another family member. There is absolutely no reference in this relationship to the perversion of the Sodomites or homosexual behavior, which is an abomination to God.

There is a third category of love which is evil and promotes wickedness. In Ezekiel 23:11, we find the statement that “she was more corrupt in her inordinate love.” This is a reference to that type of love which is commonly referred to as “amorous.” Verse 11 contains the word and expression “gaba” meaning “sensual desire”. The “love” of the Holy Scriptures rarely ever denotes any amorous quality. The French expression “Viva amour” is synonymous with inordinate desire, lust and fornication.

I have often wondered about the “love” relationship between two people wherein one or both do not possess the Salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. What kind of love does a person have for their spouse or family when the “love of God” is absent? Jesus said that “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And then He followed that with, “if you don’t keep my words, then you don’t love me.” So we must conclude that the disobedient person does not love God, nor does he have the love of God working in his heart. So, what kind of love does he have for others? I can only conclude that he has a mixture of fraternal and amorous love for others in his life. I suspect that there are many people who have a false profession of salvation who have also deceived themselves by thinking they have “agape” love when in fact they only have fraternal/amorous love.

The Word of God has much to say about the virtues of agape love. We ought to measure ourselves with these truths:

Matthew 22:36-40, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

1 Peter 1:22, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:”

1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

1 John 5:1-3, “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.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Hope

Hope never fails, because it never quits. Hope refuses defeat. Our hope in Christ extends into eternity. But the hope of the sinner is limited in time to this world only. Satan knows the value and strength of hope. He will work to steal your hope. For that poor soul whose soul is separated from God, hope ends with the death of the body. There will be no resurrection unto life for those who have died twice (both spiritually and physically). Proverbs 14:32, “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” Psalms 33:18, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;”

The child of God whose hope does not fail will fast and pray with an expectation of receiving good things from the Lord. Faith and Hope are companions in Love. Hope enables us to carry our burdens with joy. We are not defeated by discouragement because our hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ. With Him all things are possible, we believe and we hope. This hope is not corrupted by doubt, but it is made strong by the knowledge that Love never fails. Psalms 62:5-8, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.”

Yes, it is true that in this life we shall suffer. There are none who can escape the reality and the experiences of sorrow and affliction. But hope reminds us that joy comes in the morning when the Day Star, Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness will come in mercy with healing for His children. I will wait upon the Lord. I will wait for my healing. I will wait for my reward.

Philippians 1:19-21, “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Law of Restitution

Life is like being a passenger on a fast train. Up ahead there is a switching station and you must make a decision and pay a certain fee to avoid taking the way which leads to an eternal hell and an eternal torment. How much would you be willing to pay to purchase a ticket to Heaven and avoid the terrible lake of fire which await all who stay on the fast train to hell? If the fee was an apology to someone whom you had offended, would you make yourself apologize? If the fee was to repay a debt you owe, would you make yourself pay the debt? If the fee was to humble yourself and be the servant of others, would you submit to it? Millions are riding the fast train to hell, plunging into a lake of fire and torment, because they are not willing to pay the price to gain a ticket for Heaven. If you want to go to heaven, there is a price you must pay. If you will choose to serve God and keep His commandments, because you love Him, then the price He may ask you to pay will not seem to great.

Luke 19:8-10, “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.”

What is the righteous principle taught in this scripture? It is the law of restitution. Restitution is not too hard if you love Jesus. Jesus gave His life for you; what will you give for Him? What is heaven worth to you? What is deliverance from sin and Satan’s bondage and torment worth to you?

Have you taken anything from any man by false accusation? Have you taken away his reputation for being a child of God by false accusation? Have you destroyed his testimony and influence? Have you “made a lie” concerning another person’s relationship with others?

2 Corinthians 7:10-11, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

What is the meaning of “CLEARING” in this text: SEC: NT:627 apologia (ap-ol-og-ee'-ah); from the same as NT:626; a plea ("apology"). Pride will prevent you from making necessary apologies. Grace will enable you to crucify your flesh and do the righteous thing. Restitution takes the hypocrisy out of vain confessions. Don’t just apologize. Make it right. Restore what you took from that person.

1 Peter 3:15-17, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”

Let us examine the meaning of “GIVE AN ANSWER”; SEC:627 apologia (ap-ol-og-ee'-ah); from the same as NT:626; a plea ("apology"): KJV - answer (forself), clearing of self. You may refuse to give an answer in this life, but you will give an answer to Jesus Christ at the Judgment Bar of God. Restitution can not be made at the judgment. Salvation from sin will not be offered to you at the Judgment Bar of God. Restitution is an act which must be done today. Today is the day of salvation. Today is your day of opportunity to make right those things which you have done wrong.

Romans 13:8, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Owe no man anything is to be free from the guilt of an indebtedness in regards to which you have failed to perform your duty. If you love God and others the way the gospel of Jesus Christ has taught, then you will have no desire to cheat, defraud or withhold what rightly belongs to another person. You will not take anything from them by false accusation. Are you willing to obey the righteous principle of restitution to ensure the salvation of your eternal soul? Will you pay the price which God has set?

Matt 5:23-24, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

In some cases, restitution must be made public. If the offence was public, the restitution must be public. Secret restitution can not repair the damage caused by false accusations before many people.

Heaven will be worth whatever price you have to pay. Go do the right thing. In eternity you will be glad you suffered in the flesh and ceased from sin. Don't stay on the fast train to hell just because it is easier than paying the price for restitution.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Husband's Rule

Perhaps I should have disguised the subject of this message with a more subtle title. Some no doubt will jump to the conclusion that I am expressing a male chauvinist position of dominance over women. I hope that you will read the entire article before you pass judgment. Proverbs 18:13, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

There are some very explicit statements in both the Old and New Testament which state that the husband is the head of the wife. Now there is not anything wrong with having a “head”. We want to be sure that we don’t lose our “head”. Paul makes his position and understanding very clear when he states that the head of the man is Christ and the head of the wife is the husband. And surely, we all know that the head of the children is the mother and father. It is a good thing to submit to the head which God has ordained to rule in righteousness.

Genesis 3:16, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

Ephesians 5:22-23, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:”

Ephesians 5:24, “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:33, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Is there a divine commandment and “law of order” in these scriptures? Has God placed the husband in a position of authority and responsibility over the wife? Excluding any influence to commit sin, does the wife ever have God’s approval to usurp the authority of her husband? When a wife makes the decision to marry a man and become his wife, regardless of education, knowledge, talents or abilities, does she have the right and privilege afterwards, to reject his rule and authority in making final decisions? Keep in mind that we are not including any influence of the husband to cause the wife to commit sin.

There is a strong move in modern society to elevate the wife to an equal level of authority with the husband. You have heard the expression which describes the marriage as a 50/50 relationship. There is a deceptive snare which has worked on some wives to cause them to take the position that if the husband was truly a man of God and listening to the Holy Spirit, then he would come to the same conclusion as the wife. Subsequent to this is Satan’s follow-up snare that causes the wife to believe that when her husband is not submitting to God then she doesn’t have to submit to her husband.

Let us consider the counsel of the apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 7:14-16, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” Paul does not release the husband or wife from the divine responsibilities imposed upon the marriage relationship. An unbelieving husband may be converted by the humble, submissive and godly conduct of the wife. And, an unbelieving wife may be converted by the benevolent and honorable treatment of the husband. The rule of authority and headship is not set aside in such cases.

Even when words are spoken correctly, there is a tendency to take one part and emphasize it over another part. Men and women like to put their own “spin” on what is being taught as doctrine for the marriage relationship. Take this example: The president of the American Family Association made the statement: “the fundamental Christian precept that men and women are full equals before the true God in spiritual worth, value and significance.” Excuse my exaggerated emphasis, but it is necessary to make the point that we tend to hear what we want to hear. What person, upon hearing or reading the quoted statement, would have emphasized it properly, i.e. “the fundamental Christian precept that men and women are full equals before the true God in spiritual worth, value and significance.” Men and women are not fully equal in authority and responsibility. The wife does not share a 50/50 voting privilege with the husband. I have been told, if the wife does not agree with the husband, the husband should not make a decision until they can agree. This position effectively gives the wife “veto power” over the husband. If the wife does not agree with the husband, he should proceed with godly caution and be fully aware that he is responsible for the consequences of his decision. If agreement is always a prerequisite to a decision, submission would not be necessary. Submission is the act of humble deference in conduct. When two people agree there is no need for the act of submission of one party to the other.

How do children in the home learn submission? Should it be by the wife submitting to the authority of the husband? And yes, by the husband being considerate of his wife’s desires and needs. A selfish husband will not set a good example for the children. Neither will a nagging and bossy wife teach the children the importance of respect and submission to God’s ordained authority.

I am convinced that it is a dangerous mistake for wives to believe that God holds them responsible for “correcting” the husband. It is a wife’s duty to lovingly and respectfully offer her good judgment and opinion. However, it is not in order for a wife to oppose and condemn a husband who fully believes that he is doing what God requires. Is Jesus Christ still “the head of the body.” Can we trust Jesus to do the chastisement and correction which is necessary?

Was Paul out of order when he was writing to the church in 1 Corinthians 11:9, “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man…”? Why are these expressions included in the Bible? They are there to instruct us in the will of God for the Christian home. It is obviously Satan’s objective to cause the wife to usurp the authority of their husband. And it is also Satan’s objective to cause the husband to relinquish his authority and become a weak husband.

I pray that you will ask God to teach you to examine your beliefs and conduct concerning this important subject. The demise of the rules for marriage will weaken the home, the church and the nation. I have written in love with a burden to express the righteous principles of God. May the Holy Spirit help you to receive it as it was sent forth.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Self-Examination

In both the Old and New Testament we are exhorted to examine ourselves and make sure that we are what we say we are. When we examine our own heart and actions we must do so with the aid of the Holy Spirit. We can not know our own heart unless the Holy Spirit show “the house to the house.” Satan will accuse us in our own minds. Our human nature will find excuses for its actions. The Holy Spirit will tell us
the truth if we can hear Him and listen to Him.

Some people can not examine themselves because they have sin in their hearts and need to repent before they can see themselves. We must pray that the Holy Spirit will bring conviction upon their heart and reprove them of their sin. If they will humble themselves and repent, then they will be able to see clearly to examine themselves. Others can not examine their own hearts because they have overridden the Holy Spirit and believed a lie. If they overridden the Holy Spirit because of their own lust, pride or covetousness, then they have sinned and need to repent. If they have been deceived because of the strong influence of a spiritual leader in their life, then we ought to pray that God would have mercy and show them the error of their way and the falsehood of that which they have believed to be true.

Self-examination is an essential work, but Satan has laid man snares around about it. As in all things we must seek the help of the Holy Spirit so that righteous judgment be the end result. Let the “accuser of the brethren” be cast down and overcome.

If we would be free from spiritual lukewarmness which leads to spiritual death, we must examine ourselves and know that we are walking in the perfect will of God. If you do not want to go through this examination, you should know that your heart is not right with God. A child of God will want to please his Heavenly Father. The child of God loves God and loves to keep His commandments. We must desire knowledge and correction. We must humbly submit ourselves to the Word and the Spirit with a mind to be spiritually pure, holy and obedient. We must believe that Jesus Christ is able to work a work in us which we can not do without Him. Jesus is able to purge, purify and cleanse our heart from every evil way. Jesus is able to help us resist the devil and overcome sin and Satan in every temptation. He will perfect us if we want Him to make us “perfect, even as He is perfect.” He will help us to be “holy, as He is holy.”

In this Laodicean/lukewarm church age in which we live, what should we look for when we examine ourselves? We must look for the evidence of lukewarmness, a coldness in our desire to do the perfect will of God and the snare of being consumed with the cares of the world. Let me remind you of a few Christian virtues which you ought to find active and working to make you “free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

2 Peter 3:14, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

The Christian virtue of DILIGENCE must be the spiritual watchman in your daily life. Without diligence you will fall into hurtful snares which destroy faith and righteousness.

You must STUDY to know the truth. Many people read their Bibles, but few people put forth the effort to study. It has been amazing to me how many preachers I have met who have not heard of a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. How can you study the Bible without a dictionary of Hebrew, Greek and English words? I have found that people have a very shallow understanding of the meaning of many words. When I study the Bible, I look up the meaning of words which I think I know to make sure that I have the exact and full understanding of the word as it is used in that particular text.

Many people begin and end their day with prayer and thanksgiving. However, we must learn that it is necessary to be PRAYERFUL every hour of the day. We must live our days in constant communion with God. I am afraid that many people pray for thirty minutes in the morning and then go do their own thing the rest of the day. Morning prayer does not supply you with all the answers for you day. The apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” The word “ceasing” means: SEC NT:89 GR. adialeiptos (ad-ee-al-ipe'-toce); adverb from NT:88; uninterruptedly. We need to kneel in prayer. We need to stand in prayer. We need to walk in prayer. We need to work and pray. We need to communicate with God “uninterruptedly.”

There are many virtues which we ought to search for in our conduct. Look into the pages of God’s word and examine yourself to know whether or not you are living like it teaches. Get a good Merriam Webster dictionary and compare yourself with the definition of those words which describe godly character. How do you measure up to these godly requirements?

Here is your assignment: take a good dictionary (not all dictionaries are good or equal; I strongly recommend a Merriam Webster College Dictionary and a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) and find the meaning of all the key words in the following passage of scripture.

2 Peter 1:2-12
1 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Federal Taxes - Forced Charity

I was asked to write an opinion on the following quotation. My response follows the article which has been circulated on the internet. Begin quote:

RECENT VIRGINIA CHURCH SERVICE-STIMULUS SERMON
Genesis 47:13-27

AMEN to the Pastor of this predominantly black church in Virginia
Perhaps we should each decide who our real leader is.....It is amazing to see that very little has changed in 4,000 years.

---------------------------------------------------

Good morning, brothers and sisters; it's always a delight to see the pews crowded on Sunday morning, and so eager to get into God's Word. Turn with me in your Bibles, if you will to the 47th chapter of Genesis, we'll begin our reading at verse 13, and go through verse 27.
Brother Ray, would you stand and read that great passage for us? .....(reading)...

Thank you for that fine reading, Brother Ray. So we see that economic hard times fell upon Egypt , and the people turned to the government of Pharaoh to deal with this for them. And Pharaoh nationalized the grain harvest, and placed the grain in great storehouses that he had built. So the people brought their money to Pharaoh, like a great tax increase, and gave it all to him willingly in return for grain. And this went on until their money ran out, and they were hungry again.

So when they went to Pharaoh after that, they brought their livestock -their cattle, their horses, their sheep, and their donkey - to barter for grain, and verse 17 says that only took them through the end of that year.

But the famine wasn't over, was it? So the next year, the people came before Pharaoh and admitted they had nothing left, except their land and their own lives. "There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh." So they surrendered their homes, their land, and their real estate to Pharaoh's government, and then sold themselves into slavery to him, in return for grain.

What can we learn from this, brothers and sisters?

That turning to the government instead of to God to be our provider in hard times only leads to slavery? Yes.. That the only reason government wants to be our provider is to also become our master?

Yes.

But look how that passage ends, brothers and sisters! Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt , in the land of Goshen . And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly." God provided for His people, just as He always has! They didn't end up giving all their possessions to government, no, it says they gained possessions! But I also tell you a great truth today, and an ominous one.

We see the same thing happening today - the government today wants to "share the wealth" once again, to take it from us and redistribute it back to us. It wants to take control of healthcare, just as it has taken control of education, and ration it back to us, and when government rations it, then government decides who gets it, and how much, and what kind. And if we go along with it, and do it willingly, then we will wind up no differently than the people of Egypt did four thousand years ago - as slaves to the government, and as slaves to our leaders.

What Mr. Obama's government is doing now is no different from what Pharaoh's government did then, and it will end the same. And a lot of people like to call Mr.Obama a "Messiah," don't they? Is he a Messiah? A savior? Didn't the Egyptians say, after Pharaoh made them his slaves, "You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh"?
Well, I tell you this - I know the Messiah; the Messiah is a friend of mine; and Mr. OBAMA IS NO MESSIAH! No, brothers and sisters, if Mr. Obama is a character from the Bible, then he is Pharaoh. Bow with me in prayer, if you will....

Lord, You alone are worthy to be served, and we rely on You, and You alone. We confess that the government is not our deliverer, and never rightly will be. We read in the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel, when Samuel warned the people of what a ruler would do, where it says "And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.."

And Lord, we acknowledge that day has come. We cry out to you because of the ruler that we have chosen for ourselves as a nation. Lord, we pray for this nation. We pray for revival, and we pray for deliverance from those who would be our masters. Give us hearts to seek You and hands to serve You, and protect Your people from the atrocities of Pharaoh's government.
In God We Trust...

End quote.

In this true story from the book of Genesis, the people were instructed by a true man of God. They submitted themselves and all their possessions to a holy and righteous man of God who was able to manage the resources of the whole country to save them from the famine. The important reality which is the key to understanding the application of this scripture is the fact that Obama is not a man of God as was Joseph. To submit ourselves and all our possessions into the hands of a man void of understanding leads to cruel slavery. Obama has clearly presented himself as anti-Christian. He is not a man to be trusted with all of our resources.

If everyone in the world were true Christians, socialism would be an acceptable form of government. Voluntary charity is a characteristic of God’s children. Forced charity is the devil’s device to discourage and divide the people. Whenever the government forces people to pay a tax to take care of the needy people, you can be sure that the government will mismanage the funds and a large portion of the citizenry will lie to gain possession of the forced charity (tax) which the working class was burdened to pay.

I know people who make a very substantial living and could afford to take care of all of their own necessities if they lived a little lower standard of living. However, to have and hold a standard of living which is much more affluent, they take advantage of government programs which are available because of forced charity. Whenever any person receives more from the government than they give to the government, they are accepting and using funds which have been forceably taken from others. When anyone forces me to surrender my income, for a purpose of which I have no personal responsibility, they are robbing from me. God does not force people to do the right thing. Charity is a noble and necessary virture, but it should not be forced. Today, we are forced to pay taxes to provide food stamps, government housing and medical service to people who willingly and knowingly take advantage of this forced charity. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "Any government that is big enough to give you everything you want; is big enough to take from you everything you have."

U.S. Government welfare programs are systems of waste and abuse. These programs promote slothfulness and a neglect of personal responsibility. If the taxes were collected, managed and distributed by a just and righteous man of God, the conditions of our country would be entirely different from what we see today. Americans have not submitted to a righteous Joseph. They have submitted to a ungodly Pharaoh.

There is no "Christian" party in American politics. God has been excluded from schools, congressional sessions, the court rooms and the work place. We must do our best to vote for a man based on his character, not his party. Although I am confident that any person who wants to obey God and keep His commandments will be blessed and protected, I also believe that America has passed the point of redemption. America has forsaken God; and, God has forsaken America. Psalms 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Azariah the prophet of God said to Asa the King, “Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.”

If America would repent of her great sins against God, He would hear and forgive. Will America repent of her sins? I do not think so. But each individual can repent and turn to God with their whole heart; and, God will hear, forgive and bless. But, as in the days of Azariah, America has “for a long season…been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Perfection - A Present Reality

Have you ever heard the statement that, “Nobody is Perfect.” There is in our society a strong resistance to the belief that anyone can be perfect. When consideration is given to the possibility of being perfect before God, the condition and capacity for “absolute perfection” is usually put forward as being the subject. Every reasonable person agrees that it is impossible for us human being to gain absolute perfection. That is only possible with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and none other. However, there is definitely a spiritual perfection of which the Bible speaks, teaches and requires of the servants of God.

Job 2:3, And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”

If God called Job a “perfect and an upright man” you can be sure that Job was a perfect and upright man. It is not good to disagree with God.

Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

How is this possible? You must understand what Jesus was teaching. He was and is referring to the condition of a person’s heart which is free from sin, evil and rebellion. God is perfect in that He is holy. We must be perfect in holiness. We must be perfect in obedience. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. If you love God more than yourself, you will obey Him and thus be perfect in your heart toward God.

Philippians 3:14-15, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

Notice that Paul said, “as many as be perfect.” He is stating a present, obtainable relationship with God. It is possible to perfect in our heart and mind. Temptations and thoughts do not defile the man, if the man will resist and refuse to allow those temptations and thoughts to become his desire.

Luke 6:40, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.”

Most people, even those professing to be “Christian” excuse themselves when they give in to the flesh and desire those things which are contrary to the will of God. They claim that it is impossible to resist all the temptations of the flesh. They say this because they do not know the saving grace of salvation. Grace is the divine influence of God in the heart which gives man the power to control his flesh. We must crucify the desires of the flesh and obey the commandments of God. This is not only possible, it is an absolute requirement to be saved.

Ephesians 4:11-13, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”

Have you been brought to a “perfect man?” Many preachers will tell you that there is none perfect but God and Jesus Christ. Their statement is false. You must study the scriptures and find the truth. The scriptures in the Bible are not contrary or conflicting. The Bible very clearly teaches that a wholehearted love for God coupled with a broken and contrite heart will lead to perfect obedience. Too many people confess their sins without repenting of their sins.

Colossians 4:12, “that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

Are you standing perfect and complete in all the will of God?

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Is this just a noble and fancy dream of which Paul speaks, or is it the will of God to bring you to perfection?

James 3:2, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”

The most common sin is in the words which come forth from a selfish and proud heart. If you exalt your words and beliefs above the teachings of God, you have fallen into sinful pride.

1 Peter 5:10, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

Grace and suffering in the flesh will bring you to perfection. Have you ceased from sin? Do you want to cease from sin? Do you believe that Jesus Christ has greater power than Satan? Can Jesus deliver you from the bondage of sin? Is your deliverance from all sin and impossible thing with Christ? Who has the greatest influence and power in your life, Christ or Satan?

Revelation 3:1-2, “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”

Sadly, there are millions of people who profess to have eternal life in Christ, while they are still dead in their sins and trespasses. The song poet said that “heaven is a holy place, filled with glory and with grace, sin can never enter there.” Remember the words of Paul when he wrote in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” If you sow the seeds of disobedience, you will reap corruption. If you sow the seeds of obedience, you will reap righteousness.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Examination Before Judgment

During my missionary trips to Africa, I heard an expression which described many people’s “Christian” experience; whether or not their experience is acceptable to God, I will let Christ be the judge. It was said that their experience was “five miles wide and one inch deep.” This description applies to people who claim they are doing many things for Christ’s sake and yet they have no depth of commitment or understanding of what is required to be approved of God.

If we claim to be a Christian, we ought to examine ourselves without allowing Satan to lead us into compromise or fanaticism. There are many questions which we should ask ourselves. Consider the following statements and ask yourself if they describe your experience and life.

I have a burden to witness to others, but I am shy and hope that leaving a tract on the restaurant table is sufficient to gain Christ’s approval. I do not have a specific day and time set aside to go visiting for the express purpose of inviting people to church and to share my testimony with them for the glory of God. Yet, I do take time to go the park, the tennis courts, the golf course, restaurants, camping, fishing, hunting, and other enjoyable pastimes. My pastor does not help us or actively work at sending us out two by two. We don’t have any witnessing classes or stewardship classes for new converts or others who need instruction in how to witness to others.

I read my Bible every day, but I do not actually study it. I know the Bible says to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the truth.” I do not usually use a dictionary or the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to define words so that I know more perfectly what the inspired writer of scriptures is saying. I read the Bible because I am suppose to, but I usually don’t understand or remember what I read. I can’t say that I actually “hide it in my heart.”

I pray every day for at least 30 minutes, but I don’t live my whole day with a conscious need of talking to God and seeking His guidance in all my decisions. I hope I get all my answers and the grace I need in the thirty minutes which I dedicate to God each day. When I pray, I recite the prayer list, thank God for His blessing and ask for His protection and blessings. I tell Him all about my needs and the needs of others, but I don’t really meditate or take the time to let the Holy Spirit talk to me. I have not learned how to have an intimate conversation with God. My prayers are usually “one-sided conversations.” I may sing or read the Bible when I pray, but I usually don’t hear a response from God. When I pray, I think of many things and I give them all to God. I can’t say that I get an ample supply of heavenly manna from God each day.

I live a holy life because I do not commit sin. I am willing to do whatever God tells me to do. I just don’t know exactly what He wants me to do. I am consecrated to God but I am not sure what that means. I can’t point to specific actions and works which would support my claim of consecration. I know that God looks at the heart and not just on outward works, but I feel like I should be doing more work for God. It is just hard to find the time and know exactly where to go and what to do. I want to help others, but I am not sure who that should be. If God sends someone my way, I would be glad to help them if I can.

I pay my tithes, but I am not sure about the “offerings” I should give to God and His Kingdom. I pay tithes on my income, after I deduct all of the allowable tax exemptions I can think of. My net income after exemptions is not very much and I must meet the needs of my family. Surely, God does not want me to neglect their need for some entertainment and enjoyment. I have to save for retirement, college, a new car, and all those big expenses which are sure to come. God wants us to be good managers of our money. I can’t be giving it all away and have any left to manage.

I believe that we have a duty to share this gospel with others. But, I don’t support any missionaries or evangelists. It is hard to find time to go across the street. Surely, I don’t need to be thinking about “across the seas.” If God wants those nations to have the truth, He will send someone. He is a faithful God. God does not call us all to do the same thing. We can’t all be missionaries or evangelists or dedicated soul winners. The people in the projects don’t want to hear about going to church. The people in the rich part of town are not interested in religious talk. I do give tracts to the Wal Mart cashier.

Revelation 3:15-19, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This I Pray

This I Pray!

Lead us, Oh Lord, out of the darkness of this evening night.
Help us, strengthen us with thy holy power and might.
Thy tender mercies and righteousness have become our delight.
We boldly stand for the truth and in defense of this faith we fight.

Today is the day of salvation, the Holy Spirit is now calling.
Open eyes and ears, give us victory over Satan’s long stalling.
Free us from the evil of men’s pride and its inevitable falling.
Thy tender mercies and they Love make sin so appalling.

It is the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet which we long to hear:
The sweet voice of the Holy Spirit, sent forth to gather us near,
Bringing us into the path of righteousness, where love casts out fear.
And to our Blest Redeemer, in whose presence is no sorrow or tear.
Amen.

You may have heard what men have said about the end of time; now I invite you to consider what “Thus saith the Lord.”

Revelation 10:7, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

In the Seventh Seal, the Seventh Trumpet angel will begin to deliver a message to the people which has been heretofore a mystery. This mystery is those things which the Holy Spirit has prevented men from understanding and speaking. Truth spoken softly is as the blasting of a trumpet to the fleshly minds of men. The message of the Spirit, not the message of men, will produce the voices in the camp of the saints which glorify God and exalt righteousness.

Revelation 11:14-19, “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

There is a message of “Woe” in the three last Seal periods: the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh. Yes, the Seventh Seal and the Seventh Trumpet contain a message of Woe. Woe to the inhibiters of the earth for they have disobeyed God and refused to walk in righteousness, justice and mercy. Sectarian strife has been the persistent activity of too many preachers who insist on beating God’s menservants and maidservants.

But, Praise The Lord, there will be those faithful elders who will humble themselves and fall upon their faces and worship God in the beauty of holiness. Too many men have been overcome by the spirit of Korah who rose up against Moses in fleshly pride and defiance. Jesus commanded us to “wash one another’s feet” and serve one another. Sadly, many ministers have not had the holy disposition to spiritually or literally wash one another’s feet. Regardless of these sad conditions, we have the promise of God that there will be a unified minister who will keep the commandments of God and be the instruments of God’s divine prophecies being fulfilled. The temple of God will be opened in that heavenly atmosphere of the saints who worship God in spirit and truth. There will be lightnings, and voices, and thundering, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Revelation 16:15-21, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

When the Seventh Angel pours out his vial and “it is done” there will be a full manifestations of all of these signs; “so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” All these things will be observed by the world and by the church. It will not happen in a closet. The whole world will see and know.

Just as it was in the days when the children of Israel came out of Egypt and had the opportunity to exercise faith and enter into the promise land; but, they died in the wilderness because they did not obey the commandments of God. So it may be, that in these last days, those who have come out of the evening time apostasy and have allowed their lamps to go out, will not be able to enter in to this end time era where the glorious church of God will shine forth as the noon day sun and there will be as it has been prophesied: “and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Definition of Sin

The following article appeared in the Washington D.C. weekly newspaper the “Pathfinder” on April 6th, 1940. It was a true statement then and it is a true statement today. Truth does not change.

“Sermonette – On Sin. The philosophy that has become a part of popular thought and popular literature denies what our fathers called “the exceeding sinfulness of sin”… to the modern, sin seems but an “inferiority complex” for which one may not be personally responsible and may need psychological treatment more than divine forgiveness. Sin may also be a physical deficiency and surgery or glandular treatments will overcome it… But these are not God’s definitions of sin. With God sin is leprosy of the soul which needs divine cleansing. Sin is moral and spiritual anarchy that needs the judgment of a holy and righteous God. Sin is spiritual insanity that makes the race take its all and go into a far country away from the Father’s house and causes people to be satisfied with hogs and husks when there is provision enough, and to spare, with God.” By W.W. Ayer

Recently, I shared my opinion concerning a situation which I had observed where several college students, both male and female, were living in the same house. It seemed obvious to me, by the conditions I observed, that this was a sinful and perhaps immoral living arrangement. One individual responded, “You can blame the democratic party for that.” I replied, “No, you can blame preachers and pastors for that.” To which, he responded, “I don’t agree with that or understand why you would say that.” It is because so many preachers and pastors have made light of sin. In this wicked world, sin is no longer “exceedingly sinful” to the average person professing to be a Christian. The preachers have convinced many people that “we all sin more or less every day.” People no longer understand the definition of sin. Sin is not a mistake. Sin is willful disobedience and rebellion against the known will of God. Mistakes may be corrected with instruction. Sin must be repented of to gain pardon and liberty. Jesus Christ came to make us free from the power and bondage of sin.

Many preachers teach the people that Jesus came to free us from the penalty of sin and then leaves us under the control of Satan. This is not so. The apostle John wrote in the third chapter of First John: “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” And, in the next verse he wrote: “Whosever is born of God doth not commit sin.” You can not be a sinner and a Christian at the same time. There is no such condition as a “sinning Christian.” The epistle of First John is a strong denunciation against sin. The preacher, Charles Stanley, stated in one of his radio broadcast that he does not teach out of the book of First John because it disagrees with the Baptist doctrine.

It is true that all people have committed sin. We have all committed sin and come short of the glory of God. That is why we need a Savior. Jesus Christ has come to deliver us from the power of sin and to make us holy and perfect in all things pertaining to our conscience and understanding. If we know the will of God and the commandments of God, the child of God will be obedient not disobedient. We are in the flesh, but we do not yield to the sinful desires of the flesh. True Christians have crucified the flesh that the soul may have eternal life.

How are you doing? Do you have victory over all sin? Does the teachings of First John disagree with your religious beliefs? Has your preacher deceived you and left you in bondage to sin? God has promised that if you will seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Power of Love

I believe that God will prove us to see if we will hold fast to what we believe and live the Holy Christian life when we are under pressure. Confidence is built by successfully passing certain tests. Trust is built by successfully passing certain tests. Our life on this earth is a proving and testing time which will determine where we spend eternity. You may say that you know and understand the Love of God; however, the tests you are given will prove whether or not you really do know and understand the Love of God.

How do you act when you are involved in a controversial issue? How do you act when someone disagrees with you? How do you treat someone whose beliefs are different from your beliefs? How do you determine if you will try to instruct someone or judge them or avoid them? Are you sure that you are following Bible principles and are you listening to the Holy Spirit when you make these decisions?

The Word of God is given for our instruction. It is the rule by which we measure ourselves. It is the standard to which we much come to have the approval of God. It is the right way to live and act. Jesus said,
John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
John 14:21, “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
John 14:24, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”

The apostle John was called the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” John was the one whom Jesus chose, while hanging on the cross, to care for his mother from that day forward. The apostle John wrote a lot about the power of the Love of God. Hear what he said:
1 John 2:3-6
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Today, I would like to study with you a passage of scripture written by the apostle Paul to a fellow minister of the gospel. These words were written for instruction, to guide Timothy and others in the way of righteousness. These words were written for you and me.

1 Timothy 6:1-12
1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

These instructions were written to all people, even to those who were under the authority of another person. Whether we be free or bound, we can live this gospel. Whether we live under a government which is a republic or tyranny, we can act holy and live righteous. There is no excuse allowed or exception made for any person under any condition. The unbeliever may be your boss, your spouse, your parent, your governor, or your president. In all situations and under all conditions we are commanded to keep the commandments of God.. And, we will keep His commandments, if we love Him.

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

If a person acts contrary to the standard of God’s Love, they are in danger of being condemned as being proud. Let God judge that person and let us lift up the standard of Love with such fervency that those who do not love God will be made manifest that they do not love God by their own actions and speech. The apostle Paul put this in proper perspective when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:1-6, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.”

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Pride and selfishness cause people to love wealth more than God. Jesus said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The word “mammon” is of Aramaic origin meaning “deified wealth” and it identifies that condition of a man’s heart wherein wealth becomes an idol. I fear that many people have become addicted to such a high standard of living that they have become guilty of idolizing wealth. If our standard of living is so high that we can not fulfill the great commission to take this gospel to the world by evangelism and missionary work, are we not guilty of idolizing wealth? The fellowship that I was recently excommunicated from does not support a single missionary. The church of God of the Bible was well known for supporting evangelists and missionaries. The Sixth Seal church was well known for supporting evangelists and missionaries. What happened to the Seventh Seal church? It went to sleep and it slumbered for some time. When will it awake to righteousness and its duty to turn the world upside down with this gospel? God knows.

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

“But thou, O man of God…” We must act differently. We must be different from others. We must fulfill the call of God to walk in love and do the will of God. But thou, O man of God, don’t follow the way of men, follow the Lord Jesus Christ and do as He did. Walk as He walked. Treat others like He treated them. Love them like He loved them. Help them like He helped them. The Apostle names six virtues which you need to be sure are being manifested in your daily life: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness. Do you display these virtues when you are confronted with controversial conditions?

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

The good fight of faith is to hold fast to your commitment and devotion to live the holy life which is described with many words in the scriptures. We are fully instructed in the way of righteousness. We are commanded to practice love, patience and mercy which some seem to have omitted in favor of criticism, condemnation and a “cut off” spirit.

I challenge you to go back to the Bible and examine the pattern which we are given righteousness. Some have followed man’s judgment in their defense of the church of God. They have usurped the authority of Christ and forgotten the exhortation to “judge nothing before the time.” Question: When is the right time to judge a matter? Answer: After Christ has judged it and brought it into the light of divine justice. Too many people have jumped ahead of the Holy Ghost and have taken matters into their own hands. Such actions always leads to division and hurt to the body of Christ, the church. Trust God, and don’t be afraid to practice the virtues of Love, Patience and Meekness.

God’s way will purify; man’s way will petrify.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chaos or Armageddon

I received an email from a brother who has been faithful to warn people of many of those things which are wrong with our world. Unfortunately, most people will not listen to him, just as most people will not listen to me. We are crying out to a sleepy nation and a sleepy church. It is our duty to cry aloud. So, we must continue to cry aloud. My response to his article and the full article follows:

Brother, Good Morning and God bless you. This is an excellent article. Its statements are true. Sadly, it will fall on deaf ears and a slumbering church. Most people who read it will agree, say yes, O,K. and then forget it. The ability and power of the American people to resist evil and defend righteousness seems to have passed away. It has happened to me: injustice prevailed because it seems that those who recognized that it was wrong decided they could do no more to effect a change. God will not bless men if they are not willing to correct their errors; and, make amends for the wrong which they have done. Likewise, a few people will see the truth in this article which you have sent out, but they will believe that there is nothing they can do to change America or the World. 'We're just waiting for Jesus to return and take us out of this wicked world." The Ten Virgins are still sleeping.

Staring into Chaos or Standing at Armageddon?

The Twentieth Century was a century of stark choices. It began with Theodore Roosevelt’s challenge to the Bull Moose convention of 1912: “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!” which turned out to be more prophetic than even he knew. And it ended, in T.S. Eliot’s poetic phrase, “not with a bang but a whimper” with the publication in 1998 of B.G. Brander’s Staring Into Chaos -- a fascinating if not mesmerizing compilation and overview of the century’s three great philosophers of history and sociology: Spengler’s The Decline of the West, Toynbee’s A Study of History, and Sorokin’s The Crisis of Our Age.

The first half of that century saw the triumph of the Christian West over pagan barbarism and oriental despotism in the blood-drenched theaters of World Wars I and II. The second half of the century witnessed the less bloody but equally impressive victory of the American democratic ideals of liberty and justice for all over the godless totalitarianism of Soviet communism. Many of us then thought we were home free, that we had arrived at the “end of history” (Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man) -- that we had fought the final “war to end wars,” and could now look forward to a new millennium of endless peace and progress.

But as the 21st Century opens, we find we have simply come full circle, and to our horror “staring into chaos” once more, standing face to face with the starkest choice in all history. And it is not even a new choice, but the primal choice we have been facing since the dawn of history, the choice flubbed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden -- the choice between Good and Evil, between God and the Devil, between Christ and Antichrist.

It is not a choice we can avoid, nor is it one we can put off. It is an urgent, existential choice, a “life and death” choice; in a word, a religious choice. It is not one that can be made for pragmatic reasons, or for economic or political reasons, not even for altruistic reasons. It is a choice that must be decided on the basis of ultimate Reality: Is there a God or not? If so, what is his nature? Is he a God who “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life?” (Gospel of John 3:16) Or is he a god who so hates the world that he sends his devotees to destroy themselves in vengeful suicide missions against “unbelievers”? (Surah Aal-e-Imran 3:143). Perhaps he is a god who can adapt himself to any human “lifestyle,” tolerant of any and all diversities of worship, as Oprah preaches from her megapulpit. Or perhaps he doesn’t exist.

The god who doesn’t exist has been making a strong case for himself recently in the historical home of the Christian God -- Western Europe and North America. In Europe, in fact, he has practically evicted the Christian God from his ancestral manse. And he is now making blustering threats among us here in America (Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion; Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything; etc.) Because of this vicious attack from his rear, the Christian God is having a hard time defending himself and his people on the front lines of the battle being waged against him on the other side of the world, by the god who hates the world.

What is to be done?

I made some recommendations some time ago on the internet forum Renew America under the topic, “Third Party Politics: Democracy vs. Theocracy”* in which I advocated a renewal of the American Puritan theocratic ideal. The response was less than enthusiastic. But I remain convinced that we will continue to fight a losing battle against the Muslim jihadists if we do not deliberately and energetically enlist the power of the Christian God in this war, which is not George Bush’s war or Barack Obama’s war, nor is it a war just for Middle East oil, or even a war for democracy. It is fundamentally a religious war. And a people or a nation who have no religion, or a religion they are unwilling to defend, will find themselves at the mercy of an enemy who have no doubts about the god in whom they believe and his power to fight on their behalf, as we are now learning to our sorrow.

If you want a quantitative measure of the decline in American commitment to the defense not only of our religion, but of our nation, you need only compare the pitiful wailing and acrimonious recriminations for a casualty list of 4,000 dead incurred in four years of fighting an enemy who killed almost as many of us in four hours on 9/11/2001, with the stoic fortitude with which we bore the news of 400,000 dead in four years of fighting after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The music inspired by our religious commitment in past wars and national crises can provide powerful support and inspiration in our present need. Two of the greatest of these are The Battle Hymn of the Republic and God of Our Fathers.**


*Third party politics: Democracy vs. Theocracy

The odds against a third party succeeding in American politics are pretty high. The odds against a theocratic third party succeeding in American politics are even higher. They are not impossible odds, however (Scripture tells us that “with God all things are possible," Matt. 19:26). And if we can believe some recent voices on the political left, we have in fact been facing the real danger of just such a catastrophe. (American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion by Kevin Phillips; The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege by Damon Linker; etc.)

Whatever our politics, we all agree that we are living in perilous times -- times that try men’s souls, as Tom Paine described the revolutionary crisis of his time. Souls are being tried today as then before a Court higher than the Supreme Court sitting in Washington D.C. Perilous times are praying times. When his disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the first thing he taught them to pray for was the coming of the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). He taught them, in other words, to pray for a theocracy. And not just any theocracy, but the theocracy of “our Father in heaven,” the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Most, if not all of us, in America today regard religious wars as abhorrent. But the fact is that today we are engaged in a religious war -- a clash not only of civilizations, but of religions. It is a war being fought not only between men, but between gods. Men can defeat other men in battle, but only a god can defeat another god. The Muslim suicide bombers are fighting in the army of their god, Allah. The reason many of us are saying this war is unwinnable, is because we don’t know how to fight a religious war -- a jihad. We understand fighting other men, but fighting a god?! We just don’t understand how this is possible. We have never seen a god, and for many, if not most Americans today, “seeing is believing.”

There was a time, not too long ago, when Americans understood that they needed God to fight their battles -- that He is not only a God of love, but a God of war, a God of judgment (Luke 18:1-8; Rev. 19:11-16; Battle Hymn of the Republic). The words of most, if not all, of our founding Fathers reveal this understanding. They may not all have been "fundamentalist" Christians, but they understood, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, that “God rules in the affairs of men.” The greatest expression of this understanding from an American politician can be heard in Lincoln’s wartime speeches and writings, summed up most beautifully in his Second Inaugural address.

Lincoln was the most successful “third party” candidate in American history. He bet “against the odds” of American politics and won a spectacular victory, not only in politics and war, but most impressively in the unseen world of spiritual warfare and the kingdom of God. We need to recover Lincoln’s secret of spiritual warfare today. Lincoln was elected as a candidate of the Republican party, which then as now was not an avowed “theocratic” party. It was however an avowedly Christian party. Lincoln avowed his fealty to biblical Christian morality, which mandated his unswerving opposition to the institution of human slavery. His presidency was the efficient cause of the abolition of slavery on American soil.

The length and ferocity of the American Civil War, and the mountains of casualties it exacted on both sides, can only be explained by the religious commitment of both -- ironically to the same God. Today we are engaged in another religious war. This one, however, is between the adherents of different gods -- on one side Allah, the unforgiving god of Muhammad and the suicide bomber, and on the other side a strange melange of gods and anti-gods, who can never seem to agree on who or what they are fighting, or even if they are fighting for anything worthwhile.

To succeed in a religious war -- a war between gods, or between men and God -- we need to assess the power of the forces we are fighting both for and against. In the long history of Islamic jihads, Allah has proven himself a power to be reckoned with. For long centuries, up to and including our own, he contested the power of the Christian God, as well as other gods, with significant victories. During recent centuries of Christian (and anti-Christian) dominance and rivalry, he fell on hard times; but he is once again making a serious challenge to the faith (and unfaith) of rival gods and men. It would be a serious mistake on our part to misjudge the power of this challenge.

Lincoln succeeded in his struggle against the God of human slavery by his reliance on the true God whose “truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Lincoln was not a theocrat politically, but he was a theocrat religiously. He believed with Benjamin Franklin that “God rules in the affairs of men.” We would do well to follow his example.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Planting of the Lord

My burden this morning is to meditate upon the difference between man’s work and God’s work. What happens when God works? How can we tell the difference between pure religion and the religious works of men? The world is full of men and women who think that they are doing God’s service. Many of them are sincerely wrong.

The planting of the Lord will flourish, like a tree planted beside a river. It will bear fruit of righteousness in every season, regardless of external conditions. There is much ado made of “church planting” and “preacher placement” in the religions of men. But if the Lord did not establish it or plant it, then it will not produce the glorious church of God. The Word of God describes the “planting” of the Lord. When people humbly submit to the perfect will of God, great and glorious things do happen.

Look for the church of God in the following scriptures and may the Lord give you understanding. I pray that the Lord will reveal to us the pattern of the church of God. We must desire to be a part of that which the Lord has planted and not man. You can not succeed in your search for truth without the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to anoint your eyes with spiritual eyesalve so that you can see the beauty of the church of God.

Isaiah 60:1-5, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.”

When do these things happen? The Word tells us: “But the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” It is only when the Sun rises that we can see the glorious light of truth (Malachi 4:2). It is only when the Son rises that we can see the power of the presence of the Lord. We must not become impatient as we watch and pray, as we wait upon the Lord to rise up in the fullness of time to do what He has prophesied He will do.

Isaiah 60:18-22, “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.”

The night may be long, but joy comes in the morning. We have not labored in vain. We may know the prophecies, but we can not fulfill them or make them happen. “I the Lord will hasten it in his time.” The Lord will do all these things which were spoken of by Isaiah, “in His time.” Some people believe that God has already done all that He has prophesied, and that I missed it. They say that the idea of a future third spiritual earthquake is a “Babylonian” doctrine. One minister publicly stated that he knew that all the prophecies of the Bible have been fulfilled. That is a powerful claim: that one knows all the prophecies of the Bible and also knows that they have all been fulfilled. I do not claim to know and understand all the prophecies of the Bible. However, there are some prophecies concerning the Seventh Seal and final things which have not been fulfilled in the last eighty years.

Isaiah 61:1-4, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.”

Isaiah wrote what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write. The things Isaiah wrote are very much like the words which the Apostle John wrote in the Revelation. Both of these inspired writers are teaching us about the will of God for the church of God. Jesus Christ is coming back for a glorious church in which the power of God is present to do the great works of God. Jesus is not coming back for a lukewarm, sleepy church which is enduring the dark night of apostasy at the opening of the Seventh Seal. The Lord will rise up with healing in His wings to strengthen the weak and the weary. The Lord will rise up and plant ministers and congregations which have power with God to restore the church of God the second time. As it was said in the morning time, so let it be said in the evening time: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”

Revelation 21:23-27, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.”

Revelation 22:1-7, “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”

Yes, I still believe that there is a great revival of true Christianity in the future of the church before Jesus Christ returns. Acts 24:13-14, “Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Private Interpretations

2 Peter 1:19-21, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

What is a private interpretation of the scriptures? The word “private” in this passage means that the explanation of the scriptures is “of one’s own self, i.e. personal,” A divinely inspired interpretation is an explanation which has been given by the divine disclosure of the Holy Spirit. An individual or a group may have a private interpretation of the scriptures. In the case of a group having a private interpretation, we understand that the explanation which they have mutually agreed upon is from their own minds rather than of divine origin.

The religions of the world are rife with private interpretations. As King Solomon said, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” It is one thing to misunderstand a scripture; but it far more serious, when a person intentionally refuses to consider a controversial issue with an unbiased mind. All misunderstandings begin with a person having his own erroneous understanding. It is wisdom to consider every scripture relative to a subject.

Satan is a divider and a destroyer. I am convinced that many church splits would have been avoided if ministers would have labored in love to reconcile their differences of understanding. But no, they were captivated and brought into bondage by their private, personal, self-made interpretations. Let me quickly add that I do not believe that every minister whom I have labored with is guilty of dividing God’s church. I do not have the attitude or thought that I am right and all others are wrong. I do believe that those ministers who have excommunicated me from their fellowship have done so as a result of a lack of knowledge and Holy Ghost discernment.

There have been private interpretations which have caused division. A private interpretation may not always cause a division. However, whenever division is the result, someone has transgressed the righteous principles of God.

I believe that there are many pure hearted saints and ministers in the several church of God groups which are scattered across the country. They are humble, honest and whole-heartedly serving the Lord Jesus Christ. However, they have been separated into groups of fellowship by some minister who exercised an undue influence with his pure heart, personality and private interpretation. Some ministers have labored faithfully for many years and then caught in the snare of a private interpretation. Their private interpretation became a divisive snare because they held it as a valid test of fellowship.

I have never made my beliefs, about the evangelism of Africa and a future Third Earthquake, a test of fellowship. I have shared my beliefs as reasonable interpretations of the scriptures which are supported by many scriptures and world events. Several ministers rejected my statements because they were not consistent with their teachings that the Third Earthquake was past and the next great event for the church is the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I was publically accused of teaching a “Babylonian” doctrine. After two years of assault against my ministry, it produced a spirit of division, criticism and fault finding among certain members of my congregations. To those who withstood me, my mistakes and weaknesses became justification for condemnation and excommunication.

I have shared my experience in hopes of bringing light on the dividing and destroying work of Satan. My desire is that saints would recognize the dangers of private interpretations. My great burden is that those who have erred would see the error they have made and allow God to help us correct it. For three and one half years I have waited on the ministry to resolve this error in judgment. I have come to believe that certain ministers are too deeply entangled in this snare to humble themselves and confess their error.

Additionally, I believe that my experience has many common characteristics of past controversies. No doubt that what has happened to me has happened many times previously with other ministers. This is why we have so many groups of the church of God and they all believe they are doing the right thing. Where is the fruit of the ministry of reconciliation? Where is the evidence of charity and its attributes of mercy, forgiveness, longsuffering, patience, tenderness, kindness, gentleness, etc.? Instead of charity being the “watch-word” of the church, judgment has become the most important responsibility of the ministry and also the laymen.

It seems that many have come to doubt the power of charity. They have substituted the purging, pruning power of judgment, believing that they are doing God’s service.

In the absence of the Holy Ghost, the beautiful church of God has been often divided by the unrighteous advancement of private interpretations. I pray that the eyes of the righteous will be enlightened to see truth: righteousness, mercy and judgment working in divine harmony.