Getting Caught Looking Around the Corner of “What Ifs” Street #2

In part #1 of this blog series (click to read part #1), we began to examine James 5:1-11. In the first 6 verses we discovered a church falling into extreme carnality; they were walking in partiality with respect to how much money and power a person had—they were deep into division and character assassination—they we are seeking their own pleasure and protection—they were withholding compassion from the poor.

In verse 7 the word of God gives them a seemingly strange command, rather than simply proclaiming “Stop”, they are commanded “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”. God was calling them to live in faith of the blessed hope, in simplicity of faith, rather than seeking to avoid the troubles to come (seeking pleasure and more provision). In this command they are told to “Establish their hearts” in the reality of Christ’s soon coming. This was a warning that their behavior was placing their standing in Christ at risk.

 As we discovered, the commands and admonitions are just as relevant for us, as we are tempted to consider the troubles around the next corner, rather than keep our eyes of Christ Jesus. Today we begin with a second command, which amplifies the serious nature of the first one.

 COMMAND #2

In verse 9-11, we begin to see that their desire for more, by ingratiating themselves to the rich, arose from a fear of suffering for their faith. There in verse 10 and 11, the Holy Spirit calls them to consider the prophets and Job; as those who patiently endured suffering for the sake of their faith in Christ. This is the reason the second command begins with “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold the Judge is standing at the door”.

Anxiety over what we assume is around the corner, often leads us to seek solutions through short cut temptations, rather than endure (be patient) in God’s promises. In our efforts to quell our anxiety or seek our wants, we can begin to see even our closest brethren, as obstacles and hindrances. Not only do we begin to destroy with our tongues, we continue to cripple our spiritual life, as we haphazardly walk through the minefield of our unresolved and worn-out emotions. Once their only chaos reigns.

James 3:13-16 (NKJV) Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

 We must heed the admonition given, for those Christians who fall into this destructive path and having taken their eyes of Christ’s return (as their only hope) are warned… vs. 9bBehold, the Judge is standing at the door”.

PERSECUTION AMPLIES A SINFUL FEAR OF LACK OF MATERIAL NEED

When we reach verses 10 and 11, we begin to see why such a wrong focus on material need arises and why we look to the “haves” to make sure we are not “haven nots”: They (we can be) were fearful of being without and block from having what was needed, as persecution grew.

Because they lost their foundation and hope in Christ, they were looking to worldly people wealth and supposed influence to shield them, from the suffering associated with persecution for our faith in Christ.

To Christians in America, this ought to sound awfully familiar. This past election season, in fact the pastor four years, revealed how much like James readers, the church has become in the United States.

Many voted for a man who lacks self-control, candor, and compassion, because a few “Christian Celebrity” pastors and entertainment, supported him. I admit, form a political side, I agreed with much of the former president’s agenda, but when he lost the election, Christians lost their mind. Why? Afraid of suffering under those antithetical to our faith.

Is this a real possibility? Yes!

Is it something that should be driving us into cynical attacks and compounded fears? NO!

Jesus told us we would be persecuted, repeatedly. He let us know the times would come when even the pagan world would believe they are doing God a favor by killing us. The Lord Jesus never guaranteed we would have safety, security, full bellies, multiple changes of clothing or even a personal roof over our head. He promised we would have what we need.

Into these growing realities the Holy Spirit inserts the suffering experienced by the prophets and Job.

 James 5:10-11 (NKJV) My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

We think of Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and those like them, who suffered assassination attempts, wicked queens hunting them, fierce character assassination, lion’s dens and so much more…

Hebrews 11:35-40 (NKJV) Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking’s and scourging’s, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

 In James 5:10 we understand the Holy Spirit calling us to understand faith in Christ, in this life, is not about maintaining or accumulating enough supply to feel like God loves us. We are called to understand that deprivations and sufferings prove our faithfulness to Christ, which in turn prove His presence with us and faithfulness towards us, as we endure, that which is contrary to us.

Our main concern need not be how we are going to survive the times of coming persecution, but how we will remain faithful to Him, in joy and cheerfulness, when we suffer for His name.

Matthew 5:11-12 (NKJV) Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 When we lose this perspective, we begin to look for ways and means of protection. We then take ourselves outside of His covering (Psalm 91) and His provision (Psalm 23). In this mode of thinking we then take offense at anyone who appears as a threat. Perhaps, it is for this reason James brings up Job; a man who lost everything and therefore had little to fight over. It is to Job we look to for our next admonition. Until then Stay close to Jesus.

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Getting Caught Looking Around the Corner of “What Ifs” Street

The epistle of James is at times one of the more scathing letters written to the Church of Jesus Christ. There are several rebukes and admonitions, which are germane to Christians living in the United States and other westernized nations. Let us consider a passage with both rebuke and admonition, which illustrates this point.

REBUKE

James 5:1-6 (NKJV) ​ Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

We must remember that these scathing words were first written to Christians, who were living with a perversion of the gospel. This perversion is remarkably like the elements and produced moral and material circumstances of today’s prosperity gospel. This false gospel was so pervasive that the readers of the epistle of James were showing partiality towards those who would come to fellowship, who were rich (James 2). The poorer brethren were shuffled to the periphery.

It has always been the call of God’s kingdom for those who “have” to give selflessly to those who do not “have” (Acts 4:32-37). The presence or lack of this compassion truly reveals the quality of our life for Christ (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 5:1-11). From what we read in verses 1-5, we understand that the hearers of this letter, were shutting up the bowels of compassion, mercy, and brotherly love; hence they had backslidden into the dangerous position of having dead faith (James 2:26) or worse.

James then calls them out for murder (vs. 6). This of course does not mean they were knifing or stabbing each other with swords, but that they were assassinating one another with words. This diagnosis calls us back to our Savior’s words in Matthew 5:21-22, where He equates  the assassination of a person’s character with words, as akin to physically taking their life “for the power of death and life are in the tongue” [Proverbs 18:21]). The entirety of James 3 and the beginning of chapter 4 deal with this egregious practice and its pervasiveness in the church the epistle was written to.

Let’s be honest, these very same things represent a large swath of the church in America, where portions of the prosperity gospel have been sown throughout most evangelical denominations (a discussion of another time); whether Pentecostal, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Liturgical or Main-line Protestant.

Additionally, the urge to respect persons who have and can improve our situation is also sown throughout our humanity, therefore we must be on guard. Although this tendency is innate in all humanity (born in sin), it rises in a Christian’s heart from a lack of trust in God; from being antsy or anxious about the future. In this state, when what we seek does not quell the anxiety about what is around the corner, we are tinder boxes soaked in gasoline; ready to explode into character assassination. 

This is often the case (as was with those who first heard this message) in the Church in America, from an individual perspective, as well as a corporate one. This is part of American cultural DNA, where we are socialized to think we need more than we have (This must be denied for Christ). Once stimulated these thoughts lead to us seeking to have just a little more, for the sake of feeling more solid for what may come.

In this we forget, He has promised to provide what we need (Matthew 6:24-33; Philippians 4:19). Subsequently, we grow more anxious, as we are pulled to anticipate the “what if’s” around the corner. We believe these “what ifs” to be adversarial and inevitable. Therefore, we become fixated on them, rather than on Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith. In this condition James offers a stiff admonition (mild rebuke or firm warning) in love.

 ADMONITION

James 5:7-11 (NKJV) Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Through James, the Holy Spirit is calling them (and us) to refocus on what is fundamental concerning our faith. The word of God gives us 2 commands with three examples, to reveal how we avoid having our fixation pulled from hope into hopelessness, which leads to the sinful behavior in the first six verses.

COMMAND #1

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”. Here we see they had ceased from gaining hope, confidence, and patient endurance, from looking for the blessed hope, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

Where had their attention fallen to? In focusing on the “what ifs” to come, they looked like cheap substitutes. They were driven by their anxiety over having what was material. They had tried to look around the corner to avoid “what ifs” so much, that they were not paying workers, were looking to fellowship with the rich, (whether saved or not, to advance their purpose and quell their fears) and had shut off compassion to the brethren most in need.

This is a problem for Christians in America. Gone are the days, where filled with the Spirit, we minister the gospel and refuse to worry about the material, as we trust where He calls He will provide. We constantly court donors (church people) to give more and more. Rather than pray, we seek to finance buildings and programs which will bring in more people (potential donors) to pay our pastoral salaries and buildings and properties cost. This is a far cry from Holy Spirit produced faith and love of the early church in Acts 4:32-37, where those who owned property sold it (giving all the money) for those in the body of Christ who were most in need.

What James’ readers were falling into, is a problem for us as well. In our anxiety we justify working ourselves to death, voiding ourselves of fellowship to make a buck, and missing intimacy with Christ in the word and prayer. Remember that Matthew 6:24-33 is an admonition from Jesus to all disciples, not to get programed to live beyond the day at hand, and what is needed. When we do, worry and anxiety pull our minds around the corner, to see the “what ifs”, rather than trusting Him and looking for His return. This is when we run the risk of producing “dead faith”.

In addition to the command to be “patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”, we are given the admonition to consider the example of a farmer, who plants his field, then in trust waits for the former and latter rain, to do what only God can; make the crops grow. Happily, the farmer, fertilizes, weeds, and works the field, but he must wait on the rain, which is the purview of God. In the first admonition, James’ readers are commanded to “be patient” wait on God for what you need rather than stockpiling, worrying, and looking for ways to produce what may not be needed at all.

How are we to exercise patience, waiting faithfully no matter what circumstances arise? “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand”. This means to anchor your heart to your Holy Spirit born desire for Christ’s return. Faith and hope, fixated on Jesus’ soon return, is the very element which produces godliness (Titus 2:11-14; II Peter 3:1-13) and relieves the pain from the trials of our life (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). If our gaze shifts from the Author and Finisher of our faith, the subsequent anxiety will lead to impiety and ungodly behavior, like is described in the first 6 verses of James 5.

In our next post we see why this ungodly behavior was so pervasive in the fellowship James epistle is written to and is often far too pervasive in our fellowship.

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CAN IT HAPPEN TO ME? (What can we learn from the fall of Ravi Zacharias?)

The fall of Ravi Zacharias has been a devastating blow to many in the Christian world. The details of an independent report into the sexual abuse and immorality this man engaged in, are egregious. Over the course of more than a few decades toward the end of his life, he literally ran his own private world of pleasure. The one question we need to answer is how does this happen? And can it happen to us?

In the first place, “it” happens because it is not an “it” but begins with a gradual breakdown in a man’s personal passion and seeking of God. Perhaps, because of “commitments” or “ministerial responsibilities”, so called. I could be dead wrong, but Ravi Zacharias most likely did not begin wanting to manipulate woman for his own depraved sexual pleasure. He most likely began desiring to serve God in some way, if not fully wanting to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as an act of thanksgiving and love. I had heard him enough to know he knew the precepts of the doctrine of Christ better than most. Assuming this was the case, let us consider that our past, unhealed, and untouched by grace, will sneak up on us.

For the sake of time, let us consider that Ravi Zacharias, had a difficult upbringing to say the least. Growing up Anglican in Madras India, he was not a believer and at 17 attempted suicide by swallowing poison. This may come as a shock to you, but suicide is not a product of mental illness. It is a product of demonic suggest, to destroy the image of God. Living in a nation, 98 percent giving to idol worship and demonic ritualism, has an effect. We must also understand, his relationship to his father was not affirming. This led to his perfectionism and being driven to succeed, for the purpose of patriarchal affirmation. Remember, that even after a person finds salvation in Christ, these issues must be reconciled with our relationship to Abba Father, or they remain hidden.

These are unexploded bombs, still armed. It is our Father’s intention to disarm them practically, but only good discipleship, which is not academic but Holy Spirit led and executed, will surface these for removal (I Peter 1:6-7).

It is important that I state clearly, we are not using these elements to excuse this man’s behavior but making clear that Satan will exploit the unsanctified and unhealed areas of our lives. In Zacharias, a man who professed salvation in Christ and had years of what is considered fruitful ministry, we must see where he potentially came off the tracks. We must remember that we can begin to love God with all our heart yet fall away as an entire church was characterized.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NKJV) “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Although Ephesus was commended for being a solid biblical church, their loving devotion for Christ had been left behind. Jesus did not admonish them for their sin, but rebuked them and warned them of loss, should they not repent. It is clear to me, that the bulk of the Ephesian Church, left loving Jesus, without even knowing it as they loved the ministry and what is brought to them. In essence, their purpose was no longer loving Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind, but professing to love Jesus through serving him, while actually ministering (and expressing loving devotion to ministry) to serve themselves.

To be clear, therefore many pastors move on after short stints and why many pastors move on, when it appears, they have large and growing ministries. Enough is never enough, because their soul is not being filled with God’s presence, power and desire. They need more affirmation, numbers, programs, effectiveness or their lives and feelings disassociate. They begin to look for satisfaction, relief from their gnawing emptiness and pain, in outside areas. This is when the Devil begins his campaign of suggested compromise.

As you can already tell, I am not only speaking of Ravi Zacharias, but all of us. Yes, this can happen to us, in many varied areas of sin. Did he have success, sure enough. Was that success monumental and exponential, absolutely. Did it give him access and authority? Yes! Did that authority isolate him from fellowship with other’s who could have held him in check? Yes.

I spent time in the denomination Zacharias held ordination in and can report that most of the ministers referred to him as if he was a cut above others. It is not too much to say, Ravi was revered and wrongly so. The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, where he was ordained (as was I), began with its only emphasis being Christ our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and soon Coming King. This denomination’s founding, under A.B. Simpson, was full gospel and filled with Acts of the apostles preaching, transformation and miracles. Sometime in the late 1950’s there was a shift, which pushed the Holy Spirit out, especially in the way of manifestation gifts and divine healing.

They became very intellectual and continued to have solid teaching on the Holy Spirit and sanctification, even concerning the return of the King, but the power and presence of God made too many uncomfortable. Into these circumstances Ravi Zacharias flourished. His stellar intellect opened doors and gave him affirmation. But his fall, most likely not until the last 30 to 40 years of his life, began with a compromise based on his deteriorating physical health.

At some point, a man who should have sought divine healing, decided to take massage. At some point a man who seeks divine healing, who does not get healed, needs to hold to the words of  God in Paul the apostle…

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Let us be clear, Abba Father did not give Paul relief through healing, only power in His weakness to love and glorify God. Paul accepted what western Christian’s seldom do, which is do only what the LORD commands or allows.  Let us also be honest, we Americans hate that, because we are socialized in getting what we want and if we want relief, no matter the cost we should get it. We believe that God affirms that. He does not.

How did this lead to Zacharias compromise? He would get massages for his back from women. Women who would spend more time touching him, intimately and for his benefit than his wife. Before you label me a prude, a massage, even not one sought for sexual gratification, is sensual and intimate. It really does not matter whether it is a woman or a man giving it (look up Ted Haggard for context).

It was most likely this compromise, which opened Pandora’s box for the man. This is what led to his opening up a massage parlor business, which his denomination should have discerned as a bad and unbiblical idea, with tremendous opportunity for disaster. Again, lets be honest, do massage parlors have a good connotation in our vernacular? With the potential for sin and entanglements, did anyone counsel the man to… 

1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Precipitous falls from the Lord can happen because.

  1. We never deal with painful wounds from our life before Christ, which become the very inner weakness that drives us away from loving Christ with all our heart.
  2. Because, rather than hold to God’s promise of His fullness, transformation, healing and presence with us (to satisfy our souls), we begin to feel disassociated, as our minds are being pulled from God’s word.
  3. We consider and engage in compromise that is not expressly forbidden with a “Thou shalt not…”. In this we have pleased our flesh and the hook is set.
  4. Having isolated ourselves from accountability (or having none in place), we get picked off and begin to sin, as if we deserve to.

So yes, we can fall away from Christ into sin, as Ravi Zacharias did, for these same reasons, because Satan is the one looking to exploit the unsanctified areas of our practical life—Satan is tempting us daily to water down what God’s word clearly declares for our practical life, by focusing on what the world has to offer that is good, and not specifically to be avoided with a “Thou shalt not…”—Satan then easily leads us to devise ways to be undetected and avoid accountability.

The word of God clearly states this…

1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV) Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

James 1:13-15 (NKJV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

As we can see, pride does come before the fall, as does a person’s life controlling frustration, despondency, fear, and entitlement. Most do not have the wide birth granted a man of Zacharias’ supposed intellectual astuteness or supposed spirituality. That said it happens over and again to ministers and laity, everyday as we slip into compromise, with no conviction of the Holy Spirit.

This should not be the case as we are commanded to cleanse ourselves from every filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1). This should not be the case when the Lord has provided what we need for this task in His word and the presence of His Holy Spirit.

How do we fall?  It is as easy as being distracted and wasting time.

Ephesians 5:15-18 (NKJV) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit

What are the schemes of Satan in your life, to drag you off, where a fall brings shame on the Lord Jesus Christ, and potentially undermines the faith of others? Let us consider Ravi Zacharias’ fall as a wake up, to the apostacy waiting to pounce, as the Devil is looking to devour.

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Another Unnecessary LAME UNBIBLICAL Apology from and Celebrity Christian!

Image result for Max Lucado apologizes for nothing

In a recent Christian Post article, it was reported that popular Christian writer and pastor, Max Lucado had come under fire for his position on gay marriage and attitudes toward LBGTQ, in general. This occurred after he had been invited to preach at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

It seems that the National Cathedral has more than a few “liberal” members, who criticized the author and speaker’s viewpoint on gay marriage. In a subsequent article one day later, Lucado apologized for his pastor comments, which had engendered such harsh criticism. Click the link to go to the Christian Post article… https://www.christianpost.com/news/max-lucado-apologizes-for-past-sermon-on-homosexuality.html)

Lucado wrote.

“In 2004 I preached a sermon on the topic of same-sex marriage. I now see that, in that sermon, I was disrespectful. I was hurtful,” wrote Lucado, pastor of Oak Hills Church, a nondenominational Christian church in San Antonio, Texas…”

“I wounded people in ways that were devastating,” Lucado, who spoke at the National Cathedral on Feb. 7, continued. “I should have done better. It grieves me that my words have hurt or been used to hurt the LGBTQ community. I apologize to you and I ask forgiveness of Christ.”

“To be clear, I believe in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage, but I also believe in a God of unbounded grace and love,” he said in his letter. “LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ families must be respected and treated with love. They are beloved children of God because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

In Max Lucado’s response we see another “Christian Super-Star” preacher capitulate to the world the flesh and the devil. Really a sermon on marriage being defined in God’s word as being between a man and a woman, was hurtful? To whom?

Out 64 million married America couples that fit the biblical definition of marriage (132 million of 330 million population), there are only 543,000 same sex married couples, with a vast majority of homosexuals choosing couple relationships without marriage (8 million). In the first place it seems, statistically, that LGBT do not care to live in marriage but co-habitate. The reason is that any and all LGBT deal with sexual sin against God. Since it is rebellion, those who choose it, know a government marriage certificate won’t solemnize it in the site of God, so why bother?

Statistically, less than 1% of all marriages are LBGT, so who was he offending? The answer is, he was offending sinners who hate God’s word and hate God’s children, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

In Lucado’s response, he gives the same mush mouthed and unbiblical response, we often hear when accused by a bent-on raging against the LORD and His Anointed (Psalm 2); and that answer is we ought to respect LBGTQ because they too are children of God, being made in God’s image.

Let us further examine this claim.

Although Adam was created in the image of God, that image was marred and tainted, through Adam’s sin. Adam’s first son killed his second Abel, as we see Cain, ignoring the commands of the Lord (Genesis 4:6-7). We then find in Genesis 5:3, that Adam brought for a son, in his own image and after his own likeness. Let us understand, both Cain and Abel were brought forth the same way, yet one desired to be like the father and trust YHWH for atonement (Abel), through appropriate sacrifice in faith; the other wanted to have atonement his way.

This is transgression, comes from Cain being brought forth in Adam’s sinful image and after his sinful likeness (Adam’s passed-on iniquity). Genesis 5:3 reveals that Seth, was more like Abel and Adam, after the fall; Cain more like his father, before the fall.

The point is that Adam’s stain taints every human being born and makes us all other than God’s children, even from before birth.

Psalms 51:5 (NKJV) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

Yet the scripture goes further to declare what we are by birth and it is not remotely close to being children of God.

Romans 8:7-8 (NKJV) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Simply stated, by birth we are all born enemies of God, sinful and unable to please Him, being carnal; sold under sin. To advance this m point, consider with me that sexually immorality (which includes pornography, adultery, fornication and yes LBGT) is carnal behavior. So, are Christians are supposed to respect those who are sexually immoral?

No, we are not! We are not to be respecter of person’s period. We are to love our enemies, but this is not through tolerating or elevating sin, to sanctioned status before God, regardless of what that sin is.

Let us consider an even clearer passage from the word of God.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV) And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

In this passage the word of God declares all apart from Christ to be “children of wrath“. The only way to become a child of God is through the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12). In this our relationship to God is restored and only those who have received the promise of God, in Jesus finished work of redemption, are children of God.

With this truth, what does Max Lucado do with I Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8, and 22:15, where sexual immorality and homosexuality are listed as sin practices, which will keep humanity out of the kingdom of God? So why did Max Lucado apologize or even take a speaking engagement as the National Cathedral, when it is notoriously liberal? He did both for the almighty dollar.

If Lucado’s position on marriage has not changed (as he says being traditional or biblical), as he stated, the only reason to apologize is to fear diminishment in his lucrative book sales, being rejected by the growing apostate church in America, and doing an uncomfortable tap dance as a mega church pastor. All those of solid faith in Christ, ought to boycott his writings, until he repents of grieving the Holy Spirit.

Truth told, some of his older works were beneficial to my understanding of God’s love, but he has had nothing to give in offering to God or the benefit of God’s church for decades. His work is simply, like drinking a juice glass of water half full of water and the bottom quarter sugar. You’ll get a rush if you get by the syrupy sweetness, but your belly will be sick in a few minutes.

How should treat effeminate, sodomites, cross dressers, those who abominably alter their God given sex?  Like any other person who is stuck in their sin, by speaking the truth in love, and avoiding ungodly and overly friendly ties to them (II Corinthians 6:14-18).

Speaking the truth in live is not respect for the individual, but is it God’s love and mercy, calling the sinner to repentance, for without repentance and faith in Christ, they will die in their sin and wind up in the second death, which is the lake of fire which burns forever.

What any militant sinner wants (those who have chosen to shut off God’s voice in word and Spirit) is not respect, but the bowing of the Christian’s conscience to their own unregenerate and debased mind set. May God convict Max Lucado of bowing to Satan’s plan of silencing men of God. May we continue to speak the truth in love, calling all to repentance and reaming humble before our God; for apart from Christ we’d be just as lost.

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Satan’s Plan against the Church (E.M. Bounds on Spiritual Warfare) #2

After reading the rest of chapter 5 (Satan’s Main target) in E.M. Bounds book “Guide to Spiritual Warfare” I had to quote it for our instruction. what you read is found on pages 45-50, from the kindle version of “Guide to Spiritual Warfare

The Material Deception

We have been taught to regard the principles of church prosperity as those items that can be seen only in a statistical column. We seek to impress an age geared to the objectivity of secular facts and figures. However, the most vital spiritual conditions and gains cannot be reduced to figures. For this reason, they are left out of the numerical column, and, after a while, they are neither noted nor observed. If we do not change our methods, our ideas concerning the strength of the local church will become worldly. No matter how imposing our material results may be, or how magnificent and prosperous the secular arm of the church appears, we must go deeper than these for its strength. We must proclaim and reiterate with increased emphasis that the strength of the church does not lie in these things.

These are the gilded delusions that we mistake for the true riches. While we are vainly saying, “[We are] rich, and increased with goods,” God has written that we are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Wealth and prosperity may be the costly spices and splendid decorations that embalm and entomb our spirituality. True strength lies in the godliness of the people. The personal holiness of the members of each church is the only true measure of strength. Any other test offends God, dishonors Christ, grieves the Holy Spirit, and degrades religion.

A church can often make the best showing of material strength when death in its deadliest form is feeding on its vital organs. There is hardly a more damaging delusion than to judge the conditions of a church by its material prosperity or church-related activity. Spiritual barrenness and rottenness in a church are generally hidden by a pleasant exterior and unusual growth. However, a spiritual church converts people from sin soundly, clearly, and fully. Then it puts them on the road to holiness, where they strive to walk in a way that is pleasing to God.

Edward McKendree Bounds (circa 1864)

This spirituality is not to be kept in a corner of the church but is to be its primary and only business. God’s church must continue to do this work of converting sinners and perfecting saints in holiness. Whenever this work becomes secondary, or other interests are held to be its equivalent, then the church becomes worldly. When material interests are emphasized, they come into prominence. Then the world comes to the throne and sways the scepter of Satan.

There is no surer way to make the church worldly than to put its material prosperity in the forefront. This is the surest way to put Satan in charge. It is easy for material assessments to become priority by emphasizing them until the opinion is created that these things are most important. When collecting money, building churches, and counting attendance become the evidence of church prosperity, then the world has a strong foothold, and Satan has achieved his purpose.

Creating a Human Institution

Another scheme of Satan is to eliminate from the church all the humble, self-denying ordinances that are offensive to unsanctified tastes and unregenerate hearts. He seeks to reduce the church to a mere human institution—popular, natural, fleshly, and pleasing.

Satan has no scheme that can more thoroughly thwart God’s high and holy purposes than transforming His church into a human institution according to man’s views. God’s right arm is thereby paralyzed, the body of Christ becomes the body of Satan, and light is turned into darkness and life into death. Men who have religious leadership positions are often blinded by a false attachment to what they think is truth and what they consider honors Christ. They are found trying to eliminate from the teaching of Christ those painful, offensive, unpopular, and self-denying features to which the Gospel owes all its saving beauty and power, and which stamp it as divine.

From the life of Peter we have a painful and most instructive warning:

“From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.(Matthew 16:21–27)”

Here is a lesson for all times and for all people. An apostle had become the mouthpiece of Satan! What an alarming, horrible, and revolting picture! An apostle, zealous for his Master’s glory, advocated with fire and force a scheme that would forever destroy that glory! The apostle Peter became Satan’s agent!

This is the same apostle who had just made the inspired confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” that placed him in highest honor with Christ and the church! Before the words of that divine and marvelous confession had died from his lips, this same apostle became the advocate of plans that would nullify his confession and destroy the eternal foundations of the church.

The Easy Way

Peter, a chief apostle, advocated schemes that would have discrowned Christ of His messiahship and brought heaven’s favorite plan to a disastrous and shameful end! What destructive impulse compelled Peter? Satan entered him and, for the time being, achieved his purposes. But Christ reproved Peter, and in the reproof struck a crushing blow at Satan. “

Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23) is a reminder and duplicate of Jesus’ response to Satan during the wilderness temptation. “Thou art an offence [“stumblingblock,” rv] unto me” (v. 23), He said. The temptation through Peter was the Devil’s trigger to catch Christ in his trap, but Jesus saw through it. “Thou savourest not the things which be of God, but those that be of men” (v. 23). The Devil was not in sight. Man appeared, but Satan’s views were pressed to the front.

The things that men savor in church planning and church life are against God’s plan. The high and holy principles of self-denial, godly living, and surrender to Christ are all against men’s view of Christianity. The Devil seeks to destroy the church indirectly. Men’s views eliminate all the unpopular principles of the Cross—self-denial, life surrender, and separation from the world. When this is done, the Devil runs the church. Then the church becomes popular, self-satisfying, modern, and progressive. But it is the Devil’s church, founded on principles pleasing in every way to flesh and blood.

If this occurs, Christ is no longer in the church. There is no crucifixion of self, no crucifixion of the world, no second coming of Christ, no eternal judgment, no everlasting hell, no eternal heaven. Nothing is left that reminds us of God, because everything reeks of man. Man makes it the Devil’s church by turning Christ’s church over to human leaders. The world is sought and gained in the Devil’s church, but the soul and heaven are lost to eternity.

The very heart of this disgraceful apostasy, this dethroning of Christ and enthroning of the Devil, is to remove the Holy Spirit from His leadership in the church. Satan’s plan is to put unspiritual men in leadership to direct the church. Men of great ability and men with the powers of leadership have often displaced God’s leadership. The ambition for leadership and the enthronement of human leaders is the doom and seal of apostasy. There is no leadership in God’s church except the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The man who has the most of God’s Spirit is God’s chosen leader. He is zealous for the Spirit’s sovereignty, ambitious to be the least, the slave of all.

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Satan’s Plan against the Church (E.M. Bounds on Spiritual Warfare)

In this post I have liberally quoted from one of the most influential Christian pastors and teachers of the last 150 years; though many have not heard of him. E.M. Bounds was contemporary to the likes of Moody, Spurgeon, Nettleton, Finney, Andrew Murray and A.B. Simpson. Not only was he read by some of theses men, his work was assimilated into their lives and teaching. This was also true in the lives of great men of God, closer to our world and culture, such as Oswald Chamber, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson.

Edward McKendree Bounds, was born in Missouri (1835). He became a pastor before the civil war, and although he opposed slavery, he was arrested as a confederate sympathizer and jailed. He was also charged a fine of $500 dollars. Feeling it immoral for the Federal government to treat its citizens as such, he joined the confederacy as a chaplain, hoping to assist those who needed Christ and would die in the war. After being wounded in a battle, He was captured by the Union and released; after which he would continue his pastor work and writing.

His Complete works on prayer is exhaustive, exhilarating and used to be standard reading for those absolutely surrendered to God and were filled by the Spirit. Perhaps the reason so few are reading him today, even among Pentecostals, reveals a lack in those claiming to be filled with God’s Spirit.

In the quotes below from chapter five of his work entitled “Guide to Spiritual Warfare”, Bounds diagnoses Satan’s scheme that has robbed the church in our day of its identity, power and purpose. May God cause us great reflection as we read, that we may right the ship, before apostacy drowns us all.

Satan’s Main Target

Satan is an expert in all the arts of deceit. He is an archangel in execution, and he often succeeds in seducing the nations most loyal to Christ. He leads them into plans that pervert all scriptural principles. When the church itself, the bride of Christ, is seduced from her purity, she degenerates into worldly ritualism. The “gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church. This promise of our Lord stands against every satanic device and assault. But this unchangeable word does not protect the church from the Devil’s strategies, which often pervert the aims of the church and postpone the day of its final triumph. The

Perverting of the Church

The Devil is a hydra-headed monster who is multifaceted in plans and wisdom as well as in atrocities. His supreme effort is to gain control of the church, not to destroy its organization, but to pervert its divine purpose. He does this in the most insidious way, so that there is no startling change and nothing to shock or alarm those whom he is trying to undermine.

Edward McKendree Bounds (circa 1864)

Sometimes revolutionary and destructive change is introduced under the disguise of a greater zeal for Christ’s glory. It is often introduced by someone who is held in high esteem by the local church, but who is totally ignorant of the fact that the measure he is advocating is subversive.

One of Satan’s most perverse schemes is to establish a wrong estimate of church strength. If he can create false assessments of local church power; if he can press the material things to the forefront; if he can make these forces powerful in commands and influence, he has accomplished his purpose.

The third temptation of our Lord was intended to subvert the purposes of His kingdom. Satan planned to do this by substituting material elements of strength for spiritual ones.

This is one of the Devil’s most insidious and successful methods to deceive, divert, and deprave. He parades the most attractive material results. He praises the power of human planning before church leaders until they are dazzled and ensnared. Then the church becomes thoroughly worldly while boasting of her spirituality. No deceiver is so artful in the diabolical trade of deception as Satan. As an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), he leads souls to death.

To mistake the true power of the church’s strength is to mistake the true character of the church. When its character is changed, then all its efforts and aims are also changed. The strength of the church lies in its devotion to God. All else is incidental and is not the source of its strength. But in worldly, popular language, a local church is called strong when its membership is large, and when it has social position and financial resources. A church is thought to be powerful when ability, learning, and eloquence fill the pulpit, and when the pews are filled by fashion, intelligence, money, and influence. An assumption of this kind is worldly to the fullest extent.

The Source of True Power

The local church that defines its strength in this way is on the highway to apostasy. The strength of that church does not consist in any or all of these things. The faith, holiness, and zeal of the church are the elements of its power. The church’s strength does not consist in its numbers and its money, but in the holiness of its members. The church’s strength is not found in these worldly attachments or endowments, but in the endowment of the Holy Spirit on its members.

The most deadly symptom that can be seen in a church is the transference of its strength from spiritual to material forces, from the Holy Spirit to the world. The power of God in the church is the measure of its strength. This is the quality God looks for in a church. The power of the Holy Spirit gives the church the ability to accomplish the purposes for which it was designed.

On the contrary, show us a church that is poor, illiterate, obscure, and unknown, but composed of praying people. They may not be men of power, wealth, or influence. Their families may not know one week where they are to get their bread for the next. But with them is “the hiding of [God’s] power” (Habakkuk 3:4), and their influence will be felt for eternity. Wherever they go there is a fountain of light, Christ in them is glorified, and His kingdom is advanced. They are His chosen vessels of salvation who reflect His light.

Within the church there are unmistakable signs that she has been blinded and caught by Satan’s dazzling glare. The church is being seriously affected by the material progress of the age. We have heard so much about prosperity and gazed on it for so long that spiritual views no longer appeal to us. Everything must take on the rich quality, luxuriant growth, and magnificent appearance of the material, or else it seems beggarly. This is the most perilous condition the church has to face. It happens when the meek and lowly fruits of holiness are discounted by the showy and worldly charms with which material success crowds the church.

We must not yield to the flood. We must not for a moment, not with the hundredth part of an inch, give place to the world. Holiness and devotion to God must be stressed in every way and at every point. The church must be made to see this delusion and snare. This transference of strength from God to the world, this rejection of the Holy Spirit’s endowment of might and power, must be recognized as yielding to Satan. The church, more and more, is inclined not only to disregard, but also to despise, the elements of spiritual strength and to set them aside for more impressive, worldly ideas.

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The GRAVITY of HELL (What happens to those who die outside of Christ) Part 2

In my last post we discussed what happens to those who die outside of Christ.; the are confined to hell. Hell is a word used for both the temporary holding place of the wicked dead, as well as the place of eternal punishment, which is the lake of fire.

In the Old Testament, the temporary place of the dead is labeled Sheol. When considering the New Testament equivalent, we discover the word Hades, which in some older translations is translated as “Hell”.

It is important to note Sheol/Hades/Hell is a real geography in the “lower parts of the earth”, where those who die outside of Christ are conscious and experience pain, fear, anxiety, regret and loss, as they wait their final judgment. If you have not read Part 1 of this series, click here for the scriptural background on Sheol/Hades/Hell.

Today we will examine the final judgment, which is most often translated “hell” in the New Testament, which is related to Hades, but a separate eternal location in God’s final judgment of humanity’s sin.

Let’s begin with an often missed passage of scripture in the gospel of John.

John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forththose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Interestingly, this passage reveals that all people will be resurrected, with bodies that will never die; those who received the grace of God in Christ Jesus to live forever with Christ and those who did not (receive God’s grace in Christ) will suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (II Thessalonians 1:6-10). Lest we forget Jesus words mirror the Old Testament revelation of eternal life with the Messiah for those who follow Him and eternal punishment or condemnation, for those rejecting Him. 

Daniel 12:1-2 (NKJV) “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

It is now important to form our understanding of word of God basis for the second death, and why it is translated “hell: (Revelation 20:11-14).

GE-HENNA

When referring to God’s eternal punishment on those who reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider the Greek word ge-henna, which is translated as “hell” in most New Testament passages dealing with the fire of eternal punishment.

Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:29 (NKJV) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Matthew 25:41-43 (NKJV) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

Mark 9:47-48 (NKJV) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

In dealing with our last passage, we get a full view of the real time illustration Jesus was using, when choosing the word ge-henna, which in the Jewish mind was seen in the “Valley of Hinnom” outside of Jerusalem. During the times of the wicked kings of Judah, they burned their children to death, in sacrifice to pagan deities and in rebellion against YHWH.

Because the Jews considered this valley “curse” (because of the prior abominable activities), the only thing they would use it for, was to burn the tons of trash produced by the city and surrounding area. This was practiced from after their return from Babylonian captivity, through the time of Christ.

The fire, in “the valley of Hinnom” was never quenched, because of the volume of trash, which needed to be incinerated. There were also always ample worms because of the garbage, so despite the heat, “die not”.

This was the illustrated message Jesus most often use in teaching the disciples about the eternal nature of the second death and it’s torments, which never end for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Below are a few more passages describing eternal punishment.

OUTER DARKNESS SPACIAL REALTION RELATIONAL DISTANCE FROM CHRIST

Matthew 8:12-13 (NKJV) But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

The above passage is one of three referring to eternal punishment as outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. II Thessalonians will enable us to reconcile an assumed contradiction to “hell fire”, which is not normally thought- of as dark.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NKJV) since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

In these two passages reveal eternal punishment as being in lake of fire (the second death). We also discover that outer darkness reveals the spiritual/soul punishment of being relationally separated from Christ, who is the Light of the world, because of their sin. This hopelessness is outer darkness, which causes weeping and gnashing of teeth. This understanding carries with it a spatial distance “away from the presence of the Lord, for those who suffer eternal punishment. 

As we consider the nature of the second death, in the lake which burns with fire, we must confess its absolute awesome and overwhelming terribleness. Not only will those who wind up there, suffer pain in a body that will never die, but they will live forever in the knowledge that they can never get free, because they used their free will choice to reject Christ’s call to repentance and faith in His cross and resurrection.

let’s meditate for a moment on what Revelations says about the finality of eternal condemnation.

Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

In the above passage we see the temporary nature of Hades, as it will end in the lake of fire. We are also left with the sobering reality of those who are cast into the lake of fire.

Is there a danger to those who are truly in Christ. No, as our sin was judged at the cross; unless we begin to walk in unbelief (See John 15:1-8; Romans :17-23; Hebrews 6:4-6).

Let the reality of the second death, cause us to be sober in our faith for we live in the last days and apostasy is abounding. This apostacy was prophesied and it is not a pagan religion but a counterfeit Christianity, where there is a form of godliness, which denies the power of godliness (II Timothy 3:5).

As we consider our times, let us look to share the gospel and call the lost to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. May we never be those who do not live fully for Christ, who is the Truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (NKJV) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

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The GRAVITY of HELL (What happens to those who die outside of Christ) Part 1

Lazarus and the rich man: parable or not? | Theo-sophical Ruminations

Over the years I have had many conversations and taught often of what occurs when a follower of Jesus Christ dies. Simply put, they find themselves immediately in the presence of Christ for, “absent from the body is present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

Scripture is clear that when the rapture takes place, those who have died in Christ will receive a glorified body first, then those who remain will be caught up, that for all eternity we will be in perfect form with Christ forever (I Thessalonians 3:13-18).

This truth ought to be a comfort to all who follow Christ, as it is central to our blessed hope, the great and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).

On the contrary, it has been my experience that most Christians and sadly many ministers, know or rarely consider, the next stop for those who die outside of Christ (before the final judgment). Not only is grasping this truth essential to our walking out the Great Commission, but also in understanding some controversial passages of the New Testament.

Recently, while thinking on the loss of a family member that my wife and I were very close too (a family member who was not a follower of Jesus Christ), I began to ponder again what the Bible says about hell.

Relatively speaking, the family member that passed away suddenly, was a good person in comparison to many others, but had rejected the gift of God’s grace in Christ. Being a fairly religious person, liked by many, and having raised a family, she was good enough, in her own eyes and the eyes of most people, many have said, I am sure, “She’s in a better place”.

The only problem is that there are none “good enough” to be righteous before God, sufficient to pay for their own sin. When a person trusts their good works are good enough to appease God’s holy justice, all their righteous works are as used menstrual rags; utterly useless (Psalm 14:1-3; Isaiah 64:6).

We understand, from the bible that, “by the deeds of the law will no flesh be justified in His sight”, “for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God”; “that the wage of sin is death” or eternal separation from God. This end is ultimately in the lake which burns with fire, that is referred to as the second death (Romans 3:20-23; 6:23; Revelation 20:14-15).

My wife and I attempted to share the gospel with this family member several times, over the years, to no avail. She was always fine in her own eyes and a little ticked that our sharing the truth suggested she would wind up in hell. This is often the case with those who are lost in religiosity and self justification. I submit it is further rooted in the human sin nature we are born with, as Jesus revealed in John 3:18-21.

John 3:18-21 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

This condemnation is what came to mind, when I was reading the word of God over a month ago and I thought of my deceased family member. Out of nowhere, I imagined her in torment, totally conscience, fearful, suffering and awaiting the most dreadful day for all mankind… the Day of the final judgment of the wicked at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20).

My mind and heart were overwhelmed with grief at the finality of the terrible thought, but I could not excuse it, for Hell, scripturally, is seen in the Christian vernacular, as both the temporary place of holding for those awaiting the final judgment (who are apart from Christ), and as the final forever judgment itself. Though related, there is a difference.

HELL (SHEOL or HADES)

In the O.T. there are 23 occurrences of the word Sheol, and in each case it is referring to the temporary place of the dead. Perhaps the most important use of it is in Psalm 16:10, where we are told 700 to 900 years before Christ’s death and resurrection…

Psalms 16:10-11 (NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

The reason for this passage’s importance is that it is quoted in Acts 2:27, 31 as a proof to the Jews on the day of Pentecost that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (LORD’s anointed), being He rose from the grave. In another passage, Ephesians 4:9, we see not only the place where Hades is located, but that Jesus visited it, in the three days He was in the grave.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Before we talk of why Jesus descended it is important to first understand the character and make up of Hell (Hades), as a temporary holding place of the dead, in the lower parts of the earth. For this we must look at the true account of Lazarus and the rich man.

In Luke16:19-31, Jesus speaks to us of two men. The first man is a rich man, for whom we are given no name. We understand that he lived very well off and did not regard the poor, very much if at all. This is not an assumption, for sickly beggar Lazarus, was daily lain outside the rich man’s gate and desired just the scraps and thrown out left overs from the rich man’s table. Lazarus’ plight was so dire, that the dogs were the the only one to take pity on him, as they licked his sores.

When Lazarus dies, angels carry him to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man dies and was carried to Hades, where he has consciousness, and feels hunger, thirst and pain as he is awaiting his final judgment. Lazarus was conscious and felt satisfied, as He awaited not judgment, but the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

Luke 16:22-26 (NKJV) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

Here we see the character and nature of Hell/Hades; the temporary place of the dead. Yes it is in the lower parts of the earth. Hades has two parts, one is still filling up, while the other is empty. Abraham’s bosom, the portion that is empty, is where all who died placing their faith in God’s word, were kept until Christ’s death and resurrection. This area was called Abraham’s bosom because He is the father of the faithful; as “he believed the LORD and He accounted it as righteousness to Him” (Genesis 15:6).

It was faith in the coming Redeemer that was the cornerstone of the faith in the O.T. saint. Let us consider Job

Job 19:25-27 (NKJV) For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

So we see that until Christ’s resurrection, Abraham’s bosom was filled with the O.T. faithful, waiting the resurrection of Messiah. Yes, King David, Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, even John the Baptist. They were awaiting the resurrection of Messiah. After He died, He descended, then picked up those held captive to death, and led them captive by his grace and love on high.

Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV) Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Some dispute the above passage confusing the language, because of the second use of the word captive, but the word has a similar connotation to Paul’s use of the word “lay hold of… that which has laid hold of me” and “apprehended” in Philippians 3:11-13.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The above bolded terms give the idea that Paul was apprehended by Christ, arrested and captive to God’s love through the life of God’s Son. On the other hand, Paul was attempting to apprehend the one who apprehended Him. This is important in understanding that Jesus entered (first descended) into Sheol/Hades/Hell to free those in the faith, who were captive to death, until the Redeemer defeated death once and for all. Oh death where is your sting, Oh Hell (Hades) where is your victory!

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NKJV) Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Sadly, the place in Hades reserved for those who reject God’s grace in the cross and resurrection of Christ, who refuse to repent and walk in faith in the name of the only begotten son of God, is filled more and more daily. Those who die outside of Christ today and tomorrow, await their final judgement next to the rich man, and every other unrepentant human who has ever lived. What are they awaiting?

John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

In our next blog, we will take a further look into the finality of the sentence for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Silent SLAUGHTER… 42,000,000!

Dear New York, - Lisa M Griffith

2020 world-wide death toll for Covid-19… 1.8 million dead. Very sad indeed.

2020 world -wide death toll for ABORTION42,000,000 (that’s right 42 million) barbarically slaughtered in the womb! ABSOLUTELY ABOMINABLE!

In America we average around 1,700 abortions per day! around the world the world (which include the U.S. number of 1,700) 115,000 babies are slaughtered per day!

2020 has been sown with fear that Covid-19 could eradicate the human race, so much so, that world economies and governments shut down, and billions of people abandoned rationality and reason giving up personal liberty All because of the fear of a disease that killed 1.8 million. Name the politician or celebrity Christian or well-known pastor, that has panicked for ten seconds over the slaughter of FORTY-TWO MILLION MURDERED CHILDREN!

The reason for the ridiculous disparity…

Although social distancing could aid in reducing unwanted pregnancies, our world culture declares sex with whomever and whenever (even in a pandemic; we’ve made sex about the pleasure we derive from it, rather than it being about marital love, as seen in the conception of a blessed child, conceived in the similitude of God.

There is no mask to protect us from our sinful heart, bent on selfish pleasure and ignoring the precious God-given nature of each human life.

There is no vaccine to defeat the viral nature of sin deep in the heart of all humanity. This inborn sin virus is a 100% killer. All under its influence will suffer FOREVER, because they rejected the love of God in Christ Jesus.

But there is a complete Cure, in the cross and resurrection of Christ. There is cleansing from the stain and influence of sin upon the human frame, that transforms the character and mind of a person, to understand Truth, follow and live in God’s love. There is a Savior, the one and only Lord Jesus Christ, who died for all men, that they may be forgiven and walk in the light of His truth.

Repent America! Turn from your wickedness, your apathy, your indifference and receive Christ by faith.

WAKE UP CHURCH! 42,000,000 slaughtered children and a world using Covid-19, in an attempt to silence the church, ought to tell you Jesus words are coming to pass; we are living in the very last of days.

Matthew 24:9-13 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Who will speak up for the little ones? Who will stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and live out God’s love, regardless of consequence?

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Christian’s Wake Up… The Wolves are Among Us! #2

PictureMeDead's Profile at Vampire Rave.

In an article entitled “Chris Pratt tells far left and far right to quit the divisiveness: ‘Under God we’re indivisible'”, the actor lectures both sides of the political spectrum, concerning the divided nation of the United States of America. In so doing he propagates falsehoods, that I have heard repeated in the churches I have pastored in. 

Why the Christian Post continues to hold up Christ Pratt and what surrounds his life as worthy of Christian reporting in beyond me. The pledge of allegiance, no matter how much I like it (and I do), is not a divine doctrine, dogma, or creed.

When the pledge was first penned, by socialist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892, “one nation under god” was not include in the pledge. In fact, the phrase was not even in its second incarnation in 1923. It was not until President Eisenhower forced its insertion in 1954, that it began to be recited. In lieu of these facts, it’s not difficult to understand, why we are a divided nation. Not everyone in America believe or follows one true God.

Therefore, Pratt’s use of the Pledge coupled with the lie “we’re all children of God”, reiterates a false doctrine that cannot bring any real unity in or out the church. 

Do we understand that we are not all children of God?

Romans 8:7 reveals all humanity, apart from Christ to be “at enmity against God” in our practice and thought. Ephesians 2:3-5 delineates that “all men are born children of wrath”Colossians 3:6 that we are born “children of disobedience”.

The point is that we are not born children of God, by natural birth. Even our being created in His image is marred by sin, as Adam, brought forth children in “his own likeness (image)” as we discover in Genesis 5:3, after the fall in the Garden.

America, as with other nations, will never be united under the one true God, this side of Christ’s return, because all nations oppose Christ in the last days; and the United States will never be filled with only followers of Christ.

Pratt’s emotionalism, sounds nice, and is given in sincerity (I am assuming), but is a half-baked attempt to get democrats and republicans to get along, through religious appeal (not through truth). He would have done well to say to both sides, were not different, but all under sin, REPENT or PERISH.

That is definitely true, but would have fell on deaf ears, from a man who readily professes Christ, yet continues to lie for a living (as an actor), participating in and making films pushing life and behavior contrary to the word of God; all the while making millions of dollars.

The Christian Post, needs to stop propping this man up as a Christian, they are only hurting him and their readership. Let’s pray for Chris Pratt, who appears very sincere, that he might repent and escape the lies and false doctrine surrounding Him; that he would truly find satisfaction in Christ alone.

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