Wednesday, October 2, 2019

“Take Heed, Lest You Fall”


The LORD said to me, ‘Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She goes up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and plays the harlot there. And I said, after she did all these things, “Come back to me,” but she did not come back, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw that, when for all the times that backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid, and she also went and played the harlot.’ 
Jeremiah 3:6–8

It is surprising how often, despite the evidence, God’s people do not take to heart His judgments on the unfaithful.  One sister, some years back, watched a string of others fall away from Jesus and then said, “I never even considered the possibility that it would happen to me.” Now, she is completely backslidden and living a morally wretched lifestyle.
We live only by the continued mercies of God.  Those who survive and are saved in the end will be those who know, when they see God’s judgment, that God is no respecter of persons and that the same judgment could happen to them.  We would be wise to heed Paul’s warning, that the Old Testament events which tell of what happened to Israel “happened to them as examples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have met.  Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1Cor. 10:11–12).

Monday, June 24, 2019

Earthly Evidence Versus Heaven’s Proof


There may be a mountain of evidence that the Bible is true, but there is only one proof of it: the baptism of the holy Ghost.  That is what John the Baptist told Israel that the long-prophesied Messiah would do (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16).  Therefore, whoever baptizes with the holy Ghost is the Messiah, the Savior of the world.  Men can believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and believe it very deeply, (just as demons do – Jas. 2:19), but that is all we can do without help from God.  Without the holy Ghost, no one can say (and know for certain it is true) that Jesus is Lord (1Cor. 12:3).
We can be so devoted to belief in Jesus that we give up our lives for it, but that self-sacrifice will mean nothing to God unless it was motivated by the love of God, which enters our hearts only by the holy Ghost (1Cor. 13:1–3; Rom. 5:5).  We need the holy Ghost baptism because Jesus said we must be born again (Jn. 3:3, 7), and the baptism of the holy Ghost is the way to enter, or be born into, God’s family (cp. 1Cor. 12:13; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27).  We need to hear about Jesus because the Father gives the holy Ghost only to those who believe in Jesus and come to Him in Jesus’ name (Jn. 14:26).  Though we pray to God in the name of Muhammed from now until doomsday, He will not give us the Spirit because the Spirit comes only in Jesus’ name.
So, don’t get too excited about historical evidence concerning the scriptures and the Messiah they proclaim, whether it be archaeological or documentary evidence.  God’s living proof of His Son is infinitely more exciting.  An empty tomb is evidence, but it does not prove that Jesus rose from the dead; only the holy Ghost does that.  “The Spirit is the witness”, John wrote, “because the Spirit is truth” (1Jn. 5:6).  Historical evidence can be interesting, but its value pales to worthlessness in comparison to God’s living testimony of His Son.  That baptism is not like a dusty potsherd, known by and useful to men long ago, but not now.  No, God has never stopped offering His unique proof that Jesus is Savior and Lord; in every generation since Jesus suffered and died, God has been baptizing with the Spirit humble souls who obey Him (cp. Acts 5:32).

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Definition of a False Prophet


A false prophet is an unfaithful prophet, one who has had a real connection with God, but has wandered from the right way.  Among the ancient Gentiles, many prophets prophesied ungodly things, but none of them are referred to as false prophets.  In the Old Testament, we find no false prophet outside of Israel, except in very rare cases, such as Balaam, who was a true prophet of God before he surrendered his integrity for earthly gain.  God said of men who began to prophesy things He did not send them to say, “I did not send these prophets, but they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied” (Jer. 23:21).
In this New Covenant, a “false prophet” is the equivalent of a “false apostle” (2Cor. 11:13) or a “false teacher” (2Pet. 2:1).  These are ministers who are confident that they are ministers of Christ, when Christ has not sent them.
Those who have not been sent by Christ cannot speak for him.  And it is a pitfall into which a religious society has pushed many a young man with a heart for God.  We can do evil, thinking we are doing God service, and if He has not sent us, whatever we claim to do in His name is false.  In order to truly speak for Christ, we must first be spoken to by Christ; otherwise, the term “false prophet” will apply to us as well as to those in the Bible who did wrong, thinking they were doing right.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

“You Are Never Supposed To Do That!”


My wife and I and a few friends recently met with a couple (I will call them Barry and Jane) who testified to us that several years ago, they made up their minds to read the gospels (they may have said the entire New Testament) and put into practice every commandment of Jesus, no matter how odd it might seem to people, or what the cost to them.  In their reading, they noticed that Jesus healed people instead of sending them to the doctor, and so, they concluded that it is God’s will that His children not to go to a doctor or take any medicine, but trust His Son instead.  Our body is God’s temple, they told us, and it is His responsibility alone to take care of it.  They canceled their health insurance, threw away all their medicines, and began to trust Jesus alone to take care of their bodies “without”, as Jane said, “any back-up plan.”  Jesus would heal them, or they would remain sick.  And they also testified that since taking that course, they experienced a number of remarkable healings, and their overall health improved.
Their testimonies challenged me to examine myself, to make certain that I look to Jesus when I need healing, rather than thoughtlessly resort to medicines.  I told them that I loved their faith and zeal and that I believed their testimonies held some benefit for me and my congregation.  At the same time, however, I sensed that the Spirit did not agree with their teaching and that the course they had taken was not the way of true holiness, and I gently suggested to them that in time, Jesus would temper their views on medicine.  To that, Jane sweetly responded, “I hope not.”  In other words, as I took it, she was so blessed and happy with the results of her decision to trust Christ to heal them, with no “back-up plan”, that she hoped things would never change.
After our visit, certain brothers and sisters who were aware that Barry and Jane were visiting us wanted updates concerning our visit, but the Lord would not give me anything to say.  To some of their inquiries, I responded that I just felt to be quiet and that time would tell if Jesus will unite us in faith.  I am thankful for those saints’ interest in our visitors, but I am more thankful for their willingness to back off and give me time when they sensed that I could not talk about it.  I was waiting, very still in my soul.  I could only place my conversation with Barry and Jane at the feet of Jesus and ask him to help me know what to think and what to say.  I could not completely throw away what they had said, but neither could I follow them in their doctrine concerning medical aid.  Jesus had to show me the way.
That day passed, and then that night, with the conversation heavy on my heart.  The next morning found me rehearsing in my mind the things I had heard, and still waiting on the Lord’s judgment of it all.  Then, the Lord brought to my mind the very first thing Barry and Jane had told us regarding their decision to reject all medical assistance and to trust Jesus alone, live or die.  The first thing was that years ago, they made up their minds to read the gospels and to obey every commandment they found, regardless of how it appeared or how it made them look.  With their words echoing in my mind, the Lord spoke very sternly and said, “You [that is, you children of God on earth] are never supposed to do that!”  Suddenly, I realized that I have heard similar testimonies before, and that every time someone became zealous and made up his mind to read and obey the Bible, they became over-religious and odd.  Sometimes, they became very odd.
If Paul had been of such a mind as Barry and Jane, he would never have told Timothy to try drinking a little wine to help with his frequent stomach ailments.  Paul was, in effect, telling Timothy to take some medicine!  (Prilosec, after all, had not been invented.)  One lady in our congregation said recently that she grew up in a church that taught against using medicine and doctors and that she had seen people die as a result.  That is not the way of holiness; that is the way of lunacy.  True holiness is not contrary to common sense; in fact, true holiness gives us common sense.  The most spiritual people I have known have always been down-to-earth, sensible souls.
Some commandments of Jesus were intended for us all, such as, “Love one another the way I have loved you.”  But some commandments were just for the ones to whom Jesus was speaking at the time.  According to his own testimony, the TV evangelist Pat Robertson once read in the Bible that Jesus said, “Sell all that you possess, and give it to the poor, and come follow me” (Lk. 18:22).  Being young in the Lord and zealous, he went home and told his wife that he was going to obey Luke 18:22.  Then he sold all his furniture, etc.  But do you know what he did at some point after that?  He had to go buy some new furniture and replace the furniture he had foolishly sold, thinking he was obeying Jesus.  Jesus didn’t tell Pat Robertson to go sell all that he possessed; he gave that commandment to the rich young ruler, and he did so for a specific purpose.  For another example, during our conversation, Barry and Jane asked me if I had obeyed “the Great Commission”, which is the commandment Jesus gave his disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”  But there is no such thing as “the Great Commission”, and I pointed that out to them.  That is only a phrase invented by Christian leaders to pressure believers into giving money for their self-willed missionary efforts.  Jesus has not commanded me to go into all the world to preach the gospel, and I am convinced he has not commanded most of the men and women who go out on some foreign mission field.  I believe, instead, that they were taught, or just assumed, that Jesus’ commandment to his disciples applied to them.
Jesus suffered and died to deliver us from dependence on our understanding of the scriptures to guide us.  To receive guidance written by the hands of men was the Old Testament way of learning how to serve God, but that way can never perfect or unite the saints of God.  That’s why Jesus came to bring us this “new and living way”, that is, the way of being led by the Spirit from within.  If what we are doing was given to us by the Spirit, then it is right.  But if our deeds are the result of reading the Bible and making up our minds to do whatever it says, we are wrong.  “The letter kills; but the Spirit gives life.”  And it is obvious that we will never be led into eternal life by something that can only kill us.  If someone insists on going that way, his life will only become more perverse with the passage of time.
I am so thankful that Jesus took away my quiet burden regarding our conversation with Barry and Jane.  And when he did that, he reminded me of one of Jane’s comments and let me hear it now as he had heard it then.  You may recall that I gently suggested to our visitors that Jesus would, in time, temper their absolute rejection of all medical intervention, and that Jane very sweetly responded, “I hope not.”  Now, however, I saw that response as Jesus had seen it: a sweet, self-willed spirit that was determined to do things its own way.  At the time, the sweetness of Jane’s tone impressed me, but Jesus warned his disciples not to judge by what we see and hear.  What Jesus had taken note of was the self-will behind the sweet demeanor.
At one point in our conversation, Barry said he would start taking medicine again if I could show him just one place in the scriptures where Jesus or Paul told someone to go to a doctor.  Of course, I could think of no such place.  I could just point out that God sent Jesus and Paul to heal people, and they weren’t supposed to tell the sick to go somewhere else.  That was the best answer I could come up with.  But after Jesus spoke to me and relieved me of my burden concerning the conversation, he gave me the right answer for Barry.  He let me know if Barry ever again asks me to show him one place where Jesus told someone to go to a doctor, I was to say to him, “I will show you a place where Jesus told someone to go to a doctor if you will show me just one place where he or his apostles ever told someone not to.”  Jesus’ point in giving me that answer was to get me to see that Barry and Jane are not obeying any commandment of God contained in the scriptures, as they think they are.  They are only doing what they claim the Bible teaches, and they can show no one a single verse that commands God’s people to take no medicine and see no doctor.  And I believe that Jesus loves them enough that he will, at some point, do as I suggested he would do for them, namely, temper their extreme position against medicine.  I hope that he will not have to resort to extreme measures to do that.
Believers are sometimes carried away with “winds of doctrine”, including doctrines that lead them to do things that cause them pain.  The “name-it-and-claim-it” movement of the late twentieth century is an example of believers becoming strange by “standing on the word” instead of being led by the Spirit.  Another such movement of that time is the “shepherdship” movement, which destroyed families and damaged many innocent, trusting souls.  Both of those movements used scriptures profusely to justify their madness.  Speaking of this sort of thing, Paul told the Colossians that “such things, though having an appearance of wisdom in a self-willed religion, humility, and abuse of the body, are of no value to anyone in opposing gratification of the flesh” (Col. 2:23).
God has given us all things in this life to enjoy and use, but everything in this world waxes old or is sometimes damaged, and everything God has given us will occasionally need maintenance or repair.  God does not expect us to fast and pray about whether or not to put a bandaid on a cut.  The possessions of a righteous man are precious, Solomon said, even his animals (Prov. 12:10, 27).  Righteous people value all of God’s gifts, and they take good care of them, whether the gift be a house, a car, a pet, or a fleshly body.  They sweep their porches and repair leaky roofs; they wash their cars and change the oil; they feed and nurture their animals; and they bathe their bodies and treat a damaged part.  There is no more sin in changing a flat tire than there is in pouring balm on a wound.  
God made His Son a sacrifice for sin to rescue us from self-willed religion, the kind of religion that Barry and Jane fell into a few years ago.  Hear the word of the Lord: “You are never supposed to do that!”
Pray for our friends, Barry and Jane.  We love them, but we cannot follow their example.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Self-will: The Door to Insanity


For rebellion is as the sin of divination!
Samuel to King Saul, in 1Samuel 15:23a

King Saul earned that stern rebuke from the prophet Samuel by his self-willed actions.  Saul had obeyed God’s command to attack the cruel Amalekites, but when it displeased some of his fellow Israelites for Saul to utterly destroy all that pertained to those Amalekites, as God had commanded, Saul rebelled against God and did as he thought best instead.  Saul’s will was to please those around him rather than to please God.  He knew the will of God, but he chose to do something else.
It is important to note that when Samuel confronted the guilty King Saul, the prophet said nothing about the people who had influenced Saul; he condemned and cursed only the King himself.  And it is also important to note that Saul’s stubborn rebelliousness led him, in not too long a time, into complete madness.  He made it a lifestyle of stubbornly resisting the will of God instead of resisting the unclean spirits about him, until they became his masters.
Every angel that was cast out of heaven with Satan was cast out because of self-will, and they are all insane.  Without a body of their own now, they spend all their time looking for humans who will let them inhabit their bodies, and foolish humans receive them into their bodies by becoming self-willed, as those demons are.    My friend, you are playing with fire when you know the will of God, but you choose to do things your own way instead.  It may seem to you, as it seemed to King Saul, better to do things your way instead of God’s, but Solomon warned us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is death.”  The world around you may try to make you think that God’s way is hard, but the truth is that “the way of the transgressors is hard.”  Just ask King Saul . . . or a few believers that I have known.
In my time serving God, I have seen precious believers go completely insane, and in every case, stubborn resistance to the will of God was the root cause of their insanity.  Fellowship with demons in self-will was the door that the demons used to enter their hearts and take control of their minds.  Self-will is the way that humans conjure up demons from their place of damnation to come inhabit a new home, a human one.  That is why God told King Saul, through Samuel, that rebellion is like the sin of divination.  
Stay happy and free, and just do the simple, sweet will of God in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

To Be Established
William E. Mellick Jr. 

In February, 2004, as my wife Judy and I were coming home from a family gathering, we decided to stop at a grocery store and shop for supper.  It was around 2:00 p.m. when we came out through one set of automatic doors into the breezeway waiting to go through the second set to exit into the parking lot.  A lady could not make her mind whether to go ahead of us or to wait until we went through.  Judy went first, the lady and her grocery cart went second, then I followed up with our groceries out the second set of doors.
As Judy went out, the lady followed her, and she made a funny sound.  She pushed her cart into the street, twirled and fainted.  Hitting her head on the set of glass and steel double doors, she cut deep into the corner of her eye next to her nose; she was having an epileptic seizure.  Lying face down, I saw blood pooling on the ground while she was shaking violently.  A crowd was gathering, and I told Judy to call 911.  I ran over and put my hands under her head so she would not hit her head on the concrete; I told her I would not leave her, and help was on the way.
A doctor passing by us eased into the scene and told me to take her inside because it was cold where she was lying.  I told him that I saw her hit her head and that she could have a neck injury.  While he agreed with me, the manager and others put coats and a tarp over her to keep her warm.  The doctor then told me to keep pressure on her wound to help stop the bleeding.  I was already doing that.  I could tell that this doctor was afraid of a malpractice suit, and equally afraid to walk off because of his medical conscience, so the only thing he would do is give medical orders and have someone else to do them.
The crowd was growing larger.  My wife was very shaken and began praying in the Holy Ghost.  A black lady stretched forth her hands on the other side of the double-glass doors and was praying, too.  I was on the other side, on my hands and knees holding this lady and praying in the Holy Ghost also.
The fire department was on the way and two nurses were now on the scene, delaying their shopping to help this seizure victim.  As the nurses took over, I stood up and saw a very petite lady standing next to me.  She had blondish hair, and an olive-green coat on.  She was smiling, and she patted me on my back on three occasions.  She never spoke a word to me, but I felt as if she was saying everything was going to be all right. 
With the fire department parked in front of us and the nurses taking over, I asked them if they needed anything else from me.  With nothing else I could do, I was released by the paramedics as they thanked me for helping this person.  Judy and I picked up our groceries and went back to the truck to go home.  We began crying and talking about what had happened to us.  We were both puzzled about the doctor not wanting to get personally involved.  Then Jesus started telling me what this lady was sent this day for.
As Pastor John Clark had said in a meeting in North Carolina a few months before, when God says something twice in the Bible, He means it, and is confirming what He has said.  And God was showing me through this second epileptic that what He did for me in August of 2001, when I helped another epileptic who had a seizure where I worked, was no accident and that He meant what He was at that time telling me!  And I humbled myself and believed Him.
As for the little petite lady with the green coat, I don’t know if she was an angel or not, but I got the message God sent through her.  She was telling me everything is OK and on schedule, not to worry or doubt about anything God is doing in my life; He is still taking good care of His people and me.  He is perfect and what He does is perfect.  He was showing me that just as the epileptic was going to be just fine, I was going to be just fine.  I felt God also let me know that Judy was with me that second time so that she could witness what I had gone through the first time, and to let her know what Jesus was saying to me was true.  People go without experiencing dealing with an epileptic their whole life, but I had been through two first-hand situations!  God knows how to get His point across.
Sometime after that experience, the Lord gave me a dream about the mysterious lady who was beside Judy and me as the crowd gathered on that frosty afternoon with the epileptic at the grocery store.  In the dream, I heard a group of people sing the tune to a James Taylor song, “Shower The People With Love”, but the words were changed to Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and He shall establish (direct) thy paths.” 
That same petite lady with the green coat approached me in the dream and asked me with the same expression as she did at the grocery store, “Do you know what it means to be established?”  I started to quickly give her an answer because I thought I knew the answer.  But then, as I started to open my mouth to speak, I felt like I turned from a grown man to a small school boy, and I shook my head from side-to-side so as to silently convey to the petite lady, “no”.  Then the  smiling, happy, young woman spoke and said, “Well, let me tell you!  Jesus is the only one who knows the way, and to be established means that no one will be able to remove you from this path [as she pointed to the line we were standing on].”
After she spoke, I saw that the group of very happy and joyous singers, now locked arm-in-arm and swaying back and forth, started singing again the Proverb verses to the tune of the James Taylor song, Shower The People With Love.
As the group sang the song, I felt like I turned back into a grown man, and with the song ringing in my ears, I looked ahead and saw the path ahead of me continue until it disappeared, growing smaller and smaller in the distance.  The feelings from the song were breathtaking and joyful.  Smiling now, I started to walk the path Jesus had laid out for me, knowing that he is the only one who knows how to get us to the end of the path.
After waking from the dream, I searched and found the words to the James Taylor tune, or should I say, Proverbs 3:5–6. 

Shower the People with Love
James Taylor

You can play the game and you can act out the part 
Though you know it wasn't written for you 
But tell me, how can you stand there with your broken heart 
Ashamed of playing the fool
One thing can lead to another; it doesn't take any sacrifice 
Oh, father and mother, sister and brother 
If it feels nice, don't think twice 

Just shower the people you love with love 
Show them the way that you feel 
Things are gonna work out fine if you only will 
Shower the people you love with love 
Show them the way you feel 
Things are gonna be much better if you only will 

You can run but you cannot hide 
This is widely known 
And what you plan to do with your foolish pride 
When you're all by yourself alone 
Once you tell somebody the way that you feel 
You can feel it beginning to ease 
I think it's true what they say about the squeaky wheel 
Always getting the grease. 

Better to shower the people you love with love 
Show them the way that you feel 
Things are gonna be just fine if you only will 
Shower the people you love with love 
Show them the way that you feel 
Things are gonna be much better if you only will 

Shower the people you love with love 
Show them the way that you feel