Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Stay in Your Body

    Jesus said that angels in heaven do not marry (Mt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25), which implies that their bodies were not created male and female, like human bodies.  God may command an angel to appear to a human in the form of a man or a woman, but that does not mean that angels’ bodies have gender.  Angels can do things that humans cannot do, of course, such as fly.  And it appears that angels can also leave their bodies and possess the bodies of lower creatures, whether men or animals.

If both those things are true, that angels are neither male nor female and that they can leave their bodies and enter into the bodies of lower beings, then that would explain Genesis 6, where we are told that “when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God [angels] saw that the daughters of men were beautiful to look at, and they took wives for themselves, whoever they chose” (Gen. 6:1–2).  There is no way, if angels do not marry, as Jesus said, that angels could have taken women of earth as wives except by forsaking their own bodies and possessing the bodies of men.

Speaking of those perverse angels, Jude wrote, “The angels who did not keep to their own domain but left their proper abode, God has reserved in eternal chains, under gloomy darkness, until the Judgment of the Great Day” (Jude 1:6).  Then Jude goes on to point out that Sodom and Gomorrah sinned the same way those foolish angels did, by pursuing unnatural sexual relations: “Likewise, in a manner similar to these angels, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, indulging in illicit sexual relations and going out after a different kind of flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).  In other words, there is no forgiveness for the angels who left their body to mate with earthly women, and having no hope of mercy, they are, as it were, bound in chains of spiritual darkness, awaiting the Final Judgment when they will be damned forever to suffer in “eternal fire”.

Damned, and Looking

The bodiless, evil angels were allowed back in heaven until Jesus ascended and cast them out forever, but it appears that they were not allowed to return into the bodies God first gave them.  If so, they are no doubt the bodiless spirits that the Bible calls demons, miserable spiritual vagabonds wandering the earth, damned while they live, always searching for bodies to possess while they fearfully wait for the Judgment.

In Luke 11:24, Jesus made it clear that unclean spirits do look for bodies to possess: “When the unclean spirit comes out of a man,” he said, “it passes through dry places seeking rest, and finding none, it says, ‘I’ll return to my house that I came out of.’”  Jesus also revealed that more than one unclean spirit can possess a single earthly body.  In Mark 5:9–13, when Jesus was about to cast a large number of spirits out of a man, he asked the demon that was speaking through the man, “What’s your name?”  The demon answered, “Legion is my name, for we are many.”  Then, when Jesus commanded them to come out, one of them spoke up and “begged Jesus earnestly, that he would not send them out of that region.”  And seeing a large herd of pigs nearby, “all the demons pleaded with him, saying, ‘Send us into the swine, so that we may enter into them.’”  Remarkably, “Jesus gave them permission.  And when the unclean spirits had come out, they entered into the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep slope into the sea and drowned in the sea.”  Of course, after that, the spirits were homeless again and had to search for other bodies to possess.

As for Satan, the ruler of fallen angels, he did not leave his beautiful body until he left it to possess Judas (Jn. 13:27).  And within hours of him doing so, just like the pigs that were possessed by the legion of unclean spirits, Judas went and killed himself.  The death of Judas left Satan bodiless, and assuming that God did not allow him to return to his first body, he has been wandering over the earth since that time, searching for someone to devour (1Pet. 5:8).  One day,  we are told, Satan will find a man whom he will consider worthy of him, and he will again possess a human body and give that man “his power, and his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13:2).  Child of God, “guard your heart with all diligence.”

Stay in Your Spiritual Body

We were not created with the power to leave our mortal bodies and enter into someone else’s body, as were angels and cherubs (Satan is a cherub), but there is a body that we can forsake, and if we forsake that one, our punishment will be worse than the punishment which foolish angels are facing.  I am speaking about the body of Christ.  We all know that there is a world-wide body of Christ to which every child of God belongs, and if a child of God ever leaves that body, or is cast out of it by Christ (cf. Rev. 3:16), nothing remains for that poor soul but to wait, like fallen angels, for eternal damnation.

There are also local bodies of believers around the globe, bodies created by the operation of God through the Spirit, and we are blessed if God has given us one to live in.  But if a believer becomes self-willed and forsakes the local body of believers that God has put him in and enters into a different body, he is following the ungodly example of foolish angels and Satan.  They forsook the bodies they were given to pursue something they thought was better, but they were all wrong.  Nothing is better for us than what God gives us.

For Life

A believer’s spiritual home is wherever his pastor is, and many of God’s children are homeless because their pastor left that body and moved on.  Saints in such a situation, and there are many of them, often spend years in discouragement and confusion as they look for a real pastor and a permanent spiritual home.  They have done nothing wrong; on the contrary, they have been wronged.  They are like the multitudes in Israel who came to hear Jesus and be healed.  When the Lord saw them, “he was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and downcast, like sheep with no shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).

If God makes a man a pastor, he is a pastor for life.  There is no retirement from that position because it is not a mere position; it is who God makes that man, and he cannot retire from himself.  On the other hand, if God places a believer under the care of a pastor, that pastor and the saints who are with him are made that believer’s home until he leaves this world.  No true pastor will ever separate himself from his flock, and no true believer will ever leave his pastor, either.  Christ expects us all to stay in the body He has put us in; it is sin to forsake it and look for another one.  

Let’s all be like the faithful angels who stayed in the place God had given them.  The place God has given you is better than theirs, and your reward for faithfulness will be better than theirs, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

My Testimony

An excerpt from Pastor John's new book: The Iron Kingdom

Beginning in the late-1970s and throughout the 1980s, it occasionally happened that while I was praying in the Spirit, the Spirit would begin speaking in my own language, fervently saying over and over again – and I knew it was being said to me – “Come on!  Come on!  Come on!”  In the beginning, that exhortation did not trouble me, but when it continued, at seemingly random times of prayer, I started wondering if Jesus was trying to tell me something that I was not understanding.  By the early 1990s, I had begun replying to the Lord when he spoke to me like that, asking him what he meant.  No answer came, and so, I didn’t know what to think, but the exhortation increasingly troubled me.

I distinctly remember one occasion in about 1992 when my frustration became especially acute.  Kneeling in prayer beside my bed, I was praying in the Spirit when the Spirit began again to call to me earnestly in my own language, “Come on! Come on!”  With a sense of desperation, I looked up to heaven and pleaded, “But I am here!  I have already come!  What do you mean by ‘Come on’?  What are you telling me?”  Once again, I received no answer; however, the answer – the unthinkable answer – was not very long in coming.

In early spring, 1993, the astonishing answer finally came, and it changed my life completely.  Jesus showed me that in all those times, through all those years, he had been calling for me to “come on” to him – out of Christianity!  I had striven to be the best Christian I could be; I would have given my life for Christianity, “thinking to do God service”, but now, Jesus was calling me out of that religion!  It would have been impossible for me to have made the distinction between serving Jesus and serving that religion, had Jesus not shown me the difference.  And what a difference there is!

At the time, I thought I was the only person on the planet to have heard such a call from God, and I was afraid.  My mind was consumed with thoughts about it.  It was as if I had been living my life in a deep, dark cave, and suddenly, Jesus had brought me out into the sunlight to behold the real world and its beauty.  I could not take it all in at once; it was in all directions, and it was overwhelming.  I remember talking to Jesus the next day as I entered my office, confessing to him, “Jesus, I am afraid – but don’t stop!”  I knew that what he had revealed to me was true, that Christianity is not of God and that He wants His children to come out of it; at the same time, I felt desperation, for Jesus had revealed truth to me that I scarcely had the faith to believe, and I pleaded with him to give me faith to believe what I now knew to be true.

In the years following, I was blessed to meet other believers who had heard the call to “come out”.  One elderly sister told that one day when she was a young woman vacuuming her house, she heard an audible voice call out to her, “Come out of her!”  The voice was loud enough to be heard over the noise of the vacuum, and she turned it off and went to the front door to see if someone had come in.  But no one was there, and she did not know what to make of the experience.  So, puzzled, she went on back to her housework, but she never forgot it.  There are many such testimonies, and among believers who have heard such a call to come out (or, in my case, to “come on”), I have found none who understood what Jesus was saying when he spoke to them any more than I understood him before 1993.

Driving past a steepled church building two days after Jesus revealed to me the meaning of what he had been saying for so long, I felt like a complete stranger to the religion that had produced that church building.  This was my first experience with what it truly means to be “a pilgrim and a stranger” on this earth, no longer belonging among Christians, just as I had for some time not belonged among sinners.

I was taught from the beginning of my walk with the Lord that no Christian sect, that is, no denomination, is the body of Christ.  But if Christian sects are not the body of Christ, what are they?  At the time, I did not know.  In a radio sermon in about 1977, I posed that question to my audience, not because I knew the answer, but because I wanted the answer.  That answer is what Jesus gave me in 1993.  Christianity itself, with all its sects, is an institution that God abhors.  It claims falsely to represent Christ, and it provides no security from the coming wrath of God.  The whole religion of Christianity is a fraud; it is a damnable lie.

What a relief it was to let go of the title, “Christian”!  And what a relief it was to cease from trying to “make Christianity pure again”, as I previously thought I should do!  Those thoughts were the biggest part of my confusion.  For Christianity has never been pure; it arose among apostate saints after the beginning of the New Testament, perverting the pure faith of Christ.  “Christianity” provides no cure for the sins of man; it is, in fact, the name of the disease from which the body of Christ has need to be cured for almost two millennia.  Christianity is the thing that ruined the fellowship of believers and has dimmed the light of God in the world.

I believe the Bible.  I trust it to be historically and prophetically true.  I believe that Jesus is Lord of all, that he was born of the virgin Mary, that he suffered and died for our sins, that on the third day, he was raised from the dead by the power of God, that he ascended into heaven to offer himself to God for our sins, that he will return at the appointed time to reign on earth a thousand years, and that in the Final Judgment, he will be the Judge of both the living and the dead.  I believe that there is no hope of salvation except by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  Jesus has filled me with his Spirit and taught me.  I am his servant.

I also believe that the religious system known as Christianity is an abomination to both God and Jesus.  I believe that, to date, Christianity is Satan’s crowning achievement; and that by it, he has successfully divided and confused the body of Christ; and that he reigns over the flock of God through Christian ministers, though they do not realize it.  And I believe that in order for God’s people to attain to the unity and purity that Jesus prayed they would enjoy, they must come out of Christianity.

I am, by the wonderful grace of God, a follower of Jesus.  I am also, by that same grace, not a Christian and not a part of what you know as Church religion.

The Iron Kingdom Series, of which this book is the third part, is an explanation and defense of my faith.

Friday, August 28, 2020

“In Christ’s stead,” I implore you all...

Don’t let head-knowledge deceive you.  NOBODY knows the truth who does not have fellowship with the upright in body of Christ.  Jesus is God’s truth, and without fellowship with him and those who walk with him in light, there is no knowledge of the truth.

I could name a number of people, now backslidden, who thought they knew the truth because their heads could understand the doctrine.

Fellowship is the whole thing!  Without it, there is no true life – none of the life Jesus suffered and died for.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Fast that God Has Chosen

Some men in ancient Israel were disappointed when they fasted from food, but God still would not answer their prayers.  “Why have we fasted,” they complained, “and you take no notice?  We have afflicted our souls, but you do not acknowledge it!” (Isa. 58:3a).  God then answered them, through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, that they were fasting the wrong way.  To fast, He explained, is not to merely abstain from food; it was a godly lifestyle, which He went on to describe.

As I read the short list of deeds and attitudes that God considers to be a true fast, the last element of that fast struck me because it reminded me of how Jesus said he lived before God.  Isaiah said, “If you honor God by not pursuing your own ways, nor choosing your own will, nor saying a word of yourself . . . .”  When I read that last phrase, “nor saying a word”, I remembered that Jesus said this: “When you lift up the Son of man, then you’ll know that I’m the one, and I’m doing nothing on my own, but as my Father taught me, I say these things” (Jn. 8:28).  “My doctrine is not mine,” he told the people, “but His who sent me” (Jn. 7:16).

None of us, on our own, really have anything worthwhile to say because, on our own, none of us really know anything.  To wait on God for what to say is a tacit confession of that truth, and Jesus always waited on God.

We are free to have our preferences in this life of colors, food, and other earthly things, and we are free to enjoy the earthly things we like.  But in judgment or in teaching, if we would please God, we will not say a word of our own.  Righteous judgment and eternal truth come from God alone, and to live in that truth is part of the fast that God has chosen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Communicating the Truth Requires Patience

The communication of truth requires patience on the part of both the teacher and the student.  The truth cannot be declared in a moment, unless we just say, “Jesus”, and leave it at that.  But even then, we must sit at his feet, as his disciples had to do, and patiently hear him.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Human Anger

The following are some verses that deal with fleshly, human anger.  We would do well to take them in, for if we do not listen to God’s counsel, we may be overcome by the spirit of anger that is raging on earth in our time.  And those who are overcome by fleshly anger, Paul said, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Biblical counsel #1: Forsake Human Anger

Psalm 37:8 – Refrain from anger and depart from rage.  Do not fret yourself in any way to do evil.

Ephesians 4:31 – Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Colossians 3:8 – And put away all these things as well: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy talk from your mouth

1Timothy 2:8 – So then, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger and argument.

Biblical counsel #2: Human Anger Does Not Accomplish Anything Good

James 1:19-20 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, let every man be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 – Now, the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, emulation, angry outbursts, rivalries, disputes, divisions, envy, murder, bouts of drunkenness, revelings, and things like these, concerning which things, I forewarn you, as I also warned you previously, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Luke 4:28-29 – When they heard [Jesus speak], everybody in the synagogue was filled with rage, and they rose up and threw him out of the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain on which their city was built, to throw him off the cliff.

Acts 19:28-29 – When they heard this, they were filled with rage and began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Then the whole city was filled with tumult, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, traveling companions of Paul.

Biblical counsel #3: Fathers, Beware

Ephesians 6:4 – And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21– Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they be discouraged.

Biblical counsel #4: Fools Are Full of It

Ecclesiastes 7:9 – Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Proverbs 12:16 – A fool is known in the day of his wrath, but a prudent man covers over an insult.

Proverbs 27:3 – A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s anger is heavier than them both.

Proverbs 21:24 – His name is scorner who is proud and haughty, acting in arrogant pride. 

Biblical counsel #5: Be Slow to Anger

Proverbs 14:29 – The man who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is hasty exalts foolishness.

Proverbs 16:32 – He who is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he who governs his spirit, than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger causes strife to cease.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

Biblical counsel #6: Results of Fleshly Anger

Proverbs 19:19 – A man given to anger will bear punishment, for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

Proverbs 30:33 – For as the churning of milk produced curds, and the wringing of the nose produces blood, so the pressing of anger produces strife.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Made into an Abomination

Moved by the Spirit, David spoke of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God after He had brought them out of Egyptian slavery and given them Canaan’s land:

“They mixed themselves with the heathen and learned their works, and they served their idols.  They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons and shed innocent blood – the blood of their own sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with the blood.  Yea, they were defiled by their works, and they played the harlot by their deeds.  Then the anger of the Lord burned hot against His people, and He made His inheritance an abomination” (Ps. 106:35–40).

God made His own people, Israel, an abomination to people everywhere after they had, for a very long time, treated His law and His servants as though they were abominations.  Israel reaped from the nations of earth the scorn for God that they had sown.
Paul made mention of God cursing Israel in his letter to the saints in Rome.  In the first chapter of that epistle, Paul said that because Israel did not live the truth God had shown them, He turned them over to the demon of homosexuality.  Here is what Paul wrote:

Romans 1
21. For although they knew about God, they did not honor Him as God, nor were they thankful, but they were made vain in their thinking, and their senseless heart was darkened.
22. Claiming to be wise, they were turned over to foolishness,
23. and they traded the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the likeness of corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
24. Therefore also, God turned them over in the lusts of their own hearts to uncleanness, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves,
25. who traded the truth of God for a lie and began to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen.
26. That is why God turned them over to shameful passions.  Their females even exchanged the natural use of their bodies for what is contrary to nature,
27. and the males likewise, leaving the natural use of a female, burned in their desire for one another, males committing disgraceful acts with males, receiving in themselves a fitting recompense for their error.
28. And since they did not see fit to retain God in their knowledge, God turned them over to a depraved mind, to do things that should not be done,
29. being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, and full of envy, murder, strife, treachery, ungodliness.  They became gossipers,
30. slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, devisers of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31. undiscerning, unfaithful, unfeeling, implacable, unmerciful,
32. who, knowing very well the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do them, but also approve of those who practice them.

May God not only give us knowledge of the truth, but with it, also bless us with a love for it, for it is love of the truth, not merely knowing it, that will save us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Common Sense vs the Spirit of God

Sometimes, people with common sense can see the lack of wisdom in a law that officials pass.  In that case, people with common sense will sometimes transgress the law and be arrogant and bold with it.  But God’s children are not supposed to be led by common sense, but by the Spirit, and the Spirit will lead us to obey the laws men make unless a law commands us to do something contrary to a commandment of God.  I have heard lately some grumblings among us about the orders from our governor concerning the corona virus restrictions, and that troubles me.  Do not be stubborn and rebellious.  The governor’s stay-at-home order does not contradict any of God’s commandments.  Obey it, and please God!
Jesus had common sense, but he did not allow himself the pleasure of being led by it.  He once told the leaders of Israel, “I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but [I’m not going to do that because] my Father is true.”  Jesus only did and said what his Father wanted him to do and say.  Let us all follow his example.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Perfecter and Perfecter and Perfecter

To us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder. . . .
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 9:6b, 7a

In this world, to attain to perfection in any endeavor, men must labor, and fine-tune, and experiment, and fail, and try again, and improve, and labor some more.  Only then, and not very often, is perfection in any endeavor achieved.  Perfection is always the goal, and the end result of a successful effort.  And once attained to, there can be no improvement, for perfection is the supreme state of being for anything.  Nothing in this world can be better than perfection.  It cannot be improved upon; otherwise, it was not really perfect to start with.
Jesus showed this congregation some years ago that this world has everything backwards.  In this world, perfection is the end of the process, but in the kingdom of God, perfection is merely the beginning of the process, for after that, life in Christ just gets perfecter and perfecter and perfecter.
This is what the Spirit meant when it said through Isaiah that of the increase of Jesus’ government, there would be no end.  Jesus’ government is in righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Ghost, and so, for those who love and follow Jesus, this means that throughout eternity, by the infinite power and wisdom and goodness of God, they will increase in righteousness, and in peace, and in joy.  Jesus’ government in us begins the day we are born again, the day we are made perfect before God.  From that point on, because we are in him and he in us, we go with him beyond our beginning perfection and are made perfecter and perfecter, growing in grace and the knowledge of God.
The best that a person can be in this world is perfect.  But in our Father’s world, for those who love and obey Jesus, perfect is the worst we will ever be.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Many Gods of Christianity

For even if there are those who are called gods,
yet, for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things,
and we live for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom are all things, and we, through him.”
Paul, in 1Corinthians 8:5–6

Rome honored many gods, but they honored three gods above the rest.  Originally, the three were Yahweh, Mars, and Quirinus (Romulus).  Later, they changed the three main gods to Yahweh, Juno his wife, and Minerva.  And besides these three, the Romans honored hundreds of other gods who reigned with various degrees of power over different places and aspects of life.
When the Romans embraced Christianity, they did not forsake their ancient three gods; they renamed them again.  This time, they gave them the names of “Father, Son, and holy Ghost”.  What they did forsake, and even ridicule, was their ancestors’ traditions concerning how to honor those three main gods, as well as the others.  They rejected animal sacrifice, for one example, but they replaced that ceremony with another, the Eucharist, which they said was a new kind of sacrifice, a sacrifice of Christ.  In this new and improved form of sacrifice, the priest, they say, miraculously changes the eucharistic bread into the actual body of Jesus, and changes the eucharistic wine into the actual blood of Jesus.  And then, just like their ancestors, they partook of the sacrifice along with the gods, eating and drinking with them the body and blood of the Lamb.
Long before the gospel was preached by Jesus, many sophisticated Greeks and Romans had begun to think that there was probably just one Supreme Being, whom they usually represented as the sun.  This sun-god was often called “Sol Invictus”, or “the Unconquerable Sun”, and the Romans engraved his name on many ancient coins.  He was the favorite god of the first Christian emperor, Constantine.  All the other gods, ancient sophisticated people would say, may be real, but even so, they were only living aspects of the Supreme God.  One might say, the many gods were really just one big god, and the one big god was really many.
This polytheism disguised as monotheism continued when the Romans became Christian, but in order to appeal to all parties, they devised a crafty solution.  For the devout Christians who demanded that there was but one God, the Empire said yes, there is one God, but He reveals himself as three persons, who were not three different persons, but were really just one person who was three.  So simple!  And on the other hand, in order to please traditional Romans’ desire to honor all their ancient gods, the Empire said yes, but just call the gods by biblical names.  So, the most important of the gods who were not one of the three main gods (who were not three, but one) were called Mary, Paul, Peter, etc.  These gods, too, Rome said, could answer prayers, just like the big three (who were really just one).  And these big three (who were really just one) would not be jealous or otherwise displeased when prayers, incense, and the like, were offered to the lesser gods, just as it had always been.  What solution could be better?
Christianity has many hundreds of these minor gods, just like ancient Rome, because Christianity is Rome, disguised as the Assembly of God.  Christianity’s minor deities are called “patron saints”, and within the purest form of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church, those who are confirmed into that faith are expected to choose one of the minor deities as their favorite, to especially revere as they go through life.  If a Roman was a soldier, he might especially revere and pray to Mars, the god of war, while if a Christian is a soldier, he may choose Saint Adrian, Christianity’s patron god of soldiers and arms dealers.  Or an ancient Roman alcoholic might choose to especially revere Bacchus, the god of wine and partying, but a Christian alcoholic may choose Saint Amand, the god of vine-growers and bartenders.  The list goes on and on, but isn’t it obvious what a great development this was for the Roman Empire and for the apostate believers who blended with it?  They all agreed just to call Rome’s ancient gods by biblical names, and abra-cadabra, everybody was happy!  They all agreed just to condemn the old Romans and their gods’ names and traditions, but to continue to walk in the filthy spirit of man and just call it the holy Spirit of God!  How easy is that!  Just condemn the old, heathen Empire and call it the new, sanctified Church of God.  Voila!  No more persecutions of Christians, and everybody gets along – unless someone does not go along with the new system.  Then, just like the Rome of old, who cruelly crushed whoever did not submit, Christian leaders would cruelly crush that soul, in the name of their new God, the old Yahweh of Rome.
The problem with all this, of course, is that it is what it is.  In other words, the problem is that Christianity is itself.  It is not of Christ.  Its gospel is a lie, which it calls truth; its god is Yahweh, whom it calls God; and its worship is wickedness, which it calls righteousness.  Christianity is nothing but the Roman Empire in drag, a grizzled old warrior calling himself the bride of Christ.  But when the wind of God blows, you can see his hairy legs beneath that bridal dress.
Other than that, though, Christianity is ok.  Go ahead and join the church of your choice.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Through Him

The world was created through him.”
John 1:10b
To indicate that a man did a job all by himself, we say it was done by him.  But to indicate that he sent another man to do the job, we say that the job was done by the first man through the second.  This is why John said the world was created through the Son of God.  God is the Creator; even Jesus said that (e.g., Mk. 13:19).  However, God created all things through His Son. The writer of Hebrews said, “God spoke to us in these last days by a Son . . . through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1b, 2b).  Jesus confessed that the Father was greater than he and that he did and said only what the Father wanted him to do or say.  He was the perfect Son and the perfect Servant of God.  The Son did not create anything on his own; God created everything in heaven and earth through him.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

God Wants To Save Your Whole Life

Pastor John’s message for the teenagers 7/3/19 

I know what the Lord was telling each of these teenagers in here tonight while I was praying for them.  He kept saying after each one, “God wants the life.”  You young people grew up around holiness; you’re in all the prayer meetings, and you have learned how to act in them.  You have learned how to act when you feel the Spirit.  But God is not interested in your prayer, your songs, or your worship from you unless He has your life.  He wants the life.  That includes how you treat one another when you’re out together somewhere. That also includes the times you are home by yourself.  He wants your life.  He wants you.  That’s what God wants.  He wants you, and if He doesn’t have you, then you’d be better off not to praise the Lord.  That’s what Paul called eating and drinking damnation to yourself.
You can learn how to act in a meeting of the saints, but if God has your life, you’ll know how to act around sinners, and you’ll know how to act outside the meeting of the saints.  If God has your life, He has your heart.  And if He has your heart, He has your tongue, your hands, your decisions, and your desires – if He has your life.  That is what He is after because He wants to save your life.  Yes, God wants to save your life, and if you want to save your life, then give it to Him.  Get rid of it because you don’t know what to do with it.
Paul says we don’t even know how to pray like we ought to.  He gave his life to the Lord, and he said the Spirit talks some good stuff through me!  Praise God!  He gave his life to the Lord, and just look at the result!  Look at his faith and what he did.  Do you want to be worth something in this world?  Give your life to Jesus.  You’ll be valuable to every person you meet.  You’ll have something good for them even if it’s nothing more than a warm smile.  You’ll have it for them if God has your life.  You won’t be a bad influence on those around you, especially the younger ones looking up to you.  You won’t be something they’ll have to overcome to do the right thing.
If God has your life, He has your attitude toward parents, toward government, toward authority, and toward those who are smaller or weaker than yourselves.  If He has your life, you will bless them, and God will bless you.  That’s what God wants.  He wants to save your life, not just your soul.  
My father told us that it is a good thing for older people to get right with God and not go to hell because that is a soul saved; however, it is better for people to come to God while they are young so He can save their whole life.  That’s what God wants to save – your life!  He wants your life because only He knows what to do with it.  You don’t know.  I didn’t know when I was young.  I made a mess out of my life.  Jesus picked me up out of the dung heap and said, “Give me your life.”  I said, “I give up.”  I gave up, and he gave me a life!  This is the life Jesus gave me when I gave up mine.  This is the life Jesus gave me.  He created this person who is talking to you out of the ragged life that I gave Him.  And it was a pleasure for my “old man” to die, let me tell you.  It was a relief for my old self to get out of the way and just let Jesus guide my life. Amen!  Hallelujah!  Praise God forever!

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Mysterious Bond

That which we have seen and heard we are showing you,
so that you may also have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship
is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1John 1:3

Jesus often puzzled and/or angered men because of his enigmatic answers to their questions.  They did not know that his answers were coming from his heavenly Father, and if his Father did not give one to his heart, Jesus would not speak.  You will recall his silence when some elders demanded that he render a judgment on the poor woman caught in adultery (Jn. 8:1–11).  And you will recall the exasperation of Pontius Pilate when Jesus would not speak and defend himself against the false charges brought against him: “‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’  And yet, he did not answer him with even one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed.  Therefore, Pilate said to him, ‘You do not speak to me?  Do you not understand that I have authority to crucify you, and I have authority to release you?’ ” (Mt. 27:13b–14; Jn. 19:10).
Jesus spoke to men only after the Father had spoken to him.  He saw much among his nation that would have profited from his wise advice, but he refused to offer it unless the Father, through the invisible bond He had with Jesus, moved him to do so.  Jesus once told the rulers of the Jews, “I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent me is true, and the things I’ve heard from Him, these I speak to the world” (Jn. 8:26).  And John immediately adds that “They did not understand that he spoke of the Father to them” (Jn. 8:27).
No, men did not understand Jesus because they knew nothing of the mysterious bond that Jesus had with his Father.  They did not understand how he could say, when he was standing alone in their midst, “I’m not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me” (Jn. 8:16b).  And when they demanded of him, “‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus did not tell them, but only answered, ‘You don’t know me or my Father’ (Jn. 8:19).  If they had known about the sweet fellowship of the Father and the Son, they would have known that the Father was leading Jesus by the Spirit and that He was always with his Son, everywhere he went.
Jesus suffered and died so that we could receive the Spirit and share in his mysterious bond with the Father.  And even though he knew that in this world, a multitude of voices can be heard claiming to speak for his Father, he was not worried at all.  “My sheep”, he said, “hear my voice, and “they will never follow a stranger” (Jn. 10:27, 5).  We can rejoice in that.  It is a promise from God, for Jesus would not have said it unless the Father had said it to him first.  If we walk faithfully in the sweet, holy Spirit that Jesus purchased for us, we will always recognize his voice when we hear it, even in the midst of a mad world, filled with voices clamoring for our attention.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Prosperity of the Wicked

I will punish the men who are settled on their lees,
who say in their heart, ‘The LORD does neither good nor evil.
Zephaniah 1:12b

Wait for the LORD!  Be strong, and He will strengthen your heart.
Wait, I say, for the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

It can be very puzzling when the Lord does not do what seems to us to be needed.  Even Israel’s prophets were puzzled and disappointed by God’s failure to act in the face of obvious injustice.  Lonely, frustrated Jeremiah cried out to God (12:1–2a), “You are righteous, O LORD, although I complain to you.  Nevertheless, let me speak with you about your judgments.  Why does the way of wicked men prosper?  All those who deal treacherously are at ease.  You have planted them and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit.  You are near in their mouth, but you are far from their affections.
I have felt the same way at times.  The Lord is right in all his ways, I know; still, I wonder why the wicked schemes of men succeed so often?  In this world, I have learned, evil sometimes wins.  Why does God not stop it from succeeding?
Young David must have had feelings like that, persecuted as he was by King Saul, though David had done only good to the King.  It must have been a great encouragement to David when the Spirit spoke through him and said (Ps. 37:7–11), “Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.  Do not fret yourself because of him who makes his way prosperous, because of the man who carries out evil schemes.  Refrain from anger and depart from rage.  Do not fret yourself in any way to do evil.  For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait on the LORD will inherit the land.  Yet a little while, and the wicked man will be no more.  Though you diligently watch his place, he will not be there.  But the meek will inherit the land, and they will delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
When David became King, one of his chief musicians was a man named Asaph.  This Asaph also went through a time of great frustration at God blessing the wicked, and when he was past that trial of his faith, he wrote a song about it:

Psalm 73
A Psalm by Asaph.

1. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; my steps were almost gone.
3. For I was envious of those who are praised.  I saw the happiness of wicked men.
4. For there are no bonds on them until death, and their bodies are stout.
5. They are not in trouble as other men are, and they are not plagued along with other men.
6. Therefore, pride encircles them like a necklace; violence covers them like a garment.
7. Their eye stands out with fatness; they have more than heart can wish.
8. They mock and speak wickedly of oppression; they speak loftily.
9. They set their mouth against heaven, and their tongue walks through the earth.
10. Therefore, His people turn away after them, and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
11. And they say, “How can God know?” and “Is there knowledge on high?”
12. Behold, these are the wicked, always at ease; they increase in wealth.
13. Truly, in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence,
14. for I am plagued all day long, and correction comes to me every morning.

At this point in Asaph’s song of testimony, he says he stopped and realized what a bad example he would be to God’s children if he gave in to the feelings of envy and bitterness:

15. If I had decided, “I will talk that way,” behold, I would have offended a generation of your children.
16. When I tried to understand this, it was hard for me
17. until I entered into God’s sanctuary; then, I considered their end.
18. You have surely put them [the wicked] in slippery places; you cause them to fall into ruin.
19. How suddenly they come to desolation!  They come to an end, consumed by terrors.
20. As it is with a dream after one has wakened, when you rise up, my Lord, you will disregard their semblance.

When Asaph’s faith in God’s judgments was restored, he realized how foolish he had been:

21. When my heart was bitter, my soul was pierced,
22. and I was brutish and did not understand.  I was like an animal before you.
23. Yet, I was always with you.  You held onto my right hand.
24. With your counsel, you will guide me, and afterwards, you will receive me to glory.
25. Whom have I in heaven but you?  And I delight in none on earth besides you.
26. My flesh and my heart fail.  God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27. For, behold, those far from you will perish.  You will destroy all who go a-whoring from you.
28. But as for me, the nearness of God is good for me.  I have made the Lord Jehovah my refuge, that I might declare all your works.

The key to Asaph’s deliverance was this: “I entered into God’s sanctuary; then, I considered their end.”  In other words, when Asaph was at his lowest point, he was still seeking God, and when he sought God, God answered him, and when God answered him, Asaph believed what God said.  That was the key.
When the ungodly prosper, when God does not immediately punish them for their behavior, they are happy and feel blessed, and they become more ungodly than ever.  They think either that God is pleased with them or that there is no reason to fear His judgments at all.  When the upright see the wicked prosperous and happy, they seek God to find out why the wicked are so blessed.  And when He shows them His coming judgments, they are encouraged and are content to wait on Him.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Led by the Spirit

Then he answered and spoke to me, saying,
‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
Not by strength, nor by power,
but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Hosts.’
Zechariah 4:6

Paul said that only those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God (Rom. 8:14).  He did not say that those who join the church of their choice, or those who repeat Romans 10:9, or those who claim to believe the Bible are children of God.  Just those who are led by the Spirit.  That’s all.
We could apply Paul’s standard to every righteous person since the beginning of the world.  Only those who were led by the Spirit to prophesy were prophets, not those who were esteemed prophets by the people, or those who graduated with a prophesying degree from the Prophecy Institute for Saving Souls (or whatever).  Just the ones who were led by the Spirit.  Likewise, only those who were led by the Spirit in wisdom were wise men, not those who were esteemed wise by the people, or those who graduated with a wisdom degree from the School of Higher Insight in Theology (or whatever).  Just the ones who were led by the Spirit.
Think about it.  What true man of God ever was not led by the Spirit?  For that matter, what true man of God was ever led by the Scriptures?  What scripture did Noah read that inspired him to build an ark?  What scripture inspired Abraham to leave his country and his kindred?  What scripture moved Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt, or what verse told David that he should challenge and kill Goliath?  What verses did the lions read that told them not to eat God’s servant, Daniel?  What scripture did Jesus quote to heal the sick or raise the dead, or what scripture carried Paul to the third heaven to hear things unlawful for him to speak?
It has always been the case that those who are truly God’s servants are led by God’s Spirit, and now that the Son of God has given us that Spirit within, it is more true than ever.  God help us never to think that anything else will do.

Monday, April 13, 2020

God's Hedge

And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job,
that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect 
and upright man, one who fears God and eschews evil?’ 
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?
Have you not made a hedge around him,
and around his house, and around all that he has on every side?’
Job 1:8–10a

God did have a hedge around Job and all he had, and He had kept that hedge around Job for many years.  But now, He would take that hedge down, and He sent Satan down to earth to rob Job of his health, his children, and all that he had.  But have you ever noticed that Satan, though he was wicked, remained unharmed?  And he was unharmed because God had a hedge around him, too – to protect Satan from the wrath of His Son, who was still hidden.
Thousands of years later, when God revealed His Son, after Jesus ascended to the Father, he cast Satan out of heaven forever.  In other words, God took down the protective hedge that Satan had enjoyed when He glorified His Son, and the glorified Son removed that wicked cherub from his exalted position and banished him from the presence of God.
The Son was revealed, and Satan was judged, only in God’s time.  “In the fullness of time,” Paul wrote, “God sent His Son.”  There is another judgment coming, the Final Judgment, and it, too, will come at the appointed time.  Satan now roams the earth “seeking whom he may devour”; however, when Jesus returns to earth, he will cast him away again, this time from earth and into the Bottomless Pit, and then, after a thousand years, into the Lake of Fire forever.