Monday, December 24, 2012

Proving the Resurrection

Proving the Resurrection

After reading another article by a Christian apologist trying to prove with words the reality of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, I could not refrain from doing my part, once again, to warn God’s people not to trust in such vain words.  Wise faith, Paul said, is in the power of God, not in the persuasive eloquence of men (1Cor. 2:4-5).  

I know that the resurrection of Christ Jesus took place, and how we thank God for that blessed resurrection!  But Christian apologists’ arguments for the resurrection almost always fall flat because their arguments point no one to the only thing in the universe which actually proves that the resurrection was real.  Let me use a statement from a recent article in which one Christian minister was trying to talk people into believing in the resurrection.  After a lengthy discussion, he wrote, "The most persuasive evidence for the resurrection is the transformed lives of the disciples."  That is not the case.  It was not their transformed lives, but the thing that transformed them which is the proof of Jesus’ resurrection.  To the Sanhedrin, Peter said of Jesus, "We are His witnesses, and so is the holy spirit, which God gives to all who obey Him."  Now, Peter and the rest of the apostles are long dead, but the holy Spirit is still here, still available to all who obey God and believe in His Son.  Peter and the rest of the apostles were wonderful witnesses to their generation, but the holy Spirit they possessed in their souls is still here!  It is God’s testimony to every generation of His Son.

It is virtually always the case that when they set about to convince people of the resurrection of Christ, Christian ministers fail to acknowledge “the witness God gave of His Son".  I am convinced that, in most cases, they do not mention God’s holy witness because they have not yet received it.  If instead of sermonizing about the resurrection, those ministers would simply humble themselves to receive “the witness that God gave of His Son”, they could leave off the unconvincing talk about empty tombs and ancient literary references, and become witnesses themselves, through the power of the holy spirit – which was God’s original intent when He sent His Spirit.  Those with the baptism of the Spirit are God’s witnesses of his Son, and there cannot be, in each succeeding generation, any better testimony to Christ than the Spirit living and testifying, in power and purity, that Christ Jesus is alive.

The article I recently read correctly quoted Paul as saying that without the resurrection, there was no hope, and no saving faith.  But the truth which impelled Paul to make such a statement is that the resurrection of Christ accomplished something unprecedented and revolutionary, for it resulted in the outpouring of God’s kind of life, His eternal, holy kind of life, on the day of Pentecost, about fifty days after Jesus' crucifixion.  Peter said it best in his first sermon after being “born again” on the day of Pentecost, when God’s life was causing Peter and Jesus’ other followers to stagger like drunk men and to speak of God’s glory in languages they had not learned (Acts 2:22-4, 32-33):

“Men of Israel!  Listen to these words!  Jesus the Nazarene, a man from God, was attested to you by miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, as you yourselves certainly know.  You took this man, who was turned over to you by the fixed purpose and foreknowledge of God, and killed him with wicked hands, nailing him to a cross, but God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, for it was not possible for him to be held by it. . . .  This Jesus, God has raised up, of which we all are witnesses.  So then, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the holy spirit, he has shed forth this, which you yourselves now see and hear.”
Without the power of God in your life, not only are you not a witness of Christ, but you do not really know whether Jesus was resurrected or not.  How can you know that Christ is resurrected without receiving God’s witness of it?  Men can declare it, but men can lie.  God, who cannot lie, offers His own testimony: the baptism of the holy Spirit.  You may believe in the resurrection strongly; you may be educated enough to make a good case for it; you may even be willing to die for that belief.  But you cannot know the resurrection really took place until you participate in it by the Spirit.  Only those who have received what Jesus died and rose for know, for sure, that it ever really happened.  As Paul said, “No man can say [and know that he is telling the truth] that Jesus is Lord except by the holy ghost” (1Cor 12:3).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

“Hate Speech”

One of the recent inventions of this perverse generation is the phrase, “hate speech”.  Ostensibly, the people who use that phrase are using it to denounce speech that is prejudiced and malicious, but in reality, it is a tool of manipulation intended to silence good people.  It is used, for the most part, to put pressure on good people not to speak out against evil.  Good people see sin for what it is, and this perverse generation does not want them to say anything about the sin they see.  In short, what is labeled “hate speech” is often a very good thing.
No one on earth has ever spoken “hate speech” as effectively as God has, and He has done it often.  God even goes beyond hatred; He abhors certain things and people – and He fearlessly says so!  Here are a few examples of God’s “hate speech”:

Psalm 11
5.  “The Lord tries the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and him who loves violence.”

Proverbs 6
16.  These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17.  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18. An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19.  A false witness who speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren.

In Amos, God even said He hated the religious acts of His own people because they were living immoral lives:

Amos 5
21.  I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

And in Leviticus, God let it be known that He abhors the perverted lifestyle called homosexuality:

Leviticus 18
22.  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.

Those are just a very few examples of what this wicked generation would call God’s “hate speech”.  Do you think He feels such pressure of fools that he will keep His mouth shut?
It is such an obvious truth that it should not need to be said, but the truth is being lost now, so I will say it:  To be “godly”, one must be like God.  No one who is godly disagrees with God; on the contrary, every godly person reflects, through his words and actions, the heart of God.  Therefore, if God speaks in such a way that men would condemn Him for “hate speech”, then a godly person will be condemned by the same people for giving expression to God’s feelings on earth.
The Bible encourages God’s children to endure the persecution and always be a testimony, a living representation, of God’s character.  The Lord spoke through David in Psalm 97:10 and said, “You who love the Lord, hate evil!”  Jesus even taught that we are very blessed when we are cruelly slandered and ostracized by others for daring to be like God in this wicked world (Mt. 5:11).  Here are just a few verses that show that godly people in the Bible were like God with their “hate speech”:

Psalm 101 (David)
3.  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

Psalm 119 (David)
104.  Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way.
113.  I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love.
128.  I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way.
163.  I hate and abhor lying, but thy law do I love.

Psalm 139 (David)
21.  Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22.  I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them mine enemies.

Proverbs 8 (Solomon)
13.  The fear of the Lord is to hate evilPride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 13 (Solomon)
5.  A righteous man hates lying. . . .

In Jesus’ message to the pastor of the congregation in Ephesus, he reproved him for failing in several areas, but then, Jesus gave him a compliment.  What was that good thing that the pastor was doing?  He was hating something the way Jesus hated it!

Revelation 2
5.  Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen, and repent, and do your first works.  Otherwise, I will come upon you suddenly and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
6.  You do have this, however; you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

We can say without any contradiction that if a person wants to be “godly”, then he must express among people on this earth a deep hatred for the following:

  1. wickedness
  2. the love of violence
  3. a proud look
  4. lying
  5. murder
  6. trouble-making
  7. the worship offered to God by hypocrites
  8. homosexual conduct
  9. any wicked thing
  10.   the ways of those who turn away from God
  11.   every false religion
  12.   vain thoughts
  13.   those who hate God
  14.   arrogance

And that is just a small portion of the many scriptures that tell us of what God hates!
In this culture, at this time in history, we need help from God to “overcome evil with good”.  If we do not overcome evil by confessing the good Jesus has given us, then the good that Jesus has given us will certainly be overcome by the evil that is around us.  When that happens, we will begin to feel differently about things, and begin to speak of wickedness as if it is not all that bad.  We will become “inclusive” (another “buzz word” of this perverse generation), and will no longer be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Jesus said that as the world drew near to the time of the end, love for God would wither among many because sin would become so rampant (Mt. 24:12).  And he wondered aloud, “When the Son returns, will he find any faith in the earth?” (Lk. 18:8).  I pray to God that he grants us the inner strength to continue in faith, reflecting God’s personality, His feelings and thoughts, without fear or partiality until Jesus comes, or until we leave this world and go to him.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Following Jesus to Life

And as he was setting out on a journey, one ran up to him, and fell on his knees, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good, except God alone.  You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; Do not murder; Do not steal; Do not bear false witness; Do not defraud; Honor your father and mother.” He answered and said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking intently at him, loved him, and he said to him, “One thing in you is lacking.  Go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, take up the cross, and follow me.” But he was appalled at this statement, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Mark 10:17-22

The wealthy young ruler in the story above had obeyed the commandments of God his entire life, and Jesus loved him for that.  He loved him so much that he invited him to come follow him – if the young man would first sell his many possessions and distribute the money to the poor.  Jesus loved this young man so much that he wanted to heal him of the one thing that was lacking in his soul.  But in order to do that, the young man had to follow Jesus . . . to Pentecost.
Pentecost, the day when Jesus’ followers would receive the kind of life God has, was the point of following Jesus.  That would be the day Jesus’ followers would at last be delivered from their fallen, sinful nature and be given eternal life, God’s life.  The holy Spirit is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”  And if any of Jesus’ disciples quit following him before receiving God’s life on the day of Pentecost, their previous faith in Christ profited them nothing.  In fact, it would have been better for them to have never followed Jesus at all, for “it were better for them not to known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2Pet. 2:21).
Merely selling all his possessions and then giving the money to the poor was not going to perfect that young man’s faith.  He had to follow Jesus all the way to life, not just until Jesus said something to him that made him uncomfortable.  The apostle Paul said that even if you give all your goods to the poor, it will not benefit your soul at all unless you have the love of God, which is brought into the heart by the life of God (1Cor. 13:3; Rom. 5:5).  Jesus knew that.  He knew that what that young man lacked in his soul would not be supplied just by getting rid of earthly possessions; Jesus wanted him to follow him to Pentecost!  The rich young man had to do what Jesus’ other disciples had done; that is, leave all things behind and follow Jesus, but, alas, he was unwilling to do it.
We, too, have to do what Jesus told the young man to do.  We must deny ourselves, leave it all behind, and follow Jesus to Pentecost to be healed.  The young man could not make himself do that, and many others who tried, turned away from Jesus when he taught them just how narrow the road to life was.  Many are still trying to follow Jesus without leaving the world behind, but they will be offended before they reach the goal.  Something Jesus says to them along the way will offend them, and to save face, many of them will turn to religious activities instead of walking with Jesus in the Spirit.  But all the religious works, and all the good deeds, and all the sacrifices men can make will not heal them of their sinful nature.  It is following Jesus to the place he wants us to be that makes us whole.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Everything Else is Just Gravy

Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
1Timothy 6:6

The most thankful people on earth are those who are content to be like their heavenly Father.  To be like God is to be “godly”, and as Paul said, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  People who are content with godliness see all the other blessings in their lives as extra blessings, not necessities.  They see those blessings as things that they do not need in order to be content but as things for which to be thankful.  To a person content with godliness, every other blessing is “gravy”, as the saying goes.
Jesus said to pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness above all things, and when we do that, he said, God will add to our lives the blessings we need.  A person content with godliness is a person whose contentment does not depend on those other blessings.  He is content with fellowship with God; he is not content because of the kind of home he lives in, or popularity, or the amount of money he has in the bank, or anything else that God may have added to his life.  That is what makes contentment with godliness “great riches”.
If a person’s contentment is based on earthly circumstances, his contentment is short-lived.  Solomon warned his son not to put his trust in uncertain riches because, the wise king said, riches can take wings and fly away.  Solomon knew that if his son’s contentment was based on money, it could happen that his son’s money could “fly away”, taking his son’s contentment with it.  So, Solomon labored to make certain that his children based their contentment on their relationship with God, who never forsakes those who trust in Him.  When the author of Hebrews described Jesus as, “the same yesterday, today, and forever”, he was telling us that if we are content with Jesus, we will be content forever.  And when we are content with being like Jesus, every other blessing he gives us is just gravy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"The Lifter Up of My head"

Many there be which say of my soul,
“There is no help for him in God.”  Selah.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and
The Lifter Up of Mine Head.
Psalm 3:2-3 

I want to tell you a true story.

During the summer of 1973, I was an actor in the Lost Colony outdoor drama at Manteo, NC.   During the course of that summer, I became acquainted with the gentlemanly old fellow named Tom who ran the concession stand at the theater.  Tom was reserved, but carried himself well, with a kind of quiet dignity.  I also discovered during our conversations that summer that Tom was fairly well educated; however, Tom’s knowledge was too sound and simple to have been the product of a public educational system. Tom’s knowledge carried with it the meekness suggestive of a self-taught man.

Tom never talked much to anyone, but he seemed to enjoy my company, and he would pause to spend a few minutes with me if I happened to be down by the theater during the daytime.  I really enjoyed our short conversations.  They were always short because Tom became uneasy if a conversation went on for more than a few minutes; it was as if he was afraid that I would get to know too much about him if we talked at length.   I never pressed him for information, but in time, I pieced some things together.   Tom pulled back the curtain of his life just enough to let me know that he was married and that he had worked at odd jobs around the country his entire adult life, constantly on the move.  It became clear to me that something had happened to Tom when he was young, something he would not dare tell anyone, and that as a result, this gentle, humble man had spent his entire life running from somebody, or something.  But what? We will come back to Tom.

Once we actors had mastered our parts and needed no more rehearsals, life for me and most of my fellow Lost Colony performers was like this: Do the show at night, party until whenever, sleep late, go to the beach. Do the show at night, party until whenever, sleep late, go to the beach. Do the show at night, etc., etc., etc.  It was the heyday of my generation’s drugged and amoral stab at finding peace and true freedom, but even at my worst, I feared the hard stuff that some of my friends took. LSD, cocaine, and injections of drugs did not attract me at all, and I kept myself from situations where that was happening – but as Paul said, “evil associations corrupt good conduct”, and I found myself one night after the show in a situation too much for me.   I had been invited to a new friend’s apartment for another party, and late in the night, I was chatting in the kitchen with some guys, when one of them pulled out a handful of “hits” of LSD, tiny little star-shaped pills.  The pressure of my peers was too great.   I was one of the “cool” guys.  How could I say no?

My friend gave me two hits to take, and everybody began to down theirs.  I managed to get rid of one of mine by “accidentally” dropping it on the floor, where (thanks to Jesus, I am sure) it somehow disappeared.   Anyway, I downed the other one, thereby maintaining my social standing among my fellow fools.

I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had taken both those hits.  All that night, and all the next day, and even during the production the next night, I was hardly able to function.  There were gaps of time in my mind.  I would be surprised to find myself somewhere, and would wonder for a moment or two how I got there.  I remember right before the show that night, jerking with surprise when I looked in the mirror and saw an Indian standing there looking back at me.  I had forgotten already that I was in the dressing room and had just applied the deep red “Texas mud” on my body so that I could perform my role as an Indian chief.  Now, let’s get back to Tom.

On that same day, as I was wandering around, trying to deal with my stupor, I found myself down by the concession stand where old Tom was quietly going about his daily tasks.  He smiled when he saw me and stopped what he was doing so that we could spend some time together.   We sat down at one of the picnic benches that were under the shelter.  I do not recall anything Tom said, but I do remember that he had chosen that day to open up his heart to me as never before.   I don’t remember what he was saying to me that brought it about, but burned into my memory is the picture of old, white-headed Tom sitting on the picnic bench in front of me, weeping as though his heart would come out of his chest.   What had he said to me?   I didn’t know.  I don’t even remember how the conversation ended, or how we parted that day.   Nor do I remember having any other conversations with Tom before the summer ended.

By the close to the season, I was sick of the kind of life I had been living.  After the shows, I began to go to my apartment instead of to parties.  And when it was day, I sat alone on my porch, waving goodbye to my friends as they, as always, took off to the beach for another day of sun and fun.   I didn’t realize that it was Jesus affecting my spirit, calling me to him.  But the point of my story is still to come.

Fast forward about a year.  My whole universe by that time had been rearranged by the Lord.  My wise father had suggested I enter the seminary, which I did.  One evening as I lay in bed in the seminary dorm, talking to Jesus, old Tom came to mind, as he had often done during the previous year or so.   This night, however, I felt grieved to the bottom of my heart for him.   What was gentle Tom’s story? Was his name really even Tom?  Where was he now, and had he found someone he could confide in, to help him bear his secret burden?  I began to weep for Tom and to ask Jesus please to send somebody to him who could help him.  I felt so ashamed, even a self-loathing, that I had been so worthless to my elderly, meek friend at the very moment he had decided to reach out to me and allow me to help him bear his mysterious burden.  The pain in my chest was very deep, and suffocatingly heavy.  Then it happened.

As I was praying, I suddenly felt a weight, like the weight of heavy quilts, being lifted off me, from my head to my feet.  It was so real that I can only describe it in physical terms.  It was not imaginary, nor was it an emotionally-produced hysteria. Jesus was really reaching down from heaven and relieving  my broken spirit of my shame and my deep pain for Tom my friend, whom I knew I would never see again.  Then, all of the pain was gone, and the worry was gone, and in its place was an absolute confidence – a knowing – that wherever dear old Tom was, God was going to take care of him and that if Tom needed to know Jesus, God would send someone to guide him to the Lord.

As for me, I was left there astonished, staring at the ceiling with tear-stained cheeks, marveling at the incredible grace of God.  Then, I also realized that in the place of that bitter heaviness, Jesus had given me strength to forgive myself and to go on with my life, following Him who had been so merciful to me.

That is my story.   Jesus taught me that none of us has to sink in the mire of a shameful past.  He came to take our burdens on himself and make our life seem worth living again.  Jesus will be for all who put their trust in him what King David said the Lord was for him, and what He became for me as I prayed with tears so many years ago: “The Lifter Up of My Head”.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Water of Life

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
I will give freely of the fountain of the water of life to him who is thirsty.
Revelation 21:6

The Spirit of God is often referred to as water, which is essential to life.  One of the best known verses in the New Testament is that which Jesus spoke when he went to Jerusalem and stood in the midst of the multitude gathered there for the yearly Feast of Tabernacles:

John 7
37. On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!
38. He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, from deep within him will flow rivers of living water.”
39. He spoke this concerning the Spirit, which those who believed on him were going to receive.

Another very well known portion of Scripture where the Spirit is described as water can also be found in John:

John 4
10.  Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
11. She said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep; so, where do you get that living water?
12. Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank of it himself, and his sons and cattle?”
13.  Jesus answered and said to her, “Everybody who drinks this water will get thirsty again;
14. but if anyone drinks the water that I will give him, he’ll never thirst again, but the water that I will give him will be a fountain of water within him, springing up into eternal life.”

Every soul on earth who has felt a deep longing for God and His righteousness has also felt the great relief that the Spirit of God brings when it comes.  That sweet water of life is as precious to souls who are thirsty for God as natural water is to men dying of thirst in the desert.

The Sea

Anyone familiar with sea creatures will tell you that if you take them out of the sea and put them in fresh water, they will die.  Fresh water is poisonous to creatures who live in salt water; they flee from it when they come near it.  In John’s Revelation, an angel told John that the sea which John saw in his vision represented the world’s “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and languages” (Rev. 17:15).  And the people of this world are like the creatures of the sea.  They refuse the pure water of the Spirit and flee from it just as creatures of the sea refuse and flee from fresh water.  Paul said it this way:

1Corinthians 2
14.  A natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot comprehend them because they are spiritually discerned.

Those in this world who feel no thirst for God think the ones who drink it are strange.  To the one, that sweet water carries the aroma of life leading to more life; to the other, that same sweet water carries the stench of death leading to more death (2Cor. 2:16).  Sinners whose hearts God has not touched with His conviction for their sins have no desire for the Spirit that cleanses from sin.  They are not made to live in the Spirit but to live in the flesh, and to live any other way than “in the flesh” is abhorrent to them.  Peter said, “They think it strange” (1Pet. 4:4) when anyone ceases to “walk after the flesh” and begins to drink of the waters of life.
When at the end of his revelation, John saw the New Earth which God has prepared for those who love Him, one of the first things John noticed was that on that New Earth, there will be no oceans:

Revelation 21
1. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the
first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed.

I assume that what John was describing here was a New Earth with no oceans. But whether or not that is the case, the fact remains that the ocean of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and languages” who do not want the fresh water of God’s life will not be there.  Those who will be granted the blessing of living forever on that happy New Earth, where fear, pain, and death will never be known, are those on this present earth who do not treat the holy Spirit like poison, but who long for it, pray for it, love it, drink it in, and learn to live by it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Knowing God

The philosopher Socrates is famous for his exhortation, "Know thyself!"  But if you do not know God, you do not know yourself or anyone else.  All right understanding comes from the holy Spirit.  Since the Lord Jesus said that God's Spirit guides us into ALL truth (Jn. 16:13), then there is NO truth that can be had without it.  Humans can have earthly knowledge; they can know how many pints are in a gallon and how many feet are in a mile.  But knowledge about life, knowledge of what is truly good or truly evil, comes only from knowing God.

Nobody on earth knows God or can know Him unless he is baptized with the holy Spirit (with the evidence of the Spirit's voice being heard).  The day you receive the holy Spirit is your first day in God's school.  Even ministers who have not received the holy Spirit baptism, regardless of their titles and degrees, are completely blind to eternal truth.  When I was in the seminary, I heard more truth in one sermon from an old holiness minster with a third grade education than I heard the entire semester from some of my professors.  In the kingdom of God, knowledge is not a matter of earthly education; it is a matter of revelation.

We know whatever we know about life only to the extent that we know God.  This is why Jesus said that to know God and His Son is eternal life (Jn. 17:3).  Without the knowledge of God, there is only confusion and strife, and eventually, death.  But with the knowledge of God, there is righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trinitarian Discussion Group

I was invited recently to join a Christian discussion group based in Great Brittain. I was invited by the leader of the group because she had read an article I wrote concerning the Father and the Son, and she thought the other members of this invitation-only group would be interested. I gave it a try. What I found there were amateur theologians, throwing around big words that none of them understood and quibbling over issues that didn't even matter, or in some cases, even make sense. After making a few replies to some comments there, I decided just to post the following few comments and move on. Maybe somebody in the group is sincerely looking for true relief from that pretentious madness.

My post:

There is no such thing in heaven as a Holy Trinity of three (no, one) co-equal, co-eternal person/s who make up the one (no, three) true God. It is Christian mythology not found in the Bible, and for good reason.  The Father is a person, with a body, the Son is a person, with his own body, and the Spirit is the holy, eternal life they share.  There is nothing more to it than that.

As for the old argument that the Spirit is a person because it is said to do things that only a person can do, please take the time to find out what the Bible says that YOUR spirit can do.  Paul even told the Corinthians that his spirit would be with them when they met.   Did Paul teach that HIS spirit was a person?   And if HE had a son, would he, his son, and his spirit then comprise "a Trinity of co-equal persons" who would then make up the real Paul, in homoousiac, ontological essence? *sigh* Can't you see the nonsense of it all, my friends?

As for the Son being called "God", others were also called "god" who were anointed by God, including Moses and Israel's leaders.  Besides, as the author of Hebrews states, the Son was God's agent for creating "the worlds", later pointing out that, surely, the one who created things deserves the tile, "God" (especially if Moses and others bore that title).

Be real, now.  None of you understands or can explain your own trinitarian terms, such as "the essence of God", "equal, ontological Trinity" and other such non-sensical, trinitarian language.   Let Jesus relieve you of the burden of carrying that excess, empty baggage around, "lest, as the serpent led Eve astray by his craftiness, your thoughts should be led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Love Leaves No Regret

Hi John,
   I was listening to a CD of a Sunday meeting in June of 1980, and you were preaching.  It reminded me of our last few meetings, and of some recent Pearls of the Day.  I typed out a part of what you said in your sermon that day.  I loved what I felt in that message you gave, this is a small part of it.
Pastor John's Sermon, June 1980:

When we get so full of the love of God that we do all we can do, there will be no regret, no words that you wish you could have back, no deeds that you wish you hadn't done.  The love of God will keep you in that place where you have done all you can do, loved all you can love, testified all that you can testify, given all that you can give.
Remembering the song, "When He Was on the Cross, I Was on His Mind", I was thinking about how impossible it is for anyone to be right with God if they turn Jesus away.  Jesus walked in love.  Everything he did was for us; everything he said was for us.  He had us on his mind whenever he took a breath, and whenever he went somewhere, he had us on his mind.

You can't be right with God and turn somebody down like that.  We can be like Jesus.  We can get close enough to God where people can't turn away from us and be right with God, and can't turn away our testimony, can't turn away our lives.  We can be enough like Christ that people who want to be like us want to be like our heavenly Father.  We can be so much like Christ and so full of Christ that if people don't want to be like us their missing God.  I am glad we can be that way.  When we are filled with the love of God, that is exactly how it will be.  Christ can be in us what he was in Jesus; he can show just as much love and power through the body of Christ as he did through the body of Mary's Son!
Paul said, "It is not me that liveth, but Christ liveth in me," and "For me to live is Christ!"  Do we not want to be like Paul?  If we do, then we want to be like God and His Son.   Yes, we want to be like Paul, just as Paul wanted to be like Christ.  I want us all to be like that, and I am excited about what Christ is doing for us.

I have lost sight of whether I am right or wrong; all my attention is on how right I can help somebody else to be.  Even when people visit my home to talk about the scriptures, I am more interested in what is going into their heart and what is going into their mind, than what’s in my mind and what’s in my heart.  I believe that’s the right way to treat one another.
 The other Sunday we had friend's pastor at our house and we were talking to him about that homemade scripture, "the holy ghost won't dwell in unclean temple".  Many Pentecostals still quote that invented verse and truly believe that it is in the Bible.  Well, on this day, we were trying to show him that such a doctrine is not true.  But the whole time we were talking to him, I was praying for him as hard as I could pray.  “God, keep him comfortable!  God, let him feel that we love him!  God, let him be at peace, and let these things go in.”  We didn't refer to many scriptures, and we didn't pull out so many proofs of this and that, and he eventually received what we were saying to him.  I believe he was willing to receive truth from us because he felt loved, not attacked or belittled.   I know this; I had my heart on his welfare and not so much on trying to prove I was right.

Love one another!  Love one another!  "By this, all men will know that you are my disciples - by the love you have one to another."  Jesus said that, and if we are like him, we can say that, too.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

What Does He Want Me To Do for Him?

“The demons also believe, and they tremble”
James 2:19

No amount of money could have persuaded Satan to personally drive a nail into Jesus’ hands. He and his fallen angels are terrified of Jesus’ and his power. Only humans are so ignorant of who Jesus was that they dared to hurt him. Satan’s part was to use lies to motivate us ignorant humans to harm the Son of God.

All slanderers are themselves cowards, hoping to motivate others to perform the cruelty which they themselves are too cowardly to perform. When Jesus drew near to demon-possessed people, the demons would often cry out in terror (e.g., Mt. 8:28-29). But when Jesus drew near to humans who had received the slander they heard about him, they spit in his face and mocked him.

But there is a silver lining even to that dark cloud, for after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the same humans who brutalized and killed Jesus were the ones to whom God extended the offer of mercy. The Father had mercy on them because they did what they did in ignorance. Paul once spoke of the mercy he received from God after he had persecuted and helped kill some of God’s dear children. “I obtained mercy,” Paul said, “because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1Tim. 1:13). No such pardon will ever be offered Satan and other unclean spirits who motivate the ignorant actions of men. If tried in a human court, they could hire a defense attorney to say, “They were not even there at Calvary! They couldn't have done it!” But God’s justice is perfect, and there is no escaping the consequences of any act for which we are responsible.

King David was in Jerusalem, over a hundred miles away from Rabbah, when Uriah the Hittite was killed by the Ammonites, but David was the one who had intentionally set up the situation for Uriah to be killed. When Nathan the prophet confronted David, he got to the point quickly with this message for God: "YOU killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword!" (2Sam. 12:9). The Ammonites who killed Uriah might have been forgiven by God if they had repented for slaying Uriah. As for David, though he received some unexpected mercy, he suffered greatly the rest of his life for his evil scheme (2Sam. 12:10). God took the life of four of David's beloved sons in payment for the innocent life David had taken.

Remember, the next time you hear a slanderer speak against someone, that the person who is talking is a coward, and then ask yourself, “What is he trying to get me to do for him?”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Preparing Your Heart

from a sermon on Wednesday, October 4, 1989

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Now, forget about verse one for a minute, and just look at verse two. “Yet, they seek me, daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice, they take delight in approaching to God” (Is. 58:1-2).

Now that sounds like us. Or does it? It sounds like me. I’ll volunteer. I seek God daily. I delight to know His ways. I ask of Him the ordinances of justice. I delight in approaching to God. But God wasn’t found by these people - because they didn’t prepare their heart to seek God. They sought God with an unprepared heart, and their prayers were not answered. In other words, they approached God without having the life to back it up. And God didn’t answer.

God still is like that. That’s why a whole lot of people don’t receive the holy Ghost; they seek God in mouth only. They don’t prepare their hearts to ask. Listen, if you come to God with a prepared heart to receive the holy Ghost, you’ll receive it right then, that minute! Glory to God! With a prepared heart, He will not tell you no. That’s why He doesn’t answer the people who are asking for the holy Ghost just with their mouth. But when a person finishes repenting, God gives his Spirit.

Look at this, starting at verse 6. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh? Then [when you have prepared to come and ask me a thing] shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily.”

Now is God a liar, or is He telling the truth? He’s telling you that your health will come forth speedily when you prepare your heart to seek your God. “And thy righteousness shall go before thee [and put fear on your adversaries]; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” Listen: “Thou shalt call, and the Lord shall answer. Thou shalt cry out, and He shall say, ‘Here I am.’” Glory to God, hallelujah! Glory to God! Isaiah said in one place, “While they’re still asking, I’ll show up.” Hallelujah!

I’m not talking about just seeking God. The whole world is seeking God. I’m talking about preparing to seek Him. Jesus went down to the river of Jordan, and John didn’t have to baptize him but once and the holy Ghost came. You hear what I’m saying? Jesus prepared himself to go down to that river. He prepared himself to seek God. And when he opened his mouth and sought God, God came and said, “This is my beloved Son!” And He’ll come today, and He’ll still speak through you, and the essence of it is “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” He is well pleased with you before you get the holy Ghost, or you don’t get it. He’ll show up in a hurry when you prepare to seek God. Seeking God is not going to bring you your answer; seeking God is not going to do it. You answer will come when you have prepared your heart to seek God. You’ve got to get clean enough to get your answer from God. You must be clean enough in God’s sight. "The prayer of the wicked is an abomination to God." Every prayer that you’ve had answered from God was answered because you prepared to pray it. You prepared your heart. Did you know that you’re supposed to search your own heart before you approach to God? Listen to what David said: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear it” (Ps. 66:18). The man that Jesus healed from blindness said, "We know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshiper of Him, him He heareth.”

Look at this, in the middle of verse 9: “If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light arise in obscurity, and thy darkness shall be as the noon day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones and you shall be like a watered garden”. You’re going to be like a watered garden, bearing fruit in its season. “And like a spring of water, [you will be], whose water’s fail not.” That’s what Jesus was talking about when he declared, "the scriptures said, Out of your belly will flow rivers of living water, springing up into everlasting life.”

There’s no need to ask God anything with an unprepared heart. But with a prepared heart, you hardly even need to finish your sentence, and He’ll be there!

Friday, February 3, 2012

No Good Thing

Excerpt from a sermon on Sunday, January 15, 2012

Even with the holy Ghost you don’t know how to love people. Everybody loves something; everybody can love with a human love. But how do you love people where you actually benefit them, eternally? You love them by saying, “You need the holy Ghost.” It’s not loving that counts anything in heaven. It’s loving God’s way. He knows how to love. Now HE knows how to love. And if we’re not loving the way God loves, we’re loving in vain. If we’re not living the way God wants us to live, we’re living in vain. We’re talking in vain. God’s way is the way. That’s the value of the truth; it shows you God’s way of loving, God’s way of talking, God’s way of being a friend. God’s way of being a husband or a wife, or a son or a daughter, father, mother. God’s way of being a child of God. God’s way of functioning in the body of Christ. That’s the only - capital O, capital N, capital L, capital Y - that’s the ONLY thing that does any good.

In you, Paul said, “In me, that is in me by nature, my flesh, there dwells only 5% good things.” (Congregation says, “No!!!’) What version have you been reading? One of my professors said that World War II was started because of love. The Germans started loving Hitler. Was it God’s way of loving? The worst evils that have ever been were because of the wrong kind of love – loving the wrong thing, or loving the right thing the wrong way. That’s why we need a Savior. We need somebody to love us God’s way. To teach us to pass it on God’s way. Everything else is vain. Everything!

God help us get that in our hearts. You don’t have anything to bring to the table but you. What do I think? How am I supposed to think, God help me! Save me from my own thoughts, from the pressures of this planet to think certain ways and certain things. Let me see it. God, I don’t know what to see, I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to feel. Proverbs says, “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to God.” It also says, “Commit your ways to God and your thoughts will be established.” God hates your thoughts. Your thoughts are not His thoughts. You ways are not His ways. Oh God, let us take that in.

That is so important for us to believe. It’s so important for us to believe that in our nature is nothing good in the sight of God. Oh, I know people can be nice; you can train a dog to be nice. Being nice is not being holy. In being holy, you’ll be nice to people, you’ll be kind, you’ll be generous, but you don’t know how to be generous. You don’t know how to be kind. Jesus said, “Get thee behind me Satan”; that was Jesus loving Peter God’s way. There’s not a Pharisee in the world that would have said that to Peter; they would have been afraid to lose a member of their congregation. Jesus didn’t even have a congregation, he had God. And God added to him and he took away. And he just stood there. He looked around and said, “The rest of you want to leave? You’re not mine; you’re my Father’s”. When he was asking them to leave, he was really asking his Father, “Do you want them to leave too? Let me see what you’ve got in their hearts.” Peter said, “We’re not going anywhere. You’re the guy with the words of eternal life. Where are we gonna go?

If he’d have thought there was one other place to go, he would have left Jesus. And the rest of the disciples, if they thought there was one other place, they would have gone to it. Except maybe John; he just liked Jesus. But in the end, they all forsook him and fled. There was nothing good in them. They didn’t even know there was nothing good in them; that’s why they got into trouble. That’s why Peter put himself in a position where he cursed and swore he never knew Jesus. He thought that there was still something good in him, that he was going to be loyal to the end. He was going to prove Jesus wrong in saying you’re going to curse and swear you don’t know me. He didn’t believe there was nothing good in him. He thought he could go all the way with Jesus.

Listen, Jesus is so different there is nobody who can go all the way with him without the holy Ghost. Nobody. Some might hold on to the garden, but you’re not going all the way with Jesus without the holy ghost. Not to the places where he goes. Not with the things he teaches. You can’t do it, you cannot do it; it’s not in the nature of man to go all the way with Jesus. Not in the places he goes; they’re too hard on the old man. Too hard on the nature of man, it can’t believe it’d be right to do that. It can’t believe it wouldn’t be right for Jesus to try to explain itself. When he was on trial for his own life – Why don’t you explain yourself?! He just stood silent. Pilate marveled. What is wrong with you, don’t you know I have power to execute you? Jesus said, “Yawwwnnnnnnn….” Mmmm, he knows when to yawn. It scared him; he frightened that mighty Pilate with his answer. Frightened him. He said, “You will have no power over me whatsoever if it weren’t given to you from my Father in heaven.” From that moment, Pilate tried to find a way to turn him loose. It says so. The Bible said that, actually said that, from then he began to try to find a way to set him free. But it was his time, and Pilate couldn’t set him free even if he wanted to. You think you’re in control? Pilate couldn’t even set him free when he wanted to.

Oh God, thank you for the mercy on our lives. Thank you for the mercy on our lives, oh God, that we’re here; that we even have an interest in the things of God. That when He’s spoken to us we believed it, we testified to it. What a great thing! I’m speechless. Just so wonderful; so wonderful.

Most of what you go through in this life is bad. That’s life in this world. But He’s given us an oasis, and when we come in here we want to hear about Jesus. We want to build each other up because we’ve got to go back out there where it’s mostly bad stuff. About half of the people we love in the Lord, and all of the rest, at least half of them, according to Jesus himself, end up in the Lake of Fire. You can’t change that. I can’t change it. But we can humble ourselves not to be a stumbling block for anybody. So that we can help those we do know.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"As many as I love, I chasten."

Jesus loves those whom he corrects, and those who receive his correction love him.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Have You Ever Asked Yourself, "When were Jesus' disciples born again?"

The Spiritual Condition of the Disciples

Before their Spiritual Baptism at Pentecost

What the Disciples WERE

(1) They were clean

Jn. 13:10 Jesus said to him, “The man who has taken a bath needs only to wash his feet, but he is clean all over. Likewise, you are clean, but not all of you.”

Jn. 15:3 You are already clean through the word that I have spoken to you;

(2) They were not of the world

Jn. 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would be friendly to its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

(3) They were chosen and ordained

Jn. 15:16 You have not chosen me for yourselves, but I have chosen you for myself, and I have ordained you.

(4) They believed

Jn. 14:1 You believe in God; believe also in me.

Jn. 17:8 they truly do know I that came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.

(5) They loved Jesus

Jn. 16:27 The Father Himself loves (phileo) you because you have loved (phileo) me.

(6) They belonged to God

Jn. 17:6a They were yours, and you gave them to me.

(7) They knew that Jesus came from God

Jn. 17:25 Righteous Father, although the world does not know you, I know you, and these men know that you sent me.

(8) They had obeyed God

Jn. 17:6b [Jesus to God] They have obeyed your word.

What the Disciples WERE NOT

(1) They were not sanctified

Jn. 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Jn. 17:19 and for them, I consecrate myself so that they may be sanctified by the truth.

(2) They were not in Christ, nor was he in them

Jn. 17:21 ...that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.

(3) They had never asked God for anything in Jesus’ name

Jn. 16:24 Until now, you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive so that your joy may be full.

Jn. 16:26 In that day, you shall ask in my name, and I am not saying to you that I will ask the Father for you.

(4) They did not believe

Jn. 14:29 And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.

(5) The love of God was not in them

Jn. 17:26 I have made your name known to them, and I will make it known so that the love with which you loved me may be in them. (Rom 5:5!)

(6) They did not have the Spirit

Jn. 14:17 The Spirit of truth. . . . You understand it because it is with you, but it shall be in you.

(7) They did not know Jesus

Jn 14:7-9 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. And from now on, you know Him and have seen Him.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, Have I spent so much time with you, Philip, and yet you do not know me?

(8) They could not bear to hear the truth

Jn. 16:12 I still have much to tell you, but you are not now able to bear it.

The Spiritual Condition of the Disciples

Before their Spiritual Baptism


Based on what Jesus himself said about his disciples before they received the holy ghost baptism on the day of Pentecost,

1. They were clean (Jn. 13:10; 15:3),

but they were not sanctified (Jn. 17:17, 19).

2. They were not of the world (Jn. 15:19)

but they were not in Christ, nor was he in them (Jn. 17:11, 21-23).

3. They were chosen and ordained (Jn. 15:16)

but they had never asked God anything in Jesus’ name (Jn. 16:24, 26).

4. They believed in God (Jn. 14:1; 17:8)

but they did not believe (Jn. 14:12, 29; 16:29-33; 11:11-15).

5. They loved Jesus (Jn. 16:27)

but the love of God was not in them (Jn. 17:26).

6. They belonged to God (Jn. 17:6a)

but they did not have the Spirit of God within them (Jn. 14:17).

7. They knew that Jesus came from God (Jn. 17:25)

but they did not know Jesus (Jn. 14:7-9).

8. They had obeyed God (Jn. 17:6b)

but there was truth that they could not bear to hear (Jn. 16:12).

The disciples, spiritually speaking, were as unborn children, nearing the hour of the birth (Jn. 16:20-22).