Friday, December 26, 2014

Lord at Birth

My children and grandchildren sang a few Christmas carols after our Christmas Eve supper tonight.  As we sang the classic song, “Silent Night”, something in one of the verses caught my attention.  The end of the verse says, “Jesus, Lord at thy birth.  Jesus, Lord at thy birth.”

The prophet Malachi foretold of the Messiah’s coming by saying, “The Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to his temple.”  This happened when the Son of God, in the shape of a harmless dove, “suddenly” came from heaven and lit upon Jesus, Mary’s son.  Therefore, the Lord whom Israel sought was still in heaven when Jesus was born.

Jesus was not Lord when he was born.  He was made Lord and Christ when the Lord and Christ from heaven came into him and the Son of God from heaven was blended with the son of Mary from Nazareth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Being Pruned

   John 15:2, 5-6 “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

   If after much reproof, we do not do well, Jesus said, God will eventually cut us off and cast us into the fire.  But if we do well, God will still cut us so that we learn how to do even better.

   This can be a puzzling thing if we are proud of how good we have been.  If after we have done what is right, God cuts on us, it seems unfair to a spirit that thinks too highly of itself, but this kind of cutting, this pruning, is only a reward for having done good.  It is done only to the plants that God thinks are healthy enough to take it.

   God is not in awe of us when we do what is right, and He does not feel obligated to heap up rewards on us when we do right.  Jesus said that when we do God’s will, then we should say to ourselves, “I am an unprofitable servant.  I have only done that which is my duty to do.”

   Do not sulk when God rewards your good work with a hard trial.  You earn such trials by doing good.  Your past obedience makes you worthy to be made even more like your Heavenly Father!  Do you think that what good you have done is so great that you deserve nothing but luxuries the rest of your life?  Or do you think that you are so holy that God has nothing else to change in you, to make you more like Him?  God is answering your prayer to be made worthy to stand in His presence with His Son.  Will you complain about the fire that burns out your dross?

   Look at what the Father put His Son through, even though the Son had never done anything wrong! The Father perfected the sinless Son through suffering!  This is the message the Lord is sending some of us right now:

Hebrews 12:3-13
“Consider him [Jesus] who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.  Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

   You do not want to be “turned out of the way” just because God is pruning you and you don’t like it.  Receive His correction and live.

Monday, December 22, 2014

“By ... With ... Into”

   The language of baptism found in the Bible is simple and clear.  People were baptized by John the Baptist with water, and later, people were baptized by Jesus with the Spirit:

Matthew 3
11.  I indeed baptize you with water at repentance, but after me, one mightier than I is coming, whose    sandals I am not worthy to remove.  He will baptize you with holy spirit.

Mark 1
8.  I indeed baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with holy spirit.

Luke 3
16.  John answered and said to them all, I baptize you with water, but one mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen.  He will baptize you with holy spirit and fire!

   Jesus said the same thing:

Acts 1
5.  John indeed baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy spirit not many days from now.

   And so did Peter:

Acts 11
16.  Then I remembered the saying of the Lord, how he used to say, John indeed baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy spirit.

   The water that John baptized with and the Spirit that Jesus baptizes with are substances; they are both things.  John used the thing God commanded him to baptize with, and Jesus uses the thing God commanded him to baptize with.
   Finally, whenever people are baptized, they are baptized by someone with something into something.  Paul said that the thing we are baptized into by Jesus is the body of Christ on earth:

1Corinthians 12
13.  For by one spirit were we all baptized into one body . . . 

   It is obvious from the scriptures, then, that a person is not in the body of Christ unless he has been baptized by Jesus with the Spirit into that body.  In other words, the new birth is the baptism of the Spirit that the resurrected Jesus ministers to those who repent and believe the gospel.  And it is that baptism that gives us the hope of eternal life (1Pet. 3:21).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Getting Rid of the Witness

“It is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is truth”
1John 5:6b

The most subtle and successful way that Satan has devised to rid men’s hearts of the Son is to teach that the Father’s witness of the Son, the holy Spirit, is no longer received as it was received in the beginning, when Jesus’ followers were baptized with the Spirit and began to speak in tongues.  The religious system called Christianity depends on this teaching more than any other for its continued influence, for if (1) the body of Christ on earth is made up only of those who have received the holy Spirit, and if (2) everyone who receives the Spirit speaks in tongues when they receive it, then the religious system called “Christianity” is not the body of Christ.  It is exposed as a fraud.
Paul taught that no one can say (with the knowledge that he is telling the truth) that Jesus is Lord without receiving God’s witness to His Son: the holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:3).  It is only by receiving the Spirit that men can know that Jesus is alive, sitting at the right hand of God.  Men can believe it before they receive the Spirit, but they cannot know for certain that it is true until they receive it, for the Spirit is the Father’s testimony to the world that His Son is with Him in heaven, and “stammering lips and another tongue” is the evidence that the Spirit has come (Isa. 28:11-12).  In institutions where the witness of the Spirit is absent, man has nothing but his own ability with which to serve God, and where such a Spirit-less religion is practiced, sincere people grow discontent and find themselves praying, “God, there has to be more to it than this!”
In the apostles’ day, some began to claim to have received the Spirit without speaking in tongues, but God's servants told us how to recognize the real Spirit of God from the false “Spirit of God” that false teachers proclaim.  This is a critical issue, for if anyone does not have the real Spirit, he does not belong to the real God (Rom. 8:9).  Jesus coined the phrase “born again” in a conversation with Nicodemus, and he used the ever-shifting wind to teach Nicodemus that there was one constant in every new birth experience – and that something was a sound:

John 3: 7–8:
Don’t marvel that I told you, “You must be born again.”  The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going.  This is how it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

So, although we cannot know where the Spirit has last been or where it is going, we do know that whenever it breathes the life of God into a soul, we will hear its sound.  The disciples received such an experience on the day of Pentecost when “there came from heaven the sound of a rushing, mighty wind”.  It was the Spirit of God being poured out from on high, and “they were all filled with holy spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).  This same speaking in tongues when one receives the Spirit was not just for those disciples!  Jesus told Nicodemus, “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Paul also taught this when he said that the Spirit “testifies” when it is received:

Romans 8:15–16:
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

When John explained how the saints can tell the real Spirit of God from the false “holy spirit”, his doctrine matched perfectly that of Jesus and of Paul.  He told his readers that they could always tell when someone had really received Christ because the real Spirit of God confesses that Christ has entered the fleshly temple of a believer when it happens:

1John 4:2–3
By this, the Spirit of God is recognized: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ when he has come into flesh is of God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus Christ when he has come into flesh is not of God.  And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now already, it is in the world.

This testimony of the Spirit is what John was talking about when he wrote, “It is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is truth” (1Jn. 5:6b).  He went on to say this:

John 5:9
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, for this [the Spirit] is the witness of God that He has borne concerning His Son.

God himself is in charge of who receives the Spirit, and He cannot be fooled.  Therefore, when His Spirit testifies that Christ has entered someone’s fleshly temple, we can know that person is really born again.  Our faith is in God’s judgment, not in our own.  This was how Peter, after a great controversy, finally convinced some doubtful Jewish brothers that the Gentiles had really been cleansed and received by God into His family:

Acts 15:6–8
And the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.  And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said, “Men and brethren, you know how that a good while ago, God made choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.  And God, who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the same holy Spirit as He did to us.”

Peter knew that God had done this “for they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:46).  Peter’s testimony before the apostles and elders contained no Scripture; nevertheless, it “shut the mouths of lions”, so to speak, because Peter saw God baptize those Gentiles with His Spirit just as He had baptized the Jews on the day of Pentecost.   Peter’s six Jewish companions “were astonished” at the sight of Gentiles speaking in tongues, but that sign compelled them to accept what God had done.
Ministers of the institution of Christianity reject this truth.  They may disagree with one another about many things, but they all will agree that when the Spirit of God enters into a human temple, there is no longer a “sound of the wind”, no longer an audible witness of the Spirit “crying Abba, Father”, and no longer a verbal confession of Christ.  Their great numbers and their unity in this matter is the principal reason Christianity’s speechless “holy Spirit” is trusted by so many.  But God is not impressed or intimidated by numbers.  He warned us through Solomon that regardless of how many join together in a wrong thing, they will not go unpunished (Prov. 11:21).
The devil has succeeded in getting rid of the real Son of God in every place where his ministers have gotten rid of the real Spirit of God and replaced it with a dumb Spirit that people must just assume they have received.  But it has not been a difficult sell.  Satan knew that if fallen men were offered a “holy spirit of God” that is not really holy and not really of God, they would opt for that one, and then hire men to tell them they have it, instead of truly repenting and receiving the real holy Spirit that comes from the real God to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anointed to Hear

“And the disciples approached him and said,
Why do you talk to them in parables?
He answered and said to them,
To you it is given to understand the mysteries
of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
 Matthew 13:10-11 

  Some years ago, a woman who considered herself a teacher in God’s kingdom tried to convince Sister Lou that Lou was a teacher, too.  Cornering Lou before she left my Bible study that night, she told Lou, “We’re all anointed to teach.”   To which Lou replied, “I’m anointed to listen.”

   That was a wise response.

   It is no small blessing to be anointed to hear and to understand the word of God.  With the anointing to hear God’s voice comes authority from heaven to testify to what you have heard, and when you confess what you have heard from God, people feel that heavenly authority in you.  You do not have to claim authority to speak, as false teachers do; the authority will be in what you say because of the power of the One who said it to you.  Sister Lou’s testimonies carry far more weight in heaven than anything that headless woman had ever taught her disciples.  The authority to hear carries with it an authority to speak.  Anything that is truly from God, no matter how small it seems, is infinitely greater than anything that is of man, no matter how great it appears to be.

  In the Old Testament, God’s faithful prophets felt discouraged at times because of the multitude of false prophets in Israel who claimed to be anointed to speak for God.  Nevertheless, whenever God’s prophets spoke what they had heard from God, the realness of God shone through them, and that realness had an authority in it which false prophets could only claim to have. God encouraged His prophets with these words:

Jeremiah 23
28. The prophet who has a dream [from me], let him tell the dream!  And he who has my word, let   him speak my word faithfully.  What is the chaff to the wheat? says the Lord.
29.  Is not my word like as a fire? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

   There is no comparison between what is truly from God and what false teachers claim to have from Him, and those who are truly searching for the truth recognize the difference.   If God ever speaks to you, you are given authority from heaven to testify to it, to bear witness to His voice.  Do not be discouraged by the many voices that contradict you.  The testimonies of God’s saints will overcome this world and everything that is in it. They will stand forever, “but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Prov. 12:19); it “is a vanity tossed to and fro by those who seek death” (Prov. 21:6), a most hated thing in the sight of God (Prov. 6:17), and it will be cut out (Prov. 10:31).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Just Keep These Two Commandments

On these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets.
Jesus, in Matthew 22:40

If one pays attention to the words of God throughout the ages, he will realize that every commandment of God has to do with developing or maintaining right relationships.  The way of God has never been the way of a loner.
Every one of God’s commandments concerns relationships.  Every one of them.    “Thou shalt not steal” is an example.  To steal from your neighbor is not the way to have a right relationship; therefore, God commanded His people not to steal.
God’s way is the way of holy love.  That is why Paul said, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.”  Everyone of God’s commandments in intended to guide us into a right relationship, either with Him or with one another.  Every one of His commandments teaches us how to have relationships that are healthy and holy and eternal.  There is no commandment just for you, apart from anybody else.  There are no loners that are going to be saved in the end.  You are going to have a good relationship with others on their way to salvation, or you are going to be lost forever.
One man asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?”  And Jesus replied, “Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength.”  And then Jesus added, “The second greatest commandment is similar to the first one: namely, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”  He then made the remarkable observation that on those two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  In other words, the whole will of God is summarized by those two commandments.
Keep those two commandments, my friend, and you will meet God in peace.

Getting Into the Kingdom

We are his witnesses of these things, and so is the holy Spirit,
which God has given to those who obey Him.
Acts 5:32

I imagine that there have been thousands of quarrels over the centuries concerning who belongs to God and who does not; that is, who is really born again and who just thinks they are.  The best way to end any controversy is simply to let the Spirit of God decide who is right and who is wrong.
If you are wanting to be born again and know it, then just follow the guidance of Preacher Clark, who in 1969 gave this sage advice for those wanting to know how really to be born again:  “Do everything you know is right and leave off what you have a doubt about.  That’s exactly how you get into [the kingdom of God].”  If you believe in Jesus and sincerely follow that simple, godly counsel, you will live forever.  God will not fail to notice your humility and willingness to do His will.
Peter summed it up also, the day he stood before the judges of Israel to give account for his preaching.  The apostle boldly spoke to them and said,

Acts 5
30. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree.
31. This man God has exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32. And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is the holy Spirit, which God has given to those who obey Him.

The Power of Death

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood,
he also himself likewise took part of the same, so that
through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Hebrews 2:14

Pastor John,
I was reading in Hebrews 2:14 and have a question.  What does “the power of death” refer to in this verse?

Thank you,
Bro. Randell

Hi Randell:
The answer to that question is a beautiful mystery, a well of joy and understanding.  I hope that you can remember your Old Testament well enough, and that I can express myself well enough, to make the answer plain.
After his fall into sin, man had no way of having communion with God.  God gave some commandments to certain righteous men and women which provided those people with the opportunity to obey God and, therefore, have hope; but there was no way for man to truly live in spirit; that is, to know the heart and mind of God and, so, be able to live in the world as He lives in heaven.  Man was cursed with death, and the world over which he had dominion was cursed with him.  All mankind became, to use Jesus’ words, “of the world” because both man and his dominion, the world, were cursed with death.  Solomon almost went mad trying to find something “under the sun” that was not cursed with death, something that was not “vain”.  He finally gave up; there was nothing on earth that was eternal, he decided.
What Solomon saw, in part, was that fallen man, dead within, was completely unable to escape death’s power.  We see something Solomon could not understand; namely, that being unable to escape death meant that man was unable to escape Satan’s power to deceive.  That is how Satan became, as Paul said, “the god of this world.”  Satan moved almost at will and prospered in the world because it was dead, like him, and man was also dead (to God’s life).  Satan “had the power of death” because the darkness of death gave him power over men who lived in spiritual blindness to the things of God.
Now, let’s pause to consider the glory of the Law of Moses.  Without God’s help, I could not possibly have believed this verse from Romans 5; no, not even if an angel had come down from heaven and told me:  It is one of the most unexpected and amazing truths that Jesus ever revealed to man:  Paul wrote, “For death reigned from Adam to Moses.”  What?  From Adam To Moses?  Why not from Adam to Jesus?
The answer is beautiful, I think.
Under the Law of Moses, as you will remember, God’s people were in bondage to the flesh.  As my father used to say, “Under the Law, the old man (the flesh) got everything; under grace, the new man, the inner man, gets everything.”   Under the Law, the flesh was circumcised, baptized, ate the holy feasts, wore physical clothes.  Under this New Covenant, the spirit of man gets everything: the heart is circumcised, not the body; the spirit is baptized, not the flesh; the spirit drinks of the Spirit and eats heavenly manna and the flesh is left out; in this New Covenant, the soul of man is dressed to worship God, and the physical clothes the flesh wears in no way make us holier or acceptable to God.
With dead material, the OT people of God were required to worship God.  By “dead material”, I mean non-living, earthly material such as the threads of gold and silk, etc., things that were used to weave the tabernacle and the priests’ garments, the precious stones the high priest wore, the massive stones that were used to make Solomon’s temple, the brass and stones for the sacrifice altar, the gold for the holy utensils within the temple, the gold and silver in the lamps that burned before God, etc.  Even the skins and the boards that were a part of the sanctuary, though they were from animals and trees that once lived, were dead.  It was all dead -- but this time, Satan was not in charge of dead things!!  God had designed and sanctified those materials and works of the Law for His people to use to foretell of the coming of His Son.
Now think of this!  Jesus is so great in God’s sight that the works of the Law, though employing dead matter, were not considered “dead works” while God was using them.  They were called “dead works” only after Jesus came and replaced them with worship in the holy Ghost.  The holy Ghost is the Spirit of LIFE!  There is not the first bit of death in it!   If there was such a thing as a law that could make men righteous, Paul told the Galatians, then the Law that God gave Moses would have done it!  But no law that is on the outside of a man can make a man holy on the inside.  That is why the holy Ghost was so very, very important; it brought the law of God INSIDE!  It wrote God’s law on men’s hearts and made them holy as God is holy, giving them eternal life and abolishing the dominion of death -- and so, abolishing the dominion of Satan -- over their hearts and minds.  Praise God!!  This is getting good!
Jesus is so important, Randell, so holy and precious to God, that even the Law that foreshadowed him was holy; that dead thing liberated men from the dominion of death.  All man had to do was follow God’s directions, delivered to Israel by Moses!!  How simple was that?
Under the law, men used dead things that God had anointed, things Satan had used to deceive them, things that Satan usually lived and prospered in, to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, and thus escape death forever!  This is why Paul said that death reigned over man from Adam to Moses, not from Adam to Jesus, as we would have expected him to say.
So, Satan had the power of death only because man was dead to the things of God.  When man became alive to God, Satan had no more power of death as far as liberated man was concerned.  He still has power over men who are still dead, but nobody has to remain dead because all are welcome to “come drink the waters of life freely.”that could touch him!  Praise God!!
There is more to this, but I just can’t get it out now, Randell.  Just pray about it.  I feel to good to write any more right now.  Jesus said that he came to bring us life -- and life “more abundantly”!  Praise God.  Let’s live, Brother Randell!  Let’s just live in the light of life that Jesus purchased for us with his death to sin and then his death on the cross!

Pastor John

Thank you Pastor John for this wonderful reply.  You are right, the answer is beautiful.  I have read this at least seven times, and it gets better each time I read it.  It makes you appreciate and love what Jesus did that much more.  If men could read this and understand it, they would run from Christianity to Jesus.

Bro. Randell 

No Confusion in the Kingdom of God

From a sermon by George Clarence Clark, Sr., in 1969.

Of all the conflicting doctrines of Christian sects, only one of them – at the most– can be true; there are not two true doctrines of Christ.  Preacher Clark told his congregation in 1969, “If God anoints you to preach, He’s going to give you
the same message He gives another one He anoints.”  Amen!

Jesus told his disciples that the Spirit would guide them into all truth.  Then, from where came all these conflicting Christian doctrines?  And which one of them is right – if one of them even is?  For your soul’s sake, you should get still with God, and seriously pray for the right answer.

Being the Head

The thoughts of the righteous are right.
Proverbs 12:5

The correspondence between children of God who know and love the truth can be very instructive.  Here is some correspondence between Brother Jerry and Sister LeeAnn.

Dear Jerry and Sheila,
Jerry, on Sunday night as we were sitting around talking, you were speaking to a woman you knew who had an ungodly husband, and such, and you said some things concerning those who are walking in the Spirit being the head.  As you were speaking, I knew I needed to pay attention to what you were saying.  It was very good, and I needed to hear it.  I was hoping you might remember what you said and send it to me.  You were talking about not being afraid of the “bumps” that might come up if an ungodly husband tries to cause problems, if and when his wife goes on with God.
Anyway, I would appreciate if you could send your thoughts if you get a chance.  I appreciate your zeal, Jerry!  You were a great encouragement to me.  Hope to see you both again soon!

Lee Ann

Dear Lee Ann,
One thing that Jesus taught me was that “meekness” is meekness to God and not to just anything that comes my way.  Not so long ago, I walked under the spirit of “meekness” to this world and the spirits that it is full of, thinking myself to be obeying God.  I would let feelings/spirits around me, that were not God, back me into a corner where I would hold on to my little light for dear life, not wanting to “make any waves”.  Many times, I would find myself spiritually drained while ungodliness was full steam ahead, even proud, right beside me.
Now, there was no way for ME to fix this.  I tried at times and at best, after mustering all my courage, and trying to “stand for what is right”.  I just looked (and felt) weak and half-hearted to myself, and to others I am sure.  But, after time, Jesus has helped me to shine a little brighter, and that light started to drive out darkness from my presence which, otherwise, I could really do nothing about.  It’s the “light” that drives out the darkness, Jesus’ light.  My victory is to stay full of it.
That Spirit of light has already won every battle and IS the head of all things.  Only when I am walking full of that light am I, too, the head and not the tail.  That is one thing that makes being lukewarm or “on the fence” so bad.  When you’re in the middle like that, you have just enough God to make you different and a misfit in a sinful world, but not enough of the light and power of God to make darkness flee and to withstand the reproach of holiness.  It really is a dangerous place because the whole world, including our own carnal nature, is against God.  It is more pressure than we can bear unless we are full to the rim with the WINNER OF THE BATTLE.
When I am walking in the Spirit, my first response is the right one, the holy one.  I don’t have to be afraid of what I say or what I do, because of Him.  I don’t have to be afraid to say, “This is good, or this is evil.”  The Spirit always knows what to do, all the time.
Many times, I have tried to “water down” God’s thoughts or judgments inside of me because they did not seem “nice” enough.  I have learned that “nice” will get us all killed.  God is holy and that is VERY nice :)  I learned that I could not be full of the Spirit and at the same time be having unholy actions/reactions to life.  So, I am learning to just “LET HIM LIVE.”  YAY!  And trust him!!   The very best thing I could do for me, or for anyone else, is to stay full of the Spirit, to be overflowing, and then just do and say what the Spirit is leading me to do or say in every situation.  And it is at times not “nice”, but it is holy and right.  It is not against people, at all, it is just FOR God.  And the gap is so huge, that it tends to look otherwise.  It is hard to explain to folks.  The saints that love God the most are the most misunderstood by this world, I imagine.  But, they are the greatest refuge for a soul hungering and thirsting for Jesus.
One more thought.  I was walking the other day, thinking about things/people, and the holy Ghost said through me, “I don’t want to be any closer to you than you are to God.”  It was instruction from God, to me.  It was the way that I was supposed to live this life, with all people on this earth.  And I understood this also:  In the household of faith, there are to be no “inside deals” no relationships outside of fellowship.  They must be built on the foundation of holiness; that is the starting place, and then we increase from there.  If we build any other bond with one another other than fellowship, then when the truth, in love, comes to us for one another (and it will), we will feel pressure not to violate that “other friendship”.  And that makes it wicked.  I have heard it said that those relationships are like “You don’t kick my cat, and I won’t kick your dog.”  We have to start all relationships with “ I am going to kick your cat, (if God says it’s evil), and will you please kick my dog, too?”  I know I have just written on and on, Lee Ann, but it felt good.  I appreciate you and pray for us.


Hi Jerry.
That was a wonderful reply to lee Ann and all of us.  I heard my father preaching on a CD recently (from 1968) that “social fellowship is of the devil.”  What you wrote here helps explain why.  What you said about building up relationships outside of fellowship is so true.  If we build up a relationship that is not based on fellowship in the light of Christ, then we will fear  to rock the boat when the word of God comes to us for one another!  In a parable in Matthew 13, Jesus mentioned that the word of God could be “choked out”.  I know of nothing that will choke it out more dramatically than earthly relationships not build up on the word of God.  This is why James said that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (4:4b).
God, help us to take that in!  There are some precious people here who have lost their connection with God because of that very thing.  They traded every good thing they had to prevent the word of God from coming to a relative of theirs with whom they had a relationship that was not fellowship in Christ.  Oh, how grievous this is to me!  It was so senseless and sad to see them throw away eternal riches in order to maintain an evil, fleshly relationship!

Pastor John

God’s Answer for a Hopeless World

God so loved the world that He gave up His only begotten Son
so that all who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

On a recent trip to Yellowstone National Park, I met and talked with a young man, an employee of the park.   During our conversation, he made a comment that impressed me.  I asked him if he’d be leaving at the summer’s end to return home, as many park employees do each year, and he told me that he lives in the area year-round.  Then he added, “I don’t know about anything that goes on outside the park anymore.”  His meaning was perfectly clear.  He didn’t care to know about what goes on in this world beyond the park’s borders.  He had abandoned interest in this world, its politics, its sports, its entire society and culture, and he was content with life as it is in Yellowstone Park, and nothing else.
There are some reasonable arguments against living a completely closed-in lifestyle, of course, but the Lord had a lesson for me in that young man’s words.  After my conversation with the park employee, I had to ask myself, “Am I as dedicated to my calling in Christ, and free from interest in this world’s vanities, as that young man was?”  He was not in the least attracted to or interested in the latest political scandal, or “important” sporting event, or rumors of war, no matter what countries it involved.
This young man’s attitude reminded me of a replica I once saw of Jerusalem as it was in Jesus’ time.   In that model, I saw that there was a three-storied theater located near the temple, and in another part of town, I saw a large hippodrome for chariot and horse races.  When I saw those things, I suddenly realized that, although these two places must have been popular attractions in Jesus’ time, there is no mention of these places in any of the four Gospels or in the book of Acts.  Those worldly intrusions into the holy city were completely irrelevant to the story of salvation, and in truth, they still are.  As with the social issues of the world to the young man I met at Yellowstone, whatever happened in Jerusalem’s places of entertainment appear to have been utterly meaningless to Jesus and to those who followed him.
God sent His dear Son to suffer and die because there was no human fix for this world.  It was only because there was no hope in this world for this world that God sent His Son here to die for us and make a way for us to live forever.  That is the difference between God and the young man in the park.  When God saw that there was no human answer for man’s sin, He still had the power to do something about it.  The best that my park friend could do was to withdraw from humans and try to live in peace with God’s non-human creation.

Monday, May 19, 2014


From a sermon by Pastor John on May 14, 2014

These meetings are supposed to be a foretaste. Paul said, “We meet in heavenly places.”  Another way to translate that is, “We meet among heavenly creatures.”  Either way, that’s where we meet, and such a gathering has authority.  Any body of believers has authority over individual souls who belong to that body; this body here that God has put together has authority over the individuals within it.  That’s why I’ve always tried to stress that a loner is not going to do well.  A loner doesn’t recognize the authority of the body to direct, to counsel, to reprove, and so forth.  Anyone in God’s family who goes through life doing his own thing is “in the flesh”.  That not how God’s kingdom operates.  Nobody will be saved in the end who lives this life as a loner.  You’re not going to make it; you’re going to fail if you are a loner.  That’s why I sound the warning.  I don’t scream and yell or throw bricks to make my point, but please understand the authority that’s behind what I am saying.  You are not going to be saved if you are a loner.  I hope you understand that because that’s the way it is.
God is a God of relationships. Relationships are what is most important to Him.  That is why the first thing He created was somebody to love. Right relationships mean more to Him than anything else, beginning with His relationship with His Son, and then through His Son to us. He loved us so much that He gave up His Son so He could have a right relationship with us.  God is a God of relationships!  He is not a loner.  And He’s not old, either.  Get that idea out of your head.  God is not old, and He’s not a loner.  If He were a loner, He would never have created anybody.  He would have just sat there and created things for Himself to enjoy alone.  But that’s not how He thinks.  And everybody who thinks that way, everybody whose great joy is doing things for themselves – everyone of them – is going to end up in the Lake of Fire.  Every single one.  There will be no exceptions.
If God hadn’t commanded John the Baptist to stay out in the desert, John would have had all kinds of wonderful relationships.  Unless you are a John the Baptist that God has commanded to stay out in the desert until it’s time to send you to do His work, don’t try to act like him.  Don’t set yourself apart.  Get in there and develop relationships with your brothers and sisters.  Let me tell you something, when John came out of that wilderness, he became all about relationships. That’s why he preached to people to repent, and everyone that repented, he took right in and baptized.  He was not on his own time; he was not doing his own thing.  He was doing the will of God to make relationships that would last forever.  Remember that.  John spent a lot of his life alone, but he was not a loner.

You don’t have to be around people every day of your life to escape being a loner.  We have known precious souls who spent much of their time alone, but not by choice.  I’m talking about a spiritual condition. Where your thoughts and deeds are all for self.  That makes you a loner in the middle of a crowded room.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“Owe No Man Anything”

“If you owe a debt to a man on earth, you don’t have any offerings to bring to God.
I can’t receive from you what belongs to someone else.  Those to whom you owe money will think more of me and Jesus if I don’t take from you what belongs to them.”
From a sermon by my father, “Preacher Clark”, in 1972

God’s standard of holiness for us includes rightly handling the money that God puts into our hands.  Every heart that is right with God senses that it is right to bring to God His tithes and offerings, and every minister who is truly of God will guide the saints in their giving as much as in anything else.  He will not accept from them money that belongs to someone else.
If you are making timely payments on your mortgage and car payments, then you are not considered by anyone to be living in debt; you are living in debt only if time for payment comes due and you cannot pay it.  But as a young servant of Christ, I observed that if any in my father’s congregation made a foolish purchase that led to excessive debt and caused them to miss payments on necessities, he refused to receive offerings from them until that foolish debt was satisfied.  They could choose to return the merchandise or property, or they could continue to struggle through and finish paying for it, but as long as they were in such deep debt, he required them to pay on it – and pay it off – before he would accept their offerings.  Staying out of overwhelming debt, he taught us, is one way that the children of God can be good testimonies for the Lord, and I have seen in my lifetime why that is true.  Every person or couple that I have ever known who could not restrain their lust to buy things they did not really need have always had spiritual struggles that others did not have.  I have never seen anyone like that do very well in  their walk with Jesus.  My father was right.
If you owe a payment to a man, then the money you have in your hands is his, not yours.  And if you waste that money on unnecessary things and then cannot pay him what you owe, you have made yourself a thief.  If you give what you owe to anyone other than to the one you owe it to, even if you give it to God, you are a thief.  We should all take seriously Paul’s exhortation:

Romans 13
7. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
8a. Owe no man anything, but to love one another.

It is sin to owe someone money and not pay it.  It is a bad testimony to the world, especially to those whom you owe.
My father taught us that if we would obey God with our tithes and offerings, and use good sense with what is left of our money, then we would always be able to pay our bills.  But if “the lust of the eye” leads us to spend our money on frivolous things so that we cannot make our regular payments when payment is due, we should not think that God will be pleased with any offerings we might bring Him.  And if a pastor is so covetous that he will accept money that God will not accept, he is providing us with as bad a testimony about Jesus as we are providing for those whom we owe and cannot pay.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

No Power Left

“Come out of her, my people, so that you do not participate in her sins,
so that you do not receive of her plagues, for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her unrighteous deeds.”
Revelation 18:4-5

When Satan destroys Christianity, using the Beast and his ten kings, it will be because by that time, there will be no power of God left in it.  By that time, obedient children of God who were in Christianity will have heard and obeyed the Father’s call to come out of it, and when they leave, God’s saving power will leave with them.  But sadly, there will be some of God’s children who will refuse the Father’s final call and, so, with Christianity, will suffer the wrath of God and be destroyed.
The only thing that is saving God’s children now, and the only thing that will save them in the future, is God’s power.  His power is the protective hedge that God has placed around His family, but in the end, that hedge will remain only around those who obey the voice of God.  His children who refused to come out of Christianity will be as defenseless as that religion is against the powers of this age.  “And the ten horns that you saw, and the Beast, these will hate the harlot, and they will make her desolate and naked, and they will eat her flesh and consume her with fire.  For God put it into their hearts to carry out His plan, to have one mind and to give their kingdom to the Beast until the words of God be fulfilled” (Rev. 17:16-17).

The Bible warns us that the day is coming when Christianity will have no obedient children of God left within her, no souls who have the favor of God upon them and the protective power of the holy Spirit about them.  That is the time when Satan, through his son, the Beast, will utterly plunder and destroy Christianity, along with all who belong to her.  May we find grace with God to abide under His shadow and be preserved by the presence of His Spirit forever.