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The Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment

Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15 NIV)

The key to this command is its purpose: “…so that your manservant and maidservant mayrest, as you do.” Everybody rests!

Jesus confirmed this purpose when he answered criticism of violating the Sabbath by picking heads of grain (harvesting, working). “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sa…

More on Fellowship

Christian fellowship is not possible without all or both parties being in fellowship with the Father and the Son.

This begins to happen when a person has his sins forgiven by coming to the Father through the Son.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

This fellowship continues to take place when he walks in the light. He has fellowship with other people who have come to the light and who are walking in the light.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has …

The Second Commandment--part 2

The second commandment--part 2.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 (NIV)

God is jealous. There is one right kind of jealousy.

When can you be jealous and not be in sin?

When the person belongs to you and is unfaithful to you. This is God's kind of jealousy. People who belong to him but have given homage to false gods receive his judgment.

There are two wrong kinds of jealousy. The first is when the person belongs to you and you imagine unfaithfulness. The second is when the person does not belong to you.

The right kind of jealousy, God's, does not allow unfaithfulness, expressed …

The Second Commandment

The second commandment:

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 (NIV)

This should be clear, but it is not clear to many people. The command has several parts.

1. You shall not make
2. You shall not bow
3. God is jealous and punishes four generations
4. God is jealous and shows love to a thousand generations

Does the command not to “make for yourself an idol” (icon, image) include art forms like Michaelangelo’s David?

No! But it does include statues of Zeus, Buddha, Hindu deities, Diana, Athena, fetishes, amulets, charms, etc.

Does it include pictures of Jesus, crosses, and crucifixes?


Yes, in many instances.

When would it not?

If the picture was …

The Greatest Expression of Love

The greatest expression of love in the history of the world was the voluntary death of Jesus Christ.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)


God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)


Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14, 15 (NIV)

In some way you may think mystical, God took care of sin, death and the devil all in the death of Jesus Christ on a cross near a Middle Eastern city close to 2,000 years ago.

If that is so and has been so for these years, why do…

Big Bang

Several years ago, two different well-known magazines had something about the creation. The first I noticed was a contest in Skyand Telescope. The competition was for a new name for the “Big Bang” theory. Apparently, “Big Bang” does not sound scientific nor does it sound astronomical. It certainly does not sound religious. I guess it must sound childish. Certainly, if it did happen, “big bang” is an understatement.

The second was Big Bang Comix in the New Yorker. The strip had six frames; the first four were empty except for the captions, “A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING…,” “THE BIG EMPTY…,” and “STILL ZILCHVILLE….” The fifth was a big frame with “KER-BLOOEY!” and the last was captioned “AT LONG LAST—STUFF!” with stars, suns and planets.

I thought of sending in “Ker-blooey!” for my entry in the contest, but that would have been plagiarism. This made me think of God’s possible entries.

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth…. For he s…

God's Laws and Man's Laws

This might not be understood by some of you, but here goes anyway.

People are subject to two kinds of laws: God’s laws and man’s laws. We are to obey them or be punished by them. There is a way we can get out from under man’s laws—die! And there is a way to get out from under God’s laws—die! However, there is a difference in the way we die. In the first case when we die physically, the 55mph speed limit has no authority over us. In the second case we can die to the law and remain alive physically.

“Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4 (NIV)

God’s moral law is good in content, but it has another, different effect upon sinful man. The command “You shall not commit adultery” has no more power to keep people from committing adultery than the 55 mph speed limit has the power to make people drive less than 55. God’s mor…

Continuous Fellowship

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

This “walking in the light” guarantees two things.

1. Continuous fellowship
2. Continuous cleansing

Fake Fellowship...Based on a Lie

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” 1 John 1:6

It is not possible to be in fellowship if we are walking in darkness and not living by the truth.

Walking and living are not the same as singing and reciting. We can sing, “Walking in the Light.” That is not the same as walking in the light. We can recite truth, the Apostle’s Creed. That is not the same as living by the truth.

We can claim to have fellowship with Him and be lying while we are claiming.

Fellowship

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:3-4

We find several wonderful things in these two verses.

1. The proclamation of the Gospel
2. Fellowship with us
3. Our fellowship is with the Father and the son
4. Complete joy

In local assemblies, fellowship is based upon cultural activities. Some of these are singing, eating, fun, games, and talking with each other. They take place in a separate room in the church building called the Fellowship Hall.

This is not what the text is saying. It is saying that there is no fellowship outside of the Lord Jesus. It is also saying there is complete joy in this fellowship and this fellowship is with the Father and the Son.

Rescue, Redeem, Save, and Set Free

Here are a few verses about the birth of Jesus that are not normally recited at Christmas time.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:3-5 NIV)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5 NIV)

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 NIV)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14, 15 NIV)

We see the purpose of God in the birth of Jesus: “who gave himself f…

Good, but Not Good Enough

The Old Testament is a history of bad people with bad actions and good people with bad actions. In other words, it is a history of sin. The bad news precedes the good news.

The New Testament has a detailed history of the good news as a solution for the bad news, which came first.

What about the good people with good actions? Well, there are not very many, according to the Bible. In fact, the Bible says there are none. However, we will choose one who, by man’s standards, might fit.

His name is Cornelius, and he shows up in the Book of Acts, chapter 10. He is not a Jew; nor is he a Christian, nor a Buddhist, nor a Muslim.

He and all his family were devout and God fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. (Acts 10:2)

He was good, but not good enough. He needed help, and God sent it by an angel, by the Holy Spirit, and by Peter.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a remembrance before God. Now send men to Joppa to brin…

Liars

My memory is very sharp when it comes to the lies I have told. I still remember them, but they do not bother me as they once did. It is not the passage of time, but the forgiveness in Jesus Christ that eased my conscience yet kept my memory.

Today is a reminder of bad news. It is what God thinks of liars and His judgment upon them. We will start with Proverbs 6:16-19.

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
1. Haughty eyes,
2. A lying tongue,
3. Hands that shed innocent blood,
4. A heart that devises wicked schemes,
5. Feet that are quick to rush into evil,
6. A false witness that pours out lies,
7. And a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.



Why “six,” and “seven”? Because lying is in the list twice. Notice also that pride or arrogance is #1, lying is #2 and #6, and murder is #3. God does not have a light view of lying. Jesus said of the devil,

He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with truth, because there …

Christmas Time Brings to Mind the Father and Son

At Christmas time I think of the Father.

“God is love” 1 John 4

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

He islove and He loved us.

At Christmas time I think of the Son.

“I am gentle and humble in heart” Matthew 11:29

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8

In the Incarnation two great qualities of God were expressed, infinite love from the Father and infinite humility from the Son.

Deliverance from Evil and Terror

Occasionally I still hear people make comments about the innocent people in Central Africa or Papua New Guinea or Amazonia. “These are people who are living in pristine Edens and should not be tampered with by White men who will bring evil into their lovely, innocent gardens.”

I remember one University of Maryland student who said to me, “What do you mean putting clothes on those innocent people?” I then showed her the last picture in The Savage My Kinsman by Elisabeth Elliot. It was a photograph of an Auca Indian with no clothes on walking hand in hand with a little white girl, also with no clothes on. I then said to her, “It looks like the Indians are taking the clothes off the missionaries.”

Here is an excerpt from Spokane author Neil Anderson’s book In Search of the Source. Neil Anderson and his family spent the last 20 years in Papua New Guinea translating the New Testament into the Folopa language.

Soon others joined in with a cascade of graphic descriptions of the worst tortu…

Talking, but not Walking

We are all aware of people who talk Christianity but do not walk it. In other words, their lives do not reflect what they say. Jesus said it this way:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (Matthew 23:25, 26)


Probably, the greatest criticism of Christianity today is the hypocrisy of the “Christians.” It is amazing how easy it is to recognize hypocrisy in others and not recognize it in ourselves.

I do not know if George Gallup has conducted a poll on hypocrites. If so, I do not have access to his figures. So I will guess the results. These are imaginary figures. Since I am imagining, I will take a sample of 100% of the population.

Q: What percentage of people are hypocrites?
A: 70% (Average answer.)
Q: Are you a hypocrite?
A: No! (Average answer.)

From th…

Lack of Joy May be the Result of Unconfessed Sin

Today I would like to write to those of you who have passed from death to life and know it, but your life now is not made up of the same joy and peace that you had when you first crossed over. You would like to have that love and joy and peace in abundance again. It is easy to connect your present state with your present circumstances. Your environment and circumstances did not determine your peace then, and they do not determine it now.

When you received Christ you were born from above. At that event all of your sins were washed away. You were clean on the inside. You received the fruit of the Spirit, which included a peace that passed your understanding. That peace was the result of two things—your sins were forgiven, and you were indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This peace, joy, and love were God’s peace, joy, and love given to you.

Here is how to remain in the peace, joy, and love you had when you first became a Christian.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare t…

Do You Want the Good News First or the Bad News?

You may be thinking, “How about some good news without the bad news first?” It is difficult, maybe impossible to do and still be honest. The reason for this is the very nature of the words “salvation,” “saved,” “redemption,” and “justification.” They all have a meaning in them that implies something to be saved from, redeemed (bought back) from, and to make just that which is unjust.

Here are two examples:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephe…

Heterosexual Immorality

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor the idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)


Today my emphasis is on heterosexual immorality. There are two expressions used here: sexually immoral and adulterers. The sexually immoral would be people who have practiced fornication before marriage or after a divorce. An adulterer is one who commits fornication with someone who is not his or her spouse. Then the marriage vow is violated. These people are wicked people, and unless they are forgiven through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ they will not inherit the kingdom of Go…

"Were" and "Wicked"

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Whoever these people were, they are no longer what they were. They must have been dirty because they were washed. They must have been unholy because now they are holy. They must have been unjust because now they have been justified.

Now I will let the scripture tell you who and what they were.


Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral
nor idolaters
nor adulterers
nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders
nor thieves
nor the greedy
nor drunkards
nor slanderers
nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10)



Paul, during the two years in Corinth, had led these people to the Father through Jesus Christ. He knew who and what they were before they entered the small gate and the narrow way. They were wicked, in ge…

Greedy

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor the idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Today I would like to emphasize the word greedy. When I try to picture in my mind a greedy person, I come up with a caricature that looks something like this: a fat man sitting on top of a mound of things—toys, money, food, houses—with one arm trying to protect his hoard while the other arm is reaching out for more.

If that were a true picture, most of us would be off the hook. Why? Because half of us are female, and most of us are not fat. And many of us do not have a mound of toys. However, caricatu…

Planned Parenthood

Recently I came across a display advertisement for Planned Parenthood in the Argonaut, the student newspaper for the University of Idaho. The ad had a very nice picture of a smiling happy, very good looking young man and woman.

That was the first lie.

In addition to the picture, the services were then offered.

1. “Emergency contraception”

This intrigued me. This is a euphemism for an “intentional abortion” which, in turn, is a euphemism for infanticide, which, in turn, is a synonym for baby murder.

Being pregnant is a normal event, not an emergency.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 5:20

The emergency is about to happen.

Planned Parenthood and the people in it are in danger of great judgment from God.

2. “pregnancy testing and options”

I wonder if 1, “keeping the child” and 2, adoption are two of the options offered.

I also wonder if the options are given to the father of the g…

Heavy Seas

At 3:40 a.m. on July 19, 1950 in a typhoon in Tsushima Straits between Japan & Korea a wave came over the bow and rolled me down the deck. The webbing at the rail kept me from going overboard.

Five months later we were bucking 50 knot winds for ten days from Yokosuka, Japan to Midway Island. The sea carried away our port bilge keel and our motor whale boat.

This was on the USS Brush (DD745).

This is a preamble to two great miracles of heavy seas in the Bible. In both cases the crew thought the ship and the boat were going to sink.

“Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.” Jonah 1:15, 16

The sailors knew this was a miracle. They knew that the wind may stop but the sea does become calm at the same time.

“One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed…

Love and in-Love by Lincoln Davis

I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference (which we all intuitively recognize) between the two following statements:

"I love you."

"I am in love with you."

The first statement is the sort of thing one wants to hear said to them; there is nothing like knowing that the affections and kindnesses of another person are directed at us. The second is the kind of thing one wants to be able to say - being in love with someone is a more self-referential feeling; it relates to the joy we get from a love relationship. Essentially, "I love you" is directed at the other, and "I am in love with you" is directed at the self.

Perhaps the best test of this distinction relates to how each feeling plays out when there is strain on the relationship. If a couple has quarreled, love relates to the concern that each person has for the other after the quarrel: "I hope he's not hurt," "How can I help her?," etc. After that same quarrel,…

Cigarettes

Here is a paragraph from a best selling novel of 1922.

“Would the gentleman wish his breakfast served in the parlor or—No the gentleman would have it right in his bedroom; but first, where were his cigarettes? He hoped above all things that the waiter had not forgotten his cigarettes. Some people began their days with cold showers—nothing less than a cruel shock to a languid nervous system. An atrocious practice, the speaker called it—a relic of barbarism—a fetish of ignorance. Much preferable was a hygienic, stimulating cigarette which served the same purpose and left no deleterious after effects.”

In 1943 I was with my father when he had a massive heart attack. Shortly afterward the doctor told him, “You just smoked your last cigarette.” He had rolled his own.

In 1950 during my senior year at the Naval Academy a sample package of cigarettes was at the place setting of each of the 2600 midshipmen for the evening meal. Since I did not smoke I gave my package to a classmate seated at my r…

Father and Son

Please pay attention.

The Father:

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism. one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:5, 6

One God the Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. I am not sure what “all” means but it seems to be encompassing. How about the prepositions “of,” “over,” “through,” and “in?” They also seem to make a complete statement.

The Son:

“He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.” Ephesians 4:10

How high are the highest heavens? He ascended higher than they are high. The text tells us why. “In order to” fill the whole universe.

If you want to put God in a box, please get a big box.

God, the Supreme Being

I was asked a question by a student from the People’s Republic of China. He wanted to know the difference, if there was one, between the God of the Christians and the gods of the many other religions. First of all God, if He is God, is not just the God of the Christians. Even the definition in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary makes this statement: God. The Supreme Being; the eternal and infinite Spirit, Creator and Sovereign of the universe.

Christians are one of several groups who know about Him; however, real Christians, not hypocrites, are the only ones who really know Him.

Here are two other descriptions of God from the Bible.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the f…

Dogmatic Statements of Salvation

There are people who are very dogmatic that they have been saved. Everyone who is saved should know that they are saved. However, just because a person dogmatically states that they are saved, is no guarantee that they are saved.

Jesus said it this way.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

The real evidence of salvation is doing the will of the Father in heaven; it is who we are and what we do. This evidence, however, is not the means of salvation. The means of salvation is who Jesus Christ is and what He has done. It is not what we do that saves us. It is what Jesus Christ has done that saves us.

Before we are saved, we are slaves of sin and disobedient…

I "Hope So" or "Think So"

Having the knowledge that you have Eternal Life is one of the characteristics of having eternal life. If you are in a “hope so” or “think so” position, then it is a real possibility that you do not have eternal life. Here are two real situations.

A woman once came to me for advice about her 18-year-old son. She told me a story of how her son had been president of the youth group in church and was very active in church. He was also breaking into houses. The more she talked, the more I realized that she was a major part of the problem. I asked her what she believed religiously. She replied very strongly that she believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that He had died for the sins of the world, that He rose from the dead and that salvation was by faith alone. With this answer I then asked if she knew what would happen to her if she died that instant. She said she thought she would go to Heaven. Why did she think so? Because, was her answer, she never missed church and she sang in …

Spiritual Life

One of the characteristics of human physical life is knowledge of that life. We can declare that as an axiom, without proof. We have not yet met anyone who was unsure that he was alive. There are many other evidences of life besides knowledge; eating, sickness, breathing, and sleeping are a few.

There is a parallel truth in the spiritual life. Spiritual life itself should have knowledge of that spiritual life. However, there are other evidences to that life. Many are found in that short letter back toward the end of your Bible, 1 John.

I will start with 1 John 5:13:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Notice that this verse gives the reason that 1 John was written. I encourage you to read those five short chapters several times this week in order to find out whether you have spiritual life. Remember, there are only two destinations: destruction and life. There are two ways: a broad way and a narrow…

Jesus Christ and the Transcending Facts of History

The wonderful part about the facts of history concerning Jesus Christ is that these same facts also transcend history. The same cannot be said of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, George Washington or anyone else who has ever lived.

Jesus lived, died, and rose again in history. He also lives across history. He said,

Before Abraham was (history) I am (across history). (John 8:58)

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come. (Revelation 1:5)

Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead (history) and behold I am alive for ever and ever (across history) (Revelation 1:17, 18)

The fact in history took place the first day of the week after the Passover, probably in 29 AD.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.…

Born Once or Twice

The Bible speaks of the natural man and the spiritual man. The natural man has been born once. The spiritual man has been born twice. The natural man has limitations that the spiritual man does not have. One of them is that he does not understand spiritual truths.

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Years ago an agnostic English professor (he is now a Christian) told me that he would read a book recommended by me if I would read a book recommended by him. His book was Androcles and the Lion by George Bernard Shaw. Here is a quotation from the preface.

“Not long ago I asked a writer of distinguished intellectual competence whether he had made a study of the gospels since his childhood. His reply was that he had lately tried, but “found it all such nonsense that I could not stick it.”


About ten pages later Bernard Shaw says,

“Let us ad…

The Light of the Gospel

There is a wonderful statement made by the Apostle Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians 4:2-6:

We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

It is this light that changed me from a natural man to a spiritual man. What is the light of the gospel? Here it is expressed again by St. Paul in 1 Corin…

What is a Spiritual Man?

What is a spiritual man? The last two weeks you have read the characteristics of the natural man. First, the spiritual man does not have the nature or the characteristics of the natural man. He is different! How is he different? Well, here are a few differences.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 5:22, 23)

The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. (1 Corinthians 2:15)

Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to plea…

How God Sees the Natural Man

Last week we got a short, but clear view of how God sees the natural man. Here are two more short expressions from the Bible.

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Did you see yourself with any of the characteristics quoted last week? If not, the above will fill in any gaps. In any case, this is the nature of man, the natural man.

If we had the burden of proof to establish that man was intrinsically good, we would need to know more than we know now. If we had all knowledge of human history and all newspap…

Two Kinds of Men

The Bible speaks of two kinds of men, the natural man and the spiritual man. All people start out as natural men. Natural man has many characteristics, a few of which are

1. He is selfish.
2. He is self-willed and rebellious to authority if the authority is righteous.
3. He is religious.
4. He does not understand the things of the Spirit.

Many men end as natural men. Remember that the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction. Here are two quotations that describe the natural man.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve t…

'Holier than Thou'

About 28 years ago in Moscow, Idaho, I became good friends with a student who was not a Christian. One day he came into the bookstore and decided to tell me what he did not like about Christians. The conversation went something like this:

“They all have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude.”

I replied that I knew many Christians and did not know any who had a “holier than thou” attitude. “Name one,” I said.

“All right,” he replied, and then proceeded to name another student whom I knew. This fellow did not have a “holier than thou” attitude, and I assured my friend that this Christian was innocent of the charge.

My friend then asked, “Why, then, do I think he’s got a ‘holier than thou’ attitude?”

“Oh,” I replied, “He is holier than thou.”

In another instance, at another time, in another store near the University of Maryland, a student came in. He was a stranger to me. He found out what kind of store he was in and launched a tirade against Christians, saying why he was not a Christian. He amplified…

The Gate, the Way, and the Final Destination

The small gate and the narrow way are unrelated to what I am or what I do. They have to do with who God is and what he has done. Today I will limit this to say that Jesus is the gate, the way, and the final destination.

However, the wide gate and the broad way are very much related to what I am and what I do. First, I am a sinner and second, I do sin. In other words, I can go to Hell all by myself without any help from anyone else. In order to take the other way, I need help. I cannot find the gate or walk the way without help from God.

This help from God came to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. This help came as a gift. Like all gifts, He is free. He is not earned or deserved, nor is He cheap.

The broad way that leads to destruction is a toll road. We pay our way.

For the wages of sin is death…

The narrow way is a free way:

…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NIV)

The gift of life was paid for by death.

You see, at just the …

Many Ways are the Broad Way

One of the pieces of misinformation that has been going around ever since I can remember, and I suspect longer, is this: “There are many ways to Heaven.” There is a parallel piece of misinformation that says, “It does not matter what you believe, as long as you believe.”

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

Peter said about Jesus,

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 NIV)

Before the believers were called “Christians” in derision in Antioch, they were called “followers of the way.” Jesus said, “I am the way….” He also said, “…I am the truth.” If what Jesus said was true, then the “many ways” and “it does not matter” statements are false. On the other hand if the “many ways to Heaven” are true, then Jesus is not one of them. Here is why!

All of the “many ways” (except the way, the narrow way) have a requirement to be good to …

Genocide, Massacre, Ethnic Cleansing

We can understand that national pride in any nation has a propensity to deny, minimize, or ignore sins in that nation’s history. The United States is no exception. A nation with a Christian heritage has a greater conscience. The nation does not know how to get forgiven so it may deny that the sin ever happened. In early history the murder, rape and pillage that took place was recognized, accepted, and bragged about. Timur would take a city and tell each soldier to enter the city and bring back a head. A pyramid of 75,000 heads was then made outside the city.

In the 20th century Stalin, Mao, and Hitler all murdered people of their own nation in the tens of millions. Japan also committed great atrocities in Korea, China, and Southeast Asia. In recent years Japan came up with new school books for their children saying that these atrocities never happened. China and Korea strongly objected to the rewriting of history. As I understand it, Japan backed down.

These are facts of recent history …

I Just Can't Forgive Myself

Recently we received an order for How to be Free from Bitterness. With the order was a relayed request for including in a future edition an essay on “I just can’t forgive myself.” I cannot now guarantee such a teaching in the booklet but I will attempt to give a short one here.

First, to my knowledge the Bible does not speak of the need or of the “how” if there was such a need to forgive oneself.

What does it speak of?

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Verse 5 speaks of absolute light.

Verse 7 speaks of walking in that absolute light with two results:

1. fellowship with one another
2. continued purifying from all sin …

The Holy Spirit: Assurance

“Set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:22

“He” anointed us, 2. Set His seal of ownership on us, and 3. Put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Maybe this is saying the same thing three times. Or it may be three different acts of the Holy Spirit.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also …

The Mathematics of "Quality"

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

God is not into fractions.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

Jesus is not a partial savior for a partial sinner.

Satan is the Master Terrorist

Dear Jo,

Thank you for your question. Yes, awful, fearful things happen to Christians. Sometimes the Christian may know it in advance. If he knows it in advance and is terrorized by the advance information then he is immobilized and has compromised his witness. The purpose of the terrorist is not to kill lots of people; it is to instill terror in those who are still alive so that they are ineffective. Satan is the master terrorist. If he can keep any Christian from witnessing, out of fear of what might happen, then he does not have to make it happen. The fear is there whether it does or does not happen.

Satan is the father of all lies and he is the source of most fear. They go together.

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:4

This is a key verse. Christians give in to sin long before death is a consequence. We give in because of fear. The enemy does not have to use death. Lies and threats will do it. This may be one of th…

The Natural Man III

Here are three more descriptions of the natural man.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and w…

The Natural Man II

Here are three descriptions of the natural man.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)


As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Eph…

The Natural Man I

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment (1 Corinthians 2:14-15)

This is a normal thing to the natural man. He thinks that spiritual truths are foolishness. It does not occur to him that his lack of understanding makes him the fool.

(From Good News/Bad News)