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Showing posts from October, 2007

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)

Your Repentance has an Effect on the Soon Return of Jesus Christ

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that out Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom…

Repentance Speeds God's Coming

“But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3:18-21

Notice the results of repentance and turning to God.

1. your sins may be wiped out
2. times of refreshing may come from the Lord
3. the return of Jesus Christ

(From Good News/Bad News by Jim Wilson)

Fools

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 14:1)

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 53:1)

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. (Romans 1:20-22)

Men are born ignorant, but are not born fools. Men become fools.



Sent out on Jim Wilson's Good News/Bad News. E-mail ccm@moscow.com to sign up for the online newsletter, Day & Night and Good News/Bad News.

Pray for Fathers

Recently, I was struck by the spiritual needs of three fathers in the New Testament and how their needs were met by Jesus Christ.

-The first was a nobleman whose son was at the point of death. (John 4:46:54)·

-The second was the Philippian jailer who was about to take his own life because his jail had fallen apart. (Acts 16:22-40)·

-The third was Cornelius, a Roman army officer, who was searching for God. (Acts 10)

All of their needs were urgent, desperate needs. So urgent that in each case the man sought help and got the help he wanted, and more, in a wonderful way.

Here is something extra that blessed me in reading these paragraphs:

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed. (John 4:53 NIV)

The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God‑‑he and his whole family. (Acts 16:34 NIV)

He [Cornelius] and all his fami…

"No"

There are several clear texts that describe the world’s ways with an attached imperative that says “No” to that kind of conduct.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (Ephesians 4:17-19 NIV)

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9, 10 NIV)

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—wh…

Gifts

And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts 11:26 NIV)

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. (Nehemiah 8:2, 3 NIV)

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all …

Quotations Out of Context

Quotations float from generation to generation, sometimes misquoted, but still recognizable. Most quoters do not know the origin of the quotation.

Here is one from Tennyson you might recognize.

“More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of”

It is said by King Arthur in Morte D’ Arthur right before he dies. It is preceded by, “If thou shouldst never see my face again, pray for my soul.” In other words we use the quotation outside of the context. It means what we want it to mean not what it meant when it was first written.

We see the same sort of thing with Bible quotations.

The best example is the “golden rule.” It occurs in Luke 6:31.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

It is strong, but not as strong as the context.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not sto…

Our Freedom

One of the freedoms that man has received from the Lord is the ability to refuse to listen to the Lord. Man has exercised that freedom many times. Here is an account of one of those times.

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts [as] an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-12 KJV)

But God has the same kind of freedom that He has given man. Here is His response:

Therefore it is come to pass, [that] as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts… (Zechariah 7:13 KJV)

This is a dreadful statement. He had said, “I will not listen” 200 years earlier and 100 years earlier in Isaiah 1:15 and Jeremiah 11:11. There is something He will listen to, though. God will listen to a prayer of repe…

Who Will Enter the Kingdom?

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant,…

His Energy or Ours?

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:28, 29 NIV)

Paul labored and struggled to accomplish the task assigned to him. He did not, however, labor and struggle with his own energy. It was God’s energy which powerfully worked in him. It is like working all day digging ditches or stacking hay and using someone else’s calories and blood sugar. The someone else would get tired while you would do the labor. We would like to do it that way. We want to labor and struggle using God’s calories and blood sugar—“all His energy which so powerfully works in me.”

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

You Died with Christ

Since you died with Christ… (Colossians 2:20 NIV)

Since then you have been raised with Christ… (Colossians 3:1 NIV)

For you died… (Colossians 3:3 NIV)


Although these sentences were written to the church at Colossae, we believe they apply to all Christians, if the statements are true. They are either true or false. If true, they are past-tense certainties. They are not future, or conditional, or perhaps or maybe. They describe something that has already happened in us, and the commands that follow are predicated on those certainties. If Christians have trouble with the commands, it may be because they have trouble believing that they have died with Christ, or it may be because they have not died with Christ. In other words, they are not Christians. All future obedience is based upon the complete work of Christ that has taken place in us. Read Romans 6 a few times.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Obeying Immoderate Commands

There are two benedictions at the end of letters in the Bible. I am placing them here at the beginning of this article.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV)

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20, 21 NIV)

Please look at every phrase, for I will not comment on all of them. Notice “at all times and in every way” and “everything good for doing his will.” The God of peace does a thorough work in us.

Recently I have been conscious of the lack of moderate commands in the Scriptures. During the same period of time, I have noticed many Christians moderating these commands. The commands are so extreme that we think we have…

God's Grace and Our Faith

If you check the many occurrences of the word “grace” in the Bible you will find expressions like these:

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. (Acts 6:8 NIV)

When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 13:43 NIV)

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3 NIV)

Continue your search and you find that grace belongs to God. Now do the same with the word “faith.” Here are a few examples:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints… (Ephesians 1:15 NIV)

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. (Acts 20:21 NIV)

So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. (Acts 27:…

Bad Words and Good Words

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:1-5 NIV)

Our speech is to be with thanksgiving and for the encouragement of others. On the other hand, our speech should not contain unwholesome talk: “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking.”

There is no definition of unwholesome talk, obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking in the Bible. The Apostle Paul seems to know that the people he is writing to know what he is talking about. The words commonly understood to be obscene or filthy in the English language cannot be found in most English dictionaries. They have a definition under…