Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CCM has just created a Kindle version of Assurances of Salvation! You can find it here:


Or you can download a free PDF version here: http://www.ccmbooks.org/?i=14114&mid=17

In all Christian religions there is a promise of salvation. The promise may be conditional, or it may be positive, but it will be based on doctrine or works.

This little booklet gives nine biblical, experiential evidences of salvation. When a person compares his experiences with these described in the Bible, he may come to one of several conclusions:

1. He thought he was not saved, but he finds out that he is.
2. He thought he was saved, but finds out he isn't.
3. He thought he was not saved, and that is confirmed.
4. He thought he was saved, and now he knows that he is.

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13a)

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

By Bessie Wilson

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” We have all heard this verse quoted so often to quell criticism that our mouths are closed and the person using the quote goes away satisfied.
There are two dangers in the misuse of Jesus’ statement:

1. We fail to read on to the end of verse five to see that we need to see clearly before we “remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Phillips renders it vividly in verse 4: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye’ when there is a plank in your own?'” Sometimes the speck in the eye of the other doesn’t seem like a speck at all when your own plank is gone.

2. We practice the “non-judgmental attitude” to the extent that the faculty of discernment is not used by us. This becomes the sin of tolerance. Intolerance we know, and someone is always there to say, “Judge not!” Tolerance allows people to avoid correcting their own behavior and that of others. Jesus taught that we had to meet the requirement of removing the planks from our own eyes in order to see clearly to help others.

Wrong Judgment

Having said this, let us examine what I have grown to call “a critical spirit.” In May 1979, I was deeply convicted of the sin of a critical spirit. In a letter to my husband and children (because I could not trust myself to speak to them), I wrote:

“There have been occasions in my life when God has blessed me in spite of what I know is ‘an iceberg of judgments’ resulting in bitterness of heart. Most of my Christian life I have been in Christian leadership and I see this sin (critical spirit) now as a peril in leadership. Having once prayed for discernment, I see now it needs a balance. Oswald Chambers has said, ‘Discernment is given not to criticize but to intercede.’ I have become a ‘sheriff’ in the Christian community, in my home and marriage.”

I wrote much more than this and received nothing but love and understanding from my family. However, in repentance, I cried before the Lord in a way of agony to have this sin removed from me and to be forgiven. Never before or since have I been so repentant. Does that mean I have not had the critical spirit since? Yes, I have had, but I can identify it now faster and be rid of it. I have also been able to analyse this critical spirit. It is based in pride; we make ourselves the final authority.

Right Judgment

Paul in his letter to [the] Galatians said in chapter 6, verse 1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual [in other words, have gotten rid of your own plank] should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” If we are to be capable of judging correctly—or as Jesus said in John 7:24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment”—are there any scriptural guidelines? I found a great one in the neglected book of Leviticus (19:15): “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”

Just because a person is poor does not mean that person has nobility of thought or action—a look at the welfare cases might jolt you to a more critical stance.
The persons of the rich and famous cannot bear the scrutiny of the Word of God. James warns in his letter about treatment of poor and rich in the church, “not to show favoritism” (2:1). Generalizations must be avoided. Some poor people are haughty and proud, some rich people humble and gracious. Don’t rush into putting everybody into one judgment category.

In 1 Peter 4:17 Peter says that “it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God.” Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:29 points out that we can “eat and drink judgment” on ourselves if we do not recognize “the body of the Lord” as we receive communion. He went on to say “if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.” In the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul encourages us to judge disputes in the church—appointing “even men of little account” to do so. This was to discourage going to law before unbelievers.

There are many lists in the Word by which we are to judge ourselves and others, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “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 slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

We conclude that we are not to be judgmental in viewing others, but we are certainly to discern our own and others’ spiritual needs in the light of Scripture and seek to help others once we have been cleansed ourselves. May I remind you again of Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Heart 6_Stubbornness

By Bessie Wilson

We have all known the frustration of dealing with a stubborn child or adult who will not respond to reason or argument. We know what stubbornness is even if we cannot define it. The dictionary lists many synonyms for this word such as obstinate, mulish, pig-headed, stiff-necked, arrogant or defiant. Like so many other English words, the definition of stubbornness has gone through a transition. The original meaning of the word included such good qualities as sturdy, fixed, resolute and unyielding. However, today the emphasis seems to be on the negative aspect of the word.

So it is in the Bible. When speaking to King Saul, the prophet Samuel said, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance (stubbornness in KJV), like the evil of idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23, NIV). What was the sin of Saul in this case? He insisted on his own way while declaring that he had obeyed the Lord (1 Samuel 15:20). Perhaps verse 12 gives us a hint of this when Samuel heard, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor.” In almost every sin, we can find that pride and self-glory will be found at the base of our incomplete obedience to God. At some point we have decided that we know better than God what we should do.

Every counselor knows the sorrow of bringing people just so far in their reconciliation to God before a stubborn refusal sets in. Stubbornness refuses to admit the sin, and this refusal halts the reconciliation.

It was said of Israel in Judges 2:19 that, “they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” In Psalm 78:8 God yearns for His people, desiring that “they would not be like their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

There are people today who are intellectually convinced of the truth of the gospel but remain unsaved. In Romans 2:5 they are given this warning: “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourselves for the day of God’s wrath when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” These people are too stubborn to admit their need of a Savior and are unwilling to receive the robe of righteousness. They stubbornly clutch their rags of righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). Obviously, pride is the problem. Pride will keep people out of heaven.

My great concern is that we learn to deal with our own stubbornness. But first we must learn to recognize it. We should all be firm and resolute against sin creeping into our lives, but we should be gracious and yielding in matters of opinion. For example, consider the interpretation of Scripture passages which have been argued over for centuries. In searching my own heart I find a pride of opinion of interpretation that leads to unnecessary strife with others.

This is seen especially in marriage. It is not usually a weighty matter that disrupts the fellowship. It may be a disagreement over directions in the car. Who is right? Who is wrong? Although one may be right, both may be wrong. When pride is threatened, stubbornness makes us argumentative and a nuisance to each other. How hard it can be to say, “I was wrong,” when pride keeps us unwilling to be vulnerable to our partner. Stubborn people are unforgiven and unforgiving.

O would some power the Giver give us
To see ourselves as others see us.

- Robert Burns

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Heart 5

By Bessie Wilson

"O that their hearts were inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29)

Moses is quoting the Lord in these words as we see from verse 28, “and the Lord said to me.” We need to pause long enough to hear the yearning heart of God over His people. He longs to see His people fear Him and keep His commandments. It seems to burst from Him in an exclamation, “O that there was such a heart in them,” yearning, loving and seeking. It is an aspect of the character of God we rarely consider. We find it also in Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

And here in Deuteronomy 5:29 the thought is the same, “that it might be well with them and with their children forever.”
I have often said in my teaching to young people on relationships that as a mother I did not sit around planning how to hurt or bring sadness to any of our four children. As a human mother I could, and probably did, mistakenly hurt and sadden my children, but it was never with malicious intent.
Our heart attitude toward God should be based on His revealed character in the Scriptures. He has our best interests at heart. He wants our hearts inclined to fear Him, to recognize His thoughts toward us to be thoughts of peace and not of evil. Satan will do his utmost to poison our minds and misrepresent our loving Father as a spoilsport, a policeman out to get us, a tyrannical parent or any number of caricatures. A prayerful reading of the Bible, a heart inclined to fear Him and a desire to be obedient to His commandments will garrison the heart against such misrepresentations.

"Jesus said, If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." (Luke 11:13)

Isaiah 49:15 both asks and answers the question: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!"