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Showing posts from May, 2017

Qualifying for Heaven

Throughout the world, there is a knowledge of morality which seems to be common to all. One of the conclusions people draw from this is that everyone is going to heaven because we all know the difference between right and wrong.

Knowing the difference between right and wrong does not mean people end up doing right. It really means they end up doing wrong.

Most religions have two parts: the religious side and its moral requirements. When people in any religion find out that they are not living a moral life, they put their emphasis on the religious side (fasting, pilgrimages, prayer wheels). They can do those things. Morality is considered part of making it, even though no one succeeds. These trappings can provide a good distraction from sin. The more dead you are inside, the more you need the bells and whistles of religious ceremony to provide the excitement you should normally get from worshiping God.

Biblical Christianity does not fit this model.
Religious: “You shall have no other…

Shine

Another reminder for Christians:

St. Paul wrote: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life." (Phil. 2:14-16)

Clearly Seen

There are all kinds of theologies in the world: the Eastern religions, Islam, animism, atheism, agnosticism, and many other. The important question is not which of these is right, but rather which of them, if any, reflects God's eternal power and deity. “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 people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

The rest of this chapter tells us that gross immorality is the result of bad theology.
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 a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degradi…

The Kinds of People Who Go to Church

It seems to me that there are very real Christians in all Christian denominations. By that I mean that they believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and have the kind of character that results from such belief.

However, whenever there is a real, there are also counterfeits. Counterfeit Christians are called “hypocrites.” The Church is not full of hypocrites, but certainly there are some. In each of these churches, there are also “seekers.” If they seek and don’t find, after a few years they hang it up.

There are other kinds of people in these same churches: sleepers, either spiritually blind or ignorant. They may be agnostic and don’t want to know the truth. They enjoy being religious and sinful at the same time. None of this will fool God.

Which of the two lists below describes you the best?

List 1: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and e…

Tolerance

In my many years on this earth, I have picked up that (at least in this country) “tolerance” is a good word and its practice is commendable. I have also learned that “prejudice” is a bad word and its practice is reprehensible.

As the years went by, I realized that prejudice was based upon ignorance. It was pre-judging without adequate information. It took me a little bit longer to realize that much of the tolerance was also based upon ignorance. It was also pre-judging.

Tolerance has kept its reputation, and prejudice, even when informed, kept its negative definition.

So now we tolerate great evil and are prejudiced against good things. By the use of these definitions alone, we have ended up calling good, evil and evil, good.

Dinner Party Reminder

This is for action on the part of Christians and for information for those who are not Christians.

Jesus said: "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:12-14).

Do You Want to Be Pure?

Here is an uncomfortable verse of Scripture. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:15-16).

This passage describes two types of people: the pure and the defiled/unbelieving. The second group cannot become pure by doing good works, because they are “unfit for any good work.” Someone who is defiled cannot work himself out of defilement. The only way a defiled person can become pure is by being washed.
And such were some of you. 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 Cor. 6:11 ESV) Do you want to be pure?

More Favorite Hymns

The Sands of Time Are Sinking is another favorite hymn of mine. The lyrics are taken from the letters of Samuel Rutherford when he was in exile in the mid-1600’s. There are seventeen verses. I only know four of them.

Other favorites:

For All the Saints
O That Will Be Glory
May the Mind of Christ My Savior
Be Thou My Vision
Arise, My Soul, Arise
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
Jesus, the Name High Over All


I realize now that there are many more favorite hymns. Of these last ones, my three most favorite are The Sands of Time Are Sinking, For All the Saints, and Jesus the Name High Over All.

My Favorite Hymns

A while back, I passed on to you a few favorite verses. I thought I would also tell you my favorite hymns. They are And Can It Be, Amazing Grace, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (both tunes), What A Friend We Have In Jesus (both tunes), and O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing.

My most favorite hymn is one I found when I was 8 or 9 years old, a dozen years before I received Christ. I was ready then, but it did not happen. The church was the Church of the Open Door pastored by E.W. Kenyon. You can read one of his messages in the appendix of my book Dead and Alive: Obedience and the New Man. Here is the hymn:
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never

Just a few more days to be filled with praise,
And to tell the old, old story;
Then, when twilight falls, and my Savior calls,
I shall go to Him in glory.

Chorus:
I’ll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I’ll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign forever.

Just a few more years with their toil …

Using God's Name Thoughtlessly

The third commandment: “You shall not use the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who uses His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

“In vain” does not mean maliciously. “In vain” means thoughtlessly or in an empty or common way. People think they are not using God's name in vain because they did not “mean it.” Not meaning it is using His name in vain. That is the definition of “in vain.”

God will not hold you guiltless for this. In other words, He will hold you guilty for "not meaning it.” Your non-motive makes you guilty.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).

137 Years

Here is the first of the Ten Commandments given to Israel verbally and then in a written form in stone, twice: “I am the LORD your God…you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). This was given 1,440 years before Christ. Forty years later, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4). Jesus quoted this passage in Matthew 22:37 a few days before He was crucified.

In the Old Testament, idolatry is mentioned about 100 times together with descriptors like polluted, defiled, filthy, abominations, whoring, adultery, and dumb. Idolatry is the greatest sin. It violates the first commandment.

Making idols and worshiping them violates the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself an image 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” (Exodus 20:4-6).

In the New Testament, Pau…

Three Kinds of Love

God has given mankind at least three kinds of love. Two of them are mentioned in the New Testament – phileo, the Greek word for friendship, and agape, Greek for selfless, giving love, for the highest good of the person being loved. A third kind is eros, sexual love.

Friendship and sex have been given to the entire human race. Without friendship, everyone would be fighting all of the time (instead of just much of the time). Without sexual love, we would have been long extinct. Let’s thank God for friendship and sex. God has given them to us as a gift, and He made them pleasant sensations. These two kinds of love are not limited to Christians.

God also put restrictions on sex. He did not make it for a plaything. In the beginning, God made one man and one woman. He has been making 50% of each ever since. That means one apiece. He has prohibited fornication, adultery, and homosexual practice.

Selfless love is available to everyone, but it is not natural to everyone like friendship and sex…

The Solution

What is the answer to the great evil of sin?

Isaiah wrote the following, 700 years before Jesus was born. “In that day you will say: ‘I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (Isa. 12:1-3). This is the solution to endemic sin.

“The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:20-21). God gave the Ten Commandments to increase sin. But there is more grace than sin. As sin increases, grace increases even more.
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 k…

Flattering Yourself

Three thousand years ago this poem was written:
An oracle is within my heart
Concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear for God before his eyes.
For in his own eyes he flatters himself
Too much to detest or hate his sin.
(Psalm 36:1-2)This is true. Of all the wickedness in the world today (Iran, Syria, North Korea), how many detest or hate their own sin? How about inner city gangs in this country? How many detest or hate their own sin? Closer to home, here in Moscow, how many drug addicts, drunks, and fornicators detest or hate their own sin? Or closer still, how many of you with fits of rage, jealousy, bitterness, or shoplifting detest or hate your own sin?

If you are innocent, you will not be able to detest your sin because it isn't there. If you are not innocent, you will not be able to detest it because you flatter yourself too much.

The world has adjusted to its own sin. It accepts it as a given. People can see sin in others but not in themselves. If, for so…

God's Power for You Today

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 1:17-20)Since it was in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and since it is in the Scripture, this is an inspired prayer. Therefore, it is a prayer that God will answer. The prayer requests are for the Ephesians in the present while they are still alive: “…that you may know the hope…that you may know the riches…that you may know his incomparably great power.” Paul is praying that they will know this power now.

Verses 19 and 20 describ…

Becoming a Christian

This is written to Christians and to those who wish they were but do not know how to become one.
When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Matt. 9:36-38)We still have crowds of harassed and helpless people. God still has compassion on them. He tells the Christians to pray to God to send out workers into the harvest. The harvest is great, and the workers are few. More people want into the kingdom than there are Christians who want them in.

If you know a Christian, ask him how to become one. He or she will probably invite you to church. Don’t go! Tell them you would love to go to church after you become a Christian.

Christian, if you do not know how to introduce someone to the Father, find out. You are surrounded by people who want to know.

A New Song

In my second year at the Naval Academy in 1947, after a football game in Baltimore, I found myself in a Presbyterian Church at the corner of North Avenue and St. Paul. At the meeting a Filipino man named Gregorio Tingson read the first five verses of Psalm 40. Because of that Psalm, God put a new song in my heart. That was about 67 years ago. The song is still there:
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
And gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to our God.
(Psalm 40:2-3a)

Bible Study Announcement

I will be holding a weekly Bible study at my home on Wednesday evenings, starting this week. All ages (high school and up) are invited to attend. The focus will be practical Christianity, and the study will start with the book of Philippians. The next few weeks are busy with graduations, so please feel free to join the study later if you cannot make it the next couple weeks.

Philippians Bible study
Wednesdays from 7-8 p.m.
114 S. Howard St., Moscow

Crime & Sin

The relationship between crime and sin is not clear-cut. There is some overlap. Murder is a crime because it violates state laws. It is also sin - it violates God’s law. It was sin long before it was a crime.

Speeding is a lesser crime. It is also a sin, because the Bible teaches that we are to obey the laws of the land. Romans 13:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:13-14 tell us to obey the laws of the land.

Since many people do not know their Bible, they rely on laws or on their conscience to determine whether something is wrong. This can be a help, but it is not authoritative. If a person is a habitual liar, his conscience is seared and calloused. It doesn’t prick him when he tells a lie. He can deaden his conscience in many areas (stealing, sex, etc.) The result is he can be head-first in sin up to his ankles and not know he has committed a sin. St. Paul said it this way: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Cor. 4:4).

On the other hand, he …

Hymn-Singing & Lying

In the 17th century, there was a young man who was a pastor’s son. He objected to the musical arrangement of the Psalms chanted in the church. His father told him that if he did not like the music, he could write his own songs. So he did. His name was Isaac Watts, and he wrote 750 hymns. The one most people would recognize is Joy to the World. Probably the greatest hymn in the English language is his When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Here is the first verse:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.Isaac Watts was telling the truth when he wrote this. You can see that those who sing it today might by lying.

A friend told me years ago, “More liars stand behind hymn books than any place else.” I agreed with him, with this exception: They are not being deliberately deceitful. They are unaware of what they are singing. Pay attention to what you are singing. If you do not believe it, do not sing it…

Worse Than Sodom

When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.” But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.” I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10:8-15)Pretty strong! I used to wonder how and why these cities would come under gr…

Homosexuality

There is a difference between sin and crime. Sin is against the laws of God. Crime is against the laws of the state. Sometimes they are close to coinciding. Murder is against the law of God and the law of the state. Sometimes they do not agree. Homosexuality and adultery are against the law of God and no longer against the laws of the state in many places.

Many years ago, I participated in a for-credit class at the University of Michigan. It was a Sensitivity Session. During the class, the students would say accusatory, insulting words to each other. The words were four-letter words. The object was to see how sensitive the person was who was being addressed.

During one such class, the moderator, an undergraduate student, decided to give a monologue as if he were homosexual. The voice and mannerisms were an act. At the conclusion of his talk, he asked the student on his left what he thought of the "speaker." He got an affirming answer. He asked each of the students, and all…

Traditional American Values

There is a saying among conservatives today that we need to “return to our traditional American values.” These “traditional American values,” do they include 200 years of slavery and 100 years of racism against black people, Hispanic people, Chinese people, Japanese people, and Irish people? These are all part of our "tradition." Our tradition includes 100 years of drunkenness and 14 years of probation. Assuming a 10% alcoholic percentage, the per-capita drinking in 1790 was 60 gallons of alcoholic beverages a year, or five gallons a month. The many temperance societies that sprang up in the 19th century were founded because the nation was drunk. This was our American tradition.

Apparently we do not like our traditional American values, because we keep changing them. They now include same sex marriage, sex outside of marriage, abortion, and divorce. These were not part of our values 100 years ago.

Here are a few biblical values: “God defends the cause of the fatherless and …

Congress Shall Make No Law...

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercises thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.”

The key phrase is “Congress shall make no law...” The only one that can violate the first amendment is Congress. The courts have extended this prohibition to other legislative bodies. They have not extended it to individuals. A student in elementary school, secondary school, or college, or a citizen anywhere cannot violate the amendment. It might be extended to teachers if they are making rules. College professors violate it all of the time with impunity.

I am grateful for the Constitution. I swore to uphold it for eleven years of my life, when I was in the Navy. I am still committed to defending it from all enemies, public and private. However, th…