Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2018

Jehovah's Witnesses: What Does the Bible Really Teach?

Dear B,

Thank you for the little book on the Bible, What Does the Bible Really Teach? The title gives it away. It is saying the Bible does not teach itself. It needs someone to say what it really means. It is saying they are going to change it someplace.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)The Bereans did not accept Paul’s teaching until they verified it by searching the Scriptures daily. People do not usually do that. They accept whatever is taught them.

I have searched the Scripture daily to see if what the booklet said was true. What follows here is part of the search. I have not read anything ever against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Your book warns you not to accept the following teaching. However, you ought to consider it; it is all from the Bible.

You may know that I have been reading the Bible in its entir…

Divorce: Willful Sins & Great Transgression

Dear R,

A few weeks ago, I found out that you planned on divorcing your wife. If so, I realize that things have had to be going bad for a long time.

Whether you remain married or get a divorce, you are going to have to have the joy of the Lord’s salvation returned to you. It has to be a long time since you have had it. The same for her. You both have been sinning against God for a long time.

If you divorce, you may be free from the temptation that she provided. That just means you are setting yourself up for other temptations which you may not be able to resist.

I know Satan well. He will have another woman waiting in the wings for you. She will be sympathetic and respectful and seem to be everything you perceive that your wife is not. However, she will be: 1) not a Christian, 2) a back-slidden Christian, 3) divorced or planning on a divorce, or 4) looking for a husband, 5) an easy make, or 6) a combination of the above. She will have a hard time loving your children, and they will …

How to Please God & Save Your Soul

Dear K,

Thank you for your letter. Yes, I can answer “how to please God and to save one’s soul.” There are three things you need to know before your salvation can happen:

1. That you are a sinner, you are tired of sin, and that you cannot save yourself by anything you can do. "Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin" (Rom. 3:20).

2. That God loves you. He expressed this love to you by sending the Lord Jesus Christ into this world in order for Him to die in place of you for your sins and for the sins of everyone else. Then He was buried. Three days later he rose from the dead. "Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: …

When to Forgive Someone

When God forgives, there is a transmission of grace to the person who needs forgiving. When is this forgiveness extended?

God is the prime mover in all things. When Jesus died on the cross he paid for sins and sinners who were not yet born and certainly not yet repentant. Grace and forgiveness were extended then. If not then, then certainly when a person is called which is still before his repentance and faith. Forgiveness is extended as a means or a cause of repentance. It is part of preaching Christ. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). This forgiveness is not received until there is repentance.

• Acts 26:17-18: "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.&qu…

More on Warfare

In these thoughts about war, there are two major influences which will keep showing up. The first is my knowledge of the history of war and the second and more important and only authoritative source is the Bible.

I suppose from God’s viewpoint, the whole question would be simply answered. We do not have that answer laid out for us in the Bible in any one place. Consequently, our different systematic theologies on war are not simple; they are either complicated or simplistic. The following, I am fairly sure, is not God’s simple answer, but if I thought it was far off, I would not write this.

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (Rev. 12:7-8). Here was a war between absolute good and absolute evil. I am going to make a deduction. It may seem obvious, but it is still deduced. Evil is a required in order to have war. Michael would…

Christians & Warfare

From 1943 to Christmas 1950, I had a major problem with Christians in war. I was theoretically a pacifist.

At the time, I was not a Christian. I was a patriot. I did not think it was possible to be both, so I chose to be a patriot. In 1945 I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. In 1946, I went to the Naval Academy. In 1947, I received Christ.

Now I was both a naval officer and a Christian. I could see the contradiction. I asked a Christian midshipman about it. He told me it would work out because there was no war. I wasn’t killing anyone, so I let it slide.

By my first class year (senior year), I was in trouble on cruise with the officer in charge because of my witness. During the year I was called up to the Assistant to the Commandant, the senior chaplain, and the company officer. One of the four told me I would be lucky if I made it to the rank of lieutenant junior grade. The company officer suggested I resign.

Now I could see that the Navy and Christianity were incompatible, not because …

Just Warfare

Dear H,

Thank you for forwarding the article on the 2003 Iraq war. On the surface it is hard to disagree with; however, I disagree with a lot of it.

There are non-combatants, but there are no innocent people. We do not want a serious debate on "what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence." People already know what it means - they just don't want to do it, because they are convinced that it provokes violence against those who confess Christ.

The article assumes preemptive war is the answer. It is not the answer. That does not mean turning a blind eye to torture and civilian casualties. We are probably one of very few nations that do not turn a blind eye to these things.

Here are some additional thoughts.

Our worst enemy is Satan. "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you" (Rom. 16:20). Notice that the God of Peace will crush Satan under your (the Christians’) feet.
And there was war in heaven. M…

Dear Friend: Victory & Joy

Dear E,

I thought I would take a few minutes and write to you to draw your attention to some wonderful Scriptures.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3).

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of lif…

Dear Friend: Having Trouble Forgiving Your Wife

Dear B,

Thank you for the time we have had together. I am going to run two things by you again. There is something wrong with our communication.

1. Before it is possible to forgive her from your heart (Matt. 18:35), you must yourself be forgiven for the sin of not forgiving. Your wife’s sin of disrespect is so big in your eyes that it dwarfs your sin of not loving and not forgiving her. Not forgiving is sin. It must be confessed from the heart as sin against God. If you say you forgive without being forgiven, it will be words only and not true forgiveness. That is like telling the truth after twenty years of lying, without having confessed the twenty years of lying. It doesn't work.

2. For the sake of keeping our communication open, I backed off from using the word pride. However, there are other evidences in your life that confirm to me that pride is a major problem in your life.

Pride and humility are opposites. Pride and humiliation are not opposites. Humiliation confirms the …

The Wonderful Name of Jesus

Dear D,

Thank you. Whether you are saved or not, salvation from demon possession is the same. There are three ways:

1. Prayer: “He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer.’” (Mark 9:29)

2. The Name of Jesus Christ: “She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment the spirit left her.” (Acts 16:18)

3. Command: (also Acts 16:18)

Although we know all of the above, we do not know it enough. I suggest that you get a book from Amazon called The Wonderful Name of Jesus by E. W. Kenyon and Assurances of Salvation by me on Kindle.

Please stay in touch,

Jim Wilson

Dear Friend: Reconciling When They Don't Apologize

Dear D,

Thank you. Yes, reconciliation must be made (Matthew 5:23-24, Matthew 18:15-35, Matthew 6:12-15, Luke 17:3-4, Leviticus 6:1-5, Galatians 6:1).

What is absent from these texts is apology. What is present is forgiveness from the heart, even if there is no repentance or apology (seven times in one day and seventy-seven times). We make restitution if we are guilty. We do not demand restitution or apology if the other person is guilty. In Matthew 18:15, we show him his fault for his good, not for ours: "If your brother sins, go and point out his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won him over." In Galatians 6:1, we show him his fault to restore him: "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted." I do not show him his fault because he sinned against me. If I did it that way, I would guarantee there would be no re…

Dear Friend: Dealing with Offenses from Others

I do not remember what I said in the talk, but I will volunteer what I think the Bible teaches.

If person A offends person B, he either does it intentionally or accidentally. If it is intentional, he has sinned against God because he is to love brothers, neighbors, and enemies. He must confess his sin to God and let person B know that he has sinned against God, he has confessed it, and God has forgiven him. If person B takes offense, whether it was intentional or not, he is in sin. If he is a Christian, he is supposed to take this treatment with joy (Luke 6:35, 1 Peter 2:18-21, Matthew 5:11-12).

Even if we apply Matthew 18:15-35, the key verse is 35: "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Giving to the offender alone does not mean giving to him, having taken great offense. He is to go to restore the brother. If you go to him with an accusation, there is no way you will be reconciled. If you take a…

For the Saints in Moscow & Pullman

How many of you think this way, or how many would like to think this way?

“You must aim to be saintly and righteous, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12)

“Not that I have obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12)

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“Do everything without complaining or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14)

“Love one another deeply.” (1 Peter 1:22)

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy in all you do.’” (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Practical Christianity class starts up again tonight at my house, 11…

Dear Friend: Systematic Theology

Thank you for writing. This answer may take awhile.

Bessie and I have some of the same convictions that you have about contemporary church services. And we have similar personal views on smoking, drinking, and dancing. We could probably sign the longest list of “do nots” of any fundamental church in the country, but we would not. We have managed to be and remain non-legalistic. The statement of Paul in Romans 14:17-18 is where we like to be: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval."

Reformed theology has two things in common with other evangelical theologies:

1. The gospel, the deity, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, grace, faith, and repentance.
2. It is a systematic theology (like Arminianism, Wesleyanism, Dispensationalism, Lutheranism, etc.).

We agree on #1 if we are saved peopl…

Raising Our Children: Principles We Followed

Here are a few principles we followed in raising our children.

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deut. 11:18).

We saturated the children with love.

Love and respect. It took us a while to learn this, but this we went overkill with respect and love.

We anticipated problems so we met them before they happened so there was no rebellion. Here are two examples of that.

We lived in Annapolis Maryland from 1958-1968. I cut Doug and Evan’s hair. I cut it right over the top. Then we moved to Ann Arbor. It might as well have been Boulder or Berkeley. Ann Arbor was Hippyville. I asked Bessie what she thought of long hair. She did not like it. Neither did I. I asked her if she thought long hair was a sin. “No!” “Well, since we do not think it is a sin, let’s call the boys I and tell them they can grow their hair.” They had never asked to grow their hair.…

Thoughts from My Writing Desk

Books are not meant to be idols or possessions or decorations. They are a means of communicating. A book on a bookshelf is worthless.

Biographies are not meant for entertainment but for edification. As I am reading over the rough draft of Grace Upon Grace, my autobiography, I see some things you ought to know. A large part of it has to do with bookstores. Because of the success of evangelism and edification in the bookstores I have been in, I came to the conclusion that bookstores were the means of evangelism. I sold many people on bookstores. I was wrong. Many of the stores went under financially and from a ministry perspective.

The success of the ministry was because of the person in the store, not the store itself.

In 1953-54, I had a course in command communications at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. As part of the course, I was required to take a correspondence course in strategy and tactics from the Naval War College in Newport, RI. In this course, I learned of …

Dear Friend: Unity in the Middle East

There are several reasons that there is unity among the believers in countries like Iraq.

• They all desire to be close to God.
• The believers have not been taught by different schools of thought. They agree with each other.
• The believers are so few they that need the fellowship more.
• Evangelism (the Gospel) is the common goal.
• There is a common unbelief surrounding them.

In any case, it is nice to have the unity. You said, “I want something that makes me more like what God wants me to be,” and, “I have not seen any theology that universally provides this.” You do not have to choose between different existing theologies. Do not bother studying them and comparing them with each other.

• As you read the New Testament, look for and list all of the chapters that teach you how to be like Jesus. Also look for and list all the chapters that teach you, plainly, a distinctive theology. How many are there?
• Read all the texts that teach about examples and imitation.
• Read the Scripture…

More Thoughts from an Old Man

In my previous post, I told you what Jesus Christ had done for your salvation and that you have to sin to qualify for salvation. Is there any other response you have to make besides sin? Yes, but first I will tell you what it isn’t.

It is not being good or trying to be good or trying to stop swearing. This is for two reasons: 1) It is futile. 2) “Goodness” is not acceptable to God.

All the other religions in the world say you have to be good. Yes! How successful are they in being good? Not very. It only proves that these are man-made religions.

Here are words that describe man’s response to the sacrifice of Jesus. They are not synonyms, but they all have the same object and the same result. Pay attention:

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). The subject is “all,” the verb is “received,” the object is “Him,” and the result is “children of God.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I w…

Fresh Thoughts from an "Old Man"

I want to give you perhaps some fresh thoughts about forgiveness of sins and a place among the sanctified and tell you how to acquire both.

The first thing to recognize is this: you have to be bad to make it to heaven, and you have to be bad to be forgiven. How bad? Not very bad (white lies, disobedience to parents) or very bad (murder, adultery, rape, fat lies, stealing, coveting, and atheism). You do not have to do anything to qualify. You have already done the minimum.

How about being good or relatively good? Goodness does not count. People who are good cannot be forgiven. “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). You have to qualify first. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

He did not stay dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
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.…