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

Monday, July 30, 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 entirety for more than 70 years. There were quite a few things in your booklet that I noted as biblicaly true. Then there was reasoning based upon the reader’s supposed experience. Page 12 first paragraph and second paragraph: “Of course you would.” False!

When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He told Moses His name. He told it two ways. The first was “'I Am' sent you." The other was YHWH – four consonants without vowels. All Hebrew was written without vowels. The people knew how to pronounce the words, but there was no clue how to pronounce them from the written words. YHWH had a meaning very close to “I Am.”

Later, when the Jews were afraid of using God’s name in vain, they would not say the word YHWH, and sometimes they would not write it. They would leave the space blank, or they would substitute the word Adonai. It still had the exact meaning. The New Testament does not use the Hebrew word at all. It will quote Joel 2:32 and use the word Kyrios. When translating into English, they made YHWH into LORD (all caps), and when they translated Adonai, they made it “Lord” (lower case). So when we read our Bible, we know which word is meant. When the Hebrew inserted vowels, they inserted two, an “a” and an “e,” but they did not insert an extra vowel “o” and did not pronounce “J.” It was always
“Y.” “Jehovah” was not used until the 1880 Revised Version and the American Standard Version of 1901.

The more likely, correct pronunciation is Yahweh, or we can just say the meaning, “I Am.”

I have a question or two.

1. Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Yahweh our Elohim is one Yahweh.” Is Yahweh the same as Elohim?

In John 12:42, it says, “The things Isaiah said because he saw this glory and he spoke of Him." The “Him” is Jesus, verse 37. This reference is speaking of Isaiah 6:1-8 when Jesus identifies himself as the LORD of glory.

Joel 2:32 is quoted at least twice in the New Testament: “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” When this text is quoted in the NT, the Hebrew YHWH is not used. Peter quotes this verse it in Acts 2:21 and then proceeds to teach from the Old Testament that the Messiah is YHWH and that Messiah would rise from the dead. Then he taught that Jesus rose from the dead. The Jews thought they knew who YHWH was. They thought they know who Jesus was, and they thought they knew who the Messiah was. They were all different from each other in their minds. Then Peter made a three-way identification and concluded his message with this statement: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both YHWH and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)
They were cut to the heart and repented and believed. This is the first time the LORD Jesus Christ was heard in one phrase. It is normal now.

Paul does the same thing in Romans 10: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom. 10:9-13). Paul starts with confessing Jesus Christ as LORD, YHWH, and ends with quoting Joel 2:32. This is identifying Jesus with YHWH.

There are several translations of YHWH, both in the Old and New Testament – LORD, Lord, Adonai, Kyrios. The translations are all by meaning, none of them by a correct pronunciation. Jehovah is an attempt to translate by sound. It is not a good attempt because there is no “J,” and the vowel “o” is not present and should not be pronounced.

The best translation is the original “I AM.” Jesus used this I AM referring to Himself about eight times in the Gospel of John, two of which got him into trouble because the Jews knew what He was saying.
“Very truly I tell you," Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:58-59)
They were going to stone him to death because He identified Himself with YHWH.
“Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:5-6)
The “He” in the quotation is not in the original. It was added. What Jesus said was, “I Am.” When He said that, they drew back and fell to the ground. They knew what He was saying.

Many years ago, I was told by a Jehovah's Witness that John 1:1 should be translated, “And the Word was a god.” He said the indefinite “a” had to be the meaning, because the definite “the” was not used. This was established to prove that Jesus was not God.

He claimed that if the definite “the” is not used, then “a” has to be used. However, in John 1:5 that reasoning is not used. The text would then read, “There was a man sent from a god.” They keep, “There was a man send from God.”

A few months ago, I offered some Christian literature to a woman. I did not know it when I offered the book, but she was a Jehovah's Witness. She seemed to want the book, but said she was a Jehovah's Witness and was not allowed to take it, and she was overwhelmed with Jehovah's Witness literature. This kind of authority over a constituent is unbiblical. God does not give that kind of authority over people. Satan is the one who has slaves (2 Timothy 2:26).

In the Lord Jesus Christ and with love and respect,

Jim Wilson

P.S. I would encourage you to read the New Testament. If you read four chapters a day, you will finish it in about two months (four chapters would be around 15-20 minutes).



Friday, July 27, 2018

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 not make it easy for her.

“Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13).

This is very important information. It tells us that great transgressions will never happen if willful sins do not get dominion over you. The great transgression of divorce tells me that you have had accumulated willful sins which got dominion over you which you have not confessed, repented of, and been forgiven for.

Our only enemy in this world is Satan. He is rebellious and a liar. His object is to get the saints to shoot at each other. He has succeeded and convinced you both that the other one is the enemy.

The reasons you were rejoicing when you first became a Christian are: all of your sins were forgiven, you were indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and your name was written in the Book of Life. The reason you are more unhappy now is that you are being disciplined by God for your sins.

“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My sons, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:5-11).

This discipline is evidence that you are a child of God. Unbelievers do not get disciplined for sin. Christians do; they are unable to enjoy sin like unbelievers.

There are two kinds of people who are in trouble: those who cannot keep from sinning and those who can keep from sinning but will not.

People either cannot obey God or will not obey God. The first is a description of an unbeliever. The second is a description of a believer. To the best of my knowledge, you are a believer with no joy. The solution is to come to God in repentance for all of the willful sins and all of the resultant great transgressions.

You may be involved in such a way that you think you cannot extricate yourself, like you have given your word. Remember, you gave your word to your wife before God and witnesses.

I hope to be in touch with you. In the meantime, I will pray.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

Thursday, July 26, 2018

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: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve" (1 Cor. 5:1-5).

3. That because you are a sinner and Christ died for sinners, you have access to this salvation. It is free. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

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. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)

How do you receive this free gift?

• Receive and believe. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13).

• Call upon Him. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom. 10:13).

• Believe and confess. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9-10).

• Come to Him. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

• Repent. "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38). "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

Although these words are different (receive, believe, call, come, repent), they mean the same action. Receiving, believing, calling, coming, confessing, repenting are all the same thing. The object is the Lord Jesus, and the result is salvation.

You asked, “What is necessary to please God?” Nothing that you can do. Jesus did it all. You need to know what He did. That is the good news! You can read about it in the Bible. Start with the books of Luke, John, Acts, and Romans. They will create faith in you.

Call upon Him to save you as soon as you have faith.

If you are in a hurry, read the first three and the last three chapters of Luke, the first four and the last four of John, the first four chapters of Acts, and the first eight chapters of Romans. Later you can read the whole New Testament.

You do not have to clean yourself up in order to please God. You can't. You call upon Him, and He will clean you up.

Please respond after you have called upon the Lord. If you do not understand, please write to me again.

Your friend,

Jim Wilson

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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."
• Luke 24:46-47: "He told them, 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'"
• Luke 13:3-5" "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
• Luke 5:20-26: "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.' The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?' Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, 'Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....' He said to the paralyzed man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'"

For the unbeliever, if there is no repentance, there is no forgiveness and no salvation. For the Christian, if there is no forgiveness from us, there is no forgiveness for us. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:32-35).

Because God is both “ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5) and forgiving, there may not be really any real difference between them. What makes it different is when we apply the “ready to forgive” as a doctrine to man. If we withhold forgiveness from someone because we think he is not repentant, we are really withholding forgiveness from ourselves.

When I forgive someone, it does not help him at all, because only God can cleanse a man’s heart by forgiveness. "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). When I forgive him, nothing happens to him. It only happens to me.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors... For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:12, 14). For the believer, if there is no forgiveness from the heart, there is no forgiveness to him. If I am really ready to forgive as God is, then I am already forgiving, and my heart is clean.

However, if I hold it as a doctrine, then by deliberately withholding forgiveness I may have put myself into a position of not being ready to forgive. I spend my time waiting and watching for his repentance and judging whether he is really repentant, and consequently I hurt myself.

Yes, we should take Luke 17:3-4 more literally than Mr. Whitney says. He says “we should be willing to forgive the repentant believer no matter how often he sincerely repents.” Mr. Whitney added “willing” and “sincerely” to Jesus' statement. We, then, are to be willing only if we see him as sincerely repentant. Anyone who has been repeatedly sinned against in one day (after each of which the perpetrator says, “I repent”) is going to suspect that that person is not “sincerely” repentant. We are to forgive because he says, “I repent”. We are not to judge the sincerity of the repentance. We are to forgive from the heart. If I do not, I am in big trouble with God.

In Matthew 18:21-22, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’" There is no indication of repentance in this passage. It is endless forgiveness. You may call this being “ready to forgive,” but Jesus does not use that expression. It is not being "ready" to forgive. It is forgiving. It is already having forgiven. It is not waiting for repentance.

In Luke 5:20-26, Jesus forgave the man who was brought to Him to be healed. He later healed him. That man did not come to repent. It was the bearer’s faith, not the man’s faith, that Jesus recognized.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

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 not fight against Gabriel. Good would not war against Good, nor will Evil fight against Evil: “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12:26).

There is a great spiritual war going on. It started in Heaven and will end on Earth in the very short conflict described in Revelation 20:7-10. In the meantime, people are in this spiritual war; in fact, we are the objects over which this conflict is raging.

It takes evil in order to have spiritual war. The spiritual was has been going on for a long time. Satan is in it; his angels are in it. Everyone born on this earth is in it. The rest of creation is in it. God and His angels are in it. There is no discharge until we go to be with the Lord. In this war, there is no such thing as a conscientious objector. There is no place to go. There is no Canada or Sweden. There are no neutral nations.

Physical war on this earth is part, a major part, of this spiritual war. Physical war, therefore, also requires evil. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God" (James 4:1-2).

Although Satan will not fight against himself, evil nations will war against evil nations because evil nations are made up of people, and this is part of Satan’s war against the Lord. Also, Satan will have evil nations fight against relatively righteous nations or absolutely righteous nations, as in that final great conflict: “And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Revelation 20:9).

We have several instances in biblical history where God did all of the fighting and His people were passive. The first is that wonderful Exodus from Egypt where Moses promised the people, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Ex. 14:14), and later in the chapter, “The Lord routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea” (Ex. 14:28). In Moses’ song of victory, he sang, “The Lord is a man of war.”

The second instance is Jehoshaphat’s victory in 2 Chronicles 20:20-23. The third is Hezekiah’s victory in 2 Kings 19:35-36. And, of course, there is that final one yet to come, where “fire came down from Heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Monday, July 23, 2018

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 of my pacifist convictions, but because the Navy could not tolerate Christians who lived it and talked it. I resigned and quit studying for my ordinates and gunnery final. The resignation came back from the Secretary of the Navy: Disapproved. I was then flunking ordinates and gunnery. I did not know what to do - I thought it was right to get out of the Navy, but I couldn't.

The following week, ten midshipmen received Christ. I accepted the truth that God wanted me in the Navy. It was peace time. I asked for a ship in the Far East so I could help missionaries when we were in port (I later married one).

I got to San Francisco just in time to find out that North Korea had crossed the 38th parallel, starting the Korean War, and my ship was supporting the landing of the First Cavalry Division at Pohang Dong. By September 6th, my ship was assigned to call fire on the Pusan perimeter. I was the only one on the ship pulling the trigger. One time we fired for 30 straight hours, another time 20 hours, another time 16. We did this for 20 days.

After that, we were sent North to the Russian border to enforce the UN-declared blockade. On the return, we were at general quarters to destroy some railroad cars near Tanchon. I was ordered to the Main Battery Director by the Gunnery Officer. When I arrived, he said that he did not know why he ordered me to leave Gunnery Plot (my battle station). While I was still in the Main Battery Director, we hit a mine. My battle station was completely destroyed. There was one survivor left, the chief I had left in charge while I was gone. He lived two hours and then died. The rescue party did not pull me out. They knew that that was my battle station, so the word went around the ship that I was the only officer killed. It was a shock to the ship when I later showed up on the main deck.

I was in turmoil. I had submitted my resignation; it was rejected. I had asked for a ship in the Far East to help missionaries in peacetime; the war started at the end of my graduation leave, and I was one of very few of my classmates who were there at the beginning of the war. I rationalized to myself that I was only handling combat information; I was not killing anyone. Then we were sent to the front lines, and I was shifted to Gunnery plot where I was the only one on the ship killing anyone. Then I was delivered, and my team was killed.

On the way back to port in our damaged ship, men were coming to me to ask me why their close friends were killed. I could answer that. I did not know why I had not died, except I knew that God had to have directed it. It certainly was not my choice. I knew He was in it, but I did not know why.

The war was now over for me. I would be home for Christmas. However, I knew I should stay in the Forward Area until I knew why God had caused this chain of events. If I went home for the rest of the war, I would never find out, and I would not solve my problem of being a Christian and a military officer. I asked for any combatant ship remaining in the forward area.

I got orders at Midway Island to the USS Brinkley Bass. I came aboard her in the Sea of Japan, January 1, 1951. In between ships, I looked up several missionaries, including Bessie Dodds in Yokohama. No one knew of my dilemma. I was a pacifist at heart and a regular Navy officer, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and seeing action in war.

I did not tell the missionaries. They would say, “What are you doing in the Navy?” I did not refuse to obey because I was a pacifist. It would not be believed. After all, I had gone to the Naval Academy. “You decide that you are a pacifist only after you are under fire? We will give you a General Court Martial for cowardice under fire and refusing to obey orders in time of war”. I just kept quiet and prayed for some light.

The answer to prayer came through Bessie. She gave me her autographed copy of Lt. General Sir William Dobbie’s A Very Present Help. General Dobbie came from a pacifist church. The answer to my prayer was in his book.

My basic question was in Exodus 20, “Thou shall not kill,” and in Exodus 21 where the death penalty was required for the killing that was forbidden in the previous chapter. There was much killing in the rest of the Old Testament, much of it clearly in the will of God.

Were these contradictions, or was there something else I did not see, some other principle that was not a contradiction?

In the Scriptures, there is a precedence of qualities. Here are a few verses that compare the qualities of righteousness and peace. A Very Present Help helped me see this principle.
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isa. 32:17)

Therefore, since we have been justified [made righteous[ through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem," which means "king of peace." (Heb. 7:1-2)

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
Notice that the righteousness precedes and causes God’s kind of peace. First king of righteousness, then king of peace. God will not have peace at the expense of righteousness.

He would not have peace at the expense of righteousness at the time of the Flood. "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time" (Gen. 5:6).

God would not have peace in Sodom and Gomorrah at the expense of righteousness. However, he would have spared the cities if there had been ten righteous people.

The Canaanites were not bad enough to destroy in Abraham’s day. Four hundred and forty years later, the sin of the Amorites had reached its full measure. "In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure" (Gen. 15:16).

"After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, 'The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.' No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people" (Deut. 9:4-6)

The rest of the Old Testament, beginning with the book of Judges, the judgments that were brought on Israel were because of their unrepentant iniquity. The cities that were marked for complete destruction (Tyre, Nineveh, Babylon, etc.) were because of their complete iniquity.

At the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, God told Jeremiah, "Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city" (Jer. 5:1). God would forgive the whole city for the sake of one righteous person.

In the New Testament, Jesus does not abrogate the death penalty. "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,’ and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death'" (Mark 7:10).
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem," which means "king of peace." (Heb. 7:1-2)

Friday, July 20, 2018

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. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Rev. 12:7-9)

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. (Rev. 19:17-19)
When I represent myself, I should love my enemies to my own hurt with no exceptions that I know of.
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 stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)
If I am walking down the street and someone comes up and hits me on the right cheek, I will turn the other so he can hit me again. If however, he hits my wife, I would hit him hard as unto the Lord. If someone comes into a restaurant and starts shooting the customers, I would stop him if it were possible, even if he died or I died as a result.

People who died in Iraq on both sides are probably went to hell when they died. If they lived to be a hundred, they probably would have gone to Hell. That is the tragedy. It is a tragedy that God knows about.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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 life. And who is equal to such a task?" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

"For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins" (1 Peter 1:8-9).

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Notice the victory, the triumph, and the glorious joy that are normal for Christians. Your thoughts and emotions have become more authoritative to you than the Word of God.

Here is an exercise in personal application Bible study. Read the first two chapters of Ephesians. Mark and number everything that these chapters say the believer has in Jesus Christ. Read each one and ask yourself this question: "True or False?" When you answer the question, "True!," thank God for this wonderful thing that you have in Jesus Christ. Take this list of truths with you and thank God all day long for where you are in Jesus Christ.

It will be very hard to be discouraged, depressed, or in despair when you thank God. You also need fellowship with the saints. Please check in with me.

With love in Christ,

Jim Wilson

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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 pride. You think that to humble yourself before God that will mean also humbling yourself before your wife and your daughter. To you, humbling yourself before them would be humiliating. You think that would increase their disrespect for you, and you cannot handle that.

In fact, it would increase their respect for you. The more a man demands respect, the less he gets it. It is not possible to humiliate a humble person. That only happens to prideful people. Your own father said this. “There are two types of men in this world, humble men and those who are about to be humiliated.” Those who are humble and those on their way to being humiliated.

The books are right in that men need respect like women need love. That is part of creation. However, there is a solution that is not dependant on other people respecting us. It is humbling ourselves.

The way down is up.

Here is the biblical truth:
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. (Isa. 14:12-15)

Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'In the pride of your heart you say, "I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.'” (Ezek. 28:2)

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (Ezek. 28:17)
These two kings of Babylon and Tyre each sought to be God. They were brought low by God. Truly, the way down is up.
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14)

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. (1 Tim. 3:6)
The way up is down.

The extreme example of humility is Jesus.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:1-11)

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:11)
Truly, the way up is down.

We either follow the devil or we follow Jesus.

You have not sought to be God. However, in whatever you do, you seek to be the best in order to be respected. In the world system, that works. Consequently, you have been respected outside the home and have become the center of your own universe. It hasn’t worked with your wife and daughter. It does not work with God. The system is different with Him. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). Jesus is gentle and humble. Do you want to be like Jesus?

We arrive at humility by humbling ourselves. It is not a natural state. If someone else humbles us, it is humiliating. You have not been willing to humble yourself before God because it means humbling yourself before people whom you think are wrong. You would rather be “right” than humble. You do not want to be like Jesus. He was highly exalted because He humbled himself. Satan exalts himself and was cast down.

This refusing to humble yourself keeps you unforgiven and without the fruit of the Spirit.

With love and respect,

Jim

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

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 reconciliation. I would be accusing him, not forgiving him.

With love and respect,

Jim Wilson

Friday, July 13, 2018

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 brother who has taken offense on your behalf, the offender will not receive the correction. If you then take it to the church, and the church does not have forgiveness in its heart, reconciliation will not happen. The awful part of this scenario is the offended person thinks that he has taken biblical action.

Forgiving “seven times” and “seventy times seven” does not even suggest that the offender has confessed or apologized. No, the offended must have forgiveness in his heart whether or not the offender has repented.

There is a situation in Luke 17:3-4 where the offender sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he says he repents, you are to forgive him from the heart. After he punches you in the nose three times and says he repents, you might get suspicious that he is not really repentant, so you think, “Since he is not really repentant, I will not really forgive him.” You may not be the judge of his repentance. When you forgive him from your heart, you do not help him; you only help yourself because if you do not forgive from your heart, you are in big trouble with God.

If person C to takes offense on behalf of his friend B, he himself is in sin, and he is not helping his friend B to be forgiving.

This is short. Here are more truths on the subject:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. (Col. 3:13)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:32)

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors... For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt. 6:12, 14-15)
In Christ,

Jim

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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, 114 S. Howard St. in Moscow. It will run every Thursday evening at 7:00 until further notice. All are welcome to attend.

The prerequisite: You want to be like Jesus.
The assignment: You believe and obey what you learn.
There will be no commitment to attend. Don't worry if you miss the first session or other sessions.
Subjects: TBD, partly by the attendees. I do not want to go over what you have already heard in previous sessions.

If you want to think like the Scriptures quoted above, come to the class.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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 people. We disagree on #2 in that the theologies are different from each other.

What is common is that all of these theologies are systematic. This is a way of studying the Bible.

Systematic theology is not just an accumulation of topical Bible studies put together. It is a worldview made up of Scriptures from all over the Bible with every piece fitting together perfectly like a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. As we read through the Bible, none of us can see it fitting together perfectly like we want it to. The Bible is not written that way. But we want it to fit, so we study it systematically. This means that we have to pound a few pieces into place. That seems innocent enough. However, someone else happens to be pounding other pieces in a different way. Our different pictures will not look the same. This is a wrong way of studying the Bible. We are choosing which way we are going to be wrong. We do not find truth this way.

There are five points in Reformed theology that were first put together at the Synod of Dort. They were a reaction to five points of Arminianism.

• Total Depravity: Mankind is so depraved that it is impossible for him to believe or repent until after he is born again.
• Unconditional Election: The saved were elected by God to be saved before the foundation of the world.
• Limited Atonement: Christ only died for the elect. He did not die for the people who are eventually lost. The key word used is “efficacious.” Christ’s death is always effective. If Christ died for the lost and they were still lost, then His death is not efficacious. If He died for every last person and His death is efficacious, then universalism is the result, and everyone would be saved. Since they know that universalism is not true and that Christ’s death is efficacious, then He did not die for the non-elect. This is reasoning; it is not biblical.
• Irresistible Grace: Since you are elect, it is impossible to frustrate the grace of God. This is called sovereign grace.
• Perseverance of the Saints: If you die as an apostate unbeliever, that proves that you were not elect in the first place.

If you would like a book on these five points from the Reformed position, there is one by the authors Thomas and Steele called The Five Points of Calvinism.

Unfortunately most of us have theologies and living is made up of one of two things: a reaction to what we think is not right and conformity to what we think is right. We are cultural Christians more than we are biblical Christians.

In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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. The other kids in the church grew their hair out of rebellion. Ours grew theirs with permission.

We also let Doug and Evan have the car to drive to the East Coast.

Some years later, I asked our daughter Heather if she knew why she had not rebelled. She said that she knew that the day she stepped out of line, we would leave the ministry. She also told me that she had asked Douglas why he had not rebelled. He replied that it was hard to rebel against someone you agreed with.

Monday, July 09, 2018

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 the principles of war. Principles are different than methods. They are abstracts. I began using these principles in evangelism? As a result, I wrote a Christian book called Principles of War. It first came out in chapters in Command magazine.

In the OCF bookstore in Annapolis in the early 60s, we published a newspaper called The Nameless News. I chose to write an editorial on bitterness. I had nothing special in mind. That editorial hit a chord in Annapolis.

In the 25 years following, I did much conference speaking for InterVarsity, OCF, CBMC, and ISI. I often spoke on bitterness, with similar results. In 1990, my oldest son had his secretary transcribe one of the taped talks and give me 100 printed copies. Since then, about 300,000 copies have been printed in magazine form in English and as a bound book done by Canon Press. It is also been translated into 20 foreign languages, with another translation currently in progress (French).

Friday, July 06, 2018

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 Scriptures that teach about the heart and about fruit.
• Read all the Scriptures that teach about knowledge.
• Read the Scriptures that have the verb of being and then the Scriptures that have action verbs.
• Do not explain Scriptures, and do not pay attention to explanations of Scriptures.
• Do not reason from Scripture or deduce.
• You may follow reasoning that is within Scripture.
• Unless there is an answer given in the text, do not ask, “Why?”

I recognize that I have not given you any examples. That is on purpose.

Most of all, read the Scriptures in context and reread them. Read 1 John every day for a week.

Follow the examples of those who look most like Jesus. Is it their distinctive theology that makes them more like Jesus?

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

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 will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The subject is “all you,” the verb is “come,” the object is “me,” and the result is “rest.”

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). The verb is “learn,” the object is “from me,” and the result is rest for your souls.

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30). The subject is “all you,” the verb is “take,” the object is “my yoke,” and the result is a light burden.

“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). The subject is “whoever”, the verb is “believe,” the object is “Him,” and the result is “eternal life.”

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). The subject is “you,” the verb is “confess,” and the object is “Jesus is LORD.”

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:10). The subject is “you,” the verb is “believe,” the object is “God raised Him from the Dead,” and the result is “saved.”

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). The subject is “everyone who,” the verb is “call,” the object is “the name of the LORD,” and the result is “saved.”

“And, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). The subject is “all who,” the verb is “obey,” the object is “Him,” and the result is “eternal salvation.”

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thessalonians 1:8). The subject is “who,” the verb is “do not obey,” the object is “the gospel of our Lord Jesus,” and the result is everlasting destruction.

“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). The subject is “God,” the verb is “commands to repent,” the object is “all men everywhere.” Repentance is not an option. It is a command to all men everywhere.

God has appointed a day when He will judge the world with justice.

How can the gospel be obeyed? By obeying the command to repent.

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). The noun is “everyone of you,” the active verb is “repent,” the object of the prepositions “in” and “for” are “the name of Jesus Christ” and “the forgiveness of your sins.” In the second sentence the object is “you,” the verb is “will receive,” the the object is “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Monday, July 02, 2018

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. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (Titus 3:3-8)

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. (Hebrews 2:14)
To get a fuller picture and to increase your faith, read Romans 1-5, Luke, John, and Acts.