Category Archives: The Word

God Doesn’t Always Answer Our Prayers: What the Scriptures Say About Unanswered Prayer

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  James 4:3

 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us….1 John 5:14

While reading through the Bible over the past few years, I have been surprised to come across a substantial number of scriptures, which clearly state that God doesn’t always answer our prayers, and sometimes He doesn’t even hear them. This is the exact opposite of what most churches seem to teach these days. Instead, what I hear…often…is that anything we ask for God WILL provide…if we only just believe. If we don’t receive it? Well, we just don’t have enough faith.  In other words – it’s your own fault that you aren’t healed and aren’t receiving abundant financial blessings! The verses that are often quoted to support this theory, usually in isolation, are similar to Mathew 21:22 below:

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

…And John 11:22

“But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

Two well-known verses from Acts come to mind as I consider the meaning of the above scriptures, along with the whole name-it-and-claim-it theological paradigm (for lack of a better, less pretentious word). In reality, the verses from Acts (cited below) should be applied to ANY biblical counsel we receive from man.

In Acts 17:11, Paul commends his Christian brothers and sisters from Berea, not only for receiving the word of God with readiness of mind but also for testing the truth of his words with the scriptures. Paul was one of those rare teachers who was actually blessed when his words were tested in the refining fire of scripture. Furthermore, in Acts 20:17, Paul notes, as he was preparing to leave Ephesus for the last time, that he didn’t cover just a few areas of Christian doctrine while preaching to the church. Instead, he taught “all the counsel of God.” Why did he do this? I believe it was to prevent someone from taking his teaching of out of context and using it for their own personal gain – or using it to create a cult following based on a minor point of doctrine. In other words, Paul knew that if he taught the church the whole counsel of God, then an elder or another believer, who was also present when he was preaching, could correct an errant or deceptive brother after Paul had departed. Doctrinal truth mattered a great deal to him (1 Timothy 4:16).

We too are exhorted by Paul, through Timothy, to study the scriptures intently for ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15), and to refuse to cling to a single verse or passage that appeals to our flesh or just seems right to us, when there are other passages that place that scripture in it’s proper spiritual context. No topic is more needful of intense study than prayer.

It has always troubled me when someone who is not a believer, explains to me that, when they were in some kind of difficulty, they cried out to “God” to help them…and He was silent. Well, there is a reason for that. Below, I will lay out the scriptures that teach us why God doesn’t always answer us or even hear us, and then I will set forth some of the scriptures that tell us when He does both hear and answer us, even if the answer isn’t always what we expect.

WHY GOD DOESN’T ANSWER US:

1. God doesn’t answer us when our prayers revolve around fulfilling our covetous desires:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  James 4:3

Unfortunately, this profound, but obvious truth (for anyone who studies the scriptures with regularity), is all but ignored by the popular “Christian” authors and teachers of our day. Jesus was poor and had no place to rest His head (Luke 9:58). Paul, too, was poor, had “no certain dwelling place” and walked from town to town across Asia minor, often starving and cold, even after being beaten multiple times with whips and rods (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). He was ultimately decapitated after spending the last two years of his life imprisoned in Rome. It is no wonder that the passage below, is ignored by many popular churches today:

If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words…and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;He is proud, knowing nothing…Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.But godliness with contentment is great gain.For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (*Please note that the highlighted section is ONLY found in the Textus Receptus Greek, and in the KJV in English. Not many pastors today would be in business if we all withdrew from the ones who equated godliness with financial increase, so…they simply use a Bible where it has been efficiently…edited out.)

2. God doesn’t answer us when we delight in or ignore our sin:

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  Isaiah 59:2

 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me….”  Psalm 66:18

3. God doesn’t answer husbands who aren’t loving their wives:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.  1 Peter 3:7

We are to love our wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25), and if we don’t…then our prayers WILL be hindered. God cares very much for the happiness of our wives, and expects us to love them sacrificially, just as He loved those around Him with no concern for Himself.

4. God doesn’t hear our prayers if we have no regard for the poor:

 “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”  Proverbs 21:13

I believe that a God-honoring way to truly love the poor, is to care for both their bodies and their souls, even if it is just in a small way. I recommend purchasing sound Bible tracts (meaning that they must mention the love of Jesus, and His death on the cross as the only way to cover our sins), and keep them in your car. Also, have little bags of healthy food along with water bottles in your vehicle, so that when you see a genuinely poor person, you can feed their bodies…and their precious, hurting souls. Simply doing one without the other is, in my humble estimation….completely and totally worthless. If we preach to them without caring for their physical bodies, then we are just another yapping, Bible-beating Christian who doesn’t have a clue about their real, urgent needs. Likewise, if we simply care for the physical needs of the poor and don’t share the gospel of Jesus Christ (What is the Gospel? ), which can save their eternal soul from eternal fire, then really, we are wasting our time.

5. God doesn’t answer our prayers, when what we seek isn’t according to His will.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us…”  1 John 5:14  

There are two great examples of prayers offered with a clear and unshakeable understanding of this great and surpassing truth. The first one I will comment on was by Jesus Christ, as he was about to enter into a time of unspeakable physical and emotional agony. Yet His prayer was not that His will would be done, but that God the Father’s will would be done, no matter the cost:

“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.   Luke 22:42 -44

And the second example is…Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, who, as they were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to any other god but God, responded to the king as follows:

16″ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Daniel 3:16-18

I cannot overstate how much the unconditional trust these three great men had for God…wether they were burned alive in the front of the king or not…has meant to me and my understanding of what it means to follow Him with all of my heart. God is God, and I am not. He gives and He takes away. He does according to HIS good will, whether we understand it or not. We must fully surrender to Him, and trust Him, with all of our hearts. He never makes bad decisions or leaves us to suffer needlessly. He always has a plan, and one day that plan will be clear.

6. God doesn’t answer us when we have our heart set on our idols (vanity, sports, vacations, our child’s performance in school, wealth, our reputations, etc.) rather then on him:

 “Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”  Ezekiel 1: 1-6

7. God Doesn’t hear our prayers for forgiveness if we are unforgiving:

14″ For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15  

Please note that this verse isn’t meant to imply that one loses their salvation by not forgiving someone. Unforgiveness, in my view, is simply something that we, as believers saved by the blood of the Lamb, will have to deal with at the judgement seat of Christ. Therefore, forgive as you have been forgiven…while there is still time. We don’t have to pretend with God. We simply make the decision to forgive, and ask Him to heal our hearts each time the unforgiveness and pain from the one we seek to forgive, arises. He will honor our decision to forgive. Forgiveness: To the Merciful, God shows Himself Merciful

8. If we are intentionally turning our hearts away from biblical truth or are delighting in evil, then He rejects our prayers:

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9 (We are not under law today, but the enduring point seems to be that, if we turn away from his clear, biblical truths, then He turns His ear away from us.)

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”  1 Peter 3:12

WHEN GOD DOES HEAR OUR PRAYERS:

1. God hears our prayers when our hearts are truly set on understanding and obeying Him. The verse below, when the Angel of the Lord spoke to Daniel as he was standing by the Hiddekel River, continues to instruct me regarding what a surrendered/repentant heart towards God, truly means:

12 “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”  Daniel 10:12

Later in that chapter, Daniel is actually called beloved of God. Wow…a man, in that dark time, who was not just loved by God, but was truly beloved of God. I want to be that man! Yes, I know that I am loved by God, but I want more. I want Him to look down at my life and be pleased with, not only my heart towards Him, but also with my actions. I pray that the Lord will help me to set my heart to understand His ways, in spirit and in truth – and to chasten myself before Him…not as law, but out of love.

2.The Lord hears the prayers of those that fear Him, abide in Him and call upon Him in truth:

” The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” Psalm 145: 18-19

 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling...14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him…”  Psalm 91

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:4-7      

As some of the other verses quoted in this writing have shown us, when our prayers are a reflection of our lusts, or are outside of the will of God, He doesn’t answer them. However, as the passages above teach us, if we are truly abiding in Jesus Christ, then our desires will gradually, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be conformed to His desires, and as those desires change…we will see our prayers being answered in tangible ways. 

3. God hears our prayers when our lives are pleasing to Him.  This is simply a variation on the theme above, but nevertheless, it is a verse, which clearly states how we are to keep open channels of communication with the One who made us and loves us:

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 1 John 3: 18-22

 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous,and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  1 Peter 3:12

4. God hears our prayers when our requests are in accordance with His will:

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:14-15  

 If we truly trust God as much as we claim to, yet don’t see an answer to our petition, then we can know, with certainty, that either our prayer wasn’t according to His will, or His perfect timing has not yet come. When Paul asked God THREE times that the thorn in his flesh be removed…God said ‘no” all three times ( 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Why? Because His purpose was bigger than Paul’s, even though Paul didn’t seem to agree…but Paul ended up accepting God’s answer and conforming his will to God’s. He did not name it and he did not claim it. He pleaded…and then he surrendered, trusting the One who made him, saved him, and loved him:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions,in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I believe that the passages I quoted from Luke 22 and Daniel 3 (Jesus in Gethsemane, and Shadrach, et. al. prior to the fire) best describe what I am trying to communicate with this article, and hopefully, it accurately sets forth what God wants to communicate to us about both prayer and faith, through his beautiful and powerful written word. He hears us and answers us…when our hearts are set on His will, and His will only…no matter the cost – and more than that, when we, like Job, bless his glorious name, whether he builds us up, or for His unsearchable purpose, tears us down:

13 “And there was a day when his (Job’s) sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”  Job 1: 13- 22

As the heaven’s are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than my ways, and of that…I am very glad. I know that I will never come close to getting everything right, and I will always wrestle with sin until the day I go up, yet I love Him and will press on to take hold of that for which He has taken hold of me. I will pursue my great Savior, not out of obligation, but because I love Him, and I know exactly what He did for me, naked, cold and in agony on that rough wooden cross. May we all come to trust and honor the one and only God, who loves us and gave Himself for us, with our prayers and with our lives…no matter the cost.

Preachers, Teachers and Mammon: What the Bible Says about Money and Ministry

Prayer: How to Approach God in Prayer

Preach the Word Boldly and Do Not Be Ashamed of the Gospel

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, And a Scriptural Warning to Those who Pervert It

The gospel, clearly defined:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;By which also ye are saved…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”  1 Corinthians 15:1-4

A strong warning to those who pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed…unto another gospel:Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.…So say I again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.  Galatians 1:6-9

The gospel of Jesus Christ, which we as believers are called to preach and teach, is a specific doctrine, and that doctrine is the very foundation of our Christian lives since it alone is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Therefore, we MUST get it right. The gospel is not a general Christian platitude, such as “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” and it is not a message created by man. In Galatians 2:11-12, Paul states:

11 “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The true gospel of Jesus, given to us by Christ through Paul, teaches us that God, through His Son, died in our stead in order to pay the price God requires for our sins to be forgiven. The gospel also instructs us that Jesus was buried, and, in accordance with Old Testament scriptures (Ps. 16:10; Ps.22:1-18), rose again three days later. This is the gospel that we must teach, and this is the truth in which we must stand. The gospel, as Paul lays it out for us, is the divine message, which sets those who believe on the only path to salvation. There is no other gospel.

I have heard people say that this popular mega-church or that well-known pastor preaches the gospel, but from what I’ve seen and heard, it is highly unlikely that many (if any) of these money-centered churches today, actually call people to repent, and believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again, in order to pay a debt in blood, that we could never, ever pay ourselves. Instead, what they usually seem to preach is what Paul calls “another gospel,” or “another Jesus,” meaning a fake, non-biblical Jesus – one which tickles our itching ears by failing to teach the hard but beautiful truth of the grace of God that leads to salvation (See, Titus 2:11-15). Instead, they tend to teach a type of worldly, man-centered philosophy, packaged in Christian terminology, which sadly, is what most people want to hear (2 Corinthians 11:4; 2 Tim. 4:3).

Because of what seems to be the omnipresence of these false teachers (in bookstores and on TV), many of those who consider themselves Christians today have been conditioned to love the false, man-centered Jesus, and will only accept a weak, temporal gospel, which fuels our fleshly desires for happiness and worldly success, but in truth, is no gospel at all. Any call to turn to Jesus from the sin that so easily entangles, and believe, in the deep places of our hearts, that Jesus suffered on that cross to redeem us from the eternal flames of hell we so richly deserve, is either considered passé, legalistic, or just isn’t the kind of “negativity” that people want to hear in church.

We should not attend church: to hear a message about Jesus blessing us financially, in order to find a spouse, or in an attempt to have some type of emotional worship experience. The purpose of church is to hear the soul-saving message of the cross, and to learn, with the guidance of the scriptures, how to walk before God and men in love, truth and holiness. Jesus is a God of love, mercy and grace…but he is also a God who administers justice…and at the appointed time, his vengeance will come against those who reject the true gospel, with a fury never seen before on the face of this earth…and never to be seen again. Revelation 19 is an important chapter for understanding the final judgment of God against the wickedness of man. (See, also The Wrath of Almighty God).

I recently attended a Bible study where the leader informed us that he had a new perspective on the gospel, one which he had only recently learned. He called it the “gospel of the kingdom,” per Matthew 4:17. Jesus referred to it several times as he preached to the Jewish people PRIOR to his death on the cross to redeem us from the consequences of our sin. This “gospel,” as taught in this Bible study, is allegedly for today, and lines up with the outrageously false “word of faith” doctrine, and turns present-day believers into super-apostles, with the same powers and abilities that Jesus had, including the ability to heal, raise the dead and forgive sins. According to this teaching, the reason why we are all struggling along in our miserable little Christian lives is because we haven’t yet unlocked our God-power.

This doctrine sounds very much like new age teaching shrouded in Christian language, and reminds me of the most destructive lie ever told- the one Satan whispered to Eve in the garden: “Eat this …and you shall be as gods.” We all know how that ended. As the former long-time occultist, turned brilliant apologist, Warren B. Smith said in response to this type of teaching, “Be still and know that you are NOT God.”

While Paul and the other apostles clearly had the authority to heal, and even raise the dead early in their ministries, that power seemed to wane as Christianity became established. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul doesn’t heal his beloved Timothy, but instead tells him to drink a little wine for his “frequent illnesses.” He also left his Christian brother, Trophemus, sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), while Epaphroditus, a dear friend and the pastor of the Philippian church, was so sick that he nearly died. Ultimately, GOD (not man) intervened, and healed him, to the great joy and relief of Paul (Philippians 2:25-27). As for forgiving the sins of others, Paul teaches that there is only ONE mediator between God and man…and that mediator isn’t Paul, and most certainly isn’t you or me (1 Timothy 2:5).

James, the brother of Jesus, teaches that not many of us should seek to be pastors or overseers, because those who do will face a higher standard of judgment (James 3:1). I believe that this clear warning is something all of us should consider carefully as we seek to influence those around us with what we consider to be the truth of God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the very power of God unto salvation, and Paul tells us exactly what that gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (quoted at the top of the page). In case there are any doubts that this is the one true gospel for the post-resurrection world, Paul affirms that it is the gospel which he received by direct revelation from Jesus Christ, and it is the gospel in which he stands. There is none other, and anyone (including an angel) who preaches a different, more socially relevant “gospel,” does so at their own great peril (Galatians 1:6-10).

My answer to this teacher as to how we become equipped to grow in Christ, gaining hope, wisdom, joy and confidence in this life also comes from Paul in his first letter to his dear son in the faith, Timothy:

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

It may not sound particularly exciting or insightful, but the sharp two-edged sword of the word is all we need to grow in knowledge, wisdom and strength in Christ. I don’t want super-powers. I don’t want secret insight. I want Jesus Christ, crucified for my sin, risen from the dead, and seated at the right hand of God the Father, to rule and reign in my life…and I simply want to be His obedient servant. Lord Jesus, please help that goal to be realized in me more and more each day!

We are all tempted to preach ourselves (our insight and wisdom), instead of the biblical Jesus Christ. We must fight that urge, and instead teach and preach the blood of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, for He alone is our peace. Jesus redeemed us from the consequences of the sin we used to love, and as I often note, He did it in humiliation, and in indescribable agony…cold and naked on a wooden cross.

There is only one gospel, and if it is not being preached by those who claim to be Christian leaders, then, as Paul challenged Peter publicly in Galatians 2 when he was in grave error, so should we gently but firmly challenge those who are leading our Christian brothers and sisters astray. The stakes are high and Satan is moving to build his kingdom here on earth through a false one-world religion (See, Revelation 17:1-18). Please…do not be a part of that church, either out of willful ignorance or a desire for some type of false unity under a different, more socially acceptable Jesus (and gospel)….and do not be afraid to contend vigorously for the truth, no matter the cost. The fate of countless souls, precious to our great God…are at stake.

2 Timothy 4:2-4

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 22-24

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

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Preach the word boldly and without shame

Righteous Judgement

The Power and Beauty of the Scriptures

Sin, Repentance and the Cross of Christ

Hell and the Wrath of God

Confronting Sin: Snatching Those We Love From the Flames

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Repentance, Salvation and The New Bible Versions: Yes, it Really Does Matter

3″ I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish…. Luke 13:3, 5

19″ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19

30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent….” Acts 17:30

13 “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:13

 

 

In my experience, it has been very rare to attend a church that consistently teaches the narrow road to Jesus Christ…the road that travels through his blood, shed freely for our sins on a cold hard cross. I recently attended a church where the pastor teaches frequently and powerfully against the false, broad-road, happy-go-lucky Jesus, which is so prevalent today. This man, without equivocation, states that the road to heaven is narrow and that few find it. He boldly teaches that the only Jesus who saves us from the consequences of our sin is the one described for us solely in the Bible, and that Jesus is full of love, grace, and mercy…but also unmitigated vengeance in His time. Hell and the Wrath of God Despite the fact that this pastor uses my former longtime-love, the NIV 84, I was able to sit through a few of his sermons, since the substance of the messages were not affected by the textual differences between translations. However, in a recent sermon, this changed, and the truth of God was greatly, and horrifically obscured due to a serious doctrinal change from the Textus Receptus to the newer, critical Greek text, reflected in the differences between the KJV and the NIV/NASB/ESV, et al. The Bible Version Controversy Explained

The sermon in question was on Matthew 9:9-13, and the parallel passage in Luke 5:27-32. The substance of these passages centers around the fact that Jesus surrounded himself with publicans and sinners, and frequently ate and drank with them. In Luke 5:29, the text states that Matthew, who had just been called by Jesus, held a feast in his honor at his own house. However, the pastor, while using Luke to expound on the nature of the dinner (a feast vs. a quiet gathering) focused on the passage in Matthew and noted that, when questioned by the legalistic religious leaders as to why he would spend time with such undesirables, Jesus answered:

13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13 NIV

I believe that this verse is critical for understanding the heart of Jesus Christ towards mankind.  It even explains why he left the glory of heaven …”to call sinners….” Yet the critical Greek Text, which is followed closely by the NIV and all of the other new Bible versions, deletes out THE key phrase at the end of verse 13. Jesus did not just “call sinners” to come and party with him, as so many megachurch preachers want us to believe – and justifiably so using the NIV/NASB. Jesus Christ did come to earth did to call sinners, and he called them to repentance.

In the KJV, and in it’s underlying Greek Text, the Textus Receptus, the Greek word “metanoia” is present at the end of of verse 13, and that word completes this important passage perfectly. Below is Matthew 13:9 in the King James Bible:

“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”(emphasis added). ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:13‬ ‭KJV‬

Jesus did not call the unrighteous to further unrighteousness or to simply to “hangout” with him, as the passage without the repentance language could easily imply to: a new believer, a pastor interested in attracting people with a worldly “gospel,’ or to an antinomian (hypergrace proponent). Instead, the God of heaven and earth called the sinners, tax collectors and publicans he loved so dearly, not to fulfill their fleshly lusts, but to turn to him from the wickedness of their sins, via repentance. The celebration with Jesus and his disciples was not a time of gluttony and drunkenness. It was a time of true joy – the kind of joy that comes when we know that we are safely hidden in the shadow of God…resting in the freedom and peace that accompanies a broken and contrite heart towards God as a result of an awareness of and hatred for our sin. Sin, Repentance and the Cross

The deletion of repentance in Matthew 9:13 (and in Mark 2:17) brought to my mind another well-known passage, this one addressing those who though they were saved but, shockingly (to them), were not.  “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” Luke‬ ‭13:26-27‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

I have always wondered who those people were (in the passage above) and why they were so deeply deceived about something as important as their eternal destiny. I think I now understand. They were those who chose to spend time with Jesus, eating, drinking, and perhaps even sitting under his teaching on occasion…yet they refused to turn their hearts away from sin to him via repentance. In other words, they viewed Jesus just as the NIV and most other new Bible versions do…as a cool God/man who really just wants us to follow his ways and hang out with him…no judgement, no pricking of our consciences, no repentance…just chill with Jesus and his posse, and maybe debate some theology over a craft beer or two. After all, isn’t that how Jesus rolled??  Sadly, that Jesus is a fake one, manufactured by our own lustful desire to cling to our sin…and even our Bibles and many of our “churches” affirm that Jesus.

Another oft-quoted verse that, in the NIV appears to justify unmitigated sin, is the famed Romans 8:1:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” NIV

A few years ago I had an unmarried Christian brother quote this verse to me after nights of skinny dipping and heavy drinking. His point to me, when I was attempting to encourage him gently to flee from sin to the Jesus of the Bible was that, “I’m saved, so don’t even talk to me about repenting and turning my heart away from my sin. There is no condemnation no matter what I do.”

Well, the King James Bible tells a different story. It states:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 KJV

The point is not that one has to be perfect to walk uncondemned before Jesus Christ. Instead, the extra clause emphasizes the fact that, if we are truly in Christ Jesus, while we will stumble and fall as we make our way through this wicked world, we, as lovers of Jesus Christ and his precious blood, hate our sin and seek, with all of our hearts to walk not according to our fleshly lusts but according to the spirit. Paul said it best to Titus when he described what should happen when we truly understand the grace of God:

11 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ….15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus 2:11-13,15

I could go on and on quoting important doctrinal changes to new version Bibles via the underlying critical Greek text, but for the purposes of this article I am simply illustrating how the new versions can absolutely corrupt ones understanding of God’s grace…even when a solid pastor is preaching. If we truly believe with our hearts (per Romans 10:9-10), that Jesus Christ paid for our sins with his blood, free of charge, than we will seek to turn to him from our sin, and honor him…not as works unto salvation, but as love. Jesus himself states:

21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” John 14:21-24

We must all, as disciples of Jesus Christ, desire only the pure milk of the word, and thus, cast off all of our adulterated Bible versions, no matter how easy they are to read and no matter who accuses us of being legalistic. The evidence in favor of the KJV and it’s Greek foundation are overwhelming. See, The Bible Version Controversy Explained . We are told by Jude to contend vigorously for the faith, but how can we do that if we are quoting watered down Bible versions that delete out the clarion call to repentance, a call given by Jesus himself twice in a row in Luke 13 (see the top of the page)? Even Muslims I meet on the streets when I am evangelizing point to the fact that Christians have over a hundred different Bible versions, all of which say different things, while they only have one Quran. Therefore, they cannot even consider trusting the Bible or Christianity. What a brilliant scheme by Satan to easily convince 2 billion Muslims that Christianity has to be false since their holy book contradicts itself in hundreds of places! While I gladly inform them that only one English Bible is actually true, and I note that I would be glad to explain to them the history of the Textus Receptus and KJV, they simply laugh and say that the KJV is only one of hundreds of Bibles, and why should they believe me. Such is the brilliance of satan’s handiwork….

 

EPILOGUE

I loved the NIV and NKJV for 25 years, and I believed what was taught in seminaries and bible colleges about the superiority of the Greek foundation for the new versions (the critical Greek text, whose primary components are Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanus). However, after my wife (like me, an NIV’er at the time), raised serious questions as to why the KJV was so different doctrinally than modern Bibles (after reading straight through six different versions), I decided to dig beyond what I had, like a sheep, been fed.  So…I studied the issue for myself and found well over a hundred serious doctrinal changes, many of which lined up with catholic church doctrine (Acts 8:37, 1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Tim. 2:15, James 5:16 are a few off of the top of my head). My previous in-depth article (linked in the previous paragraph) lays out my findings in much greater detail.

I care about one thing and one thing only – that people escape satan’s wicked lies and pass from death to life via repentance through the blood of Jesus Christ. I have no other agenda than that, and this goal can only be accomplished if we are ALL teaching, exhorting and rebuking with an accurate Bible, a Bible that demands more than that sinners simply follow Jesus. Instead we must use a Bible that repeats over and over and over again the call by both Jesus and his apostles that all men everywhere must repent for the remission of sins.

 

15 “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus 2:15

 

The Beauty and Power of the Written Word of God

Click link for edits and deletions in the so-called New King James Bible

The Mark of The Beast And The Bible Version Issue: A Warning

Sunset Cloud

“Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he approveth.”  Romans 14:22b

 

As the readers of this blog know, the Bible version issue, which I once considered ridiculous, is now dear to me, and one that I approach with a great measure of seriousness, since the Bible is God’s voice to his beloved children. We cannot afford to listen to and teach from the wrong Bible. As I studied this issue in great depth over a period of many months, I was shocked to see the stark, substantive  differences between the new versions (ESV, NIV, NASB, etc.) and the King James Bible (KJV), a version I had dismissed entirely some 25 years earlier. The new versions and the KJV flow from two entirely different streams of Greek manuscripts, which I have written about in some detail here: The Bible Version Controversy . That link also contains additional links at the end, which show specific departures (deletions and additions) from the Majority Greek text (which is the one used by the KJV), by the ESV, NIV and NKJV. I encourage anyone who wants to understand this issue in more depth to read my article, and then review the links at the end.

It has recently come to my attention that all of the new versions state, in Revelation 13:16, that the mark of the beast will be “on” our right hand, while the KJV says that it will be “in” our right hand. “On” and “in” are NOT the same thing, and based on my research into the Bible Version issue (see link above), I believe that this critical, eternity-affecting difference is intentional, and will be used to deceive thousands and perhaps millions into taking the mark of the beast. The ESV, NIV, NASB, et al. will be used to prove to those alive during that horrific season, who are concerned about the mark, that they can and should take it in their right hand…since “in” after all is not “on,” and how could the ESV possibly be wrong since so many of the men I respect love it??

Based on technology readily available today, and already in use in some places in Europe, I believe that it is highly likely that the “in” referred to in the KJV means an RFID chip. In Europe for instance, RFID chips encased in silicate glass have been inserted into the right hands of some in order to store medical and contact information, while in Sweden an inserted chip has been, in at least one case, used to open locked doors without a keycard at an office building. I certainly wouldn’t swear by this or say that this definitively will be the mark, but it is highly suspicious given the fact that these chips can store banking information and other personal details and are injected with a needle…in to one’s right hand.

My challenge to all Bible believers is to contemplate this” on”/”in” difference and review the Bible version issue again, carefully. The Bible is God’s voice to us and we need his authentic word now more than ever with all of the charasmatic false teachers rising up, and the dark opposition to the biblical Jesus that we are seeing wax stronger every day in our sick and godless society. The version issue is especially important in the context of the mark since an eternity in heaven vs. an eternity…on fire…in hell…is at stake. While we may or may not be here when the mark is unveiled, those we have influenced will be…and if the Bible we taught from and praised, is used to dupe those we love into taking the mark, it will not go well for us at the judgement seat of Christ – and as for those deceived into taking the mark: “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the lamb…and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they shall have no rest day and night….” Revelation 14:6-11.  I want no part of leading anyone into that horrific fate.

Paul tells us in Romans 14, that, blessed is that the man who is not condemned by what he approves. Romans 14:22b. May we not condemn ourselves by teaching and even using a Bible that, among many other things, is working to seduce people into taking the mark of the beast, lest you, by ignorance, pride, the fear of man or hard-heartedness, lead others off the cliff and into the fiery pit where the worm never dies and the fire is never, ever  quenched.**   We are all watchmen…..

Ezekiel 3:17- 21

“17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.”

** I was ignorant of the Bible versions issue for 25 years, and was a huge NIV 84 and NKJV fan. However,  when my wife, after reading through 6 different versions, noticed huge, substantive differences between the KJV and others…I didn’t want to hear it. I debated her hard-heartedly for about 8 months…but ultimately the great weight of the evidence was so overwhelmingly in favor of the Greek text used by the KJV Bible (the Textus Receptus/Majority Text/Byzantine Text), that I knew my beloved NIV belonged in only one place…the trash.

The Bible Version Controversy

Hell and the Wrath of God Almighty

Heaven With God Forever

The Written Word of God

 

 

RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT

                                              

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.  Philippians 1:9-10 kjv

 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.  John 7:24 kjv

 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  1 Thessalonians 5:21 kjv

 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.  Proverbs 9:8 kjv

16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16 kjv

 

 

One of the most profound and destructive lies spouted by both Christians and non-Christians alike, is that believers in Jesus Christ are not to ever judge anyone or anything. We are simply told to live and let live, as our culture and even our Christian friends disintegrate before our eyes…falling into apostasy, and away from all that is true and right before our great God.

In Matthew 7:1-5, the passage most often quoted when the issue of judgment arises, Jesus Christ makes it clear that “judging” others is wrong…if the person doing the judging is guilty of the very same thing they are pointing out to the recipient of the judgment:

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold a beam is in thine own eyeThou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Based on the above passage (and John 7:24, quoted at the top of the article), it is clear that Jesus is not rejecting all judgment, but is only condemning hypocritical judgment. He even instructs his audience at the end of this passage, that once they have removed the plank from their own eyes, they are free to help their brothers deal with their own sin as well. A few verses later, Jesus goes even further, warning the people to be on guard for false prophets, whom they will recognize by their fruit, thus, making it clear that we must not only evaluate (aka judge) the fruit of others, but we must also have a clear standard by which to test that fruit. That standard is truth. What is truth? According to Jesus, Christ while he is praying to his Father, “Thy word is truth,” (John 17:17b), and the Bereans knew that well….

In Acts 17, the Bereans were noted to be more noble than other believers because they tested every single thing they heard from their teachers, with scripture. They used the word of the Lord as it should be used – as a sharp two-edged sword, separating truth from error, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart and laying bear everything before the one to whom we must all give an account (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Bereans, even with their lack of resources compared to today, relentlessly used the word to ensure that they weren’t ingesting false teaching shrouded in charisma, the wisdom of the world or sweet-tasting lies.

Jesus made several other statements about his own judgments, which explain why they were truly righteous, rather than being sanctimonious or hypocritical. In John 5:30, Jesus stated that his judgments were “just” because he sought not his own will, but instead sought only the will of his Father. In John 7:18, Jesus reminded the Jews gathered outside the temple that he was not on earth to seek his own glory but instead was seeking only the glory of his Father who sent him. The eternal truths of God are the only things that matter when exercising biblically sound judgment.

As Philippians 2:5-11 states so eloquently (see the entire passage at the end of this article), the humble and obedient attitude Jesus had toward his Father during his earthly life, must be our attitude when making scripturally mandated judgments. Humility, biblical truth and obedience to the unambiguous teachings of Jesus Christ are the measuring stick we must use when testing our hearts for jealousy, pride or anger, as we both give and receive reproof, encouragement and exhortation to and from those we love and respect in the body of Christ. The only way we can be certain that our judgments are “right” is if they line up perfectly with the word of God, and if they are spoken in gentleness and love.

An excellent example of a “right” judgment is found in Galatians 2:9-21, when Paul, very publicly and without equivocation, rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy and fear of man, which was leading others astray. After an unidentified friend of James started influencing the brethren for the worse by encouraging them to turn back to elements of the Jewish law, Peter began to withdraw from his Gentile brothers during meals. It became such a problem that even Barnabas was deceived (vs. 13) into believing that the grace of God was not enough, and that believers must still honor certain Jewish customs and traditions in order to maintain their salvation.

When Paul saw that Peter and the others, “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,”(vs. 14) he called Peter out and reminded all of the gathered brothers that they were saved by grace alone and not by works of the law. While the passage does not explain how the situation was resolved, I am certain that Peter humbled himself and repented, gladly turning away from his metastasizing sin, so that no one else would be led astray. The truth of Jesus Christ was Paul’s only goal in bringing this issue up publicly. He was not concerned with the short-term embarrassment this confrontation caused, even to a much-beloved personal friend of Jesus, such as Peter.

Paul clearly loved Peter, but he was no respecter of persons when it came to contending for the truth of the gospel. We too shouldn’t place men above the clear truth of the word (1 Cor. 4:6), meaning that we must never be afraid to challenge our brothers in Christ who are teaching (or practicing) that which is manifestly false according to the scriptures. Paul revered the saving gospel message and knew that Jesus Christ alone bore his sins in his body on a cold, hard cross, broken and bleeding in the presence of his enemies. Therefore, he did not shrink back from a brief, but necessary moment of disunity among the brethren. Instead, he fixed his eyes firmly on the truth of Jesus, pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him (Philippians 3:7-16).

Paul also made the point in 2 Corinthians 10:12,18, that we are not to measure ourselves by our brothers or sisters in the Lord. Other fallible men are never our standard. As Paul said, those who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves are not wise. It is not those who commend themselves who are approved by God, but it is those whom God commends. We must never test ourselves or others by what men think or say…even men we love and respect. Instead, we must judge rightly by using the penetrating blade of the word of God as we test everything…prove everything. Men can and often do become idols, and can subtly replace the truth of God in our lives. Let us do as the Bereans and test, first ourselves, and then our brothers, with the eternal scriptures, not to criticize or wound, but to prepare each other to meet the Lord face to face. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

As Jesus noted in John 3:19, men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Most of us don’t want the truth, so when our entrenched ways are tested by those who dare to love us enough to challenge us with the word of God, we fling it back in their face imploring them not to judge. Paul pointed out this problem when he rhetorically asked the Galatians if he had now become their enemy by telling them the truth (Galatians 4:16). Don’t we, as servants of the living God want truth, even the sharp, soul-piercing truth of the word of God? I pray that myself first, and then everyone else who longs for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, will speak and receive life altering biblical truths in gentleness, meekness and love.

 

EPILOGUE

God’s judgments are always right, and he has given us a sharp two-edged sword with which to rightly cut away the clever and wicked deceptions of this age from his pure and everlasting message. We MUST wield this sword in power and grace, not only to protect ourselves, but also to protect his precious little flock from the sweet sounding lies of western “Christianity” which lead down the broad and primrose path of eternal destruction. Jude tells us, in no uncertain terms, to earnestly contend for this great faith, given to us by Jesus Christ and his Father. We honor that command by growing in love, knowledge and judgment, so that we are able to approve that which is excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 1:9-10kjv). The only way we are able to mature in Christ is to eat, drink and breathe the everlasting word of God…not as taught by fallible men, but as taught by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27). May we all invest our hearts in the things of eternity as the clock of time…winds down.

 

***BONUS KJV SCRIPTURE***

Revelation 2:2 This…is what God loves, and why he commended the church at Ephesus:

2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars….

 

Romans 16:17-18

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

 Titus 1:13

 …Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith….

 Titus 2:15

 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

 Titus 3:10

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject….

 2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:16

16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

 1 Timothy 5:20

Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

 Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the crossWherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

False Prophets and Teachers

The Written Word of God

The Bible Version Controversy: The War Over God’s Word

Ecumenism Part 1: Jesus Christ as He is in the Word, is the Only Way to God 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible Version Controversy: A Brief History of The War over God’s Eternal Written Word

DR palms
Dorado Beach, Dominican Republic, September 2015

“ The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Psalm 12:6-7

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9

“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭(check your new version Bible to see what is curiously deleted from this verse)

Yea, hath God said…?”   Satan to Eve, and the textual critics to the world. The most destructive lie ever told…lives on.  Genesis 3:1b

 

 

I used to dismiss the King James Version of the English Bible entirely. I thought of it as a ridiculous and outdated translation – an anachronism at best. I viewed it as a shabby antique – one that belonged under a half-inch of dust in my grandmother’s attic….but then I studied the history of current English Bible translations in great detail, and realized that ALL of the new versions use corrupt and purposely adulterated Greek manuscripts, which water down the eternal word of the living God…every last one of them. That Greek your pastor often refers to in church? It flows from corrupt Greek manuscripts first edited by the gnostic, self-castrating “scholar” Origen (and a student of his work, Eusebius), who believed in purgatory, universalism, that all human souls have existed from eternity past, that satan (and demons) would eventually be redeemed, and that Jesus did not actually return to earth in the flesh after his resurrection.

The manuscripts Origen compiled and edited in Alexandria, Egypt in the 200’s, form the two primary Greek New Testament manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Siniaticus) used by Westcott & Hort, Nestles & Aland and the United Bible Society to make ALL of the modern English Bible versions. These manuscripts were more or less hidden from view from the late 300’s until the 1400’s (1800’s in the case of Siniaticus, when it was found in a trash bin at the St. Catherine’s monastery in Egypt where it was allegedly about to be burned)…hardly making them the word of the Lord preserved from generation to generation per Psalm 12 (see above). The fact that these two foundational manuscripts conflict with each other in over 3,000 places in the gospels alone, and are missing entire books of the Bible, does not help their credibility.

(*Siniaticus, aka Aleph, has 23,000 edit marks; has at least 9 different scribes over many centuries making those 23,000 correction marks; is missing the first 46 chapters of Genesis, the pastoral epistles and Revelation, but contains the gnostic Epistle of Barnabas along with the bizarre Shepherd of Hermès- yet it is THE  “ancient manuscript,” that lit the fuse of the pseudo-science know as textual criticism. Vaticanus isn’t much better).

In the 1800’s, Westcott & Hort, two Anglican clergy men and open occultists, whose own letters expose their veneration of Darwin and the Catholic Church, their love of seances and their total disregard for Eden, heaven, the flood and the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, made their own Greek New Testament manuscript (the so-called “critical Greek” text). This new Greek manuscript cleverly deleted out, added in or simply rephrased whatever scriptures they thought they could get away with without causing a furor …verses and passages that lined up with their “enlightened” thinking and, not surprisingly to anyone who has studied the Bible version issue, their changes almost always lined up with catholic doctrine(Acts 8:37, 1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Tim 2:15,Jm 5:16, etc.)

Westcott & Hort did expect some push back on their changes even back then…but they heard hardly a peep (Dean John Burgon’s vigorous dissent was an exception). Leading men loved these brilliant, iconoclastic lies shrouded in the dense and deceiving fog of “scholarship.” Did we really not have a true Greek New Testament until the late 1800’s?? That is exactly what the textual critics/new version advocates are saying.

It is important to note that all of this information regarding Westcott & Hort’s core beliefs is gleaned exclusively from their personal correspondence, published by their children after their deaths. That is the only way we know these key facts about their non-literal view of the Bible, their reverence for Darwin, Rome and the occult, and their motives for changing the scriptures…and we are all reading and teaching from their Bibles.

The first English translation to flow from Westcott & Hort’s so-called “critical”Greek text was the 1881 Revised Version. Subsequently, their Greek manuscript (with additional changes made by the Nestles and Åland committee and the UBS, also using Siniaticus and Vaticanus) was used as the foundation for EVERY single new version. It is deeply corrupt, and if one examines charts with the actual departures from the Textus Receptus Greek(TR), which was used by the KJV and Geneva Bibles (I have added links to charts at the end of my article), I can assure you that he or she will see through this brilliant plan to weaken God’s unchanging word, and turn eternal concepts into temporal ones (the famed Jeremiah 29:11 is but one example of a spiritual promise turned into a temporal one in the NIV). I, personally, was both shocked and disgusted by the numerous substantive changes to my Bible, yet… I do concede that the modern versions are a bit easier to read and understand due to more familiar language. The new version translators (and satan) knew all too well that this generation would take ease of reading and the lofty and pretentious claims of scholarship over the sharp two-edged sword of truth. I did for over 25 years.

The KJV detractors, and there are many, attempt to denigrate the 54 scholars (or 47, since 7 died during the translation process) who jointly worked on the KJV, with their subjective and pseudo-intellectual textual criticism. The translators were all considered brilliant scholars, and were chosen by the King due to sterling, easily verifiable academic backgrounds (I have seen many of their CV’s)…men such as Lancelot Andrews, George Abbot, John Aglionby, and the head of the OT committee, Dr.John Bois, who was reading and writing in Hebrew at age 6. These men worked in 6 separate groups (two at Oxford, two at Cambridge and two at Westminister), each of which translated the entire New Testament independently, after which time the groups came together, using fourteen translation principles, to determine the final reading. Furthermore, each portion of New Testament scripture had been independently translated between 14 and 17 times by the committee, ensuring accuracy and thoroughness.

All of the criticism of the KJV on intellectual grounds is pseudo-academic nonsense. The KJV is hated because it stands as the preserved word of God, starting in Antioch and then spreading all over the world, only to be gathered together by the brilliant Pope-defying, Catholic scholar Erasmus(the Reformation had not happened yet) in the 1500’s. Luther, Tyndall, Coverdale, the Geneva Bible translators, the Great Bible translators, the ancient Wessex Gospels translators, and many more used the same Greek manuscript family as Erasmus (known as the Textus Receptus, Byzantine Text, Majority Text or Traditional Text), and since satan couldn’t burn all of the copies…he decided to change the Bible from the inside, using proud men, far too “enlightened” to believe many of the “superstitions” of God’s word. Noted occultist/ theosophist Helena Blavatsky (a favorite of Adolph Hitler, and publisher of the periodical “Lucifer”) and her disciple Alice Bailey, have openly discussed satan’s ultimate plan to infiltrate the church from the inside…and the Bible was a perfect place to start(See Paul’s warnings, Acts 20:29-31;2 Corinthians 2:17).

I understand that the language of the KJV is old fashioned at times, and most seminarians and Bible college graduates will have a dismissive attitude towards it. Why? Because the vast majority of seminaries and Bible schools are part of the ecumenical, watered-down gospel machine. Yes…Satan, the father of pride, works everywhere – but especially in academia. Men love to know better than other men because they went to this school or that school and studied under this professor or that one. Satan was and is counting on the pride of men to weaken God’s word by imparting to them limited, but “scholarly” knowledge, in order to proliferate his altered Greek manuscripts and thus, his modern Bible versions. The apostle Paul specifically noted that he was well aware of satan’s clever schemes to deceive men (2 Corinthians 2:11),and he warned the church specifically about those who were already corrupting the word of God in his day(2 Corinthians 2:17).

As for the new versions having older manuscripts…that is technically true in a general sense, because the Alexandrian manuscripts were written on higher quality papyri/vellum at their well-funded gnostic schools, and because they weren’t frequently handled for over a thousand years…since almost no one took them seriously outside of Vatican City until the 1800’s. The early Antiochan manuscripts (Textus Receptus/TR) were true to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles, yet were on lower quality papyri, because the early church wasn’t wealthy – and they were sent all over the world by foot and by ship, which exposed them to the elements. They were also worn down due to constant usage and thus, were recopied time and time again…unlike the gnostic manuscripts, which were hardly used at all. Despite those facts, the earliest surviving Bible today is an Antiochan(TR) Syrian translation, called the Syrian Peshitta, circa 150 AD… which necessitates multiple earlier TR Greek manuscripts(since the concept of a bound manuscript codex had not yet been created). The famed TR “Itala” Bible(a Latin TR translation) also dates to the 160’s AD. There are also several thousand old Latin Majority text Bibles in existence, which date from 157AD – to circa 400AD, along with similarly dated Coptic, Bohairic, Armenian and Gothic Bibles. So…even the “oldest biblical text/manuscript” argument, often used to support the corrupt Alexandrian Greek texts, fails…and does so with extreme prejudice.

Kurt Aland, co-author of several late editions of the Nestles & Aland Greek New Testament text, and a vigorous KJV detractor, admits that early copies of Textus Receptus(TR) manuscripts are almost non-existant (again,the very early Syrian Peshitta, Old Latin, and Itala Bible versions did survive) because they were intentionally destroyed by Rome during the brutal Diocletian persecution(303-311 AD), along with unfavorable weather conditions in Asia Minor and Greece. However, once the Roman persecution of the church ended circa 311 AD, there was, naturally, an explosion of new Textus Receptus manuscript copies inside the Roman Empire, prepared by actual Bible believing christians, and proliferated over the centuries by brave communities such as the Itala Church in Italy, the Donatists in Africa, The Paulicians/Albigenses/Bogomiles/Cathars, etc. throughout Europe the Balkans and even into Asia. Groups such as the Waldenses in the Italian and French Alps, the Gallic church in France, Ulfilas in Northern Europe (who translated the Bible into Gothic), the Vaudois in Switzerland, the Anabaptists, and the Huguenots also worked vigorously to translate and maintain the true biblical text, unmarred by Rome.

The Itala church and Waldenses/Vallenses/Vaudois were two of the communities of faith that worked feverishly in the early 300’s to reproduce TR Bibles in order to make up for all of the copies which had been burned by Diocletian. This easily explains the concern textual critics have with the sudden appearance of a large number of Textus Receptus manuscripts in the 4th Century, and beyond. The Waldenses were known to memorize entire books of the Bible and even as much of the New Testament as they had, and head out into the world as far as they could go, translating the Bible for the people groups they met along the way. Some made it as Far East as the Parthian empire, known today as Iran.

It’s funny – I often hear the question:”Where was the KJV before 1611??” Well, that question should be reversed. Where, exactly, was the critical Greek text before 1881? The answer: in caves in the Egyptian desert, and of course, in the Vatican. Meanwhile, as I have noted above, the source text for the KJV had spread all over the world – from Antioch to Ethiopia to the British Isles to Armenia and to The mountains of western Europe, beginning in the 1st century.

Even KJV rejecting scholars agree that well over 98% of all ancient Greek manuscript evidence agrees with the KJV, while less than 2% agree with the new versions (the last official count I have seen was 5,702 to 44, which is more like 99% to 1%). Any claim that the new versions are superior is patently false from both a spiritual and scholarly standpoint. Yes, they are easy to read, but they have many deep heresies intended to draw mankind away from many of the simple yet profound truths of God. As Jesus said to his Father in John 17, “Thy word is truth” – but not if his eternal word has been edited by wicked and deceitful heretics, who, like Satan in the garden, boldly and proudly cast doubt on God’s voice to mankind by proclaiming to the world – “yea hath God said?” The question is: Are you believing that very same lie today?

EPILOGUE

This is by far the most divisive topic I have ever written about because we all love our modern Bibles, and cannot possibly believe that so many people have it wrong. My beloved seminary professor is wrong?? My distinguished and learned pastor?? My youth group leader?? Yes…even him – or her. Everyone talks about this issue as if they understand it, but usually they just understand one side…the anti-KJV side, the side I was once steadfastly on. It took a trusted friend about 8 months to finally shake me out of my NIV 84 stupor with hard, raw evidence. Then I decided to take the time to study the history of the Greek and Latin manuscripts (that form the foundation of our Bibles) for myself. Once I had a grasp of manuscript history, and reviewed many of the specific changes(deletions and additions) in the actual biblical text…I was done with all of my new versions forever (A few of the hundreds of passages with substantive changes: The removal of the compassion of Jesus four times in Matthew(NIV 84),Genesis 30:27, Jeremiah 29:11(NIV 84), Matthew 9:13, Mark 9:44,46,48 and 10:24, Luke 4:4, Luke 9:55-56, John 7:8-10{is Jesus a liar??},Acts 8:37, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Galatians 5:12(did Paul really want his enemies to castrate themselves??), Colossians 1:14, Romans 8:1b, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 Timothy 6:5,20(warning about prosperity preachers and false science), James 5:16, 1 John 5:7, and Revelation 1: 6, 8, 11). Sadly, I discovered that my dear NIV – even the one written back in 1984 – was the worst of the lot (the Message doesn’t count because it cannot seriously be called a Bible due to multiple ridiculous and even occultic additions). It was hard to read the KJV at first…but I prayed for help from the Holy Spirit…and now I can’t live without it.

I am not one of those people who believe that one can only be saved via the KJV Bible, or that the KJV is perfectly written(I believe it is perfect in substance but not necessarily in form). I simply believe that the KJV, whose Greek foundation lines up with approximately 98% of all ancient manuscripts, according to the most recent studies, is the preserved word of God for this English speaking generation per Psalm 12:6-7. That passage, which I have quoted at the top of this article, was (not surprisingly) edited heavily in the new versions (Septuagint Greek), so that it’s meaning is entirely different. Did God truly say in Psalm 12 that his word would be preserved forever?? Not according to your new version(check that verse in your Bible).

After much study (hoping desperately that I would come to a conclusion that allowed me to keep my NIV, my NKJV or even my brand new MEV), I determined, along with countless other men and women far smarter than I am, that the only legitimate Greek manuscript used as a foundation for a Bible is the Textus Receptus – and despite the claims of the NKJV and MEV editors, the only true Textus Receptus Bible in English is the KJV.

Unlike the new versions’ Egyptian/gnostic roots, the Textus Receptus flows from the spirit-fed spring of the early believers in Antioch…all the way to London in the 1600’s. Do the new versions have many things right? Of course. What satan does best is weave darkness and light together, so that the two cannot be distinguished. He has done a brilliant job with the new Bible versions…yet with an open heart and mind, along with a willingness to exchange comfort and familiarity for truth, his scheme can be defeated. I challenge everyone who reads this, to study the actual textual changes for themselves, in context, ignoring ad hominem attacks on those who have exposed this scheme…for there are many, and they are often nasty. John 15:18-19 warned us that if we were of Jesus Christ, the world would hate us…and nowhere is that more evident than in the battle for God’s eternal voice to mankind. The very truth of His preserved word to this and every succeeding generation is at stake. Yea hath God said? Yes. He did actually, and you can read his words to the world, preserved for eternity, in your King James Bible.

Revelation 22:18-19

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

***The new Reina Valera Gómez (RVG) is a true Spanish Textus Receptus Bible(unlike the other Reina Valeria’s, which mix TR and Alexandrian texts).

***Please remember that if you look up the changed/corrupted verses in the Greek online, chances are very high that the only Greek you can find is the Westcott & Hort/Nestles & Aland/UBS Greek, which is where the corrupted verses originated and metastisized. Unless you check the verses in a verifiable Textus Receptus (TR) Greek (and several people who have dedicated their lives to study this issue say that there are few true TR’s online) you are using the corrupt Westcott & Hort/Nestles & Aland Greek. Even some of the supposed online TR manuscripts have been intentionally altered, as has the new supposed TR Bible, The Modern English Version (and the New King James for that matter). Now why would anyone try trick good Christian men and women into reading a Bible that we thought was based on the TR but really isn’t? As Paul said in a verse I cited above, we are not unaware of satan’s devices.

****Why is your ESV different then your NASB, which is different than your NIV? The answer…is ca$h. In order to receive a copyright on a new version, the law requires that it be 20% different than all other versions. So, the editors of the new versions simply grab a thesaurus and go to work, changing whatever words they can (is the Holy Spirit really a “helper??” My hamburger needs helper but I need a Comforter!) and rephrasing other passages. Do we really need all of these new versions? Of course not – but the editors and publishers want your money and are more than happy to nip, tuck and carve up God’s eternal word to get it…and the plan seems to be working well.

If one studies the history of the KJV’s translation process, it is clear that prayer played a very large role. Furthermore, the translators never profited from its sale.

***Mark of the Beast Issue***

The ESV, NIV, NASB, etc. all say that the mark of the beast will be “on” your hand, like a scannable tattoo (See, Revelation 13:16). The KJV, however, says that the mark is “in” your right hand or forehead. “In” and “on” are not the same things, and thus, someone is lying to us. I believe that the ESV etc. will be used to try and prove to people that the implantable chip we will all be required to have, is not the mark…when actually it is. The smoke of the torment of those who are tricked into taking the mark…will ascend forever. Throw away your new versions and tell everyone you know to do the same. I wrote a brief article on this issue: The Mark of the Beast: A Warning, and on how the new versions delete key words regarding repentance and sin:Repentance, Salvation and the new Bible versions: Yes, it really does matter

Additional Resources:

Westcott & Hort were not Christians

Excellent Chart showing NIV, NASB, etc. deletions

NIV Chart Showing Deletions and Changes

More NIV problems

ESV deletions and changes

NKJV Changes

The Trinitarian Bible Society, Dr. Edward Hills, Dr. David Otis Fuller, Dr. Mickey Carter, Dr. Hayes Minnick, Dr. William Grady, Dr. D. A. Waite, David Cloud, Dr. Douglas D. Stauffer, Dr. Al Lacy, and Dean John William Burgon(1813-1888).

The Underground Christian Network has excellent podcasts on this issue, which can be found via a search inside your Iphone or smart phone’s podcast app., and I recommend Dr. David Otis Fuller’s book Which Bible?; Chick Publications, Look What’s Missing; Dr. Stauffer’s book One Book Stands Alone; Dr. Sam Gipp’s The Answer Book; Dr. Edward Hills’ The King James Version Defended; and Dr. William Grady’s Final Authority.

David Cloud’s www.wayoflife.org website also has helpful resources on this issue (including a well-researched downloadable book), as does D.A. Waite’s excellent scholarly book Burgon’sWarnings on Revisions of Textus Receptus and the King James Bible. The Burgon Society’s website is: www.deanburgonsociety.org. Dean Burgon’s, The Revision Revised, is a brilliant critical, and often incisive analysis of Westcott & Hort’s Greek manuscript by one of their contemporaries.

Bible Version Comparison Chart:

Click here for version comparisons

Eternal Answers Ministry has some helpful information as well: http://eternalanswersministry.blogspot.com/2009/06/textus-receptus-vs-alexandrian-codices.html; Some of the NIV’s problems are laid out on this site: http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/PDF/keith-piper-serious-omissions-in-the-niv.pdf

Many KJV questions are answered at the link below, which I found the night this article was published:http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/pages/KJV/400-years-of-the-king-james

Dr. Douglas D. Stauffer has several first-rate presentations on youtube on the NKJV and how it masquerades as a TR Bible – and on the NIV. Below is his EXCELLENT presentation on some of the NIV’s most glaring errors, especially those edited or omitted to conform to catholic doctrine: https://youtu.be/OQFtvmVHBb4

And another video from Dr. Stauffer showing NIV changes which affect  New Testament doctrine of salvation: https://youtu.be/T0o2yKJgvnA

Additional articles from this blog:

The Absolute Certainty of Scripture

Ecumenicism: Jesus Christ as He is in the Word is the Only Way to God

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

Catholicism and The Worship of Mary

 

 

 

 

Favorite Scripture #6: One of The Many Reasons Why Jesus Christ is Great…And I am Not

One of my all-time favorite scriptures is 1 Peter 2:21-24, which so beautifully and powerfully captures the essence of who Jesus Christ was while he was on this earth:

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

This passage speaks to my heart about the supreme greatness of Jesus because it illustrates his perfect obedience to the Father, and his unwavering humility, even in the midst of the most horrific of suffering. As our magnificent saviour hung on a cold wooden cross, iron spikes protruding from his hands and feet, all in the presence of his gloating and triumphant enemies…he did not retaliate, speak a word in his defense, or even threaten his tormentors with what was going to happen to them at death. Instead he silently entrusted himself to the one who judges justly…his Father.

Jesus knew that in obedience to God and as an example for us, he must endure unfathomable suffering and humiliation at the hands of his most bitter enemies…and so must we…so must I.

The primary lesson I absorb from this passage is that, for me to truly be Christ-like, I must be willing to quietly endure even the pettiest of rejections I face as a follower of the biblical Jesus. Really – anything I suffer for his name is petty compared to what he went through on our behalf – yet sadly, it is difficult and even agonizing at times not to defend myself. My pride rises in my throat as I seek to defend my name, my reputation. But wasn’t Jesus of no reputation? Didn’t he allow himself to be mocked and even abused for the very same sin that rises in my wicked heart as I speak his truth?? As Paul said so eloquently: oh what a wretched man am I!  Who will rescue me from this body of death? …

…Jesus Christ. He alone bore my sin in his body on the cross so that I might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds I have been healed. I believe Lord and I am so thankful for who you are and what you did for foolish, prideful me. I forgive those who have hurt me…help me to per-fect that forgiveness in my heart just as you so willingly forgave me while I was yet a sinner. Do not let my love grow cold but help me to fix my eyes on you as you truly are in your word, as I speak your scriptural truths in gentleness and love, and as I run this race with endurance, hand in hand with you, my saviour and my Lord.

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective on the Purpose of Life

The Written Word of God: What Did Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles Say About the Written Word of God?

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

GOD, ADAM AND THE GARDEN: LOVE AND TRAGEDY IN PARADISE

        GOD, ADAM AND THE GARDEN: LOVE AND TRAGEDY IN PARADISE

 

When I recently read the first few chapters of Genesis, I felt the full measure of God’s overwhelming creative power and love for me as He, and the Holy Spirit (see Gen. 1:2) designed and built a beautiful, and glorious habitation for His beloved new creation – man. I felt the intimacy of God’s thoughts towards us as He created thick green grass to cover the barren earth, and a multitude of seed-yielding herbs and fruit trees to provide us life-giving food, sweet and delicious to the taste. God then created lights in the heavens to govern both the day and the night – for signs and for seasons and for days and for years. God also made a multitude of creatures to fill the earth, the waters, and the sky with abundance. He blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply, and to fill the earth … and He saw that those things He made were good.

 

Then God formed man in His own likeness, and gave him dominion over all of the glorious things that He had just created, and He blessed us and told us to be fruitful and to multiply. God then viewed all that He had carefully labored over… and He saw that it was very good.

After God made Adam from the dust of the ground, He put His mouth up to Adam’s face… and gently breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and Adam became the first living soul. Genesis 2 goes on to state how God Himself went and “planted” a garden in a place called Eden, designed specifically for Adam, with every tree that is “pleasant to the sight” and that was “good for food.”

As one who loves to plant palm trees, bamboo and other tropical vegetation, the above passage touches a deep place in my soul, painting a beautiful and intimate picture of the God of heaven and earth personally designing and building a gorgeous and life-sustaining garden for man. God specifically created it so that, not only are there an abundance of plants which are perfect to sustain him physically, but there were also many trees, shrubs, and flowers which were placed there by God solely for Adam to enjoy with his other senses – his eyes, his nose and his tongue. When I picture this garden, I envision lush green queen palms blowing slowly in a soft, warm wind. I see huge, grand Canary Island date palms; purple and translucent Hawaiian Ty; thick pink, white, and yellow oleander; and waves of flowering purple, lavender and orange bougainvillea, all surrounded by endless open spaces full of thick, lush dark green grass.

I had never noticed the fact that, after creating the garden, God gives Adam his very first job, a job, which I greatly envy. “The Lord God took man, and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15). What a great and innocent vocation – to tend to all of the beauty and glory that God specifically fashioned for him, all the days of his life. If only….

Besides the fact that God actually designed and planted a lush beautiful garden specifically for Adam, where he could live and reign forever, enjoying the beauty and glory of creation each and every second, the verse that struck me the most about God’s intimate and personal love and delight in man, was Genesis 2:19. In this verse, it says how God formed all of the birds and animals, and brought them to Adam “to see what he would call them.” I envision God, like a loving, deeply interested father, sitting back and watching with a big, warm smile, as His precious son Adam, thinking and imagining for himself, perhaps for the first time, comes up with creative names for all of the living creatures God made just for him. It reminds me of watching my little daughter with a new doll wrapped up perfectly for Christmas, opening it, naming it, smiling joyfully at it, and holding it close to her heart…and then giving it her very favorite name. The feeling I get as a father when I see this, is just a little taste of what God must have felt as He finished His six days of creating this wonderful planet, and watching as His plans, His purposes, and His dreams for mankind are fulfilled through Adam.

But God didn’t want robots to fill this glorious place that He carefully and lovingly designed for us, so He gave Adam and Eve free will. He allowed them to decide whether or not He, the God who made every single thing on the earth for them, was enough. Would they choose to love Him? Would they choose to trust Him? So God planted a tree, that if eaten from, would give them the knowledge of good and evil – and He specifically told them to enjoy all of the other trees and plants but not that one.

God loved them (and us) so much that He did not want us to lose our innocence and be burdened with the knowledge of evil, and He gave us every opportunity to avoid it. He simply hoped that we would be content tending the garden, enjoying the beauty, the peace, the love, and the friendship that Adam and Eve had with each other and with all of the animals, and He wanted us to walk closely with Him…in the cool of the evening.

But it wasn’t enough for Adam, and it wouldn’t have been enough for me. The unceasing beauty and majesty of creation – which speaks loudly to the hearts of each and every human through the soft clouds and a warm summer wind – is not enough. No. We, in our selfish ambition and desire to be as gods, prefer to close our eyes and hearts to God, and to pursue the cravings of our flesh. As a result of Adam’s choice, he and Eve were ejected from the garden God designed for them, and the ground was made firm and difficult to till so that they would have to eat from the sweat of Adam’s brow…and the intention of God, to make them immortal in their innocence, was shattered, and God declared that from dust they were created and to dust they shall return (Genesis 3:19, 22, 24). A cherubim and a flaming sword were placed at the entrance to the garden, preventing mankind from ever accessing the tree of life again…until Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, provided us a way back to intimacy with God through His precious blood shed in agony on a hard wooden cross.

What a great tragedy mankind turned out to be. We continued to hurt the heart of God even after the garden to the point that, just before the world was destroyed by a flood in Genesis 6, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth and it grieved Him at His heart.”

The fact that we have the capacity to so wound the heart of the living God, shows me in a tangible and powerful way, just how much He does love us and just how grievous our sin is to Him. This same God, who made us in His image, and placed a rich and verdant garden in which we could have dwelled forever in unceasing peace and beauty, was pierced deeply and personally because of our unceasing wickedness. And to consider that, despite the fact that every inclination of our hearts was evil, He still sent His one and only Son to live spartanly and die brutally, shows that His love and desire for our hearts has not waned. May we return that love to Him by seeking His face and His face only, and recalling His wonderful plan for us at the dawn of time. For if we truly repent and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will, one glorious day, be restored to Him and to His eternal kingdom, and there we will finally eat from the tree of life, and we will live and reign with Him in paradise forever.

Heaven: Your Best Life…Later Part 2

Grace, Obedience and Salvation: The Narrow Road

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)

FORGIVENESS: TO THE MERCIFUL, GOD SHOWS HIMSELF MERCIFUL

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven… 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Matthew 5:43-46

There is neither a greater, nor more difficult calling by Jesus Christ, then the call to forgive even our worst and most spiteful enemies. Jesus himself exhibited this most difficult act, while hanging cold, naked and in agony on a cross. His ability to forgive those who destroyed his body and humiliated him in front of his enemies was truly the product of a life of love, trust and obedience to his Father in heaven…and only when we do the same through the power of the Holy Spirit can this beautiful and powerful fruit of the Spirit be birthed in us.

The Lord’s Prayer is, in my estimation, one of the most important passages of scripture because it consists of Jesus, the guy we pray to (jointly with his Father), telling us exactly how to pray. Every time I read it however, I get hung up on a few certain verses….

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…. 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

I would much prefer it say, “forgive us our sins forever, and punish quickly and with great and unfettered vengeance, those who have dared to disagree with us or hurt us.” J

But it doesn’t say that because that is not the heart of our great God. As long as we live on this earth, we are called to love – and even bless our enemies, not just with words and gritted teeth…but in the depths of our heart. To truly do that, I believe that we must know Jesus as he is in the word, and seek to comprehend exactly what it is that he did for us during his 33 years on this planet.

There are many verses that describe the love of Christ, and his death for us while we were sinners, but to me, the passage below seems to capture his mercy, his love, his obedience and his surpassing greatness, perhaps more than any other pre-Revelation passage:

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:23-24

Surrounded by his taunting enemies, hanging cold and naked on a cross, Jesus Christ, the maker of heaven and earth, the one who could have called down twelve legions of angels to save him, instead chose to suffer, bearing our sins…my sick and wicked sins…in his body, so that I might die to those sins and live for righteousness…for by those wounds, I am healed. Therefore, I must, by his Spirit, also learn to forgive, and even to suffer in forgiveness, just as he did for me.

The parable of the unmerciful servant below is an excellent illustration of what exactly Jesus expects from those who love him:

21 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?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

 

The unmerciful servant sounds a bit too familiar to me. Sadly, it is like a huge, cracked mirror held up to my face.

I know that I must forgive, in the deepest places of my heart, the people who have hurt me, especially those who have hurt me the most. Why? Because Jesus has forgiven me for so much – yet I so easily forget all of the people that my gossip, slander and selfishness have maimed. I have committed so many sins against both God and man that if I truly know Jesus as he is in his word, I will seek to become even more aware of those sins, and of his great, unmerited mercy, towards me so that I might, through the spirit, share that beautiful gift of mercy with those who have hurt me.

I cannot fake forgiveness, but what I can do with the help of Jesus, is make a decision in my mind and in my heart to forgive someone, knowing that even if I still ache inside from the rejection or shame, the choice is made – and it is final. To walk in that forgiveness, I simply ask the Holy Spirit to help me love the one who hurt me and to destroy any root of bitterness growing in my heart. I also make a point of praying for the person who wounded me, never asking that I would be justified in their eyes, or that they would see things my way, but that the Lord Jesus might take hold of them and show them more and more of his love and eternal power. Really, it is the same prayer I pray for myself. And when that bitterness starts welling up like a poisonous fountain, I ask that God would send his consuming fire to burn it up…and he does. Sometimes it is a constant battle, but knowing the life, love and death of Jesus Christ through his word, and knowing the sacrifice our Father made to allow his precious son to come to earth and suffer years of rejection and abuse, makes it a little bit easier.

Each of us has been deeply and even catastrophically wounded by others, including those we love and trust. But in many ways, through Jesus Christ, those wounds are a gift in light of eternity, because they force us to seek his face, since often, only his love can salve the pain. I have also found that deep wounds, especially those caused by the ones I trust, cause me to look intently at my own sin and the hurts I have inflicted on my close friends and family. When I consider the darkness of my own deceitful and wicked heart, it truly does make me more grateful to Jesus for inexplicably saving me…vengeful, selfish, proud me…and it pushes me to desire conformity to his likeness even more, so that when I am scorned and gossiped about, I, like Jesus and through Jesus, can put aside vengeance, and instead entrust myself to the only one who truly judges justly.

While only Jesus Christ can save souls, the wounds we receive from other people, especially the deep ones can be used as instruments of mercy to draw others to him, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must all grasp the depth of our own selfishness in order to understand the depth of the love and mercy of God, which, through his precious son, has freely offered to us all. In a small way, our human mercy, extended even to those who despise us, is an opportunity to show that beautiful and eternal gift to others who may have no other chance to see it. May Jesus Christ help me grasp my own sinfulness so that I might, through his spirit, share this great gift of mercy.

The purpose of this short life is to know and love the one true God, and his son Jesus Christ. It is not, as I often think, to avoid pain and slink into heaven as quickly and as safely as possible. It is funny how my personal journey to seek Jesus as he truly is, became harder but much more focused, intense and authentic, during and after being rescued from my greatest failure and deepest pain. What the Lord did in my heart during that time period reminds me of the story of the Pharisee and the prostitute in Luke 7:36-50, where Jesus tells the self-satisfied and scornful Pharisee, that the prostitute who is washing his feet with her hair loves much because she has been forgiven much. Were her sins worse than the Pharisee’s? Not likely – they were just more obvious. But God judges the deep things of the heart, and she was clearly more aware of her sin, and understood what a beautiful gift it was to be forgiven by God. I too have been forgiven much…may I also love much.

I strongly believe, that, in order to truly understand Jesus Christ, we must always be aware of our sin – not out of a sense of failure or guilt, but as proof that the Holy Spirit in us, since Jesus told us in John 15, that after he departed the Spirit would convict us of sin. We must continue to walk in repentance, so that we don’t become like the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3, where our love and awareness of him wanes to the point where he is just about ready to spit us out of his mouth. The closer we are to him, the easier it seems to capture sinful thoughts and deeds before they metastasize. Thus, it isn’t a burden, but a joy to live in a place where the death and resurrection-life of Jesus are woven into every aspect of our existence.

EPILOGUE

If we only love and forgive those who love us or apologize to us, then we really are no different than the world. Jesus tells us, in no uncertain terms, that in order to be forgiven by him we must forgive others…with our hearts and without condition. The only way to authentically do that is by understanding the life of Jesus Christ, who bled and died for our many sins. How can we not, through the power of the Holy Spirit, forgive those who have hurt us, making the choice to free them from the chains of guilt and unforgiveness, and freeing ourselves from the poisonous vine of bitterness?

Each time that someone who has wounded us comes to mind, regardless of whether they have apologized to us, according to the clear mandate of scripture, we are to take that thought captive, and bless them, praying sincerely, that they might grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus. That is the only way to squelch the bitter and spiteful voice of revenge that rears itself in our flesh. And as we do this, with our eyes firmly set on Jesus, we will come to understand even more deeply, the height, breadth and depth of his love and mercy towards us. Because, he did after all, bear my sin in his body on the tree, so that I might die to sin and live for righteousness…for by his wounds I am healed. May we generously extend that same love to others.

Favorite scriptures #3: Whether the Lord Gives or Takes away…Blessed Be His Name! (Job 1)

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Favorite Scriptures #4: God Chose the Weak and Foolish Things of the World (1 Corinthians 1:17-25)

“Greater works than these shall he (we) do….” What is the meaning of this scripture?

 What Does the Scripture Mean: “Greater Works than these shall he do….?”  

 John 14:12

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  John 14:12 (KJV)

Jesus Christ says, In Matthew 18:8-9, that if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away, for it is better to live this life maimed than to have two hands and two feet and to be cast into “everlasting fire.” If that wasn’t clear enough, Jesus goes on to state that even if one of our eyes is causing us to sin, it is better to pluck it out and throw it away than to have two eyes for this life, but to be cast into the fires of hell for eternity. In John 5:5-14, Jesus heals a man who had been infirm for 38 years, and after finding him in the temple a few hours later…said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14)

The point of the above passages seem to be that physical health – and even bodily wholeness – pale in comparison to having our hearts turned away from sin, and fixed instead on the eternal things of God. Jesus Christ, the maker of both heaven and hell (John 1:1-5; Matthew 25:41; Colossians 1:16), is telling all of us, in no uncertain terms, that we must focus our minds and our hearts on the things of God and not on temporal things, because ultimately, everything temporal…even our physical bodies, will burn in hell if we choose the short term pleasures of sin over the everlasting love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

When I consider the previously referenced passages in Matthew 18 and John 5, in light of John 14:12 (quoted at the top of the post), and the life of Paul, it seems clear that the “greater things” Jesus is referring to, are eternal things…. things that draw the hearts of men away from the temporary and deceitful pleasures of this world, and into a real and permanent relationship with the Living God, through the death and resurrection of our great Lord. By the mercy of Jesus, and by his great sacrifice, we have the ability to, as co-laborers with Christ, draw others away from that infernal place called hell, which God prepared for Satan and his angels, to an eternal kingdom…one that can never, ever be shaken…and to treasure that can never perish, spoil or fade. By the grace of God, this great and everlasting inheritance will belong to us – and to those we help lead to repentance, not by healing their bodies or by performing signs and wonders, but through boldly sharing the unfettered power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….”  Romans‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭

The scriptures clearly testify that healing sick bodies and even raising people from the dead (which of course our omnipotent God can do through us if he so chooses), are small and temporary things in light of eternity. Jesus says that the angels in heaven cheer for even one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7), so how much more valuable is a life dedicated to “greater things” such as drawing others to the cross of Jesus Christ, opening up a door for them to eternity in heaven? While a life of relentlessly sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ in gentleness and confidence through the power of the Holy Spirit will not make us rich or famous, we will be serving our great God, who is a consuming fire…and we will be fulfilling His first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) by loving both God and man.

EPILOGUE

I encourage myself first, and everyone who reads this brief article, to consider everything – every word and every action – in light of eternity. Any little thing we do for the Kingdom of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is far greater than even the greatest thing we do for the flesh. May the Lord God, our merciful and loving Father, help us to see everything in this short life in light of the cross…until that glorious day when we meet Him in the air to be in the paradise of God…forever.

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.  Luke 10:19-20

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.    1 Corinthians 4:18

Preach the Word boldly, and do not be ashamed of the gospel

Portraits of Jesus Christ in the word: Who Exactly is our God?

Prayer: How to Approach God and What to Expect From Him

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?