Tag Archives: Knowing God

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

“ 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

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

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 I thought of it as a ridiculous and outdated translation – an anachronism at best.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)…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 almost 3,000 places in the gospels alone, does not help their credibility.

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 cross, made their own Greek New Testament manuscript. This new 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.

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 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 unbiblical beliefs, 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 English 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 and the KJV (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 new versions). 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 double-edged sword of truth. I did for over 25 years.

The KJV detractors, and there are many, attempt to denigrate the 54 scholars who jointly worked on the KJV, with their subjective and pseudo-intellectual textual criticism. Many of the translators were brilliant men, with sterling, easily verifiable scholarly backgrounds (I have seen all 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. 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 catholic-defying scholar Erasmus 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.

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 (even Dallas Theological Seminary is waxing emergent). 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.

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) were true to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles, yet were on lower quality paper, 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 New Testament manuscript surviving today is an Antiochan(TR) Syrian translation, called the Syrian Peshitta, which dates to circa 157 AD. So…even the “oldest manuscripts” argument, often used to support the corrupt Alexandrian Greek texts, fails.

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 manuscripts are non-existant (besides the Syrian Peshitta) 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. Once the Roman persecution of believers ended circa 311 AD, there was, naturally, an explosion of new Textus Receptus manuscripts inside the Roman Empire, prepared by actual Bible believing christians (such as the Waldensians in Italy and the Vaudois in Switzerland ), in order to make up for all of the copies which had been burned. This easily explains the concern textual critics have with the sudden appearance of a large number of Textus Receptus manuscripts in the late 4th Century, and beyond.

Even KJV rejecting scholars agree that well over 95% 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 5,321 to 45, which is more like 98% to 2%). 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 word 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 on. It took a trusted friend about 8 months to finally shake me out of my NIV 84 stupor with hard, raw evidence. Once I took time to study the history of the Greek and Latin manuscripts that form the foundation of our Bibles, and then reviewed 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,Genesis 30:27, Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 9:13, Mark 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 8:1, 1 Timothy 3:16, 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 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.

After much study, and after hoping against hope to 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 me, 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 1960 Reina Valera is a Spanish Textus Receptus Bible, but I have not personally studied its text to confirm that it hasn’t been altered as the NKJV has.

***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 no 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 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:

Quotations Proving that Westcott & Hort Were Not Christians

NIV Chart Showing Deletions and Changes

More NIV problems

ESV deletions and changes

King James vs. New King James…which is really no King James at all

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. Sam Gipp, 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.

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-bible.htm

If you want to watch a long but thorough video on the changes in the new Bible versions, watch Gail Riplinger’s 2.5 hour, 80’s era presentation to the Prophecy Club on youtube: https://youtu.be/zpQ_W6-tb84https://youtu.be/zpQ_W6-tb84

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 hisEXCELLENT 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

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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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. I forgive those who have hurt me…help me to perfect 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 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

AUTHORITY: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

                           

                 Authority: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

There is a strong movement amongst church and Para-church leaders to push professing Christians under the umbrella of a group or a “leader.” I believe that the scriptures do, with great clarity, point to submission to government entities as long as they are affirming values that are objectively good and are punishing evil. (Romans 13:1-7). We are also exhorted to submit to our brethren in accordance with the biblical model given to us by Jesus, Paul and Peter. Christ centered leadership does not lord authority over others, as Jesus Christ himself showed us by serving the sick and the poor and by washing his disciples’ feet even as he was about to be brutally executed by his enemies.

Many of the well-known Christian leaders of our day reject any type of scriptural examination of their teachings, claiming that, as David spoke of Saul, so we are not to touch (or question) God’s” anointed.” Fortunately, we have the great apostle Paul as an example of how a leader is supposed to respond to a flock that tests his teachings. In Acts 17:10-12, it is clear that the Berean church was highly esteemed…because they tested EVERYTHING Paul taught them with the scriptures. They were not rebuked or rejected by Paul for daring to test his teachings. Instead they were considered to be more noble than other churches for examining his words, and have been recorded forever in the canon of scripture for that very act. May we find leaders who feel the same way about honest men testing their teaching in the refining furnace that is the word of God.

It is a very good (and sadly, a very rare) thing to have mature and honorable people in our lives who truly believe and understand the word of God. I am a firm believer that when the Lord brings us such people, they should feel the freedom to use God-breathed scripture to correct, train, teach and even rebuke us…getting us back on the straight path to Jesus Christ. The word of God should always be our final authority, as it was for the noble Bereans, for it will endure long after this earth and it’s inhabitants burn away. (1 Peter 1:23-24).

I personally long to know men and women of honor and truth with whom I can share this journey to Jesus Christ…believers who have put aside the deceptive lies of this world: wealth, status, sex, power, constant recreation, and instead joyfully subject themselves to the only one who judges righteously…Jesus Christ. But as noted above, such believers are few and far between as the wickedness of this world flows like an open sewer into the body, destroying the hearts and minds of even the most sincere followers of Christ.

Below are several scriptures that set forth the biblical model of authority, warning us that we should be cautious when submitting to fallible men, and reminding us that Jesus alone is our final authority. The scriptures also illustrate that biblical authority should not look like temporal authority. Instead it should look … like Jesus. I encourage those who read this to do so with a Bible in hand. This is far from an exhaustive study, but it does attempt to capture the primary theme of the verses that address this issue.

Matthew 23:8-12

In this passage, Jesus instructed a large crowd that they should not call anyone teacher or master, for Jesus Christ alone is our master. He also warned them that they (and we) are not to call anyone father other than our Father God in heaven. Instead, whoever is greatest among us must be our servant and whoever exalts himself will be humbled. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus also emphasizes the fact that those in authority through Christ should be a servant, just as Jesus Christ came to serve mankind and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Luke 16:15

In this passage Jesus points out that what is highly esteemed by men is detestable in the sight of God.

Nowhere is the above statement truer today than in the church, where both leaders and laymen are enamored with the wealthy “Christian” businessman or the “Christian” celebrity athlete. Often authority and respect are erroneously given to a wealthy businessman not because their hearts and character have been tested with the refining fire of scripture, but because character is simply assumed because they have had temporal success. In my experience I have seen church leaders ignore the fact that many of these men have stepped on the necks of business partners – even ones who were struggling financially – to gain more power and wealth for themselves. Also, the fact that many of these men have often ignored or left behind wives and children as they built an empire for themselves that will soon burn away (Revelation 18:10-19), is forgotten, because in today’s church, cash and outward appearances are almost always king. Paul and Jesus, however, cared nothing for material wealth and had no place to rest their heads as they traveled from city to city on foot, in order to love and serve the poor with integrity. (See Paul’s thoughts on all things temporal: Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)) Are those in power in our spheres truly caring for the weak and powerless on a consistent basis as Jesus and Paul did? Not likely, because as much as it is talked about in our sanctuaries, it is rarely a significant item on the schedules of the men leading our churches since there is much fund raising and book writing to do.

John 2:24-25

Jesus did not entrust himself to men for he knew what was in men.

While Jesus was God, and was fully submitted to the Father while on earth, this statement by John makes it clear that we should be very cautious when trusting ourselves to others, just as Jesus was. Perhaps that is why Jesus, in John 14:26 (and 1 John 2:27) told us that the Holy Spirit, not rabbis or pastors, would teach us all things. We must all simply take the time to study the word of God ourselves, with the help of the spirit, and not delegate that duty to any man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

Do not think of man above that which is written.

This is an excellent verse, making it clear that Paul does not want any man to place him or any other elder above the scriptures. The word of God alone is our final authority, not man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

The head of every man is Christ

This unambiguous statement by Paul makes it clear that in Christ, men do not rule over men. Jesus Christ is our Lord and it is to him alone that we must give an accounting for our lives. Thus, we should get to know what is important to him straight from the fountain…avoiding the middleman where the fountain often becomes polluted.

2 Corinthians 1:24

In this verse Paul makes states that he did not want to have dominion over anyone else’s faith. He simply wanted to be a helper…a servant to his flock because each one of them, and each one of us, stand and fall based on our own faith.

In 2 Corinthians 11 and in Galatians 1, we also see that in both Corinth and Galatia, the people in the churches were easily submitting themselves to a different gospel and a different Jesus than the one Paul preached. Why? It was undoubtedly because they, unlike the Bereans, did not test what they heard from their leaders with the word of God. Even Jesus Christ himself used the word of God when he battled Satan in the desert after starving for 40 days. He could have easily come up with his own memorable and powerful phrase with which to hammer Satan. But Jesus Christ himself chose to use the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God in reminding Satan that, “It is written….” With those words, Satan fled.

Jesus and Paul both warned us, and Paul with tears, that we must be on guard, for many false prophets and teachers will arise from inside the church. These greedy and power hungry men lord their authority over the flock, and as Peter said, turn us into merchandise…a means to comfort, wealth, power and fame. I believe we can all say that we have seen far too much of that type of leadership in the body…some subtle and some not so subtle.

In Galatians 2, Paul also makes it clear how he feels about challenging authority if he believes that false practices or teachings are taking place. He did not mind challenging even the great apostle Peter – and in front of other believers. Peter was leading the church back into legalistic practices, some of which Peter himself ignored when it suited him. So Paul called him out in a very clear and direct manner, not demeaning Peter but calling the sin that was taking place sin, with no attempt to prop him up or protect him from what he had to face. Paul’s only desire was to honor and glorify God by making it known publicly that Peter’s actions were wrong and were infecting the body.

Neither Jesus nor Paul was a respecter of persons. They loved people but did not idolize them or place them on a pedestal. The scriptures are clear: only Jesus should be worshipped and treated as above criticism. Yet somehow today, some in the church feel that we should cover or down play the sins and false teachings of our leaders because it will hurt the body if they are exposed. Quite the opposite is true. There is nothing…nothing more beautiful than a good, strong leader in Christ owning up to his failures and being an example of humility and teachability to the brethren. That…is true power through the spirit of Jesus Christ.

It is also clear that Paul did not believe that he had to run every decision he made by other men. When he received his calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, he stated that he did not confer with flesh and blood before undertaking that commission. (Galatians 1:16). He, like Jesus, did not need to be told by fallible men what he knew the spirit was calling him to do. Is it wise to run important decisions by men we trust, who know the word and use it as their lamppost? Yes. But if there are no such men available, we are able to trust the word of God and the mighty Holy Spirit within us to lead us into all truth. (John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27).

Ephesians 5:21

Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of the Lord.

Again, Paul makes the point that in Christ, we who are growing towards maturity are not supposed to lord authority over each other. Instead we should mutually submit to the biblical wisdom and insight that our brothers and sisters have for us through knowing and fearing God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “follow me as I follow Christ,” meaning follow him to the extent that what he is doing is truly following Jesus. We do not have to blindly submit to the worldly advice and insights given to us by our friends and fellow believers, for each one of us are ultimately accountable to the only one who judges justly.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Paul states that he and his brothers put their faith, not in men, but in the gospel, seeking to please God who tries their hearts.

I love that Paul emphasizes throughout his letters, that we must remain aware, at all times, that it is ultimately Jesus Christ to whom we are accountable. We must constantly live in a state of godly fear and awareness of his mercy, power and majesty as we remain in him, bearing fruit to the glory of the Father.

1 Timothy 2:5

There is only one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

This is another scripture that states clearly and directly that we, as believers, are beholden to no man, but are instead personally responsible for our own faith and must communicate our sin, our troubles and our thanksgiving to Jesus Christ himself.

Similarly, Hebrews 4:15-16, reminds us that we have a high priest in the heavens who can relate to our infirmities since he himself was a man. Therefore, we can approach his throne of grace with boldness so that we may obtain mercy from him directly in our time of need.   Notice how there is no mention of going first to a pastor or brother. We all may, due to the sacrifice of Jesus’s body on the cross, approach him directly and with great confidence. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-3, tells us, eloquently and with great spiritual power, that we are to fix our eyes not on man…but on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. It is the Jesus of the Bible that we must focus or minds, our hearts and our eyes on, not man.

2 Timothy 2:15-17

In this passage Paul reminds Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures since he was a child, and that those scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation. Paul goes on to tell him that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness so that he – and we – might be fully equipped for good works.

The lesson here is that, if I am to mutually submit to another for instruction, correction and reproof, those admonishments must come from the scriptures…and not from the mind and heart of a man.

Hebrews 13:17

In this passage, Paul tells us to obey those that have “rule” over us for they are accountable to God for our “souls.”

Based on how the words “ruler” and “soul” are used in both this passage and in Romans 13:1-7, and based on what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 23:8-12(discussed above), it appears that this passage is addressing temporal rather than spiritual authority. Regardless, the Berean church established with great certainty that examining those who posses the gift of leadership with the word is a noble thing.

1 Peter 5:1-3

Peter instructs the elders to feed the flock of believers rather than to lord authority over them. He also encouraged them to be good examples to the younger brothers and sisters.

1 John 2:20,27

We all have the anointing from God and “know all things,” so we “need not that any man teach” us since the anointing from God will teach us instead. These verses are similar to Jesus’ statements in Matthew 23:8-12 and John 14:26, which are discussed earlier in this writing.

1 John 2:20 and 27 directly address two key issues as they relate to authority in the church today. First, they establish, with certainty, that there are no longer any specially anointed men who are not subject to a careful examination with scripture. While we all have different gifts and we can learn from each other…everyone who is truly in Christ is personally anointed by God. Secondly, these verses remind each of us NOT to delegate our responsibility to learn about Jesus Christ to an authority figure. We all are to seek God ourselves while he may yet be found and we must test everything we hear from men with the word, lest we be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many men and women today who are desperately trying to obtain power and wealth by declaring themselves (or by having their cohorts declare them) apostles and prophets of Christ. They expect all believers to get in line under their self appointed headship and to obey everything they teach, including many so-called revelations, which often contradict scripture directly. One of the best examples of the obvious false teachings of both the Dominionists/NAR and Bethel, is their false eschatology, which is the exact opposite of the clear teachings of Daniel and Revelation. In Revelation 13:7 and in Daniel 7:21, 7:24, 8:24, and 11:33, it is clear that believers are NOT going to retake the world to usher in Christ’s return. Instead, the saints will be defeated by the antichrist, and Jesus will take his revenge in his time and in his way. It is not about us and our fleshly desire to reign. It is about Jesus Christ and his perfect plan, which takes place in his perfect timing.

There truly is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ, our wonderful and precious high priest who gave his body and his blood for us…cold and naked on a hard wooden cross. This great and wonderful God has given us the gift of his Holy Sprit, which will indeed teach us all things as we seek him with all of our hearts. (John 14:26). We must reject the worship of proud, charismatic men and must instead invest our hearts in the one thing that we know is true…the unchanging, everlasting word of God. Then we will be able to understand God’s perfect love and his will for our lives.

EPILOGUE

If we do find faithful believers who are truly following the model of a Jesus centered life, as illustrated by the apostles, by all means follow them as they follow Christ. But…know the word for yourself so that you, like the Bereans, are equipped to test everything, and do not fall for clever sounding phrases and thoughts sprinkled with the name of Jesus and other Christian language. Submit to committed followers of Christ as they teach you God’s eternal word…but understand this: all men will fade away and die, like grass in the hot sun (1 Peter 24-25), but the word of God endures forever. When we stand before God at the end of days, with everything laid bare before him, he will ask us if we truly loved him with all of our hearts, and if we did, why didn’t we take the time to test the things we were taught and practiced with the scriptures since many courageous men were burned at the stake so that we could have it by our beds and on our electronic devices. I hope that we are all able to tell Jesus, with great boldness, that we did love him and that we were not fooled by the call from proud and deceitful men to listen to their interpretation of the Bible and ignore our own, through the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord in truth and with great earnestness while he may yet be found. Time is short my brothers and sisters. Make the most of it while there is still daylight….

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

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

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

Leadership In Christ: Responsibilities of Teachers, Leaders and Hearers of the word

LIMITED ATONEMENT: Does Everyone Have an Opportunity to Be Saved?

                        Limited Atonement: Does Everyone Have an Opportunity to Be Saved?

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.  Proverbs 11:30

 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…. John 1:12

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.  John 3:36

To him(Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.  Acts 10:43

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it(the gospel of Jesus Christ and not sovereign election or predestination!) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

For Christ is the end of the law for righteous to every one that believeth. Romans 10:4

…God our Saviour…will have all men to be saved , and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all…. 1 Timothy 2:3-6

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.  James 5:20

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.  John 12: 32-33

 

   The idea that God, before time began, preselected certain unborn people to be destined for salvation, while certain other people were pre-designated for hell, with no opportunity to believe and repent, is clearly and outrageously false – and fails when tested in the refining fire that is the word of God. We are to look to the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) for guidance on all issues, and the full counsel of God, as found in the eternal scriptures, obliterates the idea of limited atonement, along with several of the other pillars of Calvinism. However, for the purposes of this writing, I will focus on the error of limited atonement because it is a critical concept for believers since, if it is true, the Christian life of evangelizing, being a living example of Christ, and making disciples, has no value in terms of saving others from the flames…and both the piercing gospel of Jesus Christ (which is the power of God unto salvation, per Romans 1:16) and prayers for the salvation of others…are rendered meaningless.

From the dawn of time, men and women have had free will. In the garden, Adam and Eve had the choice to either obey God, or to listen to the deliciously wicked voice of the serpent. God did not make or want mindless robots, but instead, He has intentionally given each of us freedom – which is best illustrated by the opportunity we all have to choose life or death, good or evil (see, Joshua 24:14-15). More often than not, we have chosen evil. But the idea that we are all preordained to go to heaven or hell, without a volitional element, makes the life and brutal death of Jesus, as well as the commands of Jesus and the apostles, moot, a waste, a sham, a fraud, and an unfathomable cruelty perpetrated by a God who in reality has an unsearchable love for each and every one of His beloved children. We are far more than robots living an essentially meaningless, preprogrammed life. We are men and women who have received the gift of free will from the one and only God, and he wants us to use that will to seek him with all of our hearts. The evidence of his love and mercy…is everywhere.

My primary problem with Calvinism and all other structures and belief systems superimposed on the Bible, such as hyperdispensationalism, and pre/post-tribulation rapture, is that we tend to force every other scripture we find into the mold of those manmade phrases, even if there are 20, 40 or even 100 scriptures that seem to contradict the 3 or 4 verses that support our belief. We tend to cling to our position as an idol, rather than seeking the “whole counsel” of God on a subject. Why? Because we learned it from a trusted youth leader, a long-time pastor or from a wise seminary professor. Instead of trusting men, who will fade away like grass (1 Peter 1:24-25), we must take the eternal word of God, as a whole, gathering all of the verses on a topic we seek to understand, so that we can study every single word Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, et. al. said regarding that issue. That is the ONLY way to truly understand the things of God. We must all rely less on the teaching of men, no matter how much we love and respect them, and rely more and more on God’s everlasting word. As John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27 say, the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.

My hope is that we will all obey the Apostle Paul’s command in 2 Corinthians 10:5, and cast down every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We must tear down the manmade paradigms that we place on the eternal scriptures, no matter the cost, and instead search the written word ourselves, diligently and in full, just as the Bereans did and were commended for it (Acts 17:11).

Below are an abundance of scriptures, most of which are self-explanatory, which establish the fact that every single person born on this earth has a chance to be saved. While I will never understand the thoughts and intents of the heart of God, or fully comprehend His foreknowledge (and Paul’s statements on predestination), I do believe that Jesus has made it more than clear to all of us who truly seek Him in His word, that no one, pre-birth is designated for hell at the whim of God, and that everyone has an opportunity to recognize and choose the only one who can save us.

Psalm 19:1-4 In this passage, David states that the heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the earth shows His handiwork. Day after day they pour forth both knowledge and night after night they pour forth speech. There is no language where their voice isn’t heard. Their words have gone out to the end of the world.

Psalm 97:6 The heavens declare His righteousness and all of the people see His glory.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest….

Anyone who is weary and burdened is invited by Jesus to come to Him for rest.

Matthew 18:14 When Jesus is talking about children, He specifically states that it is not His Father’s will that even one of these should perish.   Since Jesus was only minimally concerned about the temporal, I believe that it is clear that He is sharing about His and the Father’s hope that every single one of the children on earth will find Him.

Luke 2:9-11 When the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds to announce Christ’s birth, he told them that he was bringing tidings of great joy which will be “toall people.”

Luke 3:6All flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Luke 13:34 Jesus laments over the fact that He so desperately longed to gather all of His people to Himself – but they refused to come. They willingly rejected the one who made them and was calling them home.

John 1:1-18 The gospel of John (along with Romans Chapter 10) is a tour de force against calvinism, tearing it down from every angle. This extended passage, which I believe is one of the most important in the entire Bible (because it establishes exactly who Jesus Christ was, is and is to come), is an excellent place to start in proving that Jesus came to save everyone who believes. Sadly, most reject his offer of salvation by grace through faith.

In the opening four verses, the Apostle John states, with great clarity exactly who our savior is, and he makes it abundantly clear that: Jesus “was the light of men.” Jesus was not the light of some men. He was not the light for certain chosen men. He was the light of all men. John then goes on to state that John the Baptist came as a witness to Jesus so that through Him allmen might believe.(V. 7). Again, it was Jesus’ hope that every single person on this earth would believe in God, not just some men, not just certain preselected men, but allmen. In verse 12, John also specifically said that anyone who receives Jesus, to him he will give the power to become a son of God. Clearly, John is emphasizing the fact that there is a strong volitional element to salvation. Anyone who receives Jesus Christ can become a child of God. John 1:16 goes on to state that we have all received the grace of God.  Men predesignated for hell, with no chance to choose between Jesus and the god of this world, would not have the opportunity to receive God’s grace, thereby making John and the word liars if calvinism were true. I believe the clear, specific words of John the apostle, whom Jesus loved, over any man, no matter their reputation or scholarly record.

John 3:16-21 In this well-known passage, Jesus restates the point made by John in chapter 1 noted above, by stating that anyone who believes in the name of Jesus will not perish but will have everlasting life. Verse 17 goes on to state that God sent Jesus into this world not to condemn it but to save it. He did not come to save a few preselected people who were already marked for salvation. Why would Jesus come and die a brutal, torturous death to save people who were already saved? Why would Jesus and Paul tell us to preach the word of God, to make disciples, and to contend for the faith if it was already predetermined who would and wouldn’t be saved?    In the rest of this passage, we learn, from the mouth of Jesus Christ, the author of our salvation, that we all have a choice…darkness or light, good or evil. (See also, John 3:36, which is just as strong on this topic, and is quoted in the heading of this article).

John 5:22-24 Jesus states that all judgment has been committed to Him by the Father, and it is the Father’s hope that allmen would honor the Son. Jesus then goes on to state that whoever hears His words and believes that He was sent from the Father, has eternal life.   Again, there are no limitations placed by Jesus or the Father on who can hear and believe in Jesus Christ and Jesus specifically states that it is His Father’s actual hope that everyone would honor Jesus Christ. The only person who seems to place limitations on who can hear the word of God and be saved is John Calvin.

John 5:39-40 Jesus tells His fellow Jews that they search the scriptures daily, but do not choose to come to Him, the very one whom the scriptures point to, so that they might have eternal life. Jesus is pointing out the fact that having eternal life does not involve academic exercises…but it does involve willingly coming to Jesus Christ.

John 6:45-47 Jesus again states that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life, not just a preselected few.

John 12:32 Jesus says that, if He is lifted up from the earth He will draw allmen to Himself.

Many men will ignore Him, but He says with unmistakable certainty, that He will draw ALL men to Himself.

Acts 7:51 When Steven, “full of faith and power” is explaining the prophesies of Jesus from the Old Testament to the Jewish council, he informs them that, just like their fathers, they resist the Holy Ghost.   Steven would not need to waste his time preaching this message to the Jews if it were predetermined who would and wouldn’t be saved. He also makes it very clear that their forefathers chose to resist the Holy Spirit. In both Deuteronomy 30:19-20 and Joshua 24:15, God commands His people to choose…this day life or death, blessings or curses…so even in Old Testament days, God gave men the choice as to whether or not they would follow Him. Most of them, sadly(like us today), chose the golden calf or Ashtoreth poles over the Living God. We all have the ability to resist or accept the unchanging truth of our great God. He speaks to our hearts through His eternal word and through the glory and beauty of creation, so that all of us are without excuse. See, Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19-20.

Acts 10:34-44 When Peter was sharing the gospel with Cornelius, he stated that God is not a respecter of persons, and that every nation that feareth Him and works righteousness, is accepted by Him(we saw that with Nineveh in the OT when they repented after hearing the word from Jonah) . In verse 43, Peter teaches that through God’s name, whoever believes in Jesus shall receive the remission of sins. We also see throughout Acts and the epistles that Peter, Paul and many other Apostles spend their lives relentlessly preaching the gospel throughout the world knowing that all men everywhere have an opportunity to hear the truth of Jesus Christ and be saved.

*****Acts 17:24-31 In this powerful passage, when Paul is preaching to the philosophers at Athens on Mars Hill, he lays out, in very clear terms, the fact that God, who made everything, created each person at a specific time and in a specific place that “they should seek the Lord and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.” So even the godless Greek philosophers were placed on earth at a specific time and in a specific place, so that perhaps they too might seek God, find Him an be saved. This is true for every person ever created says Paul.

Romans 1:16 This verse is self explanatory. The power of the God unto salvation is NOT predestination. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which ransoms men from the flames of hell:  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; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The great passage on Grace in Ephesians 2:8-9, also makes it clear that we are saved by “grace through faith,” not by “grace through predestination.”

Romans 1:19-23 Paul essentially restates what David said in Psalm 19, that all men are without an excuse when it comes to knowing God because God has revealed Himself to everyone from the dawn of time, through the glory and power of creation. Yet men choose to ignore what God has placed right in front of their five senses, and instead choose to degrade each other and embrace the darkest of sins.

Romans 5:18 Just as judgment came upon all men by Adam’s sin, so by the righteousness of Jesus, the free gift of justification unto life came to all men.

***Romans 8:29 In this verse Paul explains predestination as “foreknowledge,” just as Peter defines the “elect” as those God “foreknew,” in 1 Peter 1:2. The point is, that God did not preselect men to go to heaven or hell, but he, in his omniscience, “foreknew” who would choose to believe on his name, and those who would reject him. See below:

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ….” 1 Peter 1:2

 Romans 8:32 Paul states that God the Father delivered His Son to death “for us all.”

Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyonethat believes.

Romans 10:9-10  “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead (NOT” If thou art randomly preselected by Jesus for heaven before time began”), thou shalt be saved. For it is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

A note on the Old Testament: As this chapter indicates so clearly, salvation is and has always been accomplished in the heart of a man who hears and responds to the word of God (see, 10:17). Since Jesus came to earth, in order to be saved, we must believe in our heart that he, fully God and fully man, paid for our sins with his blood, and was raised to life by his Father. There is nothing in these verses (or John 3) that implies anything else. Hebrews 11 also makes it clear that it was always faith that saved, even in Old Testament times. Wicked pagans and harlots, such as the citizens of Ninevah, Nebachadnezzar, and Rahab were saved – not because they were jews (because the weren’t), but because they believed in the true God of heaven, and it was credited to them as righteousness. Anyone who has read the major prophets and the books of Moses can see that most jews didn’t care one bit about the God who chose them and redeemed them from slavery time and time again, therefore, they were not saved even though they were God’s chosen people. Faith in the one true God has always been the only factor that saves. Even the Magi who came from who knows where to honor the baby Messiah, knew the scriptures and believed them. God has always been available to the hearts of those who want to find him, no matter where they are. Cornelius, Lydia, Apollos and the Ethiopian Eunuch are more examples of New Testament people who wanted to know the one true God…so God sent his gospel to them.

Romans 10:12-17 Paul teaches us, without any limiting language, that the Lord is rich toward “all” who call upon him (vs. 12) and goes on to state that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (See also, Joel 2:32) Paul then implores the Roman church to preach the gospel, since the only way that people can believe in Jesus is by hearing the word of God. He states, “How shall they believe in him of whom they haven’t heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans10:14).  This point is emphasized again in verse 17: “So then faith cometh by HEARING, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
Paul does NOT say that people believe in Jesus Christ because they are part of the “elect.” He makes it clear that people will not, and cannot believe…unless we preach, and they hear…the word of the living God.

In summary, Paul is telling us in Romans 10, with clear and powerful language, that salvation wasn’t accomplished at the pre-creation whim of God, but instead he exhorts us to go out into the world and preach the gospel in order to give more people an opportunity to hear the story of Jesus Christ, who ransomed us from hell with his blood, and perhaps, through hearing the truth, might be saved.

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

***1 Corinthians 5:11 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

The passage above is one that motivates me to evangelize perhaps more than any other. Not only is the terror of the Lord on the day of judgement very real, but Jesus Christ has called us to labor tirelessly to “persuade” people, via the gospel, to repent…while there is still time. If the false, Calvinist understanding of predestination were indeed true then this scripture is a lie because no one could be persuaded.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Christ died for all, thus if any man be in Christ he is a new creature and all things become new.

2 Thessalonians 2:12 Those are damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.

Who is damned? Those who choose not to believe.

1 Timothy 3:6-7 God’s wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, for He gave Himself as a ransom for all.

 1 Timothy 4:10  We labor and suffer reproach because we trust God, who is the savior of all men.

1 Timothy 4:16 We must be careful how we live and with our doctrine for in doing so we shallsave both ourselves and our hearers.   Clearly, our words and actions may have a bearing on who is and isn’t saved.

Titus 2: 11-12  11″For the grace of God which bringeth salvation has appeared to ALL men, 12 teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world….” The grace of God THAT BRINGS SALVATION has appeared to everyone. This is one of many passages that could not possibly be any more clear on the fact that God offers his grace to everyone, and he offers it for free.

Hebrews 2:9 Jesus, was made a little lower than the angels and was crowned with glory and honor so that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for everyman.

James 5:19-20 James tells us that many of our sins will be covered if we, through the truth, convert a sinner from the error of his ways, saving him from death. Jude 1:22-23 also emphasizes that by our actions, as followers of Christ, men can be pulled from the fires of hell.

2 Peter 2:9 God is long suffering toward us and is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:15″And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation….”

‭Peter makes it clear once again – God’s long suffering towards us actually leads to salvation. How? It his patience with our wickedness…his long delayed judgement, that gives us all the time we need to consider his gospel and repent. He wouldn’t need to be long suffering towards us – and his long suffering certainly wouldn’t lead to salvation – if each of us didn’t have a choice to make with our hearts. That choice is…the short term pleasures of sin, or the blood of Jesus Christ? Choose this day who you are going to serve.

1 John 2:2 Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world.

Revelation 22:17  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”  At the very end of the Bible, THIS is what Jesus Christ wants us to know: whosoever is thirsty, whosoever will…let him take the water of life freely!  The offer of salvation to everyone without limitation is being made abundantly clear one last time. Please, come and chose Jesus Christ, as the clock of eternity…winds down.

Jesus Christ, the one who was with God in the beginning and through whom all things were made; the one in whom is life and that life is the light of men; the one who gave us grace and truth; the one who bore our sins in His body on the tree; the one whose head and hair are white like wool as white as snow and whose eyes are like blazing fire; The one who holds the keys of death and hell; the one who someday will appear in an open sky, riding on a white horse wearing a robe dipped in blood with a name written on Him which no one knows but He Himself; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and the author of such a great salvation, makes it clear, through His own words and the words of His Apostles, that He wants every single person born on this planet to be saved from the flames of hell. Why would He waste so much time teaching the jews about the dangers of hell if it was already predetermined who would and wouldn’t go there? Why would he give us the great commission or have us pray for the salvation of others, if everything was already set in stone? Why would he have allowed his son to be brutalized and murdered if we are all simply preprogrammed, predestined robots?

Because of His surpassing love, He gives all people everywhere an opportunity to repent and turn to Him. He even sends the gospel to pagans who are searching for the one true God (Cornelius, Lydia, and the Ethiopian Eunuch). However the road is narrow…and few find it. Let us all seek the kingdom of God through His everlasting word, unpolluted by the doctrines of demons and men, and let us joyfully share it with others who might also choose His glorious gift of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.

EPILOGUE

I strongly recommend that each one of us ask God to tear down ANY man-made belief system, which we have placed on His glorious word, no matter who taught it to us. Jesus promises us in John 14:26 (and John says essentially the same thing in 1 John 2:27), that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, so I humbly suggest that we pick up our KJV Bibles, and ask the Spirit to destroy any preconceived notions we have about anything related to God…and then simply read.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.   Revelation 3:20

All 5 Points of Calvinism Refuted

ECUMENICISM: Jesus Christ as He is in the Word, Is the Only Way to God

Grace, Obedience and Salvation: The Narrow Road

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

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

Leadership In Christ: Responsibilities of Teachers, Leaders and Hearers of the word

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)

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

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

PRAYER: How To Approach God and What To Expect From Him

                   PRAYER: How to approach Our Great God, And what to Expect From Him

 

 

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

21 And (Job) 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 1:21-22

 

 

 As I read the word slowly and with great deliberation, I find that prayer, as taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, bears little resemblance to the “name it and claim it” prayers (and attitudes) being widely taught today. With great frequency I hear self-proclaimed evangelists and teachers instructing the body to sow their financial seed to God (via their ministry) and then to tell God, in no uncertain terms, exactly what material “blessings” they want in return from Him – placing their order with God for goods, services, and health if you will. They are then instructed to wait on God to deliver…and if He doesn’t, well then it is their own fault for not having enough faith.

I have found the above method of prayer to be patently and outrageously false when tested in the refining furnace of scripture, given to us freely and graciously by our precious Lord. My hope is that we will all learn to pray, not as petulant children demanding money and a new car from our father, but as trusting and obedient sons and daughters, praying humbly and with great reverence to the one who know us and adores us. This attitude is perfectly illustrated by Paul in 2 Corinthians.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul states that Jesus Himself allowed a messenger from Satan to torment him, lest he become proud regarding his intimacy with and knowledge of God. Paul begs the Lord to remove this thorn in his flesh, pleading with Jesus three times…but Jesus Christ, who made Paul and knew with great precision what was best for him, said…no. His grace was sufficient to get Paul through all of the tribulations of this short life, despite constant and extreme suffering.

In the above referenced passage, Paul isn’t asking Jesus for material blessings, or for respect amongst his peers. He isn’t even requesting that his basic needs be met, since that was a continual struggle for him. (See, 2 Corinthians 11:22-33). Instead he was simply asking that Satan not be allowed to constantly torment him. This seems like an easy request with an obvious answer, right? Well, actually no. Our Great and Loving God, who made all things and who knows all things, declined to remove this painful trial from the life of His beloved apostle. Similarly, when Jesus was in Gethsemane, awaiting torture, humiliation, and a long slow death, He asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him. The Father refused to change His plan for saving mankind, despite the fact that Jesus had already lived 33 perfect years of love and obedience on this earth.

What stands out to me about the prayer in Gethsemane is the fact that Jesus, who was Himself, God incarnate, didn’t demand that His Father save Him from the abuses and degradations to come. While He felt the freedom to ask His Father for anything…He ended the prayer with a beautiful picture of surrender and trust “…Yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus knew that what He wanted at that moment in time might not be right in the eyes of His Father. So rather then make a demand or give an ultimatum, He simply submitted His own perfect will to the One whom He knew loved both Him and the world with an everlasting love.

Today, a prayer like the one by Jesus Christ in Gethsemane would be considered by many leaders to be weak and faithless…but in the reality of a life hidden in the arms of a loving and Omnipotent God, it is strong and powerful. Instead of demanding a certain result from God, the prayer of Jesus places the outcome fully in the hands of God no matter the short-term cost. Jesus, unlike us, doesn’t need a specific result to be at a place of complete peace and trust with His Father. The result of our own (my own included) prayers should, as Jesus exemplified, be fully submitted to God with absolutely no secret strings attached, and as Job so eloquently stated in the midst of total destruction, whether God gives or takes away…blessed be His name! (Job 1:21-22).

In Luke 11, when one of His disciples asked Jesus to teach them all how to pray, Jesus taught them what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. Two simple and oft overlooked parts of this passage, which speak deeply to my heart about what my disposition towards God should be as I approach Him in prayer are:

Thy will be done…”- meaning, not what I want God, but what You want and know is good, true, and right since you, and not me, are the God who knit me together in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139), and made this glorious universe for me to enjoy.

I also love the part of this great prayer where Jesus says, “…give us this day our daily bread….” He didn’t teach us to ask the Father to make us wealthy and successful so that we can impress our friends, neighbors, coworkers and fellow believers – and so that we won’t have to worry about our retirement. No. Jesus wants us to have to depend on Him every single day, lest the temporary riches and comforts of this world deceive our hearts and draw them away from the Living God. (See, Parable of the Rich Fool, Luke 12:13-21, and the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4-15).

In Luke 11:5-13, just after teaching the disciples how to pray, Jesus goes on to tell them that their Father in heaven wants them to have good things, just like any earthly father would. He then encourages them to ask, seek, and knock, for everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds, and to anyone who knocks the door will be opened to them. But what whispers to my heart from this passage, with gentle but strong conviction, is the last verse, which after stating clearly that the Father does give good things to those who ask, then goes on to define exactly what those good things are in His eyes. In Verse 13, Jesus says, If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus seems to assume that true believers, meaning those like Paul and the disciples, who really love Him in the deep places of their hearts, and are seeking His eternal kingdom, will ask for…. not a big bonus check, a new car, or favor and respect among men, but instead will request more of the Holy Spirit of the Living God. Ouch. That’s not exactly what we typically ask for here in the western church…and sadly, that is not what we are taught to ask for. We are told to sow a big seed so that we are blessed with more seed to sow back in to the pastor’s ministry. And why don’t we, if we truly love Him, receive the material blessings we seek so earnestly in prayer? James the brother of Jesus says it perfectly. In James 4:3, he says: “When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Double ouch.

How many times, when praying for what we think we want or need from God, ask for more of the true Holy Spirit? Sometimes perhaps – yet Jesus seems to assume that we, as His disciples, will ask for it constantly, since it is the greatest gift that He has left for us on this earth. If we follow many of the well-known pastors and teachers of today, we are taught to ask for wealth, temporal success, creativity and children who are world-changers, along with a false “Holy Spirit” who is disorderly and often manifests himself in a fashion similar to the demons Jesus cast out and sent back to hell during His ministry. Yet here in the word, Jesus assumes that we, His beloved sheep, will simply want more of Him and His eternal kingdom, rather than the fading and deceiving pleasures of this ill world.

Luke 1 is another excellent example of how God relates to us in His unadulterated sovereignty. In the first half of this chapter, Luke makes it clear that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth are honorable people in the eyes of God. They are righteous because, as verse 6 says, they walk in all of the commands and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. Since Sarah is barren, and they are both very old, it is easy to assume that they have prayed to have children for decades, with no success. Then one day, the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the temple and tells him that he will finally have a son. Apparently, seeing this mighty angel of God in person wasn’t enough to convince Zechariah that what Gabriel said was true because he asks for another sign. Because of his unbelief, Gabriel prevents Zechariah from speaking until the baby, John the Baptist, is born.

Since God wanted Sarah and Zechariah to have a child, it WAS going to happen, regardless of whether they named it and claimed it. Their faith was completely irrelevant to God’s purpose being accomplished. They could have screamed at God, reciting His promises to them in Psalms and Proverbs, all day long…but that would have been of no effect. Instead, God saw the devotion of their hearts to Him, as reflected in their lives…and He gave them what they always desired but never thought they could ever have. In all things, His sovereignty and goodness will prevail. It just seems to take a long time…and in this particular case, it was almost a lifetime.

Similarly, if Jesus wanted Paul to have a thorn in His flesh, then it WAS going to remain, tormenting Paul as He saw fit, no matter how many times he begged God to remove it. Yet Paul, like Jesus in Gethsemane, accepted the final, painful decision of God, and instead of accusing God of wrong doing, he instead chose to glory in his weakness…for he knew with great certainty, that where he was weak, God was strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). May we all seek the eternal riches of Jesus Christ through His precious Holy Spirit, rather than the temporary comforts of this dark and dying world.

EPILOGUE

I am, without a doubt, a foolish man, who has expended much time and energy chasing the lies of this world. As I have, in failure and brokenness, turned my eyes and heart to the Jesus Christ of the Bible as fully as I am able, I have learned to pray for people, in every situation – not that they would be blessed, be healed or have temporal success. I simply pray that the Holy Spirit would pour Himself into their circumstances, and would draw, with His mighty power, all those involved closer to Jesus Christ, as He truly is in the word…because really, nothing else matters. Nothing. Eternity and eternity alone is what matters, because once that door to heaven closes…it can never, ever be opened. I encourage anyone who reads this to consider eternal things and only eternal things, as they pray, teach and share life with those they love, for what is seen truly is temporary, but what is unseen…is eternal.

Intimacy with and dependence upon Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ, should be the sole goal of our prayers as we walk this path towards eternity.

***EXCELLENT BONUS SCRIPTURE FROM DANIEL 3 ***

14″ Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?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.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego knew that God could do anything – even save them from being thrown into a furnace by an angry king. But they didn’t demand that God deliver them…and they didn’t even, by their “positive confession,” attempt to save themselves through the power of their words (aka the occultic law of attraction). They simply declared, with great boldness, the absolute power of the One and Only God in the presence of their angry enemies – and in the face of a horrible death. Yet That was enough for them. They trusted the one who made them and loved them. They let God be God and they were His humble and faithful servants…even unto a fiery death. May it be the same for all of us.

Whether the Lord Gives or Takes Away, Blessed Be His Name!

The Loving Discipline of the Lord

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

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