Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Many of my “this region” contemporary friends are off school and face that same question that I do. Q: What do I do with my time? For one thing: Make, create, and rest! That is my answer. On FB I have been expressing that I have been contemplating the Inordinate Obscurities of the Universe. I had ordered a movie called “God of Wonders”. I have seen this movie during a meeting of the OUS Followers of Christ club. I have fond memories of that club. We had a core group that showed up every time, and a lingering few who popped in and out now and then. But I digress…God of Wonders is a fantastic movie that explores the universe and how it itself is undeniable evidence that God is who He claims to be in the scripture. One thing in that movie that made an impact to me is how big the largest star could possibly be. It’s like 700,000 times the size of our own star, the Sun (Sol). It is so overwhelmingly larger than our star, that the star itself is like as big as the earth’s orbit around Sol. That is so incredibly enormous that it is hard to fathom. NOW, that being said, I don’t remember those numbers exactly, so when the movie comes in, I’ll come back and republish those actual facts. I highly, highly recommend watching this movie. It is only $15 on www.christianbooks.com . That is also a great place to buy pretty much anything Christian lit. Ask them to send you their frequently published catalogs and their email that comes several times a week; always on sale and a great place to buy. I get almost all of my reference material there. I have gotten some great deals of some Pre-Nicene Council writing. Early Christian writing is a great way to see how the early church practiced and what they believed. But one must also be very careful to continue to read the scripture in your daily private time with the Father because our minds are used to turning writings like that into an authority, when it is NOT an authority. Some of these early Christians were so influenced either by the Greek theology/Platonism, or the Alexandria school way of thinking. Either way they could occasionally get some far out thoughts on what the bible meant. However, it is encouraging to see the bible quoted so often and see for sure that these early Christians were very much influenced by the same scripture that we are. It is also further evidence that it wasn’t until 300AD (I hate the new way of saying After Death [of Christ] and saying Common Era-CE) that the New Testament was written and being used by the early Millennial Christians.
Reading early Christian writings can be a bizarre journey. Some of them were so incredibly legalistic that it is ridiculous and were very, very, very works oriented. I too am works orientated, because I believe what the bible says in that obedience is a show of love to the Father, and because of Jesus we know what it is to be performance oriented. But some of them would find great self condemning thoughts and confessions because they weren’t perfect. It is kind of like a hyper reaction to the Gospel. I know that much of the Reformers misconstrued Grace to be an all powerful …???...Force that exists for the sole reason of pre-chosen people to live past this life to be with God forever. The Reformers brought the thinking that Hell is a place for the common person and that God wants people to go to hell. This thinking is so far from biblical teaching that it is ridiculous. These Reformers would confess that they would intentionally leave out whole books of the bible and just stick to selected passages, and not digging deeper into finding the balance between Paul’s Saved by Grace/Faith and James saved by Faith/Action. There is a perfect blend between the two if you have a larger sense of what message the bible is teaching. One must consider the whole of the bible, and not just the sum of parts. We can proof text the NT until we are blue in the face, and we can pluck out patterns that we think prove our point for sure. I could use scripture to prove that you must be married in order to be a faithful Christian, and yet, I could proof text that in order to be faithful, one must remain single. In the same way, I could pull out scripture that shows that God offers Grace only to those that He has preselected to go to heaven, and then again, I could proof text into a teaching that proves that the choice of being a Christian is entirely our choosing and the Father has no action in that decision making. Then again, I could proof text the entire teaching that the Father, through Christ, made all that has, does, and will continue to exist and His Glorified Self can see the day you were born at the same time that he saw the day his son was born, knowing full well the outcome of both lives. He has foreknowledge of who will love Him, but he also knows that the chance to be saved was completely the choice of those the love Him, and so he opened up windows to give that opportunity to those who he know would love Him forever. He allowed us to know Him, but didn’t make that choice for us. If you knew the day that your child will be born and die, do you not have that child even though you know when he will die. You know in advance that as a teen he/she will make bad choices, but as an adult, they will give their hearts to God…or even that they will die from drunk driving, does that mean you don’t want to have that child and get those wonderful years of life together. Even if you knew that you would offer rehab to your child and they choose not to go, but you had years together...with awesome childhood memories and the blessing of grandchildren…but still, drunk driving, “No, I will not have that child to spare them drunk driving.” It is ridiculous. God doesn’t make decisions for us, no, He in his wondrous ways allows us to choose, and know who will, he opens up His heart to them and predestines their salvation knowing in advance that they would choose Him.
I am doing a lousy job explaining the whole of the Will of Christ, but that leads me to my next point. Science and faith are almost synonymous in construction. At the time that we call “now”, we think that we are at the pinnacle of what we know and believe. Modern science IS religion, and there can be no doubt about that. It requires faith, facts, and fantastical imagination. But my point is that we seem to always be thinking that nobody knows more that we do, and we pat ourselves on the back for being so intelligent and being so fantastic in the way that we express ourselves. There couldn’t possibly be other knowledge that pertains to our belief that could counter what we know!! No way!! What we know IS reality in itself and we can only make assumptions (that word is science in a nut shell) that if we don’t know it, it isn’t true. It is way too early in the history of mankind to assume that we understand how the earth was made and how the universe came to be and why DNA doesn’t prove God’s existence, and the stars are as far away as we think they are and the universe is as big as we think it is and that we are the most intelligent species on the planet or that we are alone in the Cosmos sitting on our small little planet, which gets smaller every day, and no one else is out their capable of being as human as we are (actually, that may be true). Of course I am talking in complete sarcasm. It is ridiculous to think that we know everything enough to know what doesn’t ring true. Please…Darwinism is so ridiculous that it is hardly worth mentioning. Catholicism is so ridiculously un-Christ-like I feel embarrassed for self aggrandizing people who think that they have the true “key” to the Kingdom of God, and that they should be revered. Becoming a pastor, priest, minister, bishop, pope or lead evangelist is to put yourself above others in proclaiming that you were meant for a special position in life or a certain calling. PLEASE!! We were ALL called to serve God, some of us are just more in touch with it than others. We were all called to be messengers of the word and to spread the truth to each other. What the Catholic Church is all about, and what the Benny Hinn/Billy Graham people are all about is wanting to be in a position of being admired and worshipped. To serve in the fashion that many of these Rick Warren/Joyce Meyers people serve in is a driven passion, almost to an obsession to be elevated in the eyes of others, seeking that approval that God wants to give us, and if we can’t find it in the Word, then we fight to find it in other people. So much do we want to be respected and revered. So much we want that validation that we are awesome. Well, that is the sin that Eve was tempted with, and that Adam fell in line with, with ZERO protest. What did she say to him? “Now the serpent was craftier than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Well, it doesn’t say what she said to him, but it does say what she said to herself in essence. It looked tasty and seemingly fulfilling, and moreover, it would make her smart. NOW, as an intellect myself, I too am enamored with knowledge; I am especially enamored with Knowledge as it were. Even though there is a huge amount of warnings in the scripture, Eve only had the commands of God to protect her. She didn’t trust that God knew better. She wanted to be wise and equal to God. Think how much we delight in knowing things. Mankind’s pursuit of education and furthering knowledge is relentless. All some of us want is to know more. We want to know all and understand all! We want to know WHY we should obey this command or that command. If it doesn’t make sense to us, we ignore it or devalue it. We make up reasons why it doesn’t apply to us and create a faction or divisive devise of some sort and make it all look like rationality, just like the snake did in the garden. We serve the devils of this world without even being aware of how much. I have a friend who just recently came to the conclusion that the entire world is run by evil and that the only good there is comes from the rare and few between holy person. This is made clear to the person who reads the gospel, and is not anything new. Anyway, he is overwhelmed with this fact and is having a hard time being spiritual and grasping at worldliness and humanistic understandings instead of reading his bible to better understand. This has led him on a course of accusing multiple people of being demon possessed and indulging in deceit and even hallucinations. He has just come off a life of substance abuse, and still dips some, which is keeping one y foot in the water while trying to dry off. HE tried to tell what the bible message was and that there is something in the gospel that he obviously either deluded or deceivingly tried to convey to me. His deceit is rampant and his misplaced loyalties to God are completely worldly. But this really comes on strong every time I challenge him to deal with his heart and his marriage and parenting skills. Of course he has completely destroyed his marriage with unfaithfulness and drunken physical abuse (seeing her not leave him is heart breaking) and he is supposed to be “repenting” from his iniquities. This is an excellent example of how the evil forces of this world can string you along. I too have fallen for these type of worldly temptations, thus they are easy for me to spot. As I have overcome them, I have a passion to see this other person to also do thus. There is no hope for his marriage. Now that he has quit his job, there is no longer a reason for his wife to stay with him. Personally, I think that this “brother” (everybody is a brother to me in my heart because of how much I love them, and I do love this bother) struggles with his mental health, but that too can be demonic influence. Too often people dismiss devil influences but the Gospel attributes demon possession to many sicknesses; the early Christian writings reveal that they too believed that health was due to demons. They would successfully cast out these demons, and that person’s health would return.
Baptism was taught by Peter in conjunction to the forgiveness of sins and the entrance into the Kingdom Of God (KOG), I decided to make a little booklet about Christianity and the significance of God the Creator become part of his own Creation. Why He had to do this and how it proves beyond any doubt that God is a keeper of his word and that His integrity is beyond our own capabilities. It also proves that God never lies, and always keeps his promises. It also shows the legitimacy of the Book of Genesis. Wither you look at the first few chapters of Genesis as fable, metaphor, or literal events, it proves that God prophesied the coming of Jesus in the Garden of Eden. He knew from day one that we would fail Him, but many people believe that in order for us to have a relationship with our creator, we must mature ourselves and learn from our mistakes. This is difficult as war looms all over the world; starvation is happening to one out of two people in this world, and sickening dictatorships and imperialism rule the people of this planet. We are supposed to rise above, and that is why Jesus teaches that the road to the KOG is a narrow one. Wide is the path to destruction!!!! Narrow is the path that leads to salvation! Let’s read it: “"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The concept is that it is a hard life that will lead us to life. BUT, let’s look at the few words right before this teaching: “"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”” Whoa-lah!! The Golden Rule!!! The Golden Rule IS the narrow path. It is simple “spiritual mechanics” Jesus style. SO we are back to works and faith James style, but yet, we couldn’t do works without faith, for according to Romans, anything done without faith is sin. We must believe that there is an element in “pleasing” the Father. “Oh, I’m saved by grace alone! Works are dead and lead to worldliness. Works lead to legalism and spiritual retardation!”
“Please!” Yes we are saved by grace and not works, but works are an expression of faith. SO it is mutual in its design. That is the reconciliation between Paul and James. The problem, is that the man who invented the works verses grace argument was talking about all the rules made by a church, not the obedience found in scriptural salvation. He had his own copy of the bible, and he had to rationalize the seeming dichotomy between Ephesians and James. So, he created a bible without the book of James. Romans should be bringing you to figure out that there is no dichotomy between Grace/Faith/Works. Also, 1 John should be bringing light to the subject, as does Hebrews…really, one must take the whole of the scripture in mind to figure out that Grace leads to Faith, and Faith and Obedience are bologna and cheese on bread. Faith and Works are peanut butter and Jelly. They only work together. In one way, we could say that Faith and Works are the same thing. Abraham believed God before he expressed his belief. This means that Faith and Works are not the same thing, but they are sandwiched together. How did we know that Abraham believed God, because he did exactly what he was told to do, up to murdering his own child? In a sense, Abraham believed in the Resurrection of HIS son, as much as God believed in the Resurrection of His Son. Because of this, Abraham saved all of mankind, up until Christ. But to further this argument, all of the people that had iron clad, rock hard faith always showed it by obedience. IF you say you have faith, then you WILL love your neighbor as yourself. If you have faith, you would have confessed Jesus as Lord, and Jesus as the Christ and literal begotten Son of God, then confessed your sin, then got ten baptized, then remained faithful through the taking of the Lords Supper and actions of LOVE Jesus style in order to convert. It must be complete. The sinner’s prayer is a new concept that stems from spiritually immature thinking. It was a easy solution to converting native Americans and unschooled uneducated masses of white Americans who had frontiered eastern and mid-west America. As missionaries headed into the Western American Frontier, they needed to be able to convert people without going through “ritual”. They held highly entertaining tent revivals. When they held their alter calls, they needed a solution for hundreds of people converting at a time, including all walks of life; from American Indians, African emigrants (slaves), and rich and poor white people all had desire to respond to these Charismatic shows. So they also had fund raising to do, and what better to increase your fundraising than converting dozens up to hundreds of new members at a time. There was little room for accountability to change one’s life and become a completely new creature. When we convert, we are supposed to start fitting into our potential of being unified with Creation. The quick fix conversion of the Sinner’s Prayer is a false or incomplete conversion. You are only one third of the way there.
“Well, Peter was talking about being baptized in the Spirit like they just were!” I have several things to say about that. 1.) The only accounts of baptism of the Holy Spirit without water immersion had Peter in attendance and delivering the message. In Matthew 16 Peter was plainly given the authority to establish the Church on earth, and KOG on Earth as it is in Heaven. Peter, after the baptism of the Holy Spirit also made them all become water baptized in order to complete all righteousness. There is an argument that the Gifts of the Spirit (Miracles) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are two different things. The giving of the Miraculous Gifts (Speaking in Tongues, Healing, prophesying, etc.) only happens when a APOSTLE lays hands on that person. The biblical evidence backs this up. Moreover, the only way to be a true Apostle is to witness the Resurrection in person. You would have had to have seen Jesus in Person during his life, and then seen him resurrected after his death and burial. If you read The Book of Acts chapter one and two, this becomes evidentiary. Read further through Acts and you can see that converts throughout all of Acts show different parts of conversion. But the nail that seals the coffin is Paul’s conversion. He tells his conversion twice, but the Book tells his conversion three times. In the last telling of his conversions it makes it clear that he didn’t have his sins forgiven, even though he came to faith, until he was water baptized. Paul received his revelation of Christ which was God offering Grace, but Paul still had to be baptized in order to have his sins forgiven. This is very telling. When you start reading the NT in whole, even the whole bible, with Noah’s flood, Moses’ crossing of the Red Sea, Joshua crossing the Jordon…every time there is a new covenant with God, it includes a water purge. The Hebrews were purged of the Egyptians through the Red Sea. He then received the Law as to how to achieve salvation. Then, in order to enter the Promised Land, the Hebrews again crossed the Jordan, and then had to physically take hold of the Promised Land. Noah, had to build the Ark, but didn’t receive salvation until it actually rained and the fulfillment of that covenant came through coming into contact with the earth and the curse of the earth was broken, and God THEN came up with the new covenant with Creation, including mankind. Mankind was baptized, the Hebrews were baptized, Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. What’s that about? Jesus made it clear that we are to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness!!!! John the Baptists preached a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins!! Baptism only makes sense. In Romans 3 and 6, Ephesians 4:4, Galatians 3:26, 1 Corinthians 1, and many more, there is so much biblical unity with baptism for conversion. NO, it is not the do all say all….it is not baptism alone, which is what faith alone people think. They think since they are faith alone, that we are baptism alone (see, already there is a division among God’s people). That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The need for faith is overwhelming, but the need for a renewed life is also abundant. We are not saved because or works, we do works because we are saved. You must ask yourself, “Self, how is Grace expressed?” Is it some magical force that just lands of people who agree that Jesus is Lord? Congratulations, even devils and demons believe that, that proves nothing!!! So by accepting Jesus for who he is you have this mysterious force that forces you into having your sins forgiven, regardless of the fact that there is NO biblical evidence to that teaching.
“But read Romans 10:9 says that if we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that we will be saved!” DON’T PROOF TEXT!!! Especially in Romans!!! Romans is a letter to a church or converted people who would have been through the conversion process. They would have had to have heard the Gospel preached to them, then they come to faith, repented of their sins, made their confessions before God’s people then been baptized. Since then, however, these Jew converts were relying on their obeying of the Ten Commandments for their salvation. They were proud of it and boasting before the gentile converts. Paul, pointing all of this out had to tell those Jewish brothers to not rely on their following the Ten Commandments and instead, just confess and believe to be saved, not rely on the Ten Commandments, but rely on Christ himself…Which leads me to my last point. We must rely on Christ and just TRUST the will of God. I find in our lives that God hasn’t blessed us with much more than little prosperity. By most Americans, we live in a poor state of life. Our annual is even low for this part of the country. Well, I want this to change, but the doors haven’t been opened yet, and when they do, I’ll grab them and go for it. The doors to open spiritual growth and fruit haven’t been opened yet either. Our blessings in life as far as people in our lives, we are filthy stinking rich. We have so many great friends that we can depend on and who love us and have been extremely loyal to us through all of my sickness time in the past ten years. But now it is time to deal with our hearts. I sold some stock in my McGraw-Hill stock, and receive a partial payment of this. It was nice, and had accorded for all of this to go out to certain parts. Well, otherwise to my plans, I up front wanted to Give God my first fruits with this money; two hundred off the top, the first fruits. I had worldliness in my heart, but also had a thrill in my heart to be giving to needy people at this time of the year. Well, when my wife, who has issues in giving cash as a priority to the purpose of God, decided to do this giving, God gave back to her the next day by sending her a check in the mail for $300. Not just a payback for the two hundred we were giving, but an extra hundred too. How generous God is to us? Extremely. However, we didn’t rush that money…we weren’t making sure that we gave our first fruits. There was hesitation and not zeal, and then next thing we know, my wife gets in an accident that I can only call divine intervention. I believe the bible when it says that we should consider hardships as discipline. I think I was too attached to that money, and my wife too attached to her car. We should have proved zeal to the Father. I had said that I was going to do it. I pledged to the Father that if he gave us the money, I’d give 10% back…and we still haven’t done it. Things went horribly wrong with this money and this was my big chance to prove my worth and heart. At first, I wanted to blame my wife, but now I look at my own attachment to stuff and money and hold my head low. I am a sinner. I’m not singing about how “this world is not my home and I’m just passing through!” No, I have slowly been falling in love with my stuff. My knife collection, my reference library, my mystery novel collection, not to mention my own creations of art, poetry, and writing, I treasure all of it. I haven’t been watching my back as I have been moving forward. Worldliness has crept in and been slowly taking over. It wasn’t a lot of money to most people, and it is gone now and we are almost worse off because we need our co-pay for the accident. So, I’m saying, that my attachment to the world has stripped me of my dignity and reliability; not to mention my integrity. There is so much scripture about loving the world and hating God, or hating the world and loving God. There must be a clear choice. As a tangent, Satan will bless your life for turning your back on the Father/Son/Spirit-God. He will make it look like your religion is bringing you prosperity. He will make it look like what you are doing in your church and giving will bring a blessing from God in this life and this world. The truth is, we don’t give to get, although that is promised….we give because God wants us to do it. It is our tribute to the greatest thing in our lives, GOD!!! We do it because our Father’s slightest whim is our greatest desire. We do it because Christ is AWESOME and amazing and perfect and beautiful and merciful and gracious and king and gentle and strong and righteous and holy, and he wants to pull us into all that and make us the same. So we give because, as Christ has given the golden rule, if we were in the other persons shoes, we’d want to be given to.
BUT, one of the false gospels that is being preached, of which Paul didn’t (Galatians 1), is the Prosperity Gospel that says that financial success is a sign from God that he approves our lives and that we are living righteously. Of course that is malapropos. It is biblical inaccurate and unspiritual to the core. No truly spiritual person will seek God for prosperity. No seriously Spirit filled disciple of Jesus will ever hope for a humanistic worldly payoff for their serving. In truth, they will not let anybody know they are even serving at all if it can be helped. We don’t all have the gift of giving, but I sure wish I did. I want to give, but I always think too big. I think that If I want to give, then it must be a huge gift from huge money, not little gifts from little money often. I am working on that and it is the starting topic of December’s Blog. A few days late, but this is Nov.’s blog and I hope I didn’t prattle on too much.
So in summation, double check your conversion. If you haven’t been fully water immersed baptized, but have received Jesus as Savior, Lord, and Teacher, then you need to finish your conversion and get baptized in the name of the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost of God. If you need somebody to do this for you, you must first find a Christian to do this. Any Christian has the authority to baptize, so just find one who will agree to this complete conversion. Find a First Christian Church, a Mainline Church of Christ, an International Church of Christ, or most Mennonite and Amish churches. There are others, but those are just off the top of my head. You of course can Google anything. God bless you and I pray you have a fantastic holiday.