Friday, September 28, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Sheltered Lives

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. {1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NAS}

With all of the “stuff” hitting proverbial fans all over the place: it is hard to imagine that any of us are leading all that much of a sheltered life. For what has not reached-out and bitten someone today will surely take a chunk out of their children tomorrow{1}.

Nonetheless: there is more unto our lives than what naturally comes to meet our physical eyes{2}; and it is in this regard that all of us lead lives more sheltered than what most are willing to even consider{3}. For we were all created to be our Heavenly Father’s children by faith{4}; and He has no desire to see any of us perish{5}.

In other words: it is in regards unto our eternal lives that we are sheltered; and it is about this that 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 is referring unto. For it truly is as it is written: Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.{6}

Yes, many have been led to believe that it addresses something much more tangible unto the here and now. For it has been widely taught that our Heavenly Father will not allow His children by faith to be tempted to lie, steal, cheat, fornicate, murder, and all of the rest of those things beyond what they can withstand.

2 Peter 1:1-4 certainly appears to support such a doctrine. For there is absolutely nothing sinful about our Heavenly Father’s divine nature{7}.

There is, however, the matter of us being but poor reflections of His magnificent glory while we are still a part of this world that should not be ignored{8}. For the more highly we want to think of ourselves: the more in danger of eternal damnation we become{9}; and this most definitely applies unto righteousness—be assured{10}.

Alas, is this not something that the Apostle Peter was made all too painfully aware of? For even after being delivered from the humiliation of his denial of Christ{11} and restored unto his position of leadership{12}: was he not made to suffer even more{13}???

Yes, it can be naturally argued that the Apostle Peter brought all of his own misery upon himself. For he had a tendency to be quite impetuous at inopportune times{14}; and the density of his hard-headedness is beyond compare{15}.

Nonetheless: is it not to miss the point to hold such a position? For if our Heavenly Father is truly able to shelter us from being tempted to sin by the devil: should He not be able to also shelter us from the wickedness of our own hearts{16}???

No, none of this will make any sense unto those who have not been given ears to hear{17}; but unto those who have: the implications will be undeniable. For many have suffered much unnecessarily{18} because of being accused of not truly being in Christ because of false doctrines based upon the premise that no one who is truly in Him sins.

Yes, it is written: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.{19} Just like it is also written: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.{20}

On the other hand: could it not be that what is being addressed in 1 John 3:4-10 is a different kind of sin? For it truly is as it is written: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.{21}

No, I am not here to dispute the fact that all wrongdoing is sin{22}; and that the one who sins is subject unto eternal damnation{23}. For it has been personally revealed unto me that this is indeed true{24}.

Nonetheless: is there not another side unto this that we would do well not to ignore? For it is written: All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.{25}

Alas, does that not serve as a further explanation of what 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 and 2 Peter 1:1-4 is actually addressing? For who from amongst us could stay firm in the faith without the shelter that is provided by our Heavenly Father{26}???

Yes, around and around it could go until the very end. Therefore: may we all make a close examination of ourselves. For who from amongst us can honestly say that there is nothing about themselves that is not perfect in the same way as our Heavenly Father is perfect{27}???

[{1}Hosea 4:1-14; {2}2Corinthians 4:18; {3}John 3:19-21; {4}Romans 8:16; {5}Ezekiel 18:30-32; {6}2 Peter 1:1-4 NIV; {7}Psalm 18:30; {8}1 Corinthians 13:12; {9}Proverbs 16:18; {10}1 Corinthians 4:7; {11}Luke 22:54-62; {12}John 21:15-19; {13}Galatians 2:11-16; {14}John 18:7-11; {15}John 21:20-22; {16}Jeremiah 17:9-10; {17}1 Corinthians 2:14; {18}2 Corinthians 10:1-12; {19}1 John 3:6 KJV; {20}1 John 3:9 KJV; {21}1 John 1:1-10 KJV; {22}1 John 5:17; {23}Ezekiel 18:4; {24}Galatians 1:11-12; {25}1 John 5:17-20 NIV; {26}Mark 14:38; {27}Romans 7:14-25]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Judas Iscariot

For the Son of Man is going as it stands written concerning Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good (profitable and wholesome) for that man if he had never been born. {Mark 14:21 AMP}

Yes, it is of Judas Iscariot that the Lord Jesus Christ is referring; and in all fairness: it could be argued that Judas was getting a raw deal. For his betrayal was in fulfillment of Scripture{1}.

The Scripture in question? For it truly is as it is written: Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.{2}

Furthermore: there is also the little matter of the devil being given influence over him{3}; and even going as far as to enter into him in order to insure that the wicked deed would be done. For it truly is as it is also written: As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. "What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him.{4}

No, the Apostle Peter certainly does not seem to have much sympathy for Judas. For it truly is as it is written: In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus—he was one of our number and shared in this ministry." (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms," ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,{5}’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.{6}’”{7}

Yes, it could be thought that Peter sure has a lot of nerve. For it was not all that long before he made that announcement that he was denying ever knowing His Lord and Savior{8}.

On the other hand: did this not give the good apostle a unique perspective on the matter? For as it was with Judas{9}: Satan was also involved in Peter’s shame{10}.

There is, however, a rest of the story for both; and it is in this that there is a big difference between the two{11}. For Judas refused to accept the amount of grace afforded him{12};and it is for this reason that it was said and written for our benefit{13}: “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”{14}

Yes, there appears to be a discrepancy between the account given through the Apostle Peter in Acts and that of the Apostle Matthew about the physical death of Judas that should be addressed while we are on the subject. For in Peter’s: (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.{15} Whereas in Matthew’s: So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.{16}

No, I cannot offer any explanation other than the one personally revealed unto me by our Heavenly Father, which is plenty good enough for me. For He was there when it happened{17}; but unless He does the same for them{18}: I cannot really blame anyone for being quite skeptical.

Nonetheless: it does make sense. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that Judas did indeed hang himself; and that it was during the process of cutting him down that his belly burst after being dropped head-first onto the ground.

Alas, is that not sufficient proof in (and of) itself that the devil and his demons are still a force to be reckoned with? For the more they can get us to focus our attention upon things like apparent Scriptural discrepancies: the more likely it can be that we will miss the point being made; and in this particular case: the point is that our Heavenly Father’s grace is sufficient for all who will but want to accept it{19}—regardless of the offence {20}.

[{1}John 13:18; {2}Psalm 41:9 NIV; {3}John 13:2; {4}John 13:27 NIV;
{5}Psalm 65:25; {6}Psalm 109:8; {7}Acts 1:15-20 NIV; {8}Luke 22:54-62; {9}Luke 22:1-6; {10}Luke 22:31-32; {11}John 21:15-19; {12}Romans 5:20; {13}Romans 15:4; {14}Mark 14:21 NIV; {15}Acts 1:18 NIV;
{16}Matthew 27:5NIV; {17}Psalm 139:7; {18}Jeremiah 33:3;
{19}1 Peter 5:8-11; {20}Romans 8:28-39]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Spiritual Warfare

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. {2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NAS}
After being informed of the banishment of a distant relative: I mounted an impassioned defense. For aside from it being a part of my calling: the matter was also rather personal unto me. For I have been where they are; and I would not wish that for anyone.

Were there grounds? It all depends upon which side of the stained-glass you are on. For on one side: the outcast really was egregiously disruptive unto some; but on the other there is: Love is patient, love is kind {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things{1}.

In the end: the motion was denied; and I took that even more personally. For that is the way I naturally am{2}.

Thankfully: I enjoyed a brief respite when ELO’s “Hold On Tight (To Your Dream)” started playing in my head. For a broad range of emotions were reeking havoc with my peace-of-mind.

I would have had it last for at least another song. For it was not long before a huge wave of despair rolled over me; and for the next four hours: all I wanted was for it to end—without any regard unto in what manner.

Oh how I wish that account was nothing more than merely another fictitious tale being told to serve as an example of what a true spiritual attack can be like. For it felt like all hope for me was gone{3}; but if it contributes unto the cause in some way: has it not been worth it{4}???

Alas, if only I could be so noble while I am under attack. For I would feel so much better about myself in the aftermath; but in doing so: would I be any better off{5}???

Welcome to the frontline. For the battles that are waged in spiritual warfare really are that insidious{6}.

Missing the point? Be assured that you are not the only one. For it is quite natural of us to want to feel good about ourselves{7}.

Furthermore: we are strongly encouraged to do so by scientific research. For study after study appears to make it irrefutable that it is unhealthy (both: mentally and physically) to not think well of ourselves{8}.

Hence: one of Satan’s cleverly concealed traps{9}. For if the absolute truth of the matter truly is that there is nothing good about us apart from our Heavenly Father: what is there about ourselves to actually feel good about{10}???

No, this is not to say that there is absolutely nothing good about any of us. For we are all the work of our Heavenly Father’s hands{11}.

Hence: the devil’s counterattack. For if he can get us to believe that we are absolutely worthless: we are much more likely to have serious doubts about just how precious we truly are unto the One who constitutes what is truly good about us all{12}.

No, none of this is meant to deny that there really are such things as demonic possession. For there are; but they are rarely as obvious as this: They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.{13}

Take the plight of Judas Iscariot for example. For it truly is as it is written: Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.{14}

Are you starting to understand just how insidious true spiritual warfare is? For very few in the Christian community have any idea that Satan had anything to directly do with Judas Iscariot’s betrayal; and yet: there is the proof in plain sight.

Not one to take only one Scriptural account for reference? Well, John 13:1-30—especially the 2nd and 27th verses, should be most helpful.

Tragically: very little of what I have been given to say about this will be of any help unto the vast majority of the current residents of the Christian community. For it has been widely taught the devil cannot touch any of our Heavenly Father’s children by faith; and others have been led to believe that all who are truly in Christ are given power over the forces of darkness.

Are not both woefully misguided{15}? For if it is indeed true that the devil cannot touch any of our Heavenly Father’s children by faith: why are they encouraged to put on the whole armor of God{16}; and even though it is true that power is given over Satan and his horde of rogue angels{17}: is it not under the same circumstances as all of our Heavenly Father’s spiritual gifts{18}???

The moral of the story? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”{19}

Therefore: let us humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father. For it is only in Him that we have hope{20}.

[{1}1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NAS; {2}Jeremiah 20:7-9; {3}Job 3:1-26; {4}2 Corinthians 4:5-15; {5}Jeremiah 9:23-24; {6}Jeremiah 17:5; {7}Jeremiah 17:9; {8}Proverbs 14:12; {9}Ephesians 6:11; {10}Psalm 16:2; {11}Isaiah 64:8; {12}James 1:5-8; {13}Mark 5:1-13 NIV; {14}Luke 22:1-6 KJV; {15}1 Timothy 4:1; {16}Ephesians 6:10-12; {17}Mark 16:17-18; {18}1 Corinthians 12:4-11; {19}Mark 14:38 NIV; {20}1 Corinthians 10:12-13]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: A Term Of Endearment

So there are three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One; and there are three witnesses on the earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood; and these three agree—are in unison, their testimony coincides. {1 John 5:8 AMP}

No, I do not want to make any of this any more confusing than it already is unto most{1}. Therefore, please let me explain that it is because of how much more intimate it is unto me{2} that is the reason for why I would rather refer unto all of the things that His only begotten Son and His Holy Spirit have been doing as being what our Heavenly Father has done{3}.

More importantly: that is something that our Heavenly Father wants. For we were created to have a very close and personal relationship with Him{4}; and that cannot be achieved while we cling unto the notion that it would be better to keep a safe distance for at least the time being—if not much, much longer{5}.

No, neither His only begotten Son{6} (who truly is the Lord Jesus Christ{7} and the true “Word of God”{8}) nor His Holy Spirit{9}, consider any lack of being more specific about Their own particular activities as being of any insult unto Them{10}. For everything has always been all about our Heavenly Father anyway{11}.

Yes, it is indeed a great mystery in the eyes of this world; but unto those who have been allowed and enabled to understand: it is actually quite simple. For it truly is as it is written: The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.{12}

No, I cannot explain just exactly how it is possible for our Heavenly Father to be One and the Same with His only begotten Son and His Holy Spirit—certainly not in physiological terms. For that is something that has not been revealed unto me.

Nonetheless: I can boldly proclaim that it is indeed true because of what has been revealed unto me. For I have been given ears to hear{13} the witness of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit{14}.

Alas, is this not what is the most tragic about all of the confusion that now exists concerning the role that our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible was given to play in our daily lives while we are still a part of this world? For the more we want to focus all our attention upon only it: the more we cheat—not only ourselves, but also our Heavenly Father out of truly having as close of a personal relationship as we could have with each other{15}. For with a book: all we can really have are words on a page{16}. Whereas with the true “Word of God” being alive{17} and oh so very near unto (certainly not far away from) us all{18}, we can truly have Him: In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.{19}

Yes, there would be good reason for most (if not all) of us to want to believe that our Heavenly Father really was far far away if He really was as much of a tempestuous tyrant as He has been so often portrayed as being like by far too man{20}. For who would want to be near someone who had the power to utterly destroy them—especially if they were rather hard to get along with{21}.

On the other hand: should not our continued existence be telling us something{22}? For the absolute truth about our Heavenly Father’s temperament truly is that: The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.{23}

No, none of this is meant to encourage misbehavior. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.{24}

It is, however, meant to help encourage as many as will to want to accept the Lord God Almighty as truly being their own Heavenly Father. For this is the choice that we are truly given to make{25}.

[{1}Job 11:7-9; {2}Romans 8:15; {3}Psalm 16:1-11; {4}Romans 8:28-39; {5}1 John 4:18-19; {6}John 1:17-18; {7}Matthew 3:16-17; {8}Revelation 19:13; {9}Psalm 51:12; {10}John 16:13-15; {11}1 Corinthians 15:28; {12}John 14:17-20 NIV; {13}Revelation 3:22; {14}John 14:26; {15}Isaiah 65:1-2; {16}John 5:37; {17}Hebrews 4:12-13; {18}Romans 10:8; {19}Colossians 2:3 NIV; {20}2 Peter 2:1-3; {21}Job 23:13; {22}Job 34:10-15; {23}Psalm 103:6-19 NIV; {24}Colossians 3:25 NAS; {25}John 1:12-13]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Can You Hear Him Now???

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” {Revelation 3:22 NAS}

Apart from some radical factions: it is generally assumed that everyone has an ear to hear; but that is about as far as it gets for most. For who wants to admit that they have never heard His voice; but if this is indeed true: how can they be so sure that they have not???

No, it should not be assumed that everyone has an ear to hear. For as it is with everything else about our Heavenly Father’s spiritual gifts: it all depends upon what He wants to accomplish in and through someone that determines when and unto what extent they are allowed and enabled to hear what He has to say{1}.

Nonetheless: are there not many references made about having a “gut feeling” about something? Perhaps you have had one yourself???

How about all that is said about one’s “inner voice”? Could it be that these are just borrowed lines from an ancient sonnet or could it be that there really is something unto it???

Scientific research has even been conducted upon the “phenomenon” of certain twins having a special “bond” between them; and are there not times when someone will have a “thought” about something at the very same time as another in their midst? Surely there is more than genetics and environmental influences at play.

No, this is not to suggest that every thought and feeling that we may have is a message from God{2}; but it has been given unto me to say that it would do us all well to want to get more “in-tune” with ourselves. For our Heavenly Father is much “nearer” unto us all than what most would dare to even consider{3}.

Utter nonsense? Perhaps; but if it is indeed true that we were all created to be His children by faith{4}: why would He not want to have a great personal interest in every aspect of our daily lives? After all: is this not what is “naturally” expected of our earthly parents; and are not our Heavenly Father’s ways much higher than their’s{5}???

Not buying it? Well, consider this: Casting the whole of your care—all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all—on Him; for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully [Ps. 55:22].{6}

No, you do not have to take “my” word for it. For it is for such a purpose as this that our Heavenly Father’s Holy Scriptures were given{7}; but where have all the Bereans gone{8}???

Yes, the points and counter-points about this matter could make for quite a ping-pong match; and to be perfectly honest about it: I would have been leading the charge against such “religious” heresy in my younger days. For I was raised to believe that all anyone ever needed was a good church where the Bible was preached without compromise; but then everything change{9}.

Alas, maybe I have spent too many hours alone. For no one in their “right-mind”{10} would ever even consider the possibility (let alone: actually accept) that it was the Lord God Almighty who was singing unto them when Styx’s “Fooling Yourself” would come on the radio during times of great trial and tribulation; but unto those who have been given ears to hear what I have been given to say about this: For with God nothing shall be impossible{11} will never be the same as before unto them—regardless of whether they want to believe any of this “stuff” or not.

[{1}1 Corinthians 12:11; {2}1 John 4:1; {3}Romans 10:8; {4}John 1:12-13; {5}Isaiah 55:8-9; {6}1 Peter 5:7 AMP; {7}2 Timothy 3:16-17; {8}Acts 17:11; {9}2 Corinthians 5:17; {10}1 Corinthians 2:6-16; {11}Luke 1:37 KJV]

You see the world through your cynical eyes
You're a troubled young man I can tell
You've got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand's wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
And you're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're kidding yourself if you don't believe it
Why must you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man
You're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're kidding yourself if you don't believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You're the one they can't beat and you know it
Come on, let's see what you've got
Just take your best shot and don't blow it
You're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're killing yourself if you don't believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You're the one they can't beat and you know it
Come on, let's see what you've got
Just take your best shot and don't blow it
{Lyrics “Borrowed” From:}

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Revelations

For God [does reveal His will; He] speaks not only once, but more than once, even though men do not regard it [including you, Job]. [One may hear God’s voice] in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while slumbering upon the bed; then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction [terrifying them with warnings] that He may withdraw man from his purpose, and cut off pride from him [disgusting him with his own disappointing self-sufficiency]. {Job 33:14-17 AMP}
Be assured that our Heavenly Father still speaks{1}. For He truly is the same today as He always has been and will be forever and ever{2}. AMEN!!!

Be also assured that I KNOW that this is indeed true{3}. For I have heard His voice before{4}; and I still do{5}.

In fact: even now He is speaking unto me as I struggle to put into words what cannot be adequately expressed in words{6}—naturally speaking, of course. For the only thing that I am really doing is holding a pen{7}.

Alas, there are times when it flows like a river{8}; and then there are times when it does not{9}. The result remains the same—be assured{10}.

No, it is not that there is this booming voice coming out of a storm{11}; nor am I hearing a whisper on the wind{12}. For it is through my thoughts that I can hear Him speaking{13}.

That is the way it usually is; but I have also been allowed and enabled to actually hear our Heavenly Father’s “audible” voice (as in: coming from outside of myself) on a number of occasions{14}. For I have had many doubts{15}.

Furthermore: I have been allowed and enabled to experience dreams that were vivid enough to be thought of as visions. For it was as if I was actually there{16}.

Yes, there is a difference between visions and dreams. For visions are experienced while awake{17}; but let us resist the temptation to get “technical” about things when it really does not matter either way{18}.

[{1}Hebrews 3:7-19; {2}Malachi 3:6; {3}Galatians 1:11-12; {4}Jeremiah 1:5-10; {5}Psalm 119:105; {6}Isaiah 55:8-9; {7}2 Peter 3:15-16; {8}John 7:38; {9}2 Corinthians 4:7; {10}2 Corinthians 4:5-6; {11}Job 38:1; {12}1 Kings 19:12; {13}John 14:16-17; {14}1 Samuel 3:4-10; {15}1 Corinthians 10:13; {16}Genesis 28:10-19; {17}Acts 10:9-16; {18}1 Corinthians 3:3]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: The Words Of The Word

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach. {Romans 10:8 KJV}
Unto most of the currents residents of the Christian community: the meaning of Romans 10:8 is unmistakable. For they have been led to believe that the “Word Of God” is the Holy Bible; and it is upon it that their faith is based.

Some beg to differ; and counted amongst them is the true Word Of God{1}. For nothing has changed since He issued this rebuke: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”{2}

No, this is not to say that the Bible cannot be trusted. For it truly is as it is written: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.{3}

Neither is this to say that what is contained in it is of little value. For it truly is as it is also written: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.{4}

Nonetheless: it would do us all well to want to obtain a proper perspective. For our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible was never meant to be employed as a book of instruction—certainly not in the same way as an educational textbook on science, mathematics, nor even history normally would be.

How could it? For it is truly a book full of spiritual truths that only the spiritually-minded can correctly discern{5}.

No, it should not be assumed that it is the same for everyone. For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone that determines when, and unto what extent, He will allow and enable them to come into the knowledge and understanding of His absolute truth{6}.

In other words: it should not be assumed that everyone has the ability to understand what is contained in our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible. For it still is as it is written: Then He (thoroughly) opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures.{7}

Besides: who in their right-mind would not want the Author to have anything to do with them as they read His book—especially when engaged in the study of it? For who could know more about what was meant by this or that than the One who had it written about Himself{8}???

Yes, our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible is commonly referred unto as being the written Word of God in the Christian community; and it has been also widely taught that Scripture interprets Scripture, which certainly sounds reasonable enough. For if it is indeed true that they were written for our encouragement: would there not be a means of reinforcement in place{9}?

Be assured, however, that it goes much deeper than that. For the true Word Of God truly is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself{10}; and He had His Holy Scriptures written to serve as written confirmation of what He wants to personally reveal unto each and every one of us, on an individual basis and without exception{11}.

Oh my, does this not change everything? For instead of Romans 10:8 being just about Scripture: it would be about the Lord Jesus Christ{12}!!!

Yes, it would be different if we really were as much “on our own” in this world as what has been so widely taught{13}. For what other source of inspiration would there be?

Therein lies a problem—does it not? For who could really be sure that the Bible is anymore true than any of the other texts that are held to be sacred by millions upon millions of others if it was not for the witness of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit{14}???

Yes, there is something to be said for tradition. For it naturally makes a great deal of sense unto us that a belief system would not be around very long if there was not anything unto it; but do not the others also have their own venerated traditions???

Alas, woe be it unto us all if there is really not a way to be absolutely sure. For who can truly leave this world in peace without such knowledge and understanding{15}???

[{1}Revelation 19:13; {2}John 5:39-40 NIV; {3}2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV;
{4}2 Timothy 3:16-17 NAS; {5}1 Corinthians 2:14; {6}Philippians 2:13;
{7}Luke 24:45 AMP; {8John 5:45-47; {9}Romans 15:4;
{10}John 1:1; {11}John 16:13-15; {12}1 Corinthians 1:20-25;
{13}2 Timothy 4:2-4; {14}1 Corinthians 12:3; {15}Ephesians 1:13-14]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Refined Message Of The Cross

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. {Isaiah 40:3 KJV}
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out—cultivate, carry out to the goal and fully complete—your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling [self-distrust, that is, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation; timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ]. [Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you—energizing and creating in you the power and desire—both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill
their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and
homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

The commandments, “do not commit adultery”, “do not murder”, “do not steal”, “do not covet”, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself”.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit. Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me.”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from Heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.”

For the law was given through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry. But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away. For I have come down from Heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day.”

“The spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled him.”

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Bear in mind that our lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in My anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

“He is ‘The stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed”, and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord”, except by the Holy Spirit.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is He who came by (with) water and blood [His baptism and His death], Jesus Christ, the Messiah; not by (in) the water only but by (in) the water and the blood. And it is the (Holy) Spirit who bears witness, because the (Holy) Spirit is the Truth. So there are three witnesses in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One; and there are three witnesses on the earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood; and these three agree—are in unison, Their testimony coincides.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through Him all men might believe. He himself was not the Light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives Light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

“If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in My favor, and I know that his testimony about Me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given Me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me. You have never heard His voice nor seen His form, nor does His Word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one He sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life. I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has His testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them.” He then says, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is One. Do we then nullify the law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the law.

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

“The Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

There is one body and Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in Heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” {Revelation 3:14-22 NAS}

Monday, September 3, 2007

Q & A: Chapter V

“It’s hard to imagine Him creating people whom He knew would break His heart. That is: if that is really the way it is, of course.”

“Yes, since none of us would purposely subject ourselves unto all that our Heavenly Father truly has: it is naturally incomprehensible unto us that the Creator of all that exists apart from Himself would; but unless we are willing to doubt that He truly is perfect in all of His most awesome ways (Holy and Righteous): it must be accepted that He knows what He is doing, and that it will be as it should be in the end.”

“I've heard it taught that He created the damned to make the blessed better appreciate their position.”

“Be assured that our Heavenly Father has never wanted to see the loss of even one soul.”

“But isn't there something in the Bible that implies that He did create some for destruction?”

“Yes; and I have been made well aware of just how easily it could be interpreted to say as much. For it truly is as it is written: What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory? Nonetheless: be assured that what is being said through the Apostle Paul is meant to be a rhetorical question about a hypothetical situation. Besides: who from amongst us is qualified to judge what our Heavenly Father does with what He has created for His own good pleasure?”

“What would you say to those who believe in reincarnation?”

“That if it was really necessary to perfect ourselves before moving-on to some higher plain of existence that there would be good reason to want to believe in reincarnation. For it would provide us with a lot more opportunities to do what needed to be done; but since it is not necessary to perfect anything about ourselves: I cannot imagine why anyone would want to spend anymore time as a part of this world than what our Heavenly Father wants them to.”

“Spending more time with our loved ones would be nice.”

“Is it not taught that reincarnated souls are generally cast into completely different circumstances; and that they rarely remember anything about their past lives?”

“Maybe so: but I was also talking about in our normal lives.”

“Yes, that is a very special sentiment; but since even the most wonderful of lives recognizable in the eyes of this world is absolutely hideous in comparison unto the least of lives in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven: I would hope that no one who truly loved another would want them to stick-around any longer that they absolutely had to. Besides: we will have all of eternity to spend with our loved ones in glory. That is: unless some are not a part of His family, of course.”

“I suppose that it would not be that much of a comfort to see a friendly face in Hell.”

“Be assured that there will not be any friendly faces in Hell—regardless of what kind of a relationship someone may have had in this world with someone else down there.”

“By the way: what would you say to those who believe in other gods?”

“I would beseech them to honestly compare what they now want to believe in with what our Heavenly Father has to offer.”

“Oh yeah, isn't there also something in the Bible about telling us to ask and it will be given to us?”

“Whoa, where did that come from?”

“It just came to me?”

“Yes; but from where?”

"Again: can’t I have an original thought on my own—even if only every once in a while?”

“That was hardly an original thought.”

“Okay, I’ll rephrase: can’t I ever just remember stuff on my own?”

“Would it not be better to want to give our Heavenly Father full credit for services rendered—even under questionable circumstances?”

“I still think He has better things to do than talk to us on a regular basis.”

“Which could lead unto a big misunderstanding.”

“You need to answer the question.”

“Yes, Matthew 7:7-8 clearly encourages us to believe that if we ask: it will be given unto us: and the absolute truth of the matter truly is that there is really nothing wrong with asking for things—just as long as it is done properly. For we should ask for things in accordance unto our Heavenly Father’s will; and we must be willing to humbly accept the answer—whether favorable or not.”

“A fairly great many have become convinced that it is God’s will for us to be healthy, wealthy, and wise; and that it is because of a lack of faith that someone is not.”

“Yes, that is something that has been widely taught; and there is a certain amount of truth unto it. For our Heavenly Father does want us to enjoy good health, great prosperity, and an abundance of wisdom. Nonetheless: all it takes is a close examination of the lives of saints long past to see that not everything that He wants for us will be given while we are still a part of this world; and this also applies unto any question about a lack of faith being the cause of hardships. For who can righteously accuse any of them of being lacking? There is also this to consider: Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

“Speaking of making accusations about being lacking: is there anything about what is now being taught that you don’t want to find fault with?”

"What I have been given to say is not of me.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It’s of our Heavenly Father.”

“Yes, it most definitely is: and has He not placed lots of signs for all with eyes that can see to see that changes are obviously needed?”

“What do you mean?”

“For it truly is as it is written: Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; but let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another, for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest. You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you. So I will destroy your mother—my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness. And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. They will eat but not have enough; they will engage in prostitution but not increase, because they have deserted the Lord to give themselves to prostitution, to old wine and new, which take away the understanding of my people. They consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God. They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth, where the shade is pleasant. Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—a people without understanding will come to ruin!’”

“That passage has always troubled me—especially the part about the abandonment of the children.”

“Yes, I used to feel the same way about it; but then it was personally revealed unto me that the passage is self-explanatory. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that the children will have to suffer the consequences of the lives that they will be living in this world; but they will not be held accountable for their actions—come Judgment Day.”

“Just pawns of the plan—huh?”

“Such is the essence of faith.”

“Not that it has anything to really do with things in this day and age—right?”

“The particulars are somewhat different; but the message remains the same.”

“What particulars?”

“Suicidal bombers, unnecessary warfare, school massacres, rampage murders, a proliferation of gang-related activities, ethnic genocide, white supremacy, rampant drug abuse, political corruption, a complete misinterpretation of the principle of separation of church and state, religious extremism, excessive corporate greed, child abuse, widespread sexual promiscuity, child rapes, homosexuality, AIDS, pandemics, a sharp increase in cases of autism, unconscionable abortions, devastating earthquakes, tsunamis, killer storms, and drought-stricken crop-lands. Need I go on some more?”

“Come on now: there is nothing new about most of that stuff; nor is there all that much unusual about them neither!”

“For it truly is as it written: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new?’ It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. Nonetheless: it this any reason to just ignore it?”

“Well, if it true that no eternal damage is done: what is there to be concerned about?”

“Be assured that it is indeed true that the afflicted in this will not be held responsible for their actions; but who would want to suffer the consequences of being a homosexual dying a slow and very painful death from AIDS if it could be avoided?”

“Isn't there something in the Bible about homosexuality being a result of God giving-up on someone?”

“For it truly is as it is written: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Nonetheless: it is not for us to judge. For it may very well be that it is not their fault.”

“Surely you’re not suggesting that homosexuals are actually born that way?”

“Not in the way that many want to believe. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that homosexuality is a sin; and our Heavenly Father does not create, nor tempt, people to sin—be assured. Nonetheless: be also assured that even the most vile of sinners can be saved; and many have been!”

“Talk about a slippery slope!”

“Yes, it is most definitely a sensitive issue.”

“And you wouldn't be exploiting such matters in order to gain more notoriety for yourself—would you?”

“Absolutely not. Besides: it is really not such a sensitive matter if you would be willing to look at it through our Heavenly Father’s eyes. For everything that is not done (or even just considered) just exactly as He would: is wrongdoing; and all wrongdoing is a sin. Therefore: it is really no more of a problem than any other sin. For the wages of all sinful activities is eternal spiritual death unto those who refuse to utilize the way of escape that has been provided to us.”

“Nothing like making things seem to be a lot worse than they really are to generate a lot of attention.”

“Woe be it unto all who would rather stay in the darkness of spiritual ignorance than walk in the Light of our Heavenly Father’s absolute truth.”

“Wars and rumors of wars, a total collapse of civilized society, and misery beyond compare: aren't these things to expect during the last days?”

“Be assured that we are not as close unto the reign of the antichrist as what far too many have been led to believe.”

“How long do we have?”

“Several years ago, I was allowed and enabled to calculate that the end of this world as we know it would occur somewhere around the year 2152. Then: it will be at that time that the 1,000 year reign of Christ over this world will begin; but since very few really know when their own end of this world will come to pass: who from amongst us can afford to procrastinate about anything important—let alone about our spiritual well-being?”

“Will there be a rapture?”

“I used to believe that there would be such an event; but now I am not so sure.”

“What about: ‘Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, the other left.’?”

“Yes, there appears to be prophetic evidence of a rapture during the time of the antichrist; but since nothing has been personally revealed unto me about the subject: I cannot say for sure—either way.”

“So: where do we go from here?”

“For it truly is as it is written: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“Just exactly: what does that mean for us?”

“Well, one of the main things is an elimination of all traces of theological humanism from our pulpits and any other venue from which it can be taught.”

“Theological humanism?”

“Do you know what secular humanism is?”

“Yes, it is a philosophy that generally denies that there is any divine intervention in our daily lives.”

“Be assured that it is no different with theological humanism.”

“In what way?”

“What do you think we have been talking about?”

“To tell you the truth: I've been just playing along.”

“Not always.”

“Anyway: I don’t have a clue about what we have been talking about.”

“Who is so deaf as the one who does not want to hear?”

“Hey, insults aren't helpful!”

“Be assured that it was not meant to be as such; but even if it was: what is an insult in comparison unto eternal damnation?”

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

“Well, well, you have been listening after all—albeit only a little bit.”

“That is something I've known for a long, long time.”

“Ah yes, I am reminded of a time not so very long ago. For I used to quote Matthew 7:1-2 quite often before our Heavenly Father became oh so very real unto me; and nothing has been the same ever since.”

“Have you been given the right to judge others?”

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! For that is something that only our Heavenly Father is qualified to do. Nonetheless: warnings are sometimes given through me; and this is what anything that sounds judgmental is really all about.”

“I thought Jesus is supposed to be the Judge of the quick and the dead?”

“Be assured that everything that I have been given to say about our Heavenly Father and the righteousness of all of His most awesome ways is also about His only-begotten Son—who truly is the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is that they are One and the Same with each other.”

“How in the world can they do that?”

“Nothing of this world can do that.”

“Okay, how in any world can they do that?”

“I do not know. For that has not been personally revealed unto me; but I do know that it is indeed true because of what has.”

“Come on now: what is this really all about—the establishment of another Christian denomination, or maybe even a different religion altogether?”

“MAY IT NEVER BE!!! For the last thing we need is some more confusion.”

What then?”

“The introduction of what is to be called: Refined Theology—which should be preached from every Christian pulpit. For our Heavenly Father does not really care about what name is on the sign out front—just as long as the members of each congregation are of One mind. His mind—to be exact.”

“Refined Theology?”

“As in: a refinement of the Reformation.”

“The Catholics aren’t going like the sound of that.”

“Yes, there is much about what I have been given to say that the Catholics will find most distasteful; and that also goes for others not so unlike them. For most of their fundamental doctrines are based upon the premise that Jesus only opened the door unto salvation; and that we must earn the right to enter into our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven by faithful observance of their sacraments, which includes the doing of good works in service unto others.”

“Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad—especially not the part about doing good works in service unto others.”

"Except for the absolute truth of the matter truly being as it is written: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

“Yeah, I remember hearing something about Martin Luther having something to say about that; but they still do a lot of good—don’t they?”

“Yes, it is good to feed, clothe, and shelter the needy; but since what they do is ultimately for the salvation of their own souls: be assured that whatever help they may render is actually spiritually worthless. For our Heavenly Father cares more about the reason why we want to do things than what we want to actually do.”

"Isn’t there a rather lengthy passage in the Bible about feeding the hungry is the same as feeding the Lord Jesus Christ?”

“Yes, it truly is as it is written: ‘But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” Then He will answer them, saying, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ Nonetheless: be assured that this passage is about revealing ourselves unto this world as truly being our Heavenly Father’s children by faith by being willing participants in the work that He wants to do in and through us—work that we were chosen to be participants in!”

“Even the ex-communicated?”

“What our Heavenly Father puts together; let no man attempt to tear asunder. For it truly is as it is written: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Okay, you’ve said a lot about works; but what about observance of the sacraments?”

“Be assured that attending church services, tithing, being baptized, and participating in what is commonly referred unto as the Lord’s Supper, or communion, are all strongly recommended. For it is quite pleasing unto our Heavenly Father for us to be involved in these things; but be also assured that none of them are required for salvation.”

“Oh boy, you are going to upset an awful lot of people with that!”

“Yes, it is has been widely taught that observance of the sacraments are most definitely required for salvation—both on the Catholic and the Protestant sides of aisle; but the absolute truth of the matter should be quite clear unto all who have eyes that can see. For the true definition of grace is still: unmerited favor—which means that there is nothing that can be done to earn it; and nothing certainly includes: observance of the sacraments.”

“Well, I’m fresh out of questions.”

“You have asked more than most.”

“How much more have you got?”

"Stay tuned."

“So: is that it?”

“For now.”

“Thank God!”