Friday, December 19, 2008

# 267: When Bad is Good

This post will give a partial answer to the age-old, proverbial question of why bad things happen to good people. The title, “When Bad is Good,” sounds like a contradiction, but in the lives of genuine followers of Jesus Christ, it is a truth that most would rather not go through. When true disciples of Christ are going through hard times, they most likely desire more than anything to be in a better place: resting in the peace and comfort of God’s eternity.

What I mean is, when "Christians" are enjoying life on this earth as living the good life, their desire for anything better is being compromised. In fact, the good things this life offers will make heaven unreal: something strictly for the future, and of unimportance for the present. When life is such, that suggests their greatest and most dominant interests in life are things and attitudes of worldly value, of course, all in the name of Christ.

That is where many who call themselves Christians, in name only, are dwelling. That is a crying shame. With many churches promising material prosperity and freedom from adversity, it is no wonder that they (the churches and the laity) are growing in number.

The fact that heaven is not longed for as it should be means less of a chance that they are genuine Christians, without their knowledge. Who can convince this large group of their fatal destiny? Hopefully this blog, but chances are slim. The best, if not the only, chance is to study the New Testament (NT) and know it like one knows the palm of their hand. To refute that statement, some may profess to go to church and learn all that is needed from their loving and godly pastor. But God and Jesus Christ and I will unequivocally say that this is a false assumption.

The reason is, it would be impossible for churches, especially mega-churches, to stay in business if churches, who claim to be Bible- believing, in reality fail to mention many pertinent sections of the NT. The sections I am referring to are those that seem humanly impossible to live by. And, praise God, this blog that has been on the Internet for over 3 ½ years has brought them to light.

I mean those like the second greatest commandment of all, which teaches to love our neighbor/s as ourselves, and the greatest command of all, which is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Many churches teach that they are impossible to keep. Not true. What about the one the Apostle Paul teaches, which says to "consider others better than yourself"? Philippians 2:3. This blog teaches not only why, but how to obey them. We must always remember that love is the essence and core of the Christian religion. Without functional love as described in the NT, it would be only a religion of words.

I can tell you from experience that it is not easy, but many times, gut-wrenching and painful to put others as a priority over self and family. If any church was to go beyond words and attempt to enforce commands like these—and there are many of them—church membership would dwindle. In Christianity, it is not easy to produce good works/deeds, which is a must. Remember, we were saved not only for our Salvation and good, but more so, our part is to work night and day, as it were, to somehow get others to follow Christ and all that He commands. In short, that is the work Christ started, and it is our duty to propagate. There is no salvation without obedience to His commands. Do you and I know what is expected of us? Repeating, without knowing what is taught in the NT, we most likely will go astray, if we are not there already.

Now getting to another area of when bad is good . . . no one in their right mind would desire bad things to happen to them. But when they do come and possibly make life miserable, instead of saying to God, “Why did you let these horrible circumstances happen?” instead we should praise God for it; I mean things that are distasteful, extremely hurtful, mentally painful, undeserved or many other disagreeable happenings. After all, those hurtful things that happened will make us want to leave this unfair, evil world, thus making our faith stronger and bringing us closer to God and making our desire to be with the Lord that much more realistic. To put it bluntly, death would be welcomed.

Could that be one reason why God loves the poor, because their lives are in a constant state of want? When a poor person is a genuine disciple of Christ, that person can’t wait to leave this world and be in the peace and tranquility of Jesus Christ. Listen to James 2:5. "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?" In the complete NT, God does not say one bad word concerning the poor, whether they are a believer or not.

To the contrary, God does not have one good word to say, in the complete NT, about those who are materially prosperous. Isn’t that funny? Did you ever hear that message preached in any church? That does not mean that rich people cannot enter heaven. What it means is that once wealthy people do accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, their lives will have to make a 180-degree turn. They will have to be exceedingly generous to others who are in want. In a short time, they should be prosperous no longer; that is, if they truly love their needy neighbors and love God with their all. 1st Timothy 6:17-18. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain . . . Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." The bad thing in their lives (having to share their wealth) was the very thing they needed. When the wealthy try to hide some of their wealth, they will be under the curse of Ananias and Sapphira: spiritual death. Acts, Chapter 5.

I am certain some who want to defend the ways of the rich as being good Christians, or know a few facts about the NT, or heard it preached a number of times, will quickly bring up two wealthy disciples: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Now I ask, How long would they be wealthy while Jerusalem was filled with poor disciples who were ostracized by the Jewish Ruling Council from their synagogue, their place of employment, and some of them even their homes? Equality is always the norm where selfless love exists. In a genuine Christian community, there can be no one with wealth while there are those in need.

It is a disgrace to Christianity that this Biblical truth concerning the harm that wealth can do will never materialize. The rich, including the rich clergy, control what is right, what is wrong and what is truth. They will never give up their wealth just to live according to the teachings of a book that was written by the unlearned 2,000 years ago. Wealth has such an unyielding hold on some that profess Christ, which not even common Godly logic can undo.

I have written extensively on the harm wealth does in the Christian community. It can all be said in one sentence: Money talks; that means that what rich "Christians" say carries a lot of weight in religious matters, in defense of the ways of the rich "Christians’" life styles, regardless of what the NT teaches. If they only knew that sharing their wealth, which would seem like the worst thing that could be asked of them, would in turn be the greatest blessing they could receive from God.

To sum up, bad things give us a greater incentive to want to leave this world, while good things make people love this world, confirming that life is great, though they wouldn’t openly confess it, especially if they believed they were Christians. Let us not forget that this rule of when bad is good pertains only to genuine disciples of Jesus Christ, since they "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1st John 2:15. Did you ever think about what the opposite of love is? Answer: Hate. By hate, I don’t mean individual people, but the ways of the world and all the niceties it offers. That means that if we don’t love the world, we hate it. I am certain not many will agree with my analysis, which has sobering implications.

I, personally am more than ready to leave this world. I am totally fed -up with this unfair and unjust world. Regardless, I still don’t especially enjoy it when bad circumstances come my way. There are enough disagreeable things in my life as it is, enough to last me the rest of my life.

Finally, remember this: God allows disappointments for our well-being, while Satan loves to give good things to God’s people in order to keep them happily glued to this world. Do you and I love this world or hate it? Our lives will give us the answer. This will need some honest and serious soul-searching. By the way, the message that Joel Osteen (the most popular preacher in America) preaches is the exact opposite of what this post and the NT present. He promises all good things will come to God's people. Who do you believe? You can see him on TBN, the largest TV station in the world. Let me hear your comments. Here is what Scripture says in Hebrews 12: 5-7. "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”

Let me end with the most convincing proof that many times bad is good: Jesus Christ, the perfect man, had a bad thing happen to Him. He was crucified (a very bad thing) so that a good thing (eternal life) might come to the world. Is He our example for life?

Monday, December 08, 2008

# 266: Who Loves the Devil?

I will bet my bottom dollar that if a million Americans were asked if they love the devil, their unanimous answer would be an astounding no. And that is understandable. To be sure, the only exceptions are those who are dedicated Satan worshipers. To my knowledge, hopefully there are only a few of those.

When a person claims that they don’t love Satan the devil, that claim does not change the fact that many unknowingly do. All we have to do is live as our human nature dictates and we become Satan worshipers. The reason that is true is because the devil most often works incognito.

If we just claim to be Christians, Satan then uses fine-sounding verbiage, pretending to be Jesus Christ, thus re-ensuring us of our "faith and love." If one is an unbeliever, Satan then uses the old adage: first comes love for self and company, along with survival of the fittest. In either case, that evil brute is extremely convincing via mind control.

The reason that deceiver is so successful is because he always uses ways that are very conducive to our sinful human nature. In other words, we like what he teaches. That teaching brings temporal feelings of contentment, excitement and/or happiness. And who doesn’t like to be content and joyful?

There is only one way to free ourselves from his grip. That way is difficult to believe and adhere to, since it goes against our human nature, but it can be summed up in one sentence: Believe in Jesus Christ by obedience to all His teachings, which is to love God with our all, and actively love our neighbors as ourselves, meaning those in need. That is easier said than done. To live that way would turn our lives upside down. And who wants their life changed to that degree?

But remember this: If every human on earth were to love as God dictates, there would be no problems on this earth. But as we know, as long as we are competing with each other in every way, that will never happen. But mark my words: Anyone who lives exclusively with love for God and neighbor will be living in their own little heaven, regardless of what circumstances come against them.

Now, let’s take a quick look at life in America to see whose side we are on. We have only two choices: God or Satan. To those who don’t believe in either one of them, that would mean they are unknowingly and automatically on the side of the great deceiver. To those who just claim to be Christians but for whatever reason are not aware of ALL that the New Testament (NT) teaches, quite frequently the devil says, "God wants you to have the best this world can offer." To atheists, he says: "Live it up while you have the chance, because your purpose and destiny are similar to those of the animal kingdom." All of the above unknowingly love the devil.

We in America love to say and sing, “God Bless America.” I ask, for what reason would God want to bless such an ungodly country? I can hear some saying, "What are you, some kind of a traitor?” Then I will ask you this question: What are we in America doing that even remotely resembles what the NT teaches? Before you read any further, please answer that question to the best of your ability. Of course, before anyone can come up with the correct answer, one must be familiar with what the NT teaches and not what one hears in church or how one is brought up concerning religious matters. As to what Christianity MUST consist of, the NT is the absolute and only authority.

The devil has many ways in which we unknowingly give him our allegiance. One of the most potent is that he inspires us to get as much of whatever as possible, which includes money. That is called greed. Greed is a natural tendency we are all born with. That is the reason it is so prevalent.

As genuine Christians, we must fight the inclination to be greedy with tooth and nail. Before we can do that, we must realize the long-term result of greed: Greed can never be satisfied. As the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:5, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: . . . greed, which is idolatry." To put that in clearer terms, we all have or should have an idol, and we, for the most part in America, have greed as our idol. Whereas, the NT commands that we have Jesus Christ as our only idol, even though it uses different words, such as: “We must follow the example of Christ,” etc. There are many NT verses that teach that holy principle. Do you know anyone who has ever verbally said, "I have Jesus Christ as my idol"?

Since most Americans claim to live in a Christian country, please name a few things we do which are taught in the NT that make our country Christian. Our capitalistic and democratic way of life is based on only one thing: greed, and not equality, even though our Constitution claims that all men are equal. Of course, we don’t call it greed; we have many beautiful euphemisms to take the place of greed. Greed always has a negative connotation. Just to name a few euphemisms: “economic growth,” “progress,” “getting ahead,” “prosperity,” “wealth,” “hard worker,” “seeking the good life,” “go to college with the hopes of making it big when we graduate,” along with many, many more. That is the American way.

If this last paragraph is true, and it is, we in America most likely love and worship the devil. Satan doesn’t want this fact known, but even if it was made known, it wouldn’t make much difference. Most of us are too far gone in the ways of Americanized greed to change our lives and make a difference.

What does your church teach on this subject? I can bet all I have—which isn’t that much—that this topic is never mentioned. By the way, there are 27 Bible verses which mention the harm that greed does. The punch line is that a genuine Christian will never be greedy, regardless of what one calls it. Yeah, sure. That is like trying to teach a cat to bark.

This wonderful country of ours is the most ungodly country on this planet, and most of it is in the name of God. And I am stuck right in the middle of it. The American way of life is the paradigm/role model for the world.

Let me give a few Bible verses to make my point: 1st Corinthians 6:9-10. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders not thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of heaven." And this wealthy country welcomes them all with open arms, under the mandate of liberty and justice for all; no one is excluded. Concerning gays: Even the Arabs and Iranians are more Godly than us when it comes to immorality, especially homosexuality. That liberty made us slaves to all that is evil in the sight of God. Regardless, we are taught to say, "That is their choice; who are we to condemn?"

Galatians 5:19-21. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions and envy: drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Doesn’t that sound like what we Americans engage in? Will we somehow acknowledge our ungodliness and go the way the NT teaches? Satan will respond for us by saying, "Never; my ways are too enticing and addicting."

Colossians 3:5-6. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry."

2nd Timothy 3:1-5. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

Well, if a majority of the aforementioned verses don’t resemble America, I don’t know what does. I ask, are we so stupid to think that we feel we have the right to ask God to bless this country? All the while, Satan is loving every bit of it. He loves to be worshiped in this way; in fact, this is his easiest way in which he deceives the masses.

Even though the book of Revelation is mostly symbolic by the terms and words it uses, it seems clear that Babylon/the prostitute very closely resemble what we now have in the good-old USA.

Just a personal note: The book of Revelation is not by any means my favorite book. As a matter of fact, in the second/third century—when the Christian churches in the Mediterranean area were in the process of deciding which writings were worthy of becoming a part of what we now call the Bible—the book of Revelation just made it by the skin of its teeth. Many of those early church leaders didn’t think it fit well with the other holy writings; they have, as individual sections, been floating around from church to church for many, many years.

For those of you who want to compare what Revelation says to what America is experiencing, turn to Revelation, Chapter 18, and also a few verses in chapters 17 and 19. The terms “Babylon,” “O great city,” “the prostitute” and the “woman” are all one and the same.

Next to greed, the most condemning endeavor we engage in that makes us devil worshipers is our love for entertainment. If it is not entertaining, we say "No, thank you."

Then comes our ravaging desire to do or have things that bring pleasure. I am certain many will ask, “What is wrong with having pleasure?” The NT gives over a dozen warnings concerning the desire for pleasure. I will give only two verses: Luke 8:14. ". . . but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and do not mature." 2nd Timothy 3:4-5. ". . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying it power. Have nothing to do with them." Ouch.

I think the devil gets more joy out of our love for sports than all other demonic things we do. The NT is explicit when it teaches that we must consider [treat] others better [of greater value] than ourselves., Philippians 2:3. In order to live that way, we need genuine humility, which is as scarce as hen’s teeth. This is one of the most difficult commands to obey, but nevertheless, without obedience to it, we will never make the grade. If we as Christians were to obey this command, it would put a big kink in our love for Satan.

As one can tell, it seems everything we do in America is making us lovers of the devil. God’s ways are not our ways and are not easy to swallow. To be sure, this author is not making up any of this stuff; it all comes from the NT. How could America have strayed so far from God and still believe we are a Christian nation? If the Bible is true, and it is, we are for the most part, without knowing it, a nation of devil-lovers.

Having or desiring everything to be easy is one of the main reasons for the downfall of the human race. We are a bunch of lazy critters who want all we can get with as little effort as possible. That is one of the main reasons for our ill health and weight problems, etc. We were created to move and not to sit. How many people in America get the right amount of daily exercise? Very few. We would rather sit and watch all the garbage that the human mind can conjure up. The more gross it is, the more we like it.

Living as we do enchants the devil’s purpose of keeping us in his grip. Who loves the devil? By the way we live, it is correct to say that the vast majority of Americans do. And yet, there are a few dedicated NT believers who live as we are commanded. My hope is that this number will increase. Our job is to multiply—not to be content with our own sanctity, and say to ourselves concerning others that, their lives of love for the devil are no skin off our back. That type of attitude is a sure road to damnation. Let us not share in Satan’s happiness.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

# 265: Death and its Implications

# 265: Death and its Implications This post is extremely long and was difficult to write; therefore, it may be difficult for some to understand; it may need to be read a second time. Once a person reads and understands this post, it will change how one believes on this topic for the rest of their life.

This is a topic where there are very few, if any, experts. Why do the majority of humans on this planet think of death as a sad, frightening and negative event? Also, why do the majority dread death? I am certain there are a number of reasons, but I think the main reason most don’t want to leave this life is because they don’t know what death will be like. If they believe there is a God but don’t live as He requires, they may be fearful of hell. If they don’t believe there is a God, they think that physical death is their end, just like an animal.

Then there are some who are caught in a living hell on earth; so to them, death will be a welcome relief. And still, with all the above reasons and more, I believe most are just plain afraid to die. That fear stems from not knowing what it will be like.

Another reason why many don’t want to die is because they are having too much fun right here on earth, whereas the hereafter is no more than a shot in the dark. Also, some don’t desire to die because they have amassed such a large amount of wealth, and therefore, don’t want other unworthy people to enjoy it.

Let us not forget those on life support and those who have the responsibility of making critical life-or-death decisions. Should they pull the plug? If so, when? What is best for all concerned?

Then there are mothers and fathers who don’t want to die because of their love and responsibility to their spouse and/or children. I think that is one of the better reasons for not wanting to die. Along with that, children don’t think much about death; but for them, death will be disastrous, since they haven’t experienced life to any great degree. I am certain there are a few who believe they are indispensable in what they do, and think that the world would stop turning if they were to die. Actually, the world does stop turning for everyone when they die. I am certain there are multitudes of good reasons why most would like to postpone death as long as possible.

What if there was a group of people who did not fear death at all? In fact, they would be looking forward to death more than all else. That kind of thinking is for people who actually believe that there is a better place waiting for them, much better than this world can ever produce. That place is called paradise or heaven. In order to believe in this way without fear of death, a person’s belief/faith must be so acute that it removes all doubts as to its reality. The writer of the book of Hebrews puts it this way: 2:15. “. . . and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Therefore, for all genuine Christians (disciples of Christ), there is, or should be, no fear of death. This author is in that category.

Here is a strange happening: There are millions of people wanting to go to heaven, but don’t want to die just yet. Why is that? Because heaven may not be real to them except in word; or they may not be absolutely certain they are going there, etc.

Most Orthodox churches believe that our spirits/souls will instantaneously go to either heaven or hell at death. Then they try to present Biblical Scripture in a very weak attempt to authenticate that belief.

The New Testament will undoubtedly prove that belief is false. I will give all the Biblical verses which teach that our souls will sleep at death, and be resurrected at the last judgment. Our physical bodies will have nothing to do with that event, since they all will be decayed or have been disintegrated, like in the Twin Towers disaster.

If you make it through all the questionable information coming up in this post, as presented by the Orthodox church, that spiritual malarkey doesn’t—and will never—nullify all the New Testament evidence which says we will all sleep in Christ until the resurrection of the dead. Let me give a comprehensive list of verses which teach that we will sleep at death until the last day.

John 5:28. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves [spiritual entities (souls) do not occupy space] will hear his voice and come out [the souls will come out and not the decayed or totally disintegrated bodies, like those in 9/11, to the point where no remains could be found]—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

John 6:40. “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 [the soul] up at the last day.”

John 6:54. “. . . and I will raise him up at the last day.”

For all those like myself who believe we will be raised in a spiritual body, read what Jesus says about the flesh: John 6:63. “The Spirit gives life, the flesh [physical substance] counts for nothing.”

John 11:11. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.”

Acts 13:36. “For when David served God’s purpose in his generation, he fell asleep; was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.”

1st Corinthians 11:30. “That is why many among you are weak or sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

1st Corinthians 15:6. “. . . most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”

1st Corinthians 15:17-18. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.”

1st Corinthians 15:20. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep.”

1st Thessalonians 4:13-15. “Brothers, we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, or grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own words, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”

1st Corinthians 15:51. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”

John 11:24. “Martha answered, ‘I know he will raise again in the resurrection at the last day.’”

Here is something to think about: When a person is sound asleep, very likely, that is the most peaceful time in a person’s life. The exception is if a person has constant nightmares. Sleep is wonderful, if just for a night or for possibly hundreds of years after our death, while waiting for our soul’s resurrection on the last day.

Now, I will present several paragraphs from a short essay on “The Orthodox Teaching on Life After Death,” which I found on the Internet. It presents several verses in an attempt to show why people at death go directly to heaven or hell. I will say ahead of time: Don’t believe what they teach.

This essay gives the location of about a dozen verses to substantiate what the Orthodox church believes, but does not tell what their meanings are. At the end of this essay, I will tell what the verses teach.

The Orthodox Teaching on Life After Death

Concerning the temporary state of the soul from the time of its separation from the body to the day of universal resurrection, the Holy Scripture teaches us that the soul continues to live, feel and think. For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him. said Christ (Luke 20:38, Matt. 22:32, Acc. 12:7). As death is a temporary separation from the body, the Holy Scripture refers to it as the departure [deceased, decessus, decedere, go away], separation, falling asleep (2 Pet 1:15, Phil. 1:23, 2 Tim. 4:6, Acts 13:36). It is evident that the word repose or sleep does not refer to the soul, but to the body which after death seems to be resting from its works. The soul, having left the body, continues a conscious life as before.

The truth of this assertion is seen from the Savior's parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16th Chapter) and from the miracle at Mt. Tabor (Matt. 17:3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30). In the first, the Gospel's rich man, being in hell, and Abraham, being in heaven, discuss the possibility of sending Lazarus to earth to the brothers of the rich man to keep them from hell. In the second, the prophets Moses and Elijah, who lived long before Christ, speak with the Lord of his coming suffering. Also, Christ told the Jews that Abraham saw His Coming, apparently from heaven, and rejoiced. (John 8:56). This passage would not make sense if Abraham's soul were in some unconscious state as is taught by some sectarians regarding the soul's existence after death. The Book of Revelation in general terms speaks of how the souls of the righteous in heaven react to the events taking place on earth (Rev. Chapters 5-9). All of these passages in the Scripture teach us to believe that the soul continues to be active after its separation with the body.

All though daily convention shows us that death is the unalterable lot of every man and a law of nature, the Holy Scripture teaches us that initially death was not in God's plan for man. Death was not a rule established by God, but, rather, a parting from God's way and a terrible tragedy. The Book of Genesis tells us that death became part of our nature as a result of the first human beings' transgression of God's Commandment. In accordance with the Bible, the purpose of the Son of God coming into the world was to return to man his forfeited eternal life. This is not referring to the soul's eternal life, which by its being is not subject to ruin, but to the immortality of the whole person, consisting of body and soul. The realization of the unity of soul and body will happen simultaneously for all people at the universal resurrection of the dead.

In certain religious and philosophical systems, (such as Hinduism or Stoicism), there is the thought that the most important part of man is his soul and that the body is only a temporary shell in which it develops. When the soul reaches a certain level of maturity, the body becomes useless and must be thrown off like worn-out clothing. Freed from the body, the soul ascends to a higher step of existence. Christianity does not share this understanding of human nature. Giving precedence to the spiritual origin of man, it continues to see him basically as two essences, each complementing the other, the spiritual and the material. Purely spiritual beings also exist; such as angels and demons. Man's design and purpose are, however, different. Thanks to his body, his nature is both more complex and richer. God's union of the soul and body is an eternal union.

When the soul abandons the body at death, it finds itself in an alien environment. Indeed, it is not called to exist as a spirit and it finds it difficult to adjust to the new and unnatural condition. This is why, for the purpose of obliterating all of the destructive consequences of sin, God willed the resurrection of the people He created. This will come about at the Second Coming of Christ, when by his Almighty Word the soul of every man will return to its renewed and transfigured body. We must emphasize that it will return not into a new shell, but will unite, once again, with the body in which it resided, a body transfigured, incorruptible, and suited to the new order of being.

Concerning the temporary state of the soul from the time of its separation from the body to the day of universal resurrection, the Holy Scripture teaches us that the soul continues to live, feel and think. For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.

Repeating: The following verses and my comments are between brackets.

(Luke 20:38. [“He is not a God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” When people are asleep in death, waiting for the resurrection, it doesn’t mean they are dead in the sight of God. That is why Luke said, “for to him (God) all are alive.”]

Matt. 22:32., [This verse is a repeat of the last one.]

Acc. 12:7). [I can’t comment on this one since I don’t know what Acc. 12:7 means; it doesn’t come from the Christian Bible.] As death is a temporary separation from the body, the Holy Scripture refers to it as the departure deceased, decessus, decedere, go away, separation, falling asleep.

2 Pet 1:15. [“And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” This verse does not say Paul will depart to heaven as the author of this article presumes. Paul will be with Christ in a state of sleep.]

Phil.1:23. [“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” In a state of sleep.]

2nd Timothy 4:6. [“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.” Again, departure does not mean going directly to heaven in a conscious state.]

Acts 13:36. “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep, he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.” It is evident that the word repose or sleep does not refer to the soul, but to the body which after death seems to be resting from its works. The soul, having left the body, continues a conscious life as before. [This last statement can not be found anywhere in the Christian Bible.]

Matt. 17:3. In the first, the Gospel's rich man, being in hell, and Abraham, being in heaven, discuss the possibility of sending Lazarus to earth to the brothers of the rich man to keep them from hell. The truth of this assertion is seen from the Savior's parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

(Luke 16th Chapter) [There is a parable in the New Testament: Luke 16:19-30—please read this passage of Scripture so that you will see where they are coming from—Jesus is teaching to make the point that rich people who have no concern for those without do not go directly to hell at death, and the less fortunate who believed in Christ do not go directly to heaven at death before they are judged at the resurrection at the end of time. And from that solitary section of Scripture in Luke 16:19-30, by the persuasion of the clergy, there arose the erroneous belief that has engulfed the vast majority of Christianity.]

[The point that Jesus was making is that wealth is not a reward for being holy, as most rich Jews of that time believed, but a result of greed and heartlessness, or the poor are not automatically condemned because of their poverty, as many of the Pharisees and church leaders believed. Many of the Jews never accepted that view, and still don’t accept it to this day.]

Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30. In the second, the prophets Moses and Elijah, who lived long before Christ, speak with the Lord of his coming suffering.

[Concerning why Moses and Elijah were in heaven: Deuteronomy 33:5. “And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab . . . but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” And there is good reason why Moses, the greatest servant of the Lord, was taken to heaven; he deserved it. 2nd Kings 2:11. “. . . Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” It is easy to say that we can see why Elijah was in heaven.]

[Also, Christ told the Jews that Abraham saw His Coming, apparently from heaven, before He came to earth as a baby, and rejoiced.] (John 8:56). This passage would not make sense if Abraham's soul were in some unconscious state as is taught by some sectarians regarding the soul's existence after death.

Concerning Abraham. “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and rejoiced.” John 8:56. [Most likely, the Lord, the Son of God, saw Abraham many times while Jesus (the Lord of the Old Testament) was in heaven and was giving Abraham instructions as to where to go and what to do, etc. John 7:29. “but I [Jesus] know him [God] because I am from him and he sent me.” Also, the Son of God (who was named Jesus as a human) was with God the Father at creation: Genesis 1:26. “Then God said, ‘Let us [plural] make man in our image, in our [plural] likeness . . .’” Most likely, that is the case, and even if that is not the case, it would be but a small matter for God to take Abraham, the great man of faith, the father of all the Jews, to heaven before all his descendants.]

The Book of Revelation in general terms speaks of how the souls of the righteous in heaven react to the events taking place on earth (Rev. Chapters 5-9). All of these passages in the Scripture teach us to believe that the soul continues to be active after its separation with the body.

[In the book of Revelation, there are about 7 sections of Scripture, aforementioned, that are referred to as being relevant to their unscriptural belief as mentioned above, in Revelation, Chapters 4-9. I will quote them all.]

[Revelation 4:7-8. “In the center, around the throne, there were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes in the front and in the back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings.” It could honestly be said that these creatures did not come from the earth we know. Just keep that in mind as we continue.]

[Revelation 5:8. “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the lamb.” The question I ask is, Why are the living creatures associated with the twenty-four elders? Could the twenty-four elders also be from other worlds, etc.? I say that because of how the strange living creatures are described. Let us all remember that the book of Revelation is mostly symbolic.]

[Revelation 5:11. “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. And in a loud voice they sang . . .” These 24 elders and the living creatures must be/ have been very special to be encircled by that many angels. I doubt that anyone from earth has been that special to receive such great honor except Jesus Christ.]

[Revelation 6:10. “They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’” Evidentially those—maybe a few or maybe all—who had been killed for a holy cause, and with no regrets for their faith, will be given entry into heaven before the final resurrection. This, by no means indicates/implies that all God’s peoples will be in heaven before the final resurrection. The reason I say that is that if they were, it would somehow, somewhere be mentioned in Scripture. That would end all disagreements.]

[The book of Revelation includes “what is now and what will take place later.” Revelation 1:19. Also what has taken place already. Listen to Revelation 12:9: “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who lead the whole world astray. He was hurled to earth, and his angels with him.” That evil creature and his cohorts have been down here since the beginning of time.]

The scripture also teaches us that after death God appoints a place of temporary abode corresponding to that which it has earned while living in the body — heaven or hell. The appointment in one or the other place or condition is preceded by a so-called informal judgment. The informal judgment must be distinguished from the final judgment that will take place at the end of the world. Regarding the informal judgment, [Informal judgment is a man-made rule and has no Scriptural backing.] the Scripture teaches us: For it is an easy thing unto the Lord in the day of death to reward a man according to his ways (Sirach 11:26). And further, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, seemingly on an individual basis (Heb. 9:27). [That verse isn’t worth mentioning, in defense of their man-made theology. Hebrews 9:27. “Just as a man is destined once, and after that to face judgment.”] There is reason to believe that in the first stages after death the soul needs the guidance of its guardian angel. For example, in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the soul of Lazarus is taken to heaven by angels. In accordance with the teachings of Our Savior, the angels take care of these small ones, that is to say children, (literally and figuratively).

We believe that the souls of the dead are either blissful or in torment from their deeds. Having been separated from their bodies, they immediately step over either to happiness or to sorrow and mourning. Besides which they feel neither complete bliss nor complete torment since either one of these states will be conferred on each after the Universal resurrection, when the soul will unite with the body in which it resided either virtuously or dishonorably (Epistles from the Eastern Patriarchs regarding the Orthodox faith, article 18).

In this manner, the Orthodox Church discerns two conditions of the soul in the other world: One for the righteous and another for the sinner — heaven and hell. It does not accept the Roman-Catholic teaching of a middle state in purgatory inasmuch as the Holy Scripture makes no reference to a middle state. The Orthodox Church does teach that the sufferings of a sinner can be eased and even taken away through prayers and good deeds done in their memory. This is the reason for presenting a book of remembrance at Liturgy with the names of the living and the dead.

[To contradict the above, here is another incriminating event to consider that disproves their argument which, of course, wasn’t mentioned by the Orthodox writer. This is the story of King Saul, Samuel the prophet, and the medium (witch) of Endor. King Saul was having problems with his enemies and asked the advice of the Lord; the Lord did not answer Saul. So he went to a medium in the town of Endor to get advice from her. Saul wanted the medium to bring Saul up while he slept in the grave. The medium did just that. And this is what the response was from Samuel: Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” The last words of Samuel as he was talking to Saul were these: “. . . and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me [in the grave].” Read the whole story in 1st Samuel 28:4-19. This story, along with the aforementioned details, is good evidence that when we die, we all will, one way or another, go to sleep until the resurrection. And remember this: If a witch can bring up the dead, why couldn’t God, before the resurrection, do the same, if He desired?]

[Here is the stupidest part of going to heaven or hell at death; the Orthodox Churches believe they go there because, as they call it, ‘the informal resurrection’ which happens on an individual basis as people die. The words “informal resurrection” are not found anywhere in the Christian Bible.]

[The Orthodox church which believes they are the religious intelligentsia, in which they erroneously and dogmatically state that as truth. And the funny part is that they somehow persuaded millions of naive people to believe it also. By knowing what the New Testament teaches, we will not/cannot be fooled anymore.]

[Let us now go to another view of death, by examining “near-death experiences” and “out-of-body phenomena” from the secular point of view. On the internet I found a booklet-sized essay that is extremely long. The address is at the very end of this post. It tells of many cases of out-of-body experiences that are associated with near-death experiences. It is extremely interesting. But when you get to the section on ‘The Orthodox Teaching on Life After Death,’ where the aforementioned verses came from, they are totally misinterpreted. Don’t believe the teaching that our soul goes directly to heaven or hell, but rather believe the New Testament teaching which has clearly been displayed.]

[Then, if you are not weary from reading the above, here is a short essay I also copied from the Internet on the possibility that “out-of-body experiences” are caused by a certain part of the brain that is activated when a person is near death. In other words, could near-death experiences be emitted from a part of the brain that gets activated only when a person is having a near-death experience in his/her brain? You decide.]

(WebMD) Scientists may be one step closer to understanding what happens in the brain when someone has an out-of-body experience.

A certain spot in the brain shows increased activity during out-of-body experiences, Belgian researchers report in The New England Journal of Medicine. That part of the brain is where the angular gyrus, a brain region involved in self-awareness, meets the supramarginal gyrus, a brain area that affects the body's spatial orientation.

The Belgian scientists studied a 63-year-old man who had had an electrode implanted in his brain to treat tinnitus, in which people experience ringing or other unusual sounds in their ears.

Before getting the electrode implanted in his brain, the man had tried other tinnitus treatments, with no success.

The implant was supposed to use electrical stimulation to suppress tinnitus. But that didn't work.

Besides still having tinnitus, the man had out-of-body experiences during the electrical stimulation.

His perception of disembodiment always involved a location about 50 cm behind his body and off to the left, write the scientists, who included Dirk De Ridder, MD, PhD, of University Hospital Antwerp.

The man didn't have near-death experiences and he couldn't see himself from outside his body during his out-of-body experiences, which lasted for an average of 17 seconds. De Ridder's team stimulated the man's brain via the implanted electrode.

The man pressed a button with his right hand to indicate when his out-of-body experience began. Meanwhile, he got a brain scan using positron emission tomography (PET).

The scientists noticed a spike in activity in the junction of the angular gyrus and the supramarginal gyrus during the man's out-of-body experiences. But the researchers don't claim to understand everything about out-of-body experiences.

For instance, they don't know if the brain behaves differently when people have out-of-body sensations during near-death experiences or in other cases that aren't induced by electrical stimulation. And the findings are just a window on brain activity, not what people feel during out-of-body-experiences.

[I repeat: Here is the address of the extremely long essay I copied from the internet. Halfway through this report is the section named “The Orthodox Teaching on Life After Death,” the one I wrote on and gave you the Biblical perspective. Even though this report is long, it is extremely interesting, except for the section on “The Orthodox Teaching on Life After Death.”]

Please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments.

Click on

Friday, October 24, 2008

# 264: Trickery

Just about everywhere we turn, the general public has been, and is still being, deceived. We are so used to it that we accept it without grumbling. Since I don’t travel in other countries, I can only speak of how Americans are tricked. It is big business and even small business, along with many religions that have been pulling the wool over our eyes.

Prime examples: They make the size of many products smaller by a few ounces or a few inches and still charge the same price; cigarettes are wrongly sold as “light” and “low-tar”; we are pawns to the oil industry; the big corporations charge whatever they please to make more billions for their stockholders; additives may make food taste great, but are not good for us; medicine that may alleviate the discomfort but has detrimental side effects; most commercials lie or exaggerate concerning their products; many things that are sold to consumers are things that we don’t really need, but their ads make us believe we need them; many operations are not necessary and could be cured by natural means, yet they tell us we must be operated on. It seems like everywhere we go, there is someone trying to trick us out of our hard-earned money. Why is it so easy for us to be tricked? Why do many of us believe we are right, while we think others are wrong, including this author?

Retailers get us into their stores with cheap, undesirable products, with the hope of selling us the expensive, top-of-the-line products. These gimmicks have been going on since retail stores had their beginning. And we, for the most part, still fall for their tricks.

I believe one of the most pervasive ruses is commercials on TV. I realize there are some of us who are not so smart and fall for their deceptive advertising, but sellers must think we are all stupid, and that may be true to some degree.

I truly believe the most deceptive of all the tricks played on us is by run-of-the-mill religions. The one thing that is blatantly misleading, which they have been playing on us since the fourteenth century, is to make us believe that going to church every Sunday, paying our tithe, singing a Christian song or two, going to Sunday school, and being good all week are the only duties of disciples of Christ. This gathering together on Sunday stems from the verse in Hebrews 10:25. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing." Of all the commands in the New Testament, this one, by all means, may be the easiest to obey.

The only thing is, keeping that command does not negate the keeping of hundreds of other commands that are also to be obeyed. Many of them, which go against our sinful human nature, are not mentioned by the majority of denominations. And that is where this Biblical blog comes to the rescue.

Let me start by stating that when obedience to Biblical commands is unknowingly ignored or knowingly and blatantly disobeyed, the result will nullify faith in Christ Jesus and even God’s grace. Without obedience, anything and everything that is done or believed in for the cause of Christ is done in vain. Although this is a hard statement, it makes as much Godly sense as “one and one are two.” And that is the trick that is being pulled over all who don’t know what is taught in the New Testament. Most, if not all, who are aware of what is openly taught in God’s Word, and at the same time discount what the clergy so adamantly preach, will vividly see the trickery. Hebrews 5:9. ". . . he [Jesus Christ] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

And the reason for this trickery, as I have said dozens of times in this blog, is to keep a tight reign on the souls and pocketbooks of naive/gullible people.

The main reason is that, even with this knowledge of how deadly disobedience is to Christ’s teaching, it is most likely that to obey the holy commands that rub against our easy Christian lifestyle will not be adopted. I am talking about the commands that seem absolutely absurd, like those that teach to love our neighbor as ourselves, which means we would actually sell our possessions and give to the poor. There are many, many verses that teach this divine principle. Luke 12:33-34: "Sell your possessions and give to the poor [Why?]. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 16:15. "What is highly valued among men [money] is detestable in God’s sight." Luke 18:22. "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Even with all these Scriptures and many more, there is a seemingly legitimate, churchy alibi (make-little-of) for every one of these verses. For instance, in this last verse, they (the clergy) say that Christ was talking specifically to the rich young ruler, and didn’t mean all of us, and so on.

With eyes wide open, churchgoing people are being tricked, tricked and tricked at every turn with sweet words of acceptance. Not every person who claims to be a Christian (disciple of Jesus Christ) will be able to be obedient to these hard-nosed Biblical teachings. The reason is because Christ-like ones do not have their own interests at heart but also interests of the spiritual and physical welfare of others. 1st Corinthians 13:5 (The apostle Paul describing what real Godly love is): ". . . love, it is not self- seeking." That principle will separate genuine Christians from the fakes. Again, I am saying this: Loving others at one’s personal expense will not be an easy thing to live by; in fact, it may be the most difficult challenge anyone will ever be confronted with. Are you and I ready to live in that fashion? I can hear loud cries of "Leave us alone; we don’t want to hear all this stupid stuff. We are going to let it go in one ear and out the other, and stay in the same pleasant churches we’ve belonged to for years.”

What I am wondering is how many of the above- mentioned people, who claim to be Christians and regularly go to church, are being tricked into silently calling God’s love stupid as it is presented in Scripture; I mean those who do not possess the Spirit of the living God. Without that powerful Spirit, it would be stupid and impossible for anyone to attempt to live as God’s Spirit inspires and commands. Here is a verse that says it all: Romans 8:9. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." I think the way the hierarchy and other church leaders get around that verse is to somehow persuade the laity that they have the Holy Spirit, even with no convincing evidence of faith, love and obedience. That is a crime that will not go unpunished and will bring the severest punishment possible.

This is how anyone can know for certain that they actually are possessed by God’s Holy Spirit, other than just saying they have the Spirit: when their main focus in life is in Jesus Christ and all that He stands for, which means their thoughts and actions are being guided by the Holy Spirit. If this criterion seems too tough, it is never to late to pray to God that He will give you the desire and power to receive the Holy Spirit. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free of all the trickery that has engulfed many sincere people.

In conclusion, it is a crying shame that trickery and lies, with their enticing powers, are wining over the truth of the Gospel. To fight that prevalent deception, this Biblical blog has been fighting tooth-and-nail to win as many bloggers as possible to the truth of the Word of God, and with nothing more than words from the Christian Bible.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

# 263: They Say “Impossible”

For logical, rational, educated human beings to actually believe there is a spirit realm, to a degree where it would change their life, is nonsensical. You see, logic will deny there is such a thing as life after death, or that there even is a heaven. The physical world says, "We are and have only what we see and no more." And I can understand that point of view.

When you get most, if not all of the sciences in the world who deny that God created—if there is a God—the universe out of nothing physical, and deny that humans are a special creation of His, this is too much for any rational person to believe.

It seems that the more education and intelligence a person has, the more difficult, if not impossible, it is to believe in a realm that is invisible. Why is that? I believe that human intelligence is a deterrent to believing in invisible things; their logic says “impossible.”

That is the reason why Jesus chose uneducated, ordinary men as His disciples. Matthew 11:25. "I praise you, Father Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." Does that mean that it would be impossible for educated and intelligent people to believe? No, but they would have a more difficult time believing. The only thing is, when they do believe, their faith may be a bit superficial. What I mean is that they may harbor a little bit of doubt because of their logical thinking which does not leave them just because they decide to believe in Jesus, thus making their devotion a little less than acceptable.

Does that mean that the intellect of Christians is just a little bit above the level of morons? Absolutely not! It means we don’t have to be whiz kids to become Christians. The secret is that we must believe as little children do. Matthew 18:3. "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Also Luke 18:17. "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." When children are told some new facts, it is easy for them to believe because they trust the one who is teaching them. What is being said here means that as simple as it is for a child to believe—click on post # 232: "The Faith of a Little Child"—it is extremely difficult for adults to believe in spiritual matters to the point where all doubt is removed. And doubt is a formidable deterrent to Godliness that will allow compromise to enter one’s life.

I wish I could give you a formula in which we could believe as little children. I am not sure there is one. The only thing Jesus didn’t mention is that little children can be naive, which would make them not the best candidates to believe, since there are many beautiful, silver-tongued spiritual deceivers in the world vying for the attention of naive, foolish and gullible people.

Then there is Matthew 10:16, which teaches that we must ". . . be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Therefore, here is the formula: become like little children, don’t be naive and gullible as fools; and be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. That formula seems to be contradictory. What else is new?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it is an easy thing to believe in God without doubt, and to have all the above qualities. It, most likely, is one of the most difficult things a person can be asked to do. The possible answer, as mentioned in post # 232, is to have a desperate, life-or-death need to find a life better than what one has at the present. That type of need is not found to any great degree in America. And even those who have a great need may not be aware of the rescue plan that is offered by Almighty God.

Now we have a large class of intellectuals, such as the biologists, cosmologists, physicists, astronomers, geologists and other scientists that shout: “impossible.” They say the Bible is wrong and is nothing more than but a bunch of stories, myths and old wives’ tales. They believe the way they do because they can prove with an abundant amount of empirical evidence from various sources that the earth and the universe are billions of years older; they, most likely, are correct. Where they err is in believing that the universe was a random happening via the Big Bang, and that it and humans have no specific purpose for their existence; and if there is a God, he had nothing to do with the creation of the universe.

The Old Testament teaches that the earth is about 6,000 years old. That seemed like an apparent known truth until science proved otherwise. Therefore, it is now a known error, even though that belief is unswervingly held by millions of people who call themselves Christians; these people have to be pitied for their credulity. To get more info. that may help explain the truth of the matter, please, for your sake, click on post # 143 or # 109, "Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design." Also, you can click on post # 200, "Science Removes Doubt."

If any more was to be said, it would only be a repeat of what is taught in the above-mentioned posts.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

# 262: Disease, Sickness, Demons and Evil Spirits

Few of us can get through life without having to put up with some type of ailment/s. That is part of life. My question is, why? Is there anything we can do about it? I checked the New Testament to see what insight, if any, it may have to offer; this is what I found:

Luke 13:10-12 and 16. "On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God . . . Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" In this healing, Satan was responsible for this woman’s misery.

2nd Corinthians 12:7-9. "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’" Click on post # 255 to see what “Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh” was. Satan can cause heartaches to even to the holiest of holy.

The term “possess an evil spirit” is mentioned many, many times in the New Testament. Most of the time, it mentioned people who were possessed by evil spirits. One such example of being possessed by an evil spirit was mentioned in Matthew 8:28-32. "When he arrived at the other side of the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. ‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’ Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ He said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water."

There is a similar account in Luke 8:26-33 which most likely is the same account; although some of the details are different, the finality is identical: the pigs being drowned in the water. It may be that violent people are possessed by evil spirits, and that they know their end will be painful.

In the four gospels, there are a dozen or so verses where either Jesus or His disciples drove out evil spirits from those who were possessed with them.

Now the question comes up: Does the New Testament indicate that sickness and disease somehow were associated with some form of satanic powers? The New Testament seems to indicate that assumption. Even though there are people who believe that Satan does not really exist, they have to admit there is an evil force in this world. Where does this evil force get its power? There are evil beings (Satan and all his cohorts) who are the source of most, if not all, unpleasant situations.

Mark 1:39. "So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons." Since Jesus was more powerful than the demons, he was able cleanse those who had them. Then the question comes up: Where do the evil spirits go? Answer: In other people whose desires are conducive to evil.

Matthew 5:37. ". . . anything beyond this comes from the devil." Much of what we are not aware of comes from the devil.

Luke 4:33. "In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit." This verse says demons and evil spirits are one and the same.

Matthew 9:2. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’" There are several indications that physical illness is the result of a person’s sin.

Matthew 10:1. "He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to cure and heal every kind of disease and sickness." Jesus Christ had and still has the power to give authority to heal other humans (His disciples and apostles).

Matthew 9:33. "And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been dumb spoke." Demons are responsible for the misery of many sick and diseased people.

Matthew 12:34. "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?" People who don’t belong to or obey Jesus are classified as vipers.

Matthew 12:43-45. "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first." Evidently, evil spirits are not complete unless they possess the bodies and souls of humans. Could anyone imagine having more than one evil spirit?

Matthew 13:19. "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart." It is imperative that we gain understanding of the complete Will of God on this earth. If we don’t, we can be tricked into allowing all our Christian efforts to be snatched by the evil one.

Matthew 17:18. "Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment." Jesus, along with those He chooses, had and still has the power to overpower demons.

Mark 2:5. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’" This verse is similar to the one in Matthew 9:2.

Mark 3:11. "Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him [Jesus] and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’" Verses like this one indicate that evil spirits have the ability to see what humans cannot. That means just because a person can see the future or things that normal people can’t, it doesn’t mean they are of God as they may profess.

Mark 5:2-15: "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 able to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones . . . For Jesus was saying to him, ‘Come out of this man, you evil spirit . . .’ 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 . . . When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who was possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind." This tells me that when evil spirits are driven out of humans, they would rather live in animals than be inactive in only spirit form. These verses are telling the same story as in Matthew 8:28.

Exodus 34:7. "Yet he [God] does not leave the guilty unpunished: he punishes the children and their children for the sins of their fathers to the third and fourth generation."

Exodus 20:5. ". . . for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me . . ." These two verses in Exodus seem completely unfair. Yet, through genetics, mutations or environment, the saying is true; like father like son.

Mark 6:7. "Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits." Evil spirits have no power over those who have been given authority over them.

Mark 8:33. Jesus Talking to Peter: "‘Out of my sight, Satan!’ he said, ‘you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’" Those who have their mind on the things of people can be classified as workers of Satan. If that is true, we live in a world full of satanic people, dressed in angels’ garb.

Mark 9:20. "When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth." Those with evil spirits know those who possess the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Luke 4:33-35. "In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the holy one of God!’ ‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him." Anyone with the Spirit of Jesus will be feared by Satan’s evil spirits.

Luke 13:11. "And a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God." Isn’t that wonderful? It is a shame we don’t see those types of healings in our modern times. This verse is identical to the one previously mentioned.

Luke 13:32. "He replied, ‘Go tell that fox . . .’ Here Jesus is saying that some people are likened to foxes.

John 9:1. "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’" Again, it is true that the sins either of the parent or ourselves are responsible for many of our ailments.

John 5:9 & 14. “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.’” Quite often we are responsible for our own ailments because of our unnatural lifestyles. Of course, their desires are secretly inspired by the devil.

Acts 19:16. "The man who had the evil spirit jumped on them [the seven sons of Sceva] and overpowered them. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding." Evil spirits give tremendous strength to some humans.

1st Timothy 4:1. "The Spirit clearly says that in the latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." This verse is more true in our modern church than all the others verses put together. But spirits/demons do it in a sly way to make it look like it is genuine Christianity.

This tells me that in our sophisticated culture, where “seeing is believing,” there are many evil forces that dictate and control much of what is going on in this world. Where do you and I stand?

If a person doesn’t desire to believe in evil spirits and the devil, no problem; then you have to believe that all humans have a sinful human nature: That nature is the realm through which selfishness and evil work. You see, all wild animals are concerned with only one thing: survival of their kind. If you want to believe it or not, those wild things are where our self-centered, evil nature comes from. And that is where evil spirits get their power. Think about it. Leave me a comment. This subject is wide open.

In conclusion, a positive note: Even though Satan, most likely, is responsible for much, if not all, sickness and diseases, our Lord God capitalizes on that evil when it comes on His chosen people by giving them the longing to leave this ungodly world as soon as possible, along with becoming more fervent in their devotion to Jesus Christ. They can’t wait for this life to be over. This author is one of them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

# 261: A Comment Sent to Post # 9

This comment is long and detailed, and too long for the comment section. I felt it would be of interest to many bloggers, so I put it in the main section of this blog. My response is short and to the point.

“robov” has left a new comment on your post # 9: “A Message for Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God, etc."

This is an interesting one. Many speak against the prosperity message and declare that as Christians we should be poor or at least not prosperous or wealthy. After all Jesus was poor and we should be like Him. Yet scripture declares: 2Co 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. Now I've heard it preach, Ahhh, yes, but Paul means spiritually rich. The Greek word Rich here is "plousios" Thayer Definition:

1) wealthy, abounding in material resources 2) metaphorically abounding, abundantly supplied 2a) abounding (rich) in Christian virtues and eternal possessions New American Exhaustive Concordance:plousios; from G4149; wealthy: - people (1), rich (19), rich man (7), rich man’s (1), rich people (1). So the word rich here refers to material wealth as well as in Virtues. The key I believe though is what a person does with that wealth and who they believe it came from. For God clearly declare's in Deu 8:18 "But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. NASB

I believe the downfall according to scripture is the "love of money" as stated in 1Tim 3:3, 1Tim 6:10, 2Tim 3:2, Heb 13:5. Jesus also said in Matthew Chapter 6 Starting in verse 24, Jesus says that you cannot serve two masters. Referring to God and wealth. Then he goes on from verse 25 - 34 telling us not to worry about getting material things such as clothing, food and drink, generally material "STUFF", but rather HE says verse 33."But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So again the focus should be the Father and His Kingdom and His Righteousness, the result of this being that He will provide all your material needs. So I asked myself one day "What is His Kingdom, how would it look and where would I learn about it." Scripture of course and the teachings of Jesus. "His Righteousness" was easy, for I have no righteousness of my own apart from what's been imputed to me by faith. Jesus is my righteousness. But back to operating the kingdom princles as I am learning to do and seeing results for the first time in my 5 1/2 year Christian walk.

Jesus showed us much, to much to put here so I will choose a few only. Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." NASB or I like this Translation:Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket. The standards you use for others will be applied to you." God's Word.

There's a cause and an effect here. You give, then you receive. Operating in the kingdom priciples is no more diffult than understanding what God said to Noah after the flood: Gen 8:21 The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. Gen 8:22 "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease."

Isn't it intersting here also that God said never again will "I" curse the ground. The earth is cursed today because of man. One only needs to look to the destructuon of our environment to know that. But I digress. God said as long as the earth remains it will be seed time and harvest, Sowing and reaping, this does not apply only to planting and harvesting seeds. It is a spiritual principle that applies to every area of our life.

Jesus taught us about the seed and the harvest, Mark chapter 4 in the parable of the sower. He said the sower sows the seed and depending on where it landed determined the harvest that was produced. The seed that fell on the good soil returned up to a hundred fold return. Now the seed Jesus said is the "Word" and the soil He said is our heart. Everything with God is a heart thing, he looks upon our heart. How hard it is He said for the rich to get into the kingdom, why, because their trust is in their riches rather than in the source of the riches. The sower sows the seed(Word), which determines the harvest. Are you sowing word's of life(God's word) over your situation or word's of death(the devil's words) Are you speaking to your mountain and commanding it to get smaller or are you speaking to the mountain and declaring that it is getting bigger. Jesus said that we could have whatever we say and brothers and sisters, most of us are getting exactly what we say, because what we say is what we believe and what we believe is what we say and that is what ends up manifesting in our lives. Romans 4:17 say Faith comes by hearing....... and by hearing the words of Christ. What are you hearing that's building your faith. That we shouldn't be wealthy or prosperous. Abraham was a very wealthy man on the earth in his day and we are joint heirs. We are sons of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Kings sons and daughters are not poor but are entitled to everything their Father has.

I understand your intention here JC, and I believe that your heart is right. There are many out there that are abusing this prosperity principle. But Jesus said that you would know a person by there fruit. If the particular ministry is reaping abundantly, look to see if they are sowing that wealth abundantly. Are they leading many to Jesus. In my own life I do want to be prosperous and if I can become wealthy, it means I can sow into more and more ministries. But I do not expect God to just throw the money on my lap or into my bank account supernaturally. I work hard for it and trust that he will provide greater opportunities for me to gain more. I sow abundantly and reap abuntantly and daily I declare it and speak it out of my mouth. I speak in agreement with what God says. I give and it's given unto me. Everything I set my hand to prospers, no weapon formed against me will proper. I'm learning everyday to sow the Word of God over my life, my children's lives and all those that I'm praying for. If I have lack I call abundance according to the Word. I say my mountain of debt is getting smaller. I'm simply doing the sayings of Jesus and it's working. The Word of God is living and active, Jesus said my Word's are Spirit and they are life. John 6:63God spoke everything in the universe into existence, the invisible into the visible. We are created in His likeness and image and Ephesians 5:1 says we're to be imitators of Him. Start saying what God says about who you are and about your situation not what some Pastor or person says. God told His people they could have whatever the say, but instead we continually say what we have.

Pro 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words Deu 30:11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. Deu 30:12 "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Deu 30:13 "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Deu 30:14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.

Deu 30:15 "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; Deu 30:16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. I finish with this, many of us(Christians) have cut ourselves so short of all that Father God's has given us and we do it because we think we're being humble. There's nothing humble about not accepting and receiving all that God has for us. That's called presumption. There's also a vast difference between humility and arrogance, don't get the two confused.

God has given man dominion over the earth and His situations and the power of His living Word, and if you've received Jesus as Lord then you also have the power of His annointing. Nothing should be impossible to you. Love and life in Christ


Dear Rob,

Thanks much for sending us this comment. I know exactly where you are coming from, and why you believe as you do. It was not too long ago that I was in your shoes.

There are several errors in your belief concerning the subject of material wealth and prosperity. The first is this: In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was never promised eternal life, even though it does mention eternity concerning God. Israel was promised the land flowing with milk and honey. Yes, they were promised material wealth and prosperity over and over again. And what did they do with it over and over again? They turned their backs on their Lord and went the way of the nations around them.

Therefore, the Old Testament Scriptures concerning making us wealthy and prosperous for holy and good reasons do not apply to the Church of Christ. Christ came to fulfill the law. Wealth didn’t make them obedient or holy, nor does it do any good for Christ’s Church, except to make modern-day Pharisees. Jesus Christ said, "Blessed are the poor." No where does it say, “Blessed are the rich.”

You see, wealth for good or selfish reasons produces a secret pride in what we have accomplished. And that is the least of the damage it does. It makes us feel secure in our success. We don’t have to rely on God. Money is God’s most formidable enemy. As you know, money speaks louder than Scripture, regardless of how noble and noteworthy one’s intentions may be. That is why Luke said (speaking for Jesus) in Luke 16:15: "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight." Tell me; what is more highly valued than money? Not even health.

The reason Jesus Christ said the above is this: How can a person have love for God and Godly love for their needy neighbors around the world and still have more than their immediate needs? Authentic love is that demanding. The whole will of God is displayed in these two commands: Love God with all our energies and love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live. Luke 10:27. For that simple reason, your rationale is in serious error.

I could give you dozens of New Testament verses that are in this blog that speak of the damage material prosperity does to people who are honest and sincere "christians." But I won’t do that.

I realize having or desiring wealth/security is one of the strongest human desires. Therefore, I can understand why many churches and individuals, like yourself, have incorporated it into their Christian lives. The only thing is that what Christ offers apart from material wealth is far superior, and more potent, but it must be experienced to be known, which doesn't come cheap.

Think about this: If material wealth was a pillar in the Christian life—as if it isn't—and you were a wealthy Christian and a role model for other Christians, what would those who emulate you seek—holiness and obedience, or wealth? You see, it is not money that people love; it is what they can do and get from it.

Rob, I beg you to reconsider your stance on the benefits of material wealth in the Christian life. I am aware that it is next-to-impossible to do that, but with God’s help, you can do it. The road you are now on is a portrait/recipe for eternal destruction. In this last sentence, I am speaking for Jesus Christ. jc.

Rob, I just read your comment on # 248: “The Knack of Making Sin Acceptable.” What you believe about sin is the most ungodly scenario I have heard to date. You could not pay me to put such ungodly stuff in this blog, because I wouldn’t want any of the Christians who regularly read this blog to know that type of belief actually exists. Do me and yourself a favor; please don’t correspond to this blog any more, unless or until you straighten up your life.

Monday, September 01, 2008

# 260: The Cross

Why is the cross mentioned so often in Scripture, and what are the implications and aspects of the cross for disciples of Jesus Christ?

One aspect concerning the cross, which is not found in the Bible, is that it was Rome’s way of punishing criminals found guilty of a capital crime/s or less serious offenses—like the two robbers crucified alongside Jesus—with a horrific death; a death that was shameful, slow and extremely painful—Hebrews 12:2. "Jesus . . . scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of glory." The reason it was shameful was because the soldiers divided the garments of the one they were crucifying, leaving the condemned person naked—check the gospel of John, 19:23-24. The reason it was slow was because the injuries were on the bodies’ extremities (hands and feet), with no fear of immediate death. There may not have been a more painful death as a form of execution. Another reason for this extremely slow and painful death was Rome’s way of keeping a tight reign/control over the rabble throughout the entire Roman Empire. Most would think twice before breaking Roman law because of the severity of dying on a cross. That may be what we need to keep potential criminals in control, instead of a slap on the hand/wrist, as it were.

Actually, the wooden cross may have been no more than a fairly straight tree trunk, bark and all, without the cross bar. Why would Rome go through the trouble of making extra work for themselves, and use up scarce lumber by placing a cross bar? Another reason for supposing a tree trunk was used is because there are five verses that use the word “tree” instead of the cross. There are three different Biblical authors who used the word “tree” instead of “cross”: Luke—the book of Acts used it three times; Paul, in the book of Galatians; and Peter, in 2nd Peter. Another possible reason why the tree trunk was called a cross was to signify that if anyone in the Roman Empire disobeyed/crossed Roman law, their desires for life would be shortened by placing them on a tree. Repeating, if anyone crossed Roman law, Rome would cross them. Either way, the end result (death) and the slow and excruciating pain was the same.

1) The cross is symbolized in several different ways. One of the main ways is to bring death to our sinful human nature. That death is to be continually activated—the cross—throughout our lives. Since our sinful, animal nature is tremendously strong, we have to continually put it to death. Taking up our cross daily, which is not an actual cross, signifies the death of desires and actions which oppose the ways of God’s Will. Without putting our selfish ways to death every day of our lives, our sinful nature will—with little or no effort—slowly gain control of our lives again, and most often without our knowledge, until we are too far gone into the ways of the world/Satan to regain our faith, love and obedience. Hebrews 6:4-6. "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

Romans 6:6. "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin . . ."

Romans 6:11-12. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."

In Galatians 2:20, Paul blatantly says: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." That verse should be the cry of every born-again Christian.

Galatians 5:24. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."

Matthew 16:24. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’"

Luke 14:27. "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me daily cannot be my disciple."

Therefore, the cross we must take up daily is not an actual cross we hang around our neck to signify we are somehow affiliated with Christianity, or a cross we hang on the wall, or a picture of a cross, or any other way a cross is displayed. The cross (death of our old self) is to express our diligence in continually paying attention to all our desires and actions so that they conform to the Will of God. To actually believe and live as if our old self has been crucified is not an easy thing to accomplish; but with God’s power, we will continually live for Christ, since we will believe that our sinful nature has been crucified. This concept of carrying our cross daily is one of the most difficult to explain in a way that is understood by all disciples of Christ.

2) 1 Corinthians 1:18. "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." That is still true today. This verse seems to indicate that carrying our cross is the power of God working in us. Wow!

3) Then there is the stigma the cross carries or should carry. When our lives conform to the dictations of the New Testament, we no longer will conform to the ways of the world. This type of holy life, in which we continually carry our cross, will be offensive to many, because our changed lives will testify that the way they live is ungodly and sinful.

Galatians 5:11. "Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished"

Galatians 6:12. "Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they are doing this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ."

4) Are we living as enemies of the cross of Christ? We can know that answer by what this next verse indicates: Philippians 3:18-19. "For as I [Paul] have often told you before and now say again with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven." Paul is adamantly saying that the way we live—and not what we say—will tell if we are enemies of the cross.

5) Since many humans love to boast, let us boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 6:14. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Yes, let us boast in the difficulties of living in a way—the cross—that brings glory to God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

1st Corinthians 2:31. "Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

6) Do atheists think all Christians are foolish and naive to put our faith in a crucified Jew? Do Jews refuse to believe in a Jew who died on a Roman cross for their sins, so that they may be connected (become one) with the God who created the universe?

1st Corinthians 1:23. "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to Gentiles . . ."

In conclusion, the aforementioned twelve or so verses used have nothing to do with a physical wooden cross; they are all symbolic/a condition giving the true meaning of the cross. It is only apropos to condense the meaning of the cross with all its complexities and erroneous beliefs into a simple sentence: The cross of Jesus Christ and the cross we are to bare are not trinkets, or even fixtures on church buildings, but are the mainstay and centerpiece of the genuine Christian life.

The apostle Paul puts it this way in 1st Corinthians 2:2. "For I resolved to know nothing while with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

I will take the time to pray to our God through Jesus Christ for those who adhere to most of the Biblical principles displayed in this blog, and share that good news with someone who might be interested in learning what the complete gospel of Jesus Christ is about—the sour along with the sweet. That sharing will, without a doubt, be good works/fruit that are required of all Christians/disciples of our blessed Savior. Do that and I am certain God through His Holy Spirit will personally bless you in ways you may never have asked for or expected! Amen and amen.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

# 259: Christ in You

It could be that most people who call themselves Christians are not aware of the high position and responsibility they are given when they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Making that position come to life is what this post will attempt to accomplish.

Marriage between a man and woman, most often, is the closest relationship humans can experience. That is, or should be, a relationship of oneness. What is good for one is good for the other. Likewise, what is bad and hurtful for one is bad for the other. This principle, though said in a few words, is the backbone of life in our civilized world. Take marriage away from society and life would be chaotic and lawless.

It breaks my heart more than most will ever know that what Christianity ought to be is a marriage of oneness with Jesus Christ what we have instead is a religion of oneness with self and company. Many will deny this serious charge; nevertheless, it is the truth. Put in a simple question: What do the run-of-the-mill Christians do to advance the cause of their Lord/boss? Little or nothing! As partners with Christ, it is our duty to continue the work He started. That is the work of showing and telling the world around us exactly what Jesus Christ commanded, and the eternal benefits or repercussions if we obey or make excuses not to obey.

Other than possibly going to church and saying their prayers, if even that, people who have supposedly given their allegiance to the Son of God are not much different than upright, honest and respected atheists. In fact, atheists, quite often, live better lives. Does organized religion per se confront those who live in this manner? Why should they? If they did, they would lose money and membership. Therefore, they turn a blind eye and say to themselves, "No one is perfect. God is a loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving God." That is true, but the only thing is that God is merciful to those who fear Him. There are over a dozen verses that teach us to fear the Lord, or else. I will quote just one. Luke 1:50. "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." The only thing is, there is no fear of God in their lives. If they knew what fear of God meant, they would find out all that God requires from disciples of Christ, as is clearly and candidly displayed in the New Testament. Instead, their main pastimes and activities are things that bring temporal pleasure and satisfaction.

If anyone is not familiar with 2nd Timothy 3:1-5, for your sake read it and see the similarities these tough verses have with our modern Christian church. Of course, when I use the term “organized religion,” I am not referring to all churches; there are a few that preach and live according to Scriptural commands. But from my personal experience, they are few and far between. Any church with a large attendance would never qualify as being forthcoming with the imperative teachings as presented in the New Testament. Why? Mega-churches, out of greed for money and people—they call it Godly prosperity—teach a message of Biblically ear-tickling lullabies, while leaving out the meat. Then it could be said that if they never had a taste of Biblical meat and potatoes, they wouldn’t miss them.

If anyone is new to this blog and is not aware of what these commands are, the ones which are avoided by many Christian churches, just read a few of the posts within this blog. For over three years, we have been defeating, and will continue to defeat, the silent lies of popular churches that thrive on hypocrisies and pleasant trickery, while avoiding those that are hard to accept. There can be no tolerance from God or this Biblical blog for this deadly sin of silence.

Most Christian churches say they are Bible-believing, and that is true, but they believe only the parts that are pleasant to the laity, such as the acceptance of a lifestyle where material wealth and prosperity are acceptable and even desired, while Scripture teaches that it is detestable in God’s sight. This blog quite often speaks openly on our human nature’s tendency of wanting/having material wealth and prosperity.

That is not to say a rich or prosperous person can’t become a disciple of Christ; everyone is more than welcome. 1st Timothy 6:17-18. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God . . . Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." But there is one stipulation: Since the rich must be generous and willing to share with those in need, the question comes up: How much of their wealth do they have to share with the needy so that what remains in their possession will not be an obstacle to their Salvation? Did you notice this verse didn’t say to share with their church?

When one is rich, it is an easy thing just to drop the ransom money—give, or go to hell—into the basket; but to actually get out and win souls for Christ takes guts and determination. That is what the wealthy and even the not-so-wealthy negate from their "christian" lives. Other than the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses--—which I believe are cults—I personally don’t know of any denomination that teaches the imperative results of this personal witness. Without these good works, we are no more than lazy, decrepit, religious bystanders. Ouch!

In contrast to the aforementioned verse in 1st Timothy, this is what Jesus commands in the sections concerning the rich young ruler and the Good Samaritan. Matthew 19:20-21. "‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" In Luke 10:25 & 27-28. ". . . ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ . . . He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’" Action is a precursor to discipleship. Said another way: Both verses have prerequisites to eternal life—love for God, love for neighbor and the poor. They are not eternity-bound Christians if they do not believe and obey these commands.

The all-important question is this: Why are material wealth and prosperity more than a hindrance, actually an abomination, for those who claim Christianity as their religion? The answer may surprise many. Why would wealthy people have an immediate need for eternal life when they already have all they need and even more? They want the best of both worlds. They desire to go to heaven, but don’t want to die just yet. They want to continue to be spend-thrifty and enjoy life here just a little bit longer. The implication: Heaven and its future pleasures are not real, since they don’t actually need them in the secure and luxurious positions they are now in. They are having too much fun as they eat, drink and get merry. This paragraph infers that it is impossible to have one’s mind and heart on Godly matters while enjoying the things this deceitful world offers.

Whereas, Christians who have it hard in this world can’t wait to go to heaven; they are longing for death (sleep) so as to end their miserable earthly lives. I am one of the latter group. Here is the last reason wealth is not acceptable for followers of Christ: How can anyone have more than they need when there are many millions in dire need of the basics? That goes to demonstrate that the wealthy and prosperous have no Godly love for those in need. With no love comes damnation. That is the reason Jesus said in Luke 16:15, "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight." Arguably, if anyone believes the New Testament, the above verses and divine logic end all controversy. This seems to say that many millions of rich people who remain rich after accepting Christ as their Savior and still claim Christianity as their religion are doomed to hell. Statements like that are not welcome in organized religion. Repeating: That is the lie this blog has been exposing and hopefully defeating for over three years. I am sure this section will fall on many deaf ears with aggressive thoughts.

I didn’t mean to stray away from the subject of “Christ in you” as the title says; Christ in you is the answer for all the woes of Christianity. Colossians 1:27. ". . . Christ in you, the hope of glory." Let us start with this question: Do you and I know for certain that we are possessed with the Spirit of Christ? We could easily say yes and leave it at that. That is where the problem starts, and it doesn’t end there.

The terms “the Holy Spirit,” “the Spirit,” “the Spirit of God,” “the Spirit of Christ,” “Christ in you,” “born again,” and a few more are terms used which are one and the same as “Spirit.”

Here is a test: If some are just starting out as Christians and desire to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it most likely won’t start out with a bang. Slowly, the new convert will notice that they have loving and holy desires they never had before. These desires may vary, but they all have one thing in common: to really get to know Christ and what He expects from them. God’s Spirit never forces His ways on anyone. He must work through our free will. When we start to obey our new desires, which are inspired by the Holy Spirit, that is some evidence that the Spirit of Christ is living in us. As we start to mature, the vast number of our actions will correspond with the instructions in the New Testament. That is more evidence that we are being guided by Christ who lives in us. Nevertheless, never forget this verse: Acts 5:32. "We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

At that point, we can honestly say that Christ is in us. That is not to say every person who is doing good is indwelt by the Spirit. Continued obedience to Christ’s commands will determine who is who. For those who don’t have God’s Spirit but say they do, their true colors will start to show when they search for an easier way to God’s heaven, by making little of God’s unnatural commands or negating them all together. In fact, it is impossible to continue to do good works and grow in faith and love without the Spirit. Another indication of His presence is that we will never be content with how much we are doing for the Lord; there will always be room for more. When we feel content with our position or works in Christ, that may be a sign that spiritual complacency is setting in, which is the beginning of the end. What is being said is that to be a recipient of the Spirit of Christ is the most crucial part in the Christian life. In fact, anyone without the Spirit is not a Christian. Romans 8:9. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

Here is an aspect of our heavenly position that needs some down-to-earth explaining: Without our knowledge, at the moment of conversion, we are justified and sanctified in God’s sight. 1st Corinthians 6:11. "But you were washed, you were sanctified (made holy), you were justified ( made free of all sins) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." That means if one was to die a short while after accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, eternity would be waiting for him/her. Here is my point: Since God gave us a new status, He now considers/makes us pure and holy by forgiving all our sins; that is the perfect incentive to live pure and holy lives. If for no other reason, we will live up to our new status of how God sees us as new creations, created in the image of God.

God sees us as perfect; since the vicarious exchange of Christ taking all our sins upon himself and in exchange giving us His perfection, we are given the privilege and pleasure to live out that perfection as we "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Are we the ones who are trying to enter but will not be able to because we are not making every effort?" Luke 13:24.

Inactivity in the Christian life breeds the need for worldly joy. Spiritual joy will not materialize when one is inactive in doing God’s will. And it takes effort to do the works of God. Most prefer to take the course of least resistance. The only thing, with Christ in us, we will not take that course. For that reason, I pray to God that all who are reading this blog will continue to grow in faith and love, thus becoming strong in the things of God and Christ. Amen.

Since I have separated myself from most, if not all, worldly activities and things that bring pleasure, I find no joy from living in this world, except the spiritual joy of allowing Jesus Christ to live and love through my body. For that reason, even though death is a dreaded enemy for those who are disobedient, for those like this author who have a genuine hope of spending eternity with God and Christ, death is a welcome friend.

Although the Book of Acts tells of when certain people initially received the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues and prophesied as a sign that they received the Spirit. Nowadays, there is even better evidence of Christ in us: when one is continually being led by God’s Spirit. With that Spirit, we are given the power to lead a sin-free life, whereas sin is evidence that one is under the control of the evil one. There is one exception: when a person sins inadvertently/unintentionally. That is a sin that will not lead to death. Leading a sinless life is a hard teaching. Even though it is taught throughout the New Testament, 1st John makes it absolutely clear with no wiggle room: Chapter 3, verse 6. "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." Also see verses 8-9. "The reason the Son of God came was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed [the Holy Spirit] remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

Just a final reminder: Your life, and how you live it, should be of major concern; that is all you have of earthly value that can determine if you will spend eternity in the presence of a God of love or in a place of eternal and unbearable pain. For that reason, it is the business of Christ and this Biblical blog to teach you, if necessary, how God desires to make your life holy, pure and pleasing to Him. That is our quest. We pray that those who have or desire to have Christ living in them are the ones who will respond to our plea to take this post and blog seriously. Amen.

In conclusion, it is a spiritual fact that when we are recipients of the life and Spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which is freely given, it can be said that regardless of how lowly our station, we are truly living the high life as God meant it to be lived.