Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tormented But Not Suffering

Sounds contradictory does it not? How can one be in torment, and not suffer? But we have just such a case in Matthew 14:24. And the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

The word translated "tormented" has a number of meanings, one of which is to be in constant, violent motion. In this scene, where Jesus walks upon the water, just such motion is in view. Sounds like a "reach" on my part, perhaps?

In looking at the scene in Revelation 14:10, one of the great "proof texts" used to illustrate eternal suffering, I was struck by its similarity to the passage in Isaiah 66:24, where unquenchable fire is used to describe the fate of transgressors. But in Isaiah these are corpses. This is an earthly scene, with "all flesh" as spectators.

When "brimstone" is mentioned, you may expect an earthly scene. The interior of the earth does not need sulfur to make it hot. Both boats and corpses are described as being tormented in the Bible, but neither of them suffer.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Every Actor Wants to Die

On the show "The A-Team" no one ever died. Machine guns blazed. There were explosions and fires, but no fatalities. Then towards the end of the series one of the villains died, dramatically, and close-up. I watched an interview with this man. He smiled as he said, "Every actor wants to die!" It is hard to top the drama in this kind of scene.

The Bible has a number of such dramatic scenes, beginning with those in the book of Genesis. One of the great prophecies concerning the future of the twelve tribes, and even the emergence of Jesus, is in the book of Genesis, chapter 49. At its conclusion we read:

When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons , he drew his feet up into his bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Genesis 49:33, NIV

But Jacob was not an actor in a fictional play, and neither will we be, if we have the opportunity to be aware of our approaching deaths.

Arthur Schopenhauer said, "Women see us into the world, and most likely will be the ones with us when we die." I am, of course, not sure if a woman will see me die; but I hope that if she does, she will give a good report.

How will we behave as we near death? Will we give a good witness? It is our last opportunity to exhibit our faith and trust in God. It is our big scene. Let us make it a good one for those standing by.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wooden Literalism

I waited outside the preacher's office. I had been called in to discuss my conduct. The pastor and assistant pastor were talking about a church member. "He could be a millionaire by age twenty five!" In the Presbyterian church, this is mighty close to achieving sainthood.

For under their totally twisted view of Calvinism, riches in this life represented heavenly reward, the present world being their idea of the millennium. Conversely, poverty was considered as a sign of heavenly rebuke.

Finally, I was called in. A member of the church had seen my car in the driveway of my aunt by marriage. We had seen her coming up the walk and ignored her knocks on the door. She immediately assumed that we were having a lover's tryst. When I said I had no such feelings about my aunt, I was asked if I was a homosexual. Man, what you have to endure to teach the Bible in a judgmental church!

I could have mentioned that when the assistant pastor had visited my aunt after his vacation that he told her, "You look good, even after all those bikinis in Florida." But, being the nice guy I am, I decided not to.

After I had dispelled their fears on the issue of being queer, they moved on to their concern over my teaching. "You must avoid wooden literalism," I was told. Being a naive literalist--one who believes that the cross of Jesus was both wooden and literal--I ignored this attempted rebuke. The men who would advise me on how to interpret the Bible were about as adept in this field as I was in playing line backer in the National Football League.

Shortly thereafter, I received a call from the church secretary informing me that an anonymous member of one of my Bible classes was giving me a paid-for trip to the Holy Land. Why? Because they said I taught the Bible literally! Goes to show you that even in a misguided and corrupt church someone can understand what you are trying to do.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Wrath of the Lamb, or the Lamb Strikes Back

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth. Acts 8:32

They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! Revelation 6:16

Could there be a greater contrast than between these two portrayals of Christ? As Christians, we know the Lord in both portrayals, though it may seem more appropriate to picture him as a lion in this judgement. What I find so revealing in the Revelation passage is that He will appear as a wrathful lamb to unbelievers in the Last Days.

Please forgive me if I cite the movie "Crocodile Dundee" as an illustration of what will happen. I do not want to be disrespectful or trivial, but you know how my mind jumps around.

In the film, a group of drunken hunters, using lights, slaughter kangaroos. The protagonist, creeps behind the body of a dead animal with his rifle, lifts the animal as if it were firing back at the hunters. He shoots out the hunters' lights and they flee in terror. It is as if the slaughtered come alive to take vengeance.

But this is just what our Lord will do! I think of all the innocent who have died throughout the ages. Jesus will avenge himself on the wicked some day. In the likeness of a lamb He was killed, and in the likeness of a lamb He will have revenge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Few Days is Not So Long to Wait

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed unto him but a few days. Genesis 29:20

I wrote to you about this earlier, but I would like to address it one more time, because it is the answer to a real dilemma in many peoples' minds.

The proof text used by many to prove that we have immortal souls is the thief on the cross. Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43).

The Watchtower Bible has the comma on the other side of "today", and some claim that this makes all the difference. But there are no commas in the original text and it is a meaningless argument.

There is no escaping the fact that Jesus promised the thief that they would be together on "this day". Case closed? Almost all denominations, teaching that because the body of Jesus was in the tomb for three days, the only way they could be in paradise that day would be in "soulish form". This is considered to be one of the ultimate texts to prove the existence of immortal souls. Well over 99% of expositors agree.

These are people who do not test their interpretations to see if they are really right. If only Jesus had said, "This day your soul will be with my soul in paradise", they would have an airtight case. But there are no statements anywhere in the Bible about immortal souls.

Since this is a major doctrine in almost all churches, then where does it come from? It comes only by interpretation. Every true major doctrine has direct statements, even whole chapters devoted to it.

Please let me offer a Biblical alternative to this fruitless argument over the interpretation of one verse. I believe the answer is found in the perceived time experienced by Jacob concerning Leah. There are two times given for his period of waiting to marry her. One is seven years, the other is "a few days". Which is correct?

They both are. According to a calendar, the time was seven years. So why did God also include in the story that to Jacob it was but a few days? Because from Jacob's point of view that is all it was. The text could well have read that the seven years passed quickly because of the love he had for her. But the time lapse is also expressed according to Jacob's experience in actual days.

Those on the cross died before the day was over, in accordance with Jewish demands (even for criminals) that their bodies not be left for a second day. In the resurrection, the believing thief will awaken on the same day that he died. He will be in paradise with Jesus on that day, according to his perception.

Both Jacob and the thief are experiencing perceived time, just as one waking from surgery is unaware of any interval between the time when he falls asleep and when he awakens. This is the comfort that Jesus gave to the man on the cross.

Interpreters, please don't close your minds when you think you have the answer you desire. Test it. And really, really read the book of Genesis.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two Wonderful Feasts

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11

And he saith to me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:9

What do you mean two feasts? Well, "east and west" are earthly terms. This feast will be for the blessed of the earth, after the tribulation is over. People will really need a feast by then. Since Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are there, it is after the resurrection of Daniel 12:2. One minute you are sleeping in the dust, then you go to a wonderful feast!

The second feast is for Christians in heaven. It's just the same for Christians asleep in Christ, only in this feast we will eat with Peter, Paul, and John.

Two feasts at two different times, both joyous events for guests that will never again die.

Monday, November 24, 2014

When Judas "Bought the Farm"

And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5

Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. Acts 1:18

When you read the two accounts of the death of Judas you may see a contradiction between them. I know I did. But a wise teacher set me straight on how to combine them so that they make sense. Judas apparently hanged himself on his new farm. Some time after his death, the rope broke and his corpse fell. The gruesome details add to the morbidity of this gruesome tale.

It is possible that Judas had wanted this or some other property for a long time. We know that he was money hungry--a thief.

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. John 12:6

There is much more in the story of Judas than his greed, however. How seldom we hear of his attempt to repent.

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. Matthew 27:3

It was too late to reverse his evil actions. By now, Satan had left him, and he realized the horror of what he had done. Judas never got to profit from his field. His betrayal was part of God's plan to offer up His Son. Even the most wicked have their roles to play.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mr. Mel N. Choly, Salesman

The sun was beginning to set as the door bell rang. I opened it to see a gimlet-eyed salesman with his sample case.

"Have I got some things for you!" was all he said.

Out of curiosity, I let him in. After a quick look around he strode to my dining room table and opened his case.

"I've got some products for you that never wear out," he began. "Once you have these, you'll always have them. And, because you are my first customer in this area, everything you will receive is absolutely free!"

He looked around. "Love what you've done to this place. Lots of room for what I have to offer."

I looked at my bare walls and Goodwill furniture. What could he be thinking of?

"You see, I sell regret. Hopeless sorrow. Things like that. Your bare walls are perfect for the kind of pictures we offer. Your lost friends and loved ones, your dead pets too, will look great there. We even have a projector for your bedroom ceiling. When you look up, you'll see their faces there, so you won't ever be able to forget them."

"I already can't forget them," I said. "They haunt me night and day."

He kept on. "Yes, but these are just images. What about the emotions they stir up? We can make them much more intense."

"Impossible," I replied. "Look, I don't need any of your products, so please leave!"

Unmoved, he began thumbing through his sample case. "Ok, what about guilt? It's one of our biggest sellers."

I explained that Jesus took away my guilt at Golgotha.

He explained that his outfit didn't get involved with theology. That way they could sell to everyone. "I'm not contesting what you say about salvation, but what about the feeling of guilt? Everyone should have this."

I walked to the door, holding it open. I was through talking about things I already had.

"Why did you even open the door if you weren't going to buy anything?"

Wearily I said, "Because I knew you would keep on ringing if I didn't."

He glared at me. "I'll be back. I'm sure you'll change your mind. Meanwhile, I've got other customers."

I watched as he walked away into the darkness. "Other customers. I'm sure you have them," was all I could say.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Heart of the Wise

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecclesiastes 7:4

I received a phone call from a friend recently. She is now a widow, living alone, sad, but with a stubborn defiance about her. "I think we should laugh more," she said. I have known her, after a foray into humor, to suddenly begin crying.

In all my years I have never known such a family as hers. Every member has either been in jail or prison. I once received a call asking me to notify her that her son had just shot her brother. In each leg,"kneecapping" him so he was unable to walk. He had learned about this while in prison. Later, this son died of an accidental drug overdose. Her other son died as a suicide, of the same cause. Much reason for humor there!

How I wish this lady would humble herself and mourn. She still believes her family members were just "unfortunate". She tries to maintain a facade of bravery and nonchalance. Truly, just being sad does not make one wise. But being wise sure can make you sad.

Friday, November 21, 2014

They Wouldn't Let Her Join!

My cousin recently tried to join a Lutheran church. They would not let her join. We should remember that when we join a church (or try to) that we are dealing with a corporation, which despite its protestations, is designed to serve itself.

There are no such churches in the Bible, nor are there bishops or popes. The word "bishop" in God's Word is in reality the presiding officer of one church. Churches are independent of one another in the Scriptures, not run as collective businesses. It is axiomatic that with power comes corruption. Eventually, the so-called laity loses control and big shots take over.

A local, independent church would have accepted my cousin. She is a sweet, hard working person, looking for a church home. That this one rejected her is really a good thing for her.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Kuder Preference Test

Three times in my early years I took the Kuder Preference test. Remember the one with the pin where you punched in a series of answers to your occupational choices? Mine always came out the same way--social, scientific, persuasion-oriented.

This, of course, is not how skilled one is, but what their interests are. At one time I was a science nut, but this began to change. I remained an agnostic (I thought), really a rebellious child.

I found a book, left in our attic by a previous owner. It was quite old with chapter headings in Greek. I did not know then, but the author, Enoch Fitch Burr, had been both an astronomer and a pastor. He was also a terrific author. He had been born in 1818, so many years ago. Out of curiosity, I began to read.

Since that time, I have read many books and many authors, but outside the Bible, I have never been touched by so great a mind. He tore evolution to shreds, and made an inescapable presentation on the proofs of God--one impossible to escape. His method was gentle, civilized discourse, but he was overwhelming in his effect. He made you feel foolish to try to disagree with him. He changed my mind and life.

So, what about the Kuder test? Over the years, I came to realize that the scientific method need not be restricted to chemistry, physics, and biology. These can be the playground of unbelievers. But the Bible, beyond theology, has a science of its own. Those who would present its great truths can forget about threats or sentimental appeals, and immerse themselves and their fellows in the language and logic of God.

We need to learn how translations contain even intentional errors, aided by our own cultural limitations. As a test, look up the seven basic meanings of the word "world", before assuming that you understand John 3:16. Surprise!

So, Kuder was right, at least under "science". Only my pursuit has long been Biblical science. As for persuasion, I hold up the Word itself and its searchers to do that. What about "social". As is often said, "You can't win 'em all."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why All the Fuss About Immortal Souls?

I love this question so much I thought I would ask it of myself. It's a lot more than a "fuss" though. It is about following and promoting a Satanic lie. God warns Adam and Eve two times of death. Immeadiately (Genesis 3:4), Satan tells Eve "Ye shall not surely die."

Why repeat a scripture that everyone knows? Because almost everyone ignores it, that's why.

The invention of the idea of an immortal soul was supposed to nullify God's warnings. With this invention we have the phrase "That's just the body!" God does not mention the creation of a separate and immortal soul in Genesis or anywhere else. But, no matter, Satan did, and mankind has followed it ever since.

Still, what does following Satan's lie really hurt? It is very comforting to those who rely on SELF, rather than God's promise to resurrect us from the dust to which we all return. You see, if we are inherently immortal, what need is there for a resurrection at all? Ergo, the immortal soul doctrine cancels out the promised resurrection.

This is explained piously by saying, "It's true that we do go to heaven as soon as we die, in our 'soulish state', but we need our bodies to really enjoy it." So, they posit, we start out by going to heaven as souls, and later go again in our bodies. This is countered by those who say that as non-material beings we are finally "free" from all physical constraints.

None of these ideas have any Biblical support, but are the result of Satanicly-inspired egos. Jesus died and was resurrected in a spiritual body with the ability to pass through walls, yet retaining His wounds. So, no places will be set at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb for immaterial "souls".

Jesus tells us plainly when we will go to heaven--with Him.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3

It is at His return that we are resurrected and then go to heaven. At His return.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Never Preach Despair"

My basis for saying this is a quotation by Danny Thomas, entertainer and tv star. Many years ago, in the days of black and white tv, I saw part of his night club act. He stopped the music and got very serious and personal, and this, to a Las Vegas night club audience!

But I am certain this was an audience composed largely of parents, and they needed to hear this message.

It struck home to me, because negative "teaching" was the way I was raised. Praise was very hard to come by, but there were plenty of warnings.

"Get a good education so you can get a good job," was popular then and still is, though plenty of folks with "good educations" can find no jobs at all.

But it got worse. "You'll never amount to anything" morphed into "No girl will every marry you."

I realize the tactic that was being used, a kind of reverse psychology, like loading a stubborn mule onto a truck by pushing against him until he gets on. But I was not stubborn. Rather, I was so discouraged that I had given up. My once-good school grades plummeted.

I realize now that my parents were trying to make me like themselves. This is how they had coped, overcoming adversity. But I was a different breed of cat. I needed attention and got none. I needed words of encouragement, and lived in silence.

Some kids need to be restrained, like the proverbial wild horses. And some need to be encouraged. It was a mismatched deal all the way.

The world likes the wild horse variety. "They've got spirit!"

Sorry, but some of us are different.

Today, the "get ahead in life" people sicken me. I should be more broad-minded, but I'm not. This negative upbringing has left a mark on me that only death will rid me of.

So, bless you Danny Thomas, you understood. Such an unlikely source, but so understanding.

Monday, November 17, 2014

As Old as the Hills

He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed--but he marches on forever. Habakkuk 3:6

Just how old are the hills? An online search says the earth is 4.54 billion years old. I wonder how the all-wise ones figured it out to two decimal places? Were there mountains in the original creation? Or did they come about as a result of the flood?

In geology class we learned that there are two kinds of mountains, volcanic and upthrust. Fuji is a perfect example of a volcanic cone, so symmetrical, and so Japanese. Of course the Rockies are upthrust.

On our honeymoon my wife and I drove through the Rockies. There was an area to pull off so the geo types could take pictures of some tilted bedding planes. These are considered as unusual to some people, though they exist in many places. But almost all consider mountains as very, very old.

When Noah's ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, the highest land in the time of the flood, where was Everest? Could it be that Everest was formed after the flood? Absolutely.

Atop the highest mountains we find fossils from the sea bed. Even the most ardent evolutionist does not claim that these creatures climbed up there. So the mountains rose up, taking the fossils with them, after the flood.

The great hydrologist Henry Morris, co-author of The Genesis Flood, writes that the geologic strata and the upthrust mountains were formed by the flood, when incredible amounts of water pressed down upon the earth. This really bothers many geologists. It's way too recent. Billions of years are needed for man to have evolved.

But, increasingly, people are catching on. The Biblical time-line is being proven to be true. The Earth is not billions of years old, so neither are the hills.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Man Under the Sun Argument

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

Talk about fighting words! In a vast majority of churches, to say that men and beasts die the same death, and that both turn into dust, is intolerable. No man of understanding, they say, could possibly utter such a thing.

How to wriggle out of this (and other) plain statements? The answer is the "man under the sun" argument. These words and ideas are merely those of an ignorant, fleshly, oaf, a kind of theological cave man. But Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. Is he such a man?

No, but according to this theory, Solomon is quoting a man of extremely limited understanding. Now occasionally, man under the sun gets it right. Whenever he says what the theorizer agrees with, that is. So we have a sometimes right, sometimes wrong man of the flesh.

I take an entirely different stand. I say that Solomon is describing the conditions under which all men presently live, including himself. I also believe that all of Ecclesiastes is wise and true. Look at the descriptions in this book. Are they not a 100% accurate description of the present human condition?

So why this negative picture of the source of this book? I maintain that it is an attempt to discredit the above verses (and others) that say we die. If man under the sun says, All go into one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again (Ecclesiastes 3:20), and David says, For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5), is David also a man under the sun, without understanding?

My cat used to go to sleep on my shoulder and snore little cat snores. I thought, "We both breathe air, and we both will die."

Ecclesiastes is the truth of God, not just the opinion of men. Show me an immortal soul in the Bible. Send the quote or quotes, and they will be printed for all to read.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Days of Heaven Upon the Earth

That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. Deuteronomy 11:21

Some churches hate the idea of a literal, thousand year period when righteousness reigns upon the earth. They demand that it be interpreted as indefinite and that it began either at the crucifixion or at Pentecost. They hate the idea of a literal 1,000 year period because it has been almost 2,000 years since these events, and we certainly do not live in a righteous world.

I debated such an objecter to literalism. He said that since the Bible says "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills", and since God owns more cattle than that, "thousand" is not literal. This is a typical low-level arguing technique. If you can find one place where a word is used non literally, than it can never be literal.

There is a perfect Biblical definition of the millennium. It is the time when Satan is bound.

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, Revelation 20:2

Is Satan bound today? Then this is not the millennium.

Once Satan is bound there will be a shower of blessings upon the earth. These blessings will be for Israel and those who follow her.

Eternal life is not in view, just very long lives, as in the beginning. Earth cannot go to heaven, but heaven's blessings can come down to the earth.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quick, Turn On the Sump Pump, the Truth is Leaking In

Remember when the truth in the KJV seemed frozen in place? All other translations (few as they were) were compared to it. In much of the church this is still true. Not only other Bibles, but the original texts of the Septuagint were judged accurate only if they agreed with the KJV, the reverse of what it should be.

Imagine someone years ago making a ruler using a Standard Foot from the Bureau of Standards. Others eventually decided to make rulers too. But instead of their accuracy being judged by the Bureau of Standards Foot, they are compared to the old ruler. Someone using more accurate ways of manufacturing claims his model is more accurate. "No," say the old ruler people. "The Standard must be wrong. Our ruler is absolutely perfect."

When I pointed out that Acts 12:4 should be rendered "passover" rather than the KJV "Easter", a super fundamental lady I knew said, "Maybe the Jews observed Easter?" Anything to defend the KJV, even if you had to declare that it was right, and Luke was wrong. The Bible that is more accurate than the original author!

Good Christians are learning more about the Word than ever before. Their disagreements over texts and doctrines are not always of the Devil. Sometimes they are of the Holy Spirit, still warring with the Father of Lies. Absolute perfection does not exist on this earth, even in Bible translations. Perfection awaits the return of the Lord.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

David is Dead, David Sleeps

Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Acts 2:29

I don't expect everyone to believe this. None of the immortal soul people will. The Bible speaks of us as bodies, either alive or dead--either eternally alive or eternally dead--eventually.

Jesus makes this plain:

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:54

It is hard to evade this message. No "intermediate stage".

To those who feel that at death we go immeadiately into the presence of God, David has this to say:

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? Psalm 6:5

Again, I expect these verses to have no impact on those who believe in an immortal soul. So why talk about them? I have no job assignment to convert anyone to anything. What I try to do is show that something is true according to scripture. I feel that these verses are a powerful witness to death and resurrection. That is why I write them here.

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Psalm 17:15

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Earthly and Heavenly

Ever hear someone, not of the faith, try to describe heaven? A reporter tried to do just that when she described our heavenly home as a place where we would sit in the shade of our fruit trees. Not a bad thing to do in our next lives, but she had referred to one of the blessings God has in store for Israel. This is understandable for one who has not studied the Bible.

During the millennium, God will pour out earthly blessings on Israel and the nations under her leadership. But all of those receiving these blessings will not be the elect. Just as in Eden the first baby ever born would murder his brother, though his environment was perfect. During these thousand years, Satan, though in prison, is still alive and waiting to rebel against the saints.

So there are earthly blessings and heavenly blessings. No need for shade or sun screen in heaven.

As wonderful as the earth will be during the millennium, the final death of the non-elect has yet to take place. Those ruling during this time will do so with "rods of iron" (Rev.2:26-27), showing the need for such weapons of control.

Imagine visiting a picnic area protected by armed guards! You might well assume that someone needs to be restrained, and not just raccoons and black bears. Earth has more than a thousand years left to be under God's heavenly guards.

From Genesis to Revelation there is the need for intervention by fire from heaven.

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; Genesis 19:24

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. Revelation 20:9

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Give me an E, Give me a G, Give me a Great Big O!

I am certain that the hardest thing to eliminate in the character of false theology is the human ego. Impossible really, in most cases. Even scripture cannot defeat it. More than pride, it is the foundation of our sense of being.

To many, loss of the ego is like death. To be told that we are not the authors of our salvation is intolerable. We have been told that our "free will" ranks higher than God's will itself. To read in the Bible that God elected some of us to be His children before the world was made is impossible to accept, even by the beneficiaries of this action. "That makes us into robots," the rebels say.

The emphasis of these deniers is on man's image of himself, as opposed to God's sovereignty. Scripture, like the ninth chapter of Romans, is of no avail. It is to be avoided in order to preserve the illusion that we have the final say so of our destiny. Until we understand that God, our maker, determines who will be saved and who will not, we are self willed children, theological "brats". When we finally yield, we are rewarded with a peace we never had before, when we tried to make ourselves little kings.

"Father, we did not become Your children when we called You Abba, "Daddy". Rather we called you Abba, because we were already your children."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Being Good Can't Get You In, Being Bad Can't Keep You Out - Or, the Father Writes a Will

I once talked to a young man who told me he could not be a Christian.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I like my beer too much. I'd rather be able to drink beer."

He did not say this mournfully, but defiantly. He waited for me to start pleading with him. I did not, because this is a typical attitude of the non-elect.

It is illustrative of how some Christians view salvation. Be very, very "good", and Christ will save you. Be bad and His blood is not sufficient to wash you clean.

The contrary view, held by many is, "If we are saved by grace--no matter how bad we are--and 'once saved always saved', why can't we sin as much as we want? After all, we can't lose our salvation."

Now I'm going to say something that may shock you, but this person is correct! So what happens when a person, once saved, continues to sin? First they do remain saved, but the Holy Spirit begins to work on them to counter their sin natures. Yet the Bible plainly tells us that we can resist, or grieve, the Holy Spirit. The result of this can be as drastic as death--an early death--to save such a one from continuing in sin.

I offer my little parable to try to explain this. Suppose a very wealthy father writes a will. In it he stipulates that no member of his family will ever be disowned, no matter what they do. One of the family members says, "I'm going to live it up. After all, my father promised never to disown me."

The family lawyer--let's call him Mr. Preecher--calls him aside. "I don't think you have read all the conditions in your father's will. Sure, you will never be disowned, you'll always be a family member. But your father has great land and wealth. The will says that your riotous living will disqualify you from inheriting any of these. You'll still be a family member, but you will lose your inheritance."

The famous parable of the prodigal son is always poorly taught. Remember, the son is forgiven by his loving father. But he has wasted his inheritance--spent it all. Now that he has returned to the farm, he will end up working for his brother. He will have no share of the farm.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fire and Brimstone

My mother told me of hiding behind her mother as a "fire and brimstone" preacher railed away. How awful. These idiots are supposed to be doing the work of God as they attempt to frighten people into repenting.

This practice is totally unlike true evangelism or preaching. Philip, the evangelist (Acts 8:26-38), shows how to win a person to Christ, by explaining the Word of God, not by threatening or yelling.

So, what of fire and brimstone? Brimstone, or sulfur, is an element used to make a fire keep on burning hotly. It was used in the city dump outside Jerusalem and burns with a low, blue flame, like a gas stove turned down. It is associated with the mythical place called hell, as if the interior of the earth needs the aid of sulfur to make it hot enough.

The devil is often pictured as smelling like sulfur, because he is supposed to be living in "the devil's hell". But the devil's home is the second heaven, from which he visits both the third heaven and the surface of the earth.

I no longer believe that pagan influences will leave the church until Jesus comes. But individuals are coming to the truth concerning these myths. Since the Bible reveals the abode of the dead as a place of darkness, and fire and brimstone give off light, some see the contradiction and are rethinking their false beliefs.

It's a start.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Johnnie Ray is Dead, But We Still Have our Preachers

I liked Johnnie Ray. I know about his problems, but I still liked his singing, so plaintive and dramatic. I admired his girlfriend Dorothy Kilgallen too. She was a great investigative reporter. Too bad they murdered her because she was about to blow the lid off of the government's murder of President Kennedy. So Johnny, rest in peace. There will never be another like you.

But tribute is still paid to this dead singer every Sunday, and daily on radio. Not directly, but by trying to emulate his style, in preaching. Drama is the theme today, and I can see why. It's hard to grab the attention of those Jaded by split-screen tvs, video games, or beer and sports. So amp up the volume. Plead like a baying Beagle Hound. Maybe they'll listen?

Not me, of course. I like people to just talk to me. Hold the histrionics.

John McGee found this out in his career of preacher and then Bible teacher. Recordings from the early part of his life are painful to listen to. Although he had a successful career for forty years as a preacher, those sermons are largely forgotten. John retired from preaching and continued teaching the Bible. In retrospect, he admitted that his Wednesday Bible studies brought more converts than all his sermons. He quieted down, then people listened. Though he has been dead since the '80s, his quiet, patient manner of teaching is still beguiling.

So those of today who would impress us with your power and emotion, turn it off. No more soundboard manipulation please.

Spot light on. Back lighting on. Preacher begins to run through the gamut of his emotions. The finale approaches. Cue in the violins and trumpets. Not a dry eye in the house. Not a wet one in mine. Johnny Ray did it so much better.

I don't want to hear how wonderful you are, preacher. Tell me how wonderful God is, then I'll listen.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Going "Study"

Not with your dream date, but with a wonderful Bible. Yep, just one book. You know how I wish people would open their own seminaries. Starting with a three-book seminary, with yourself as dean. But for those who don't have the money or the time, or access to the internet, one book will do. That one magical book is, of course, your study Bible.

I prefer the New Scofield, but they're all good. Not for doctrine (also known as opinion) , but for tracing a rare and wonderful thing--what God really said.

A man just told me that the Watch Tower boys put a comma in the wrong place, changing a reading to one he did not like. To him, the wrong place was one that disagreed with the King James Bible.

If only Martin Luther could have had a KJV, he could have gotten everything right. Let me say that, if your doctrine is dependent on the placement of a comma, you are in deep trouble. You have wandered into "jot and tittle" territory. For the original languages have no commas. They have been added by translators.

Even though the King James is my favorite translation, it is not the Bible, only a beautiful attempt to render the Bible into English. It will get you saved, but it is not infallible.

Acts 12:4 in KJV uses Easter in place of Luke's "passover". Man alive, the scrambling that takes place to justify the KJV! "Maybe the Jews observed Easter?" some will say, as if that justifies changing the word of Luke to that preferred by the translators!

So where does a study Bible come in? Because a study Bible will retain the original translation, but show you the proper word or words in a bracket. You are still free to retain your erroneous assumption. That is one freedom we retain in this once-free land. Be as wrong as you wish, and Happy Easter Eggs to you.

I must say that continual adherence to a study Bible will make you a lonely person. Guess how I know that? You may be forced to commune with Christ alone.

At this point someone will say, "You'll never find a perfect church!" So true, but you will discover God's perfect Word.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The University of You

Once in awhile I dial around to hear what subjects preachers are talking about. No worry, I have a barf bag close at hand.

More and more, the theme is You, Wonderful You. I don't mean you, personally, but the keep-your-job crowd pleasers are pushing how you can be a success in almost every way. "Having a successful marriage" is very popular, as is "You and your teen age children". This is kind of a remedial course. Maybe it should be called "Now that you've neglected your tiny ones, here's how to bring them back under control".

But despite the popularity of these themes, it looks like the new courses will surpass them all. The new ones are "How to invest wisely using the Bible's hidden investment code." The idea is often presented that, since God loves you, He wants you to be wealthy. Forget privation, or the test many face of making do with very little, to prove their endurance in the present Satanic world.

Sure, Jesus did not have a home. The disciples and Paul lived in poverty. But that's because they didn't have the amazing DVD we are offering in this one-time sale. To take advantage of it you must call the following number...

This gets to the very root of what is really important--you!

If we compare the Old with the New Testament, we may be shocked as we think how most of the Bible was written about Israel, a lot more than about the church. It's like God really loves them and is concerned about their history and their future. I say future because Israel has not, and will not, be replaced by the church. Not even the Presbyterian Church!

You know that in all creation, I feel there is no one more blessed than those in the church. We are the bride of Christ. How can you be more blessed than that? But we are not the only ones of God's people. And within the church, our little schemes amount to nothing.

I do expect to be wealthy some day, with a wealth that we all will have. Not in this life of course, or as a result of taking worldly courses in the University of You. Our wealth will be a result of attending the University of Him.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Get a Good Day's Sleep

Yep, I meant "day".

There is so much tension in the air, and some people are even helping to spread it around. Despite the fact that it is well known that the world is run by competent, benevolent leaders, some people keep feeling a sense of dread that keeps them from enjoying a good day's rest.

And why the unrest?

It is because there are people in our midst called "conspiracy nuts". Highly educated critics may call them "theorists". The media refers to them as "buffs". But whatever the name, they should be grabbed off the street and put into prisons, maybe tortured until they realize their errors. Don't even give them a trial.

Wait a minute, that's what we do now!

Anyway I'm glad they take them to foreign countries for the torture, places where it's not against the law. Let's keep it nice and legal, and secret too. I mean, how can you have an open society without secrecy?

But back to the "buffs". Do you know I have been accused of being one. Me, a "buff"? Just because I believe there are things happening that are killing people. Things that are deliberately caused, like chemtrails and GMO foods.

And that is just the beginning. Sometimes I believe that this perfect world is going to turn out just like Jesus and the prophets said it would.

But I am not a "buff". I'm more of a "nut" type. Sometimes it is Royal Macadamia Nut ice cream. But today it is coconut cake. Let's have a nice piece with a glass of milk. Then we can go back to sleep.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When God Hides the Truth

He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. John 12:40

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if your church didn't use almost constant references to the parables of Jesus. According to many, Jesus, the great teacher, used them to reveal deep truth to the masses. There certainly is great truth in them, so why would anyone object to this idea?

These people often are uncomfortable with the church epistles and forget about prophecy, especially the book of Revelation. They have the herd quieted down. In fact the herd pays their preachers to do just that. So, let's not have a stampede, especially a stampede out the door.

But what if parables, filled with truth, were designed to conceal the truth? This is not just a theory at all, but the plain truth revealed to the disciples.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? Matthew 13:10

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Matthew 13:11

So the great teaching program turned out to be something else. It did not educate the masses, but rather screened out those who were not able to hear the truth of God.

As a child, I saw a remarkable film. It showed two flocks of sheep approaching one another on a road. Soon the flocks were intermingled in a confused mass. The two shepherds continued on their way, then turned and called. Their flocks each gathered towards their shepherds and soon were on their way.

His sheep know His voice and come to him. The rest of the sheep are deaf to Him and his teaching. It sounds like the doctrine of election in action, does it not?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Messiah the Prince

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. Daniel 9:25, KJV

"Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens.' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. Daniel 9:25, NIV

Three verses Dan. 9:24 through 27, give us the exact day when Jesus rode a donkey through the streets of Jerusalem. This is why faithful Jews flocked out to meet Him and spread royal palms upon the street to welcome him.

The beginning of this sequence of seven year periods (Jewish version of our decades) is part of secular history. His ride was on the only day which Jesus allowed Himself to be called king. This sequence of 70 seven year periods is a guide to the great events in the life of Jesus-to the day! Jews reading it have absolutely no room to hide from the historical fact that Jesus was, and is the Messiah.

A hula dancer could take lessons from the wriggling of those trying to deny and evade this truth. Jews have been converted based on these three verses. "Better," say these supposed masters of scripture, "avoid it altogether." To count these days in history is to admit that Messiah came and that they crucified Him.

Do I love this portion of the Old Testament? Oh, yes! It helped to change my life.

Not only do the Jews fear this passage, but many churches do also. I was in one. The book of Daniel is, to them, like a crucifix to a vampire in a horror movie. Kingdom Grabbers hate it. The remaining seven year period, the 70th week, freaks them out. "You mean, the Kingdom of God upon the earth is not the Presbyterian church!!!" It's not even the Watchtower Society.

Jesus will return in glory. Not "spiritually", as some try to teach, but "every eye will see Him."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Church Until After John the Baptist and Jesus Died

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. Acts 15:14

Once again I am earning my reputation as one who could get shot at a Quaker picnic. I may seem to be misinterpreting what the church is and when it cane into being. But I think many churches and congregation members do just that.

A typical sermon or Sunday school lesson will be about the Gospels. Matthew is a favorite. A young Lutheran told me, "We stick to the Gospels." Sounds pious doesn't it? The Gospels are "safe".

Draw your moral lessons from the Sermon on the Mount. No one but Jesus ever kept it, but we must try. The hymn for such a lesson should be "To Dream the Impossible Dream". This sermon illustrates the perfect righteousness required by God. No blood of Christ in it, just the perfection required to please God. It should make people cling to the righteousness of Christ conferred by faith. When I hear, "I follow the Sermon on the Mount," I know I have a person who is not in touch with reality.

Those who limit their studies and behavior to the Gospels should attend synagogues. The Gospels were written for Israel. There is much of great value in them for the church, but they are not written about the church. It is not until we come to Acts chapter two that we see the beginning of the church.

A good Baptist told me that the narrative of Pentecost proves the church existed prior to that day. This, he said, was because that the Pentecost converts were said to be added to the church on that day ( Acts 2:47). I concede that the disciples were the core of the new church. But neither Jews nor Gentiles, other than the twelve, were in such a body.

Both Covenant people and Baptists like to make the church out as existing much earlier than it did. Covenant people claim the Jews were in the church during the Exodus, i.e., "the church in the wilderness". But "church" used alone merely means "a small group called out of a larger group". Unless "of God" is used, it does not refer to the church or anything necessarily holy.

Many Baptists date the origin of the church to John the Baptist, with Jesus as the first "convert". No kidding.

The church was a new body in the days of Acts. Jesus was calling out His bride, even as He is today.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Just a Natural Cycle

A young man about 25 years old kisses his wife goodbye at the door. She is a vivacious 23 year old. In the evening he returns and sees an old woman of about 80, asleep in a chair. She is wearing the same dress his wife had worn in the morning.

She wakes, puts on her glasses, looks up at him and says, "Hi, Honey."

It's his wife! The man grabs a phone, calls his best friend, and blurts out, "Hank, you've got to help me. My wife has turned into an old woman."

His friend calmly tries to reassure him. "Now hold on Bill. Nothing to get excited about. It's just a natural cycle. We all get old. Always have."

Bill yells into the phone, "Sure we all get old, but in one day?"

A good friend told me that he thought global warming was a hoax. He said that a scientific study shows that the temperature of the earth has remained the same for fifteen years. One reference to a "study" had convinced him. This idea, going around now, meant to pacify people, was based on a satellite survey which has since been discredited.

When Sean Hannity tosses out a reassuring idea like this, some people follow it as if it were a revelation by God. That his corporate sponsors favor such propaganda is not at all surprising. It tells people that all is well. Use lots of petroleum. We will make plenty of $$$$$ and you will have peace of mind.

Now, I want you to know that I do not worry at all about global warming, true as it is. People can use all the carbon they want. I don't care. Though north and south polar ice is melting at an increasingly rapid rate and sea levels are rising, this is nothing compared to what will happen in the Last Days.

Man has a hand in it. It is not a natural occurrence. Not at the present rate. Nothing will stop it, or the cataclysmic changes ahead. While man messes with nature, God will soon surpass anything man can do.

Watch Discovery Channel - Global Warming, What You Need To Know, with Tom Brokaw.