Month: October 2012

How Did it Get to That?

The worst of situations have all started with a single decision. At first the decision may seem harmless enough; many even beginning with the best of intentions, but nonetheless the outcome comes out being a miserable one for all the parties involved. Sadly the religious world is no exception.

Many of the manmade traditions in Christianity that are so heavily adhered to today were all started by minor changes that eventually became mainstream without the followers even considering or wondering or realizing or caring how it had gotten to that point. Here are some examples:

Where is the Pope in the scriptures?

What about infant baptism?

How about the practice of praying to or through Mary or other “saints” as mediators?

What about women who serve as elders and preachers?

Where is the authority for instrumental music (including all the rock band wannabes) in the church’s worship of God?

How did the mourner’s bench get the status it has been given?

How did all of these situations get to where they are now? How can something that so many saw as harmless at the beginning turn into something so harmful in the end???

It all happens by not listening to the following words: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Those are not the words of some council or association or any other manmade hierarchy. They are the Holy Spirit inspired words of an apostle of Jesus the Christ of God. When we get this, then we can more easily avoid having to ask, “How did it get to that?” EA

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

What Keeps You From Coming to Jesus?

What causes the average person to be “taken aback” when they think about Jesus?

It happens in more ways than one, but it’s definitely not because Jesus doesn’t want us to receive Him with an open heart of faith (John 1:10-13); but people still find a reason not to come to, believe in or love Jesus in the way He desires.

Jesus understood that most people weren’t willing to come to Him because of fickleness, faithlessness and straight up foolishness (Matthew 7:14), but He still promised a blessing to those who could swallow the less palatable parts of the gospel due to personal taste and see the Father’s grace filled redeeming work through His Son (John 14:7-9). When one individual worried that Jesus wasn’t acting the way they thought the Messiah should, Jesus said, “…blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:6)

What is so offensive about Jesus that people refuse to come to Him? What wrong do people see in Him? What wrong do you see in Him? What wrong has He committed? Pilate asked this very question:

Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:23)

Pilate got no answer to his question! Does avoiding the question sound familiar?

Perhaps the offensive thing isn’t what we see in Him – perhaps it’s the offensive thing we see in ourselves after we look at Him! That’s one undeniable conclusion the apostle John was led to include after witnessing the gospel with his own eyes.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:18-21)

So what keeps you from coming to Him? EA

And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:46)

Bible Questions and Answers – Profaning the Lord’s Name

“Dear brother Clem: What does the Bible say about profaning the Lord’s name? What of the habit of some people exclaiming, ‘Lord, have mercy,’ or just saying, ‘Good Lord’? – T.H., GA”

Let us see some commands regarding this: “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of thy God: I am Jehovah” (Leviticus 19:12). “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God” (Leviticus 21:6). “And that they profane not my holy name: I am Jehovah” (Leviticus 22:2). “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. And exercise thyself unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). “But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16).

The verb, “profane,” means “to make common or unholy, to desecrate, to pollute.” To profane the name of the Lord, then, is to use His name in a way that is common or degrading or unholy. And surely, not just proper names such as Jesus or Jehovah is meant. To profane “Christ” or “God” or “the Lord” would be just as bad.

The use of the Lord’s name in “by-words” or in slang expressions is profaning His name. The use of the Lord’s name in a casual or flippant way also profanes His name. And to casually say, “Lord, have mercy” is profaning His name, unless we really mean it. The Lord is good, but to make a thoughtless habit of saying, “Good Lord,” would be profane. When we use the name of the Lord, it should be with reverence and sincerity.

It’s very easy to fall into the habit of using te Lord’s name (or the equivalent thereof) in a thoughtless way that profanes it. For instance, a friend of mine once preached a sermon on the use of “by-words.” He pointed out that “golly” was derivative of “God Almighty,” that “gee” was derived from “Jesus” and so forth. Then, thinking of another point, he said, “Oh, by the way…” I later asked him if he had read John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the way“? I never got an answer. It is difficult to be consistent in all things. But we should try. And the habit of such slang expressions should be broken. All of us would be better for it. – Clem Thurman

(Made me think of the commonly heard phrase O.M.G. and other not mentioned words EA)

Excerpted from Volume 61, Number 39 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.

To Eat or Not to Eat, That is the Question.

One of my favorite sandwiches for lunch is a Cold Cut Combo. It’s a sub served with three meats: bologna, ham and salami. Under the Old Covenant that God had with the nation of Israel this sandwich would not have been found on any menu because it was considered an unacceptable meal.

In Leviticus 11 and in Deuteronomy 14 God gave the children of Israel instructions concerning animals that were acceptable/unacceptable for food. Pigs are probably the best-known animal on that list. But they are also accompanied by many other animals that are popular to eat today, but were still considered unclean to Israel such as the rabbit, catfish, shellfish and crabs, etc. You can read the chapters to find other animals if you’d like.

When it comes to the animals you read about in the above references, people go to many extremes trying to explain why God placed such restrictions into His Law for Israel. One popular explanation is that the unclean animals often carried transmittable diseases and were basically unhealthy. While that is true for many of them, it is not true for all of them. For example, have you ever heard the expression healthy as a horse? The horse is a physically healthy animal but it was still considered unclean for consumption. On the other hand, cattle and goats were considered clean but they can carry deadly diseases such as anthrax.

Was health one of the reasons God gave the restrictions on food? Probably so; but was it the only reason? Obviously with the examples above, the answer to that is absolutely not. We need to remember that it was God that determined whether or not an animal was clean or unclean, not Moses, not Aaron and not anyone today who thinks they will live to be 100 simply because they did not eat pork chops or bacon. God said ‘Don’t Eat’ and they were expected to not eat.

The thing about this topic is that many people today still teach that God has dietary restrictions concerning clean and unclean animals for His people, but is that doctrine taught in the New Testament? If it is I have yet to find it. The New Testament does teach against the consumption of blood (that is contained in all animals to a certain extent and ignored by many Christians) but not against the consumption of any species of animals in particular (Acts 15:20-29).

As a matter of fact, listen to what the Holy Spirit inspired apostle Paul told Timothy concerning a future time (from their point of view) when people would depart from the faith and teach that certain meats were to be abstained from for spiritual reasons. He said, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Sounds simple enough!

Concerning the transition between the Old and New covenant, which is the underlying issue of the foods discussion, listen again to the teachings of the Holy Spirit – “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross…So let no one judge you in food or in drink…” (Colossians 2:14,16). Now, I’m perfectly aware that the meat and drink of Colossians 2:14-16 refer to religious observances that are not spiritually enforced by God any longer; but when a person says something must not be eaten to please God are they not making that a religious observance???

If a person chooses to place certain dietary restrictions on his or herself, that’s fine. It may be a matter of conscience, but that’s your conscience and not everyone else’s. What isn’t fine is when a person teaches and tries to place those restrictions on others. It’s nobody’s job to make someone not eat something any more than it’s someone’s job to make someone eat something. Peace in Christ is more important than any piece of meat on the table! That’s the whole gist of Romans 14.

To eat or not to eat…there is no question to it! God in the New Testament says we can eat and give thanks to Him while doing so.

Think about it. EA

I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” (Romans 14:14)

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Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 3 – Your Vote Counts

Election, election, election – it’s not just for presidents! Election is for God’s people…people who come to God by faith through Jesus. This form of election is created by God, but we must choose to participate in it. No one elects God to the throne! His government is a monarchy, but we choose whether or not we’ll join His kingdom. The ticket will not change: it’s Heaven or it’s Hell for every sinner, and we can choose Heaven! That is the wonder and grace of the gospel!

But this isn’t enough for some! For some, well, they want the choice made for them. They want their election to be “unconditional.” Not only do they want salvation to be unconditional – they want damnation to be the same! After all, how can one be “unconditional” without the other being the same??? If one person has his or her ticket punched for them then all must follow the ‘party’ line.

The fact is that when it comes to God’s election, a person must choose which ‘party’ they’re going to be a member of; but a person may ask about the people in Romans 9? Doesn’t this chapter prove God chooses people according to whatever His desire is and not according to what a person chooses to do in response to God’s desire?

Good question! Think about the people in Romans 9. How did they choose to react to God’s calling? From Genesis to Revelation a person can read about God’s plan to bring a Messiah into the world to save people from our sins, and from Romans 1 to Romans 11 Paul is saying that God had a right to extend His grace to the gentiles and a right to reject Israel because of their treatment of His election that comes through faith in Jesus. Look at how Paul ends Romans 9:30-33. He ends it by saying that very thing! Israel lost their election because they stumbled at (meaning chose to reject) that elect rock of God’s people – Jesus!

Romans 9:7 mentions Abraham. Why does Paul begin with Abraham? Why did God choose to use Abraham? Because God foreknew him! Genesis 18:19 says:

For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

Through Abraham the whole world was going to be blessed through One seed – who was that seed? It was Jesus (Galatians 3:16). And through Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, the promise would continue to be brought to fruition.

Romans 9:10-13 mentions Jacob and Esau. Why? Because when it comes to Isaac the Jews could say, “Isaac deserved to be counted in God’s elect and not Ishmael because Isaac was the promised child.” But in the situation of Esau (the older brother) and Jacob (the younger brother) the elder child would have his “promise of inheritance” pulled out from under his feet. And to make this even more interesting, before either of the children were ever born God chose who He was going to use to bring his purpose (salvation from sin) into the world! God predestinated Jacob to be used to bring God’s elect into the world because He foreknew him. And listen to this, God predestinated the service of Jacob, but nowhere does it say He predestinated the salvation of Jacob. Jacob didn’t “earn” anything, but he would answer the call that Esau rejected and traded for a bowl of beans!!! Don’t think so? Then read this:

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Hebrews 12:14-16) (more…)

When Our Conscience Takes the Witness Stand

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 9:1, NKJV)

Not all consciences are worth the right hand they raise. Some are useful and others are useless.

A conscience is like a knife. It has to be sharpened to be useful. All knives are knives, but you don’t use a butter knife to filet a fish and you don’t use a seared conscience to determine what’s right and what’s wrong (1 Timothy 4:2).

The proper sharpening stone for the conscience of men and women is the word of God. It is never dull and when our conscience is less than honest, God’s word remains a faithful and true witness (Hebrews 4:12). The ears of those who listen can be dull, but God’s word is not (Matthew 13:14-16).

When our conscience takes the stand against us we would do well to listen (Romans 14:19-23) for the words of our conscience may ring loud on the day of judgment (Romans 14:7-13).

If we con our conscience too many times we might just find ourselves being the ones who get taken advantage of! EA

Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that onefor your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)