Comment on the Hypostatic Union

There is a premise that I took up fairly early on.  It is that Holy Scripture is God’s revelation to His people.  Jesus taught in parables so that seeing they would not perceive and hearing they would not understand.  Who is ‘they’?  I believe that ‘they’ includes everyone who is either chosen but too lazy to really work to understand what He is telling us, or not chosen and thus completely blind to Him.  Harsh maybe, but to me that is what reason dictates.

I abhor mystery in what is supposed to be a revelation!  If God reveals all we can know about Jesus Christ, which I believe he does, then His nature as our Redeemer must be understandable to those willing to accept what is revealed about it.  Is the nature of Jesus Christ any more of a mystery than the nature of any other man, really?  Or do we make it that way in some effort at artificial humility?

In the sin of Adam all are fallen. Therefore in God’s economy, the moral ability and holiness of the child is inherited of the father.

The Father of Jesus Christ is God.  His moral ability and holiness is inherited of the Father.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and [a]dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of [b]the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Is it necessary to shoehorn two distinct natures in the same person to explain Him?  I grant that those who came before us and passed on their best understanding to us should be respected but not blindly followed to the end of their journey and no farther!  The KISS principle applies.

God created Adam, but the only Begotten of the Father IS the Son, Jesus Christ!

So do we really need the mystery of the hyostatic union when a simpler and far easier to understand (to me) explanation is at hand?  Or am I a heretic for having the temerity to even think about such a deep and holy topic?

Memorial Day and the Great Commission

 

Good Morning! We are glad to be here today! This is Memorial Weekend! It was originally set aside for us to honor those who died in the service of our country. So, today I would like to begin with a question. What is the best way for us to honor ALL those who gave the last full measure of devotion to preserve the ideal upon which this, the greatest, free-est, nation in modern history, was built. Would anyone in this room deny the CHRISTIAN foundation upon which it began? Shouldn’t we do all we can to minimize the MORAL AND POLITICAL corruption that is eating away at the foundations of all that the Founders gave US to preserve? And where best to start that task than within ourselves? It is VITAL for us to ABIDE IN CHRIST! Please open your Bibles to Matthew 28:18-20 and when you get it please stand out of respect for the reading of God’s Word. How do you interpret The Great Commission? And what has IT to do with Memorial Day anyway?

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus says ‘all power is given unto me’ meaning He HAS the Right AND the AUTHORITY to COMMAND US as a SOVEREIGN LORD! The term Sovereign means LAW GIVER. His command is NOT subject to ANY other authority. Think of it this way. To set yourself in opposition to ANY command of Jesus Christ is to position yourself as an Anti-Christ!! That is not a place any of us FULLY INTENDS TO GO, is it? That is why John tells us to EXAMINE YOURSELVES whether ye be in the Spirit!

I can tell you how the world sees the way we Americans interpret the Great Commission, and it is NOT pretty. But it didn’t start that way. It started with the Mayflower pilgrims. Before they disembarked the Mayflower and set the first foot on the soil of the New World, Bradford penned the Mayflower Compact. A covenant they entered into before God. In part, it read:

In the name of God Amen· We whose names are underwritten, …Having undertaken, for the  glory of God, and advancement of the Christian  faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these present solemnly and mutually in the  presence of God, and one of another, covenant, and combine our selves together into a civil body politic….

Lets come back to the present. How do we share Jesus Christ? We open with what a change He has made in our lives. How much He loves us! Then we hit them with the zinger: If you don’t receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior, you will burn in Hell for all eternity! I love you, man; but Jesus is the ONLY WAY! PLEASE, give yourself to Jesus Christ. You won’t be sorry!

If they see your sincerity and SAY they believe, then you have done your job and the world, yes and sad to say a large percentage of the church today will agree that you did your part in fulfilling the Great Commission. Just steer them to someone who knows more than you do for discipleship and they’ll be FINE! They get to a local church and walk the aisle, give a credible profession of faith, by saying I BELIEVE, the baptistery gets heated up, the pastor says, “I BAPTIZE THEE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, AMEN!!! They get dunked in the water, washing away their sins and rising to newness of life in Christ, as an example of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, their name is put on the church role(or not), and another Christian is added to the flock.

The problem is, this has virtually NOTHING to do with what JESUS COMMISSIONED US TO DO!!

NOW before you start throwing things at me or get up and walk out, or just close your ears, PLEASE allow me to explain.

The way we carry out the Great Commission is like this: ‘ I Love You So Much, My Religion is your only hope and I just couldn’t bear to see you burn in HELL! Please, please, please accept Jesus as your Savior! God votes FOR you, the Devil votes AGAINST you and YOU cast the deciding vote!’

That is NOT what Christ had in mind when He Commissioned us to ‘teach all nations’. It is a self evident fact of life that people would rather SEE a sermon than HEAR one; and I’m NOT talking about seeing one on TV! I’m talking about setting an example of integrity, compassion, wisdom, FAITH, perseverance, calm in the face of adversity, helpfulness, and forgiveness. I’m talking about being a LIVING WITNESS of EVERYTHING JESUS STOOD FOR. Christianity is absolutely NOT a Do as I Say but NOT as I DO, RELIGION! Christianity is NOT supposed to be a RELIGION at ALL! It is to be a way of life that is so different from the WORLDLY WISDOM’S ways that it stands out as a shining beacon on a Hill; a LOVE for real TRUE LIFE as JESUS saw it, that just cannot be ignored!

But we have gone Machiavellian in our exercise of the Great Commission! Machiavelli said that people are a lot more likely to follow out of FEAR than out of love, so make sure they FEAR the prince whether they love him or NOT!

Christianity is not supposed to be frightening people to Christ, Its about DRAWING people to Him! At this point I would like to change gears. This is going to sound political for a moment, but what IS politics? The free dictionary defines politics this way: the use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control. Now, my question to you is: When we try to define the Great Commission, that is figure out the strategy involved in bringing people to Christ SO THEY CAN BE INDWELT AND CONTROLLED BY HIM, is your first thought YOUR EXAMPLE of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT in your LIFE? Or is it STRATEGY?  What do the Sunday School lessons about sharing the gospel concentrate on?  Strategy in making the church more ‘friendly’ or being more Christlike in all we do?  I’ve heard people PRAY for Christ to come into their heart and take control! Is that so they are relieved of the responsibility of the course their life takes or the words they utter?  I doubt that any would admit that, but what other possible reason is there for wanting someone else to take control of your thoughts and actions?  Paul said Follow Me as I FOLLOW HIM! How many of us are willing to stand up and tell acquaintances who just professed Christ to USE ME as an example?! I don’t know about you, but it scares me to death because I consider my example to be POOR! But Paul had some less than stellar moments as an example. He absolutely refused to take John Mark with him so Barnabas took him. Paul and Barnabas split up because of his stubborn attitude. And Peter: Paul withstood Peter to his face because Peter didn’t want to tarnish his reputation among the Messianic Jews who were having a problem consorting with Gentiles! The whole story of Cornelius speaks to that also.

Those who died to preserve that shining city on a hill left it to us to LIVE to preserve it! Are we going to let them down? The founding purpose of this nation was to bring Christ to the world. We don’t HAVE to preserve the nation TO PRESERVE THE PURPOSE FOR IT. But the blessing poured out upon the entire world because we were here MUST PROVE that for all its faults and failures, America has been a channel of GOD’S BLESSING to mankind! The interaction between man and God is Spiritual. The interaction between man and man IS POLITICAL and the two ONLY MIX PROPERLY when the THIRD INGREDIENT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Something we should all remember this election year is that citizenship in America is rooted and founded in the Judeo-Christian idea of WHO WE ARE BEFORE GOD. Not Buddhist, not Hindu, not Muslim, not secular humanist, nor any other religious tradition. The pilgrims started as a COMMUNIST group and nearly starved to death. Bradford finally said they could keep what they produced and give away to the needy what they wished. From that moment on the colony prospered!

Since true capitalism is the ability of a person to pursue happiness/property unimpeded by the regulation of those with less drive, ambition, and luck/fortune/blessing, just who should be the judge of who has enough and who is properly spreading his wealth around, who should run the whole show? You? Are you righteous enough and wise enough to make sure everybody gets a fair shake? A committee then? Who would be on it? People you consider to be wise enough and righteous enough to make sure everybody ELSE gets a fair shake? Socialism always devolves into communism because the system centralizes power in the hands of a few and power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and communism leads to HOPELESSNESS and want. The Founders let us know in no uncertain terms that NO government OF THE PEOPLE will work FOR the people unless the decisions BY the people– Each of US –are based in righteousness. The righteousness they referred to rested on 2 principles: One, Love God the Father of Jesus Christ above everything else (meaning applying His principles to every aspect of the conduct of your life), and Two, Love your neighbor as yourself (meaning do unto others AS YOU would have THEM do UNTO YOU). There is room for failure and forgiveness and JUSTICE as long as the majority of the people TRY to live by these principles. But when the majority starts following the example of corrupt leaders, or just follow the natural selfishness of their hearts the system WILL fail and fall.  I pulled this excerpt from an article at commonsensegovernment dot com:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority ALWAYS votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations ALWAYS progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage
This is called the Tytler Circle.
“These words were written two years before George Washington became our first President. There is so much truth in these words it makes me shudder, especially since we are clearly in stage 7. (Stage 7 is APATHY) An honest appraisal of our country’s downward spiral is necessary to begin the process of redemption. We have continually voted ourselves increased benefits, dependent upon the printing presses of the Federal Reserve to sustain our country’s ponzi scheme. We have pawned our future and the bill WILL eventually come due.”

I believe that “eventually” will be seen by many if not most of us here today.

This fall we will go to the polls. Remember this: We are electing public servants NOT public masters!! Those who are running for office and have the attitude that they can make our lives better need to know that truth beyond any shadow of a doubt. I may not like what they consider “better”! They are elected to perform the duties of the office to which they were elected to the best of their ability, not make it a career. It is our duty to know as best we can, who we are appointing to ADMINISTER the LAW over us. If you have any doubt about their righteousness, perhaps it should affect your vote.

We can honor the fallen beginning today by learning and applying a PROPER understanding of the Great Commission! We don’t have to try to scare them into believing and we cannot love them into believing because, as Machiavelli pointed out, love is not NEARLY so compelling as fear in a morally bankrupt society!

What we CAN do is teach the nations by our example! But what about ‘baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?

Baptize is a transliteration of the Greek “Baptidzo” and it means to immerse as one would wash one’s hands in water. The baptism of John was symbolic of being washed clean of sin THROUGH REPENTANCE. Repentance is the CHANGING OF ONE’S MIND concerning SIN. That is, that sin, ALL SIN, ANY sin, defiles the person. So sin is no longer acceptable because it MAKES MY LORD look BAD!

But that is not all! Not by a long shot. The passage says we are to BAPTIZE IN THE NAME of. It says nothing about WATER! There is a great deal you have never been told about what Biblical ‘naming’ entails. The NAME is to a greater or lesser degree DEFINITIVE of the person! Good examples are Jacob and Esau. Jacob, heal grabber, later Israel, prince of God, and Esau, hairy, later Edom meaning RED. Well, what does THAT mean? It means that to be baptized in the NAME of the Father is to be immersed in all that He has revealed to us concerning WHO HE IS! To be Baptized in the NAME of the SON is to be IMMERSED in ALL that has been revealed concerning Who He is as both the Son of Man AND the Son of God! It means that to be Baptized in the Name of the Holy Spirit is to be immersed in all that has been revealed to us concerning the person AND WORK of the Holy Spirit! Immersion in this knowledge is what it means for us to baptize someone else IN THE NAME OF… THAT is what it means for us to carry out the Great Commission as it was MEANT for us to do! But we have been laboring under the delusion for centuries that if we can get them into the baptistery, and get them dunked, BY WHATEVER MEANS, whether FEAR or FUN or GUILT! someone else can take over from there!

Truth is:  It is OUR EXAMPLE that is to DRAW them to Christ! THIS is the REAL DEAL, water is a mere symbol. It is our example we are to give them to follow AS WE FOLLOW CHRIST! Everything else is ‘do as I say, not as I DO!’ Repentance is the beginning of our Baptism!

We can honor the fallen by putting flowers on their graves this weekend and that is a fine memorial we can do it again next year. But how much more WORTHY a memorial would it be for us to LIVE each day for the IDEAL they gave their LIVES TO PROTECT! We have a responsibility to GOD and to the REST OF MANKIND for the CONSEQUENCES of OUR actions.

Whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not, America is inextricably linked to Christ by Covenant of the first Christians to its shores. We have a duty to God and the rest of Mankind BOTH as Christians AND as Americans. Such was their vision and so it SHOULD be OURS! Honoring the memory of what has come before IS Biblical.

Can we today continue to be ? or once again be ? or for the first time BECOME a WORTHY example to follow?

As we prepare for our time of invitation with every head bowed and every eye closed, let us give careful thought to what it truly MEANS to LIVE FOR CHRIST, to offer ourselves a LIVING sacrifice for HIM as well all those who gave the LAST FULL MEASURE OF DEVOTION so we could be here today. (Hymn of Invitation) Closing Prayer.

Thank you for having us back. We enjoy being with you. May God bless.

The Whole Armor of God

 

Good Morning. Thank you for having us back! Last Sunday I ended by saying that in order for us to be Salt and Light in a world that loves the DARK, we needed to put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God and STAND before a culture that hates us more every day! A Culture that has LOST its fear of a SOVEREIGN, ALL POWERFUL, GOD surrounds us.

How can we do that? How can we, who really just want to be free to worship as we see fit and NOT HURT ANYONE, need Spiritual ARMOR just to speak the TRUTH? In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was With God and the WORD WAS GOD! In HIM was LIFE. And the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness COMPREHENDS IT NOT.

Did you ever walk into a room, the door shuts behind you, and you find yourself in utter Darkness? You can’t see ANYTHING not the floor, not the walls, not your hand in front of your face? You snap the switch on your flashlight or turn on the light and everything is FINE again? What happens when you turn out the light? Is the darkness defeated? Does it remain banished to the corners and shadows? NOT HARDLY! In the sixties, the “silent majority” of Christians in this nation allowed the light to be turned off. God was banished from schools, His truth was removed from the public square, and we became a post-Christian nation. In a closed room the result of turning out the light is instantaneous. In a nation, the results are generational. The darkness slowly engulfs our thought processes, our reasoning becomes more and more self oriented, until anyone who looks different or is of a different opinion, is an enemy and the truth is what each of us SAYS IT IS! My opinion is BETTER than yours! Ladies and gentlemen that is where we are now. That is the culture we live in. Thing is: TRUTH is NOT just an OPINION! Opinion MUST yield to IT! Ever rubbed salt in an open wound? (Holding up the Bible) We call the Bible the Word of God. Rightly understood and RIGHTEOUSLY APPLIED, that IS what it is. But that is RARELY the CASE in the world in which we live!

Please Open your Bibles to the Gospel of John Chapter Three beginning at verse 1. When you have it please stand out of respect for God’s Holy and Inerrant Word. Before we get to the Whole Armor of God there is some groundwork that must be laid. If we try to be soul winners (I really have a problem with that term) the very first thing we have to recognize is what we are up against. Gospel of John chapter 3.

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

May God bless the reading of His Word.

The world wants NO PART of the TRUTH that IS Jesus Christ! The unregenerate heart is the open wound and the TRUTH OF our Lord Jesus Christ IS the SALT! Unregenerate is how we are BORN into this world, and that is the state in which we EXIST until, by the GRACE of God ALONE HE CALLS us TO HIM! Sola Gratia: By GRACE ALONE. Not our pipe dream wishes of shared Glory, Not the bitter cry of broken hearted anguish, not even the anguish of compassion for another’s loss, it is NOT the worldly circumstances of our lives that turn us to Christ! I’m sure God uses circumstances in the process of renewing our minds but only the Holy Spirit moves to REMOVE our heart of stone and give us a heart of FLESH; A heart that CAN be moved and molded by the TRUTH that IS our Lord Jesus Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

God uses the physical world to give us examples of, and to teach us, spiritual truth. Probably the most familiar example is the parable of the sewer and the 4 types of ground.

Christians like to think of the day they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as the Day they were born again! In my experience, they see their salvation as some sort of a cooperative effort. God offered His Son Jesus Christ for the propitiation of our sins and we either accept and get saved or reject and go to hell: SIMPLE! Easy to understand. I do not challenge anyone’s bona fides as a born again Christian. I WOULD like you to consider this and in doing so consider how GRACIOUS the mercy of our God and how SELFLESS the sacrifice of our LORD are, and remember we learn SPIRITUAL TRUTH by physical world example:

Did you choose to be born? Did you choose the day and hour? Did you choose your parents or the economic condition into which you were born? The Nation? The State? The County? The City? Your health or infirmity? Your SEX! In short, just what condition did YOU set concerning your physical birth? Did you choose to be born DEAD in trespass and sin? We can thank Adam, the Federal Head of the human race for that. That is what God tells us in His Word. He reveals to us Who He is AND He reveals to us who WE are, standing before HIM!

God has a plan and it includes every thing and every one around us. His plan started in Eternity Past and will come to fruition in Eternity Future. I use the terms past and future in this reference to God, BUT past, present and future are an open book and all of time is accessible to Him. That sort of defines Omnipresence doesn’t it? I digress.

Whether you admit or NOT, you know you COULD NOT set any condition concerning your birth into this world, including being born dead in trespass and sin; and you know that the PHYSICALLY dead have NO VOICE in the disposition of their affairs, meaning that the dead have no voice and are TOTALLY at the mercy of the living. The question becomes WHO HAS THE POWER OF LIFE to decide your Condition and Position in this world? But the dead cannot even ASK THAT QUESTION! Because our unregenerate condition is a bit more complicated than that of an INERT CORPSE, There is this to consider also! God told Adam that he was NOT to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil for if he did, on that day he would surely DIE! We know that Adam and Eve ATE and hid themselves from the voice of God when He asked where they were. They did not get it that their SPIRITUAL bond with God ended. They killed it by their disobedience. God ALONE could reanimate that life! God ALONE has the POWER of LIFE and LIFE ETERNAL!

Scripture says that Eve was deceived but Adam was NOT! Adam Rebelled against God. That rebellion Lives in every one of his natural born offspring. That rebellion is the desire to sit on the throne ourselves! There is no room on the throne of the unregenerate heart for Christ. Scripture refers to it several different ways but mainly as a heart of stone. It would rather DIE than yield. That is the TRUTH that Jesus expressed in Mark 7:

17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Many when faced with this passage say OH He was talking about food sacrificed to Idols! I would ask you to examine it more closely. You will see that His explanation to His disciples only began with food. They understood that food was the basis for the PARABLE concerning the condition of the unregenerate heart. Our Lord unpacks Jeremiah 17:9 which says: 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

What Jeremiah says here is that the human heart is deceitful ABOVE anything else in the created realm. It is DESPERATELY wicked. In the Hebrew, Jeremiah is telling us that the heart CASTS ABOUT for ways to cast GOD OUT of its DOMAIN!! It is pretty easy to lie to ourselves, isn’t it? We sure don’t want to spend eternity in Hell. And when we hear about the “FREE” offer of salvation, many really want some of that. We see people doing good things and assume they are GOOD PEOPLE! And when we look around us today, is it always easy to SEE THE TRUTH in what the prophets REVEALED TO US through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?

Do we really and TRULY WANT TO? Where is this going? If we don’t have any input in when, where, how, and by whom we were born into this world, What makes you think you could OR DID CHOOSE WHEN OR IF the GOD of HEAVEN and EARTH, the CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS, will at your beck and call bestow the most precious gift we can’t even imagine: LIFE. The TRUTH is we would absolutely REFUSE if it were OUR CHOICE! We want NOTHING from God. The gift of ETERNAL LIFE is not something that a being who ABHORS life is dying to HAVE! In a nutshell, The Holy Spirit goes where it will, when it will and we don’t even know its BEEN until we find within us the DESIRE for LIFE and LOVE and LIGHT. Babies are born totally dependent knowing only that they are hungry and uncomfortable. It takes years for us to become capable of taking care of ourselves. How long does it take for the new heart within us to gain enough strength, knowledge and understanding to stand against the hate and darkness and self-absorption we were first born with ourselves, and how much longer to stand against the peer pressure and cultural immersion we encounter every day?

It is the job of every parent and grandparent to speak truth into the lives of our children wherever and whenever possible IN SPITE of the eye rolling and negative feedback from those who LOVE THE LIE! ! We must make some effort to speak against the cultural darkness that is overwhelming US as well as the following generations. What can we do? Prepare ourselves to follow the Great Commission. The first of the armor of God is to ‘girt our Loins about with the TRUTH!’ The physical process of ‘girting the loins’ was to pull the robe or tunic up between the legs and secure it with a heavy belt, allowing the legs freedom of movement and keeping the loose cloth from becoming entangled in or caught up on anything should one find it necessary to move quickly. The TRUTH is what keeps us from becoming entangled in the sophistry and convoluted “logic” of those who would deceive us and try to steer us away from the doctrine of Christ that we are to abide in continually.

With that, is to put on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS. The breastplate protects the heart and other vital organs from harm. True righteousness is doing what is right in the eyes of God. There is more than one way to BE righteous but the only proper way is with compassion and humbleness of heart knowing that “there but for the grace of God go I”. Knowing you are doing the right thing for the right reason with the right attitude in whatever circumstance, is the breastplate that protects you from the weapons that aim for the heart: guilt, shame, regret, fear, revenge, lust, wrath, and pride.

We’re to have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

Isaiah 52:7 says ‘How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”‘

We carry the best news the world has ever heard. We KNOW that Jesus Christ took the wrath of GOD upon Himself so that we who BELIEVE would not have to suffer it when the JUSTICE of a RIGHTEOUS GOD is meted out upon a dark and unbelieving and violent world.

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. We are saved by Grace THROUGH FAITH and THAT not of yourselves lest any man BOAST! Sola Fide, through FAITH ALONE. The very faith that we have in Jesus Christ is ITSELF a gift of God. Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN. Faith, the unwavering belief that Jesus Christ did ALL that He promised, CAN QUENCH the fiery darts of the wicked. Those fiery darts are accusations of all our sins and shortcomings! And THEY are UNDER THE BLOOD! If I had to make it to God’s Grace on MY record I’d spend eternity in HELL. Thank God it is not MY record but the record and sacrifice of Christ Jesus that allows the unmerited favor of God’s Grace to clothe me in His righteousness.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The helmet protects the head from serious injury. The head is the seat of knowledge. The knowledge of our salvation protects us from being knocked out by doubt and fear. And the sword of the Spirit is our only offensive weapon. Paul says ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may PROVE what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ Feelings LIE! That is why we are to PROVE through the right use of a RENEWED MIND what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, NOT rely on just feeling like we are doing or saying the right thing! We are supposed to have GOOD REASON for our actions and our words.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

We must MAKE a STAND beginning TODAY. Whether History will remember anything we do or say there is ONE Who SURELY Will! I would call your attention to this April issue of The Pathway. It says 900 SBC churches close their doors each year. They are advertising a speech and seminar in STL in June. They are promoting another program to help stop the bleeding of churches across America. I’m sorry to say Olney and Dover are examples of slowly fading small SBC churches. They NOW have a program to bring them back from the brink! Consider this: God has a PROGRAM ALSO: 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says ‘If MY people, which are called by MY name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek MY face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will FORGIVE their sin, and will HEAL their land.’ It starts with EVERY ONE of US.

As we prepare for our time of invitation with every eye closed and head bowed, we MUST examine ourselves whether we be IN the Faith, and consider, is that how we worship the ONLY TRUE GOD and His Son Jesus Christ! (Hymn of invitation) Micah 6:8 tells us ‘He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly WITH thy God? Sharing the Truth of God this week IS sharing His Love! Closing prayer Thanks again for having us here today. We hope to see you again soon. May God Bless!

The Whole Armor of God

Scripture References

John 1:1, 4a, 5b

John 3:1-7

Mark 7:17-23

Jeremiah 17:9

Ephesians 6:11-17

Romans 12:2

2nd Chronicles 7:14

Micah 6:8

Testimony and the Love of Christ

It is common knowledge among preachers and pastors that “Nobody really cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”    As is the case with EVERY true believer, I am a sinner saved by Grace. For reasons only He knows,  He called me to Him out of the desert. He had allowed me to partake of the pleasures of the World, born and raised in the freest nation on earth during a time of the greatest spiritual rebellion since Babel; a rebellion that just continues to gain momentum with each passing day. Sex, Drugs, and Rock-and-Roll, was the mantra of my youth. I didn’t need God!  Religion was the opiate of the masses!  What was right was what felt good at the time!  I was the Master of my fate and the Captain of my soul!  AND, I could NOT have been MORE WRONG.
Oh, I knew there was something not quite right.  Its one of those nagging things in the very back of your mind, that any distraction takes your attention away from, but it seemed always there when all was quiet.  You can’t put your finger on it so you fill your life with distractions— SCUBA, work, learning to fly, anything.  Living in Las Vegas, gambling, partaking of the LIFE, at 24 Roe-v-Wade became law of the land and that was FINE with me, women absolutely should have the right to CHOOSE!  And, it had the benefit of NO RESPONSIBILITY for ME! You know, just in case!
Fell in with bikers and drugs.  But that nagging feeling would not go away.  Every time the noise died down even a little it was there. Moved around, played music, other women.  Still believed I could do whatever I wanted – Master of my fate, you know!  In my forties, in the midst of trying to recover from my third failed marriage,  my brother told me I needed to go to church! I was pretty low and what he said resonated somewhere and I certainly had nothing to lose, so I went. I went a few times.  The nagging took hold and agreed with my brother!  But there was something else:  I looked around and saw the state of the church, that churches just didn’t seem to agree on MUCH!  So it became a quest to know just what it meant to BE a Christian! I began to study. I met and married my wife, Patricia.  The study became intense.  I thought doctrine was the answer.  I thought that one could not be a Christian unless one BELIEVED the RIGHT things.  For years the more I learned the more at odds I became with “accepted doctrine”!  I put Patricia through a lot of hardship and angst because of my convictions about church.   I just couldn’t understand why, if Christians had the Word of eternal life,  was there so much bickering and disagreement.  Why so much animosity between denominations?  I had to keep studying, trying to figure it out!
This had gone on for nearly 20 years!  Then, not so long ago, I was fired from my position as adult Sunday School teacher because I asked the wrong questions.  I was asking people who claimed to believe IN God to actually BELIEVE what He said.  That was not helpful.  The experience of getting fired was cathartic!  It finally opened my eyes to something I had been missing all along.  I had been laboring under the assumption that what was plain as day to me should be just as plain to everyone else!  You know what happens when you assume something?  The results are usually not what you had hoped, are they.  Anyway, I just couldn’t believe it was that HARD!  When in reality, what I came to understand fairly early on and simply couldn’t ACCEPT until much, much later, was that it wasn’t just hard,  it was and IS IMPOSSIBLE!  Here is why!  GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS!!!
Please open your Bibles to Second John.  The Book of Second John.
R.C. Sproul relates an experience in seminary about a professor assigning his class a task; find 25 applications for a truth expressed in a particular verse of Scripture.  Over the weekend they worked and struggled.  Each member found one or two, they got together and brainstormed and finally in the wee hours of Monday morning just before class they  got the 25.  In class they turned in the results and the professor said GOOD JOB, you did great,  now, find 25 more!  The Truth is ALWAYS the Truth, but the APPLICATION OF IT can be different in a myriad of ways!  We must be prepared to accept that there IS a difference between Truth and its application in our individual lives! Man makes plans, but GOD ORDERS HIS STEPS!
Second John.
1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.
May God bless the reading of His Word.
John is speaking as a pastor who loves you, the Church, in Truth.  He is not alone.  EVERYONE who knows the Truth THAT HAS TAKEN UP PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN US, loves us.  Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, NO ONE comes to the Father BUT BY ME!  HE is the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in EVERY TRUE BELIEVER!  So everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you, whether they display it the way you want it at the moment, OR NOT!
John Prays for grace and mercy and peace to be with us from The Father and The Son. He is very happy that many of the congregation are diligently living out the Truth exactly as commanded.
Then reminds us that this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of the original, that we love one another as He has loved us.  But that love is NOT all warm and fuzzy, cuddly, huggie, and sentimental feelings of well wishing!  NO.  The love of Jesus set His face like FLINT toward Jerusalem where betrayal and the CROSS was waiting!

Following His Commandments has NOTHING to do with warm and fuzzy!  Those feelings in Truth, can only be the result of KNOWING you pleased HIM, just as HE was able to sacrifice Himself for US because HE, more than ANYTHING, was here to do the WILL of the Father Who sent Him!  Jesus did so many acts of kindness and mercy, performed so many miraculous deeds that John himself said there wasn’t enough room in the world to contain all the books if they were all written down!  But when asked by Pilate why He came what did He say?
John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
You know, when I tell my wife I didn’t hear what she said, ESPECIALLY when she knows its something I don’t particularly want to hear, she tells me I have selective hearing!! Imagine that!  Accusing me of DELIBERATELY not hearing what she said!  I certainly NEVER have that problem when she says something I WANT to hear!  How often are we like that with Christ?
John continues, warning us NOT to be like those who are deceived, because  it IS possible for us to be deceived.  The Message translation has it this way:  Don’t Walk Out on God
7 There are a lot of smooth-talking charlatans loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Antichrist!

8-9 And be very careful around them so you don’t lose out on what we’ve worked so diligently in together; I want you to get every reward you have coming to you. ANYONE WHO GETS SO PROGRESSIVE IN HIS THINKING THAT HE WALKS OUT ON THE TEACHING OF CHRIST, WALKS OUT ON GOD. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son.
10-11 If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.
So here it is, the LIMIT to which we are to give acceptance to anyone or tolerate in our midst, ANYONE who denies the teaching of Jesus Christ.  Anyone who denies that Christ was truly a flesh- and-blood human being is a deceiver and an anti-Christ.  But that is not the only deceiver or way of being deceived.  There are those who are willing to tolerate ALL manner of evil within the church in the name of LOVE!  But John tells us THAT IS NOT LOVE! That is denying the doctrine of Christ!
Love is speaking the Truth with COMPASSION and REFUSING to become COMPLICIT by TOLERATING what Christ called sin.  He fashioned a whip of cords and DROVE the money changers OUT of the TEMPLE!  He expressed His love for us and them, in terms of our ETERNAL LIVES, NOT just for expediency or our comfort and ease in the here and now!  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not advocating we all pick up a whip and start flailing!  But we can, WE MUST start speaking the TRUTH against the LIES of today’s culture, where ever and by whomever it confronts us!  Silence IS CONSENT!  Indifference is DEATH!  If we are not salt and light, WHO WILL BE?
ETERNAL LIFE is what John is telling us we need to focus on when we define LOVE for one another as members of the Body and for  neighbors, friends and fellow human beings as we carry out the GREAT COMMISSION!
John said there was much more but would not commit it to paper and ink but instead would relate it face to face.  Christ had COMPASSION WITHOUT COMPLICITY!  The world we live in today is spiraling out of control.  We are told we can no longer live according to our conscience but must accept everyone as they CLAIM TO BE!  Even when that flies in the face of biological truth, moral truth, and or physical truth!  We who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior must NOT deny the REVEALED TRUTH OF GOD.  We are IN the world but we are not to consider ourselves to be OF the world; pilgrims and sojourners in a land NOT our own!  We are to be accepting of the FACT that claiming kinship with Jesus Christ is opening the door to SHARING in His SUFFERING!  I really cannot think of any families that have not been touched by divorce, drug abuse, sexual immorality of any stripe, hate, bigotry, crime, this list that brings emotional and physical pain can go on and on.  We who claim Christ know there is no temptation, no pain, no condition that He does not KNOW and share with us.  He HAS compassion for us in our weakness but He will NOT be complicit in tolerating evil for the short term benefit of feeling good or subverting TRUTH!  He showed His love for the money changers by demanding they recognize the evil they were perpetrating and where they were doing it!   A father who refuses to chasten his children HATES his children!  He claimed all Israel as His children.  He chastened that group and He spoke the TRUTH to the Pharisees, who HATED HIM for it! Speaking the Truth to one who will not hear it, especially when that someone is close to us is very painful.  For us, as professing Christians, compassionately speaking the truth both to those who will and those who WON’T listen has ETERNAL repercussions!  He has proven His love for us, let US prove our love for HIM by HIS rule:  If you love Me, follow My commandments!  Speak the Truth with compassion in love, but never be indifferent to Doctrine. Don’t let it slide.  For us, indifference is heresy!    A very wise man once told me, when you are up to your backside in alligators, its hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp!  When every fiber of your being is screaming ‘Take the Easy Way’ we have to remember CHRIST DIDN’T!  Those who see professing a belief in Christ as having their ticket punched and life in heaven assured may not be as happy when they come to those Pearly Gates as they thought they were going to be.  Matthew Henry said, “Those who teach by their doctrine must teach by their LIFE, or else they pull down with one hand what they build up with the other.”
Please remember Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.”  If you have NOT confessed Jesus Christ as YOUR personal Lord and Savior NOW is the time.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Ours is not a free ride and our God is a jealous God.  Oh, and the answer to my question, what DOES it mean to be a Christian?  It means one TRULY loves Christ enough to obey His Commandments!  Failing, Falling, Forgiving and being Forgiven, and living Humbly is the life to which we are called but never, ever indifference and complicity.

At Cana, Jesus told His mother that His time had not yet come.  It would seem that she knew better.  So in closing I would ask you to think about this:  Do you each day have an opportunity to speak a truth or set an example that you shirk or ignore?  Then claim “I didn’t know!” or “I wish I had…”.  First John says “We KNOW!”  As a Christian, What DO .  YOU . KNOW?