Coloring Inside the Lines

Why do we want to see children color inside the lines in a coloring book? When a 2 to 3 year old first puts crayon to paper the results are a bit chaotic; a lot of scribbling and sweeping the crayon back and forth with no regard for the image printed on the paper; and, if we aren’t careful, the walls get decorated, too! But, with some guidance and practice, building hand-eye coordination, beginning to see the lines on the paper as a picture that needs color, they start putting colors in place within the framework of lines and eventually a beautiful picture emerges. It has order and symmetry. It turns out to be a work of art of which the child can be proud. The color edges are sharply defined by the black lines and there are no stray overlaps marring the work.

What has this to do with knowing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and His Son Jesus Christ?

Well, just as there are lines that are meant to bound the colors on the pages of a coloring book, there are rules established for us so we can properly interpret and come to a correct understanding of the written word. There are rules of grammar. There are rules of sentence structure. There are words whose meanings are established and given to us in dictionaries, lexicons, and thesauri. There are literary genres which, by their very structure, are meant to be understood in different ways.

These are the lines within which the purity of our understanding is meant to flourish. These are the lines within which, when all put together, form all of our understanding; the way we see the world; the way we perceive truth, know right from wrong, know who we are, know Who God is, and hopefully, what our purpose in this life is.

The written word does not have the tone, inflection, body language, facial expression, or the myriad of other tips and cues which can shade the understanding of the spoken word. We must rely on established standards; rules created specifically so a proper and correct interpretation of it can be attained. Sadly, in today’s world, many think that we can play fast and loose with the written word and still get what was meant to be conveyed to us. That is like taking crayons, sweeping them randomly across the page and expecting the intended picture to emerge pure and true.

The standard for written communication in the English language at the time the early English Bibles were produced was ‘Logic’ by Isaac Watts. It was the standard for nearly two centuries. The text has, of course, been replaced, but the rules laid down in it have not substantively changed, merely the methods of presenting them. And, as I said, it was the standard for how to express ideas in written form so the reader could get, as unambiguously as possible, what the author intended.

A second text, ‘Protestant Biblical Interpretation’ by Bernard Ramm, gives us the rules established over the millennia for properly interpreting God’s Word. Ignoring the very first rule in it has brought Christianity to the confused and impotent condition in which it is found today! What is that rule? Simply put, it is this: ‘On any given topic in Scripture, the implicit is to be understood in light of the explicit.’ That is to say that the passage which more clearly deals with a particular subject is to govern how we understand a passage that is less clear.

At this point, I am going to give examples that have very far reaching ramifications theologically. There are three passages I would like for us to consider. The first seems, on the surface, to be perfectly clear and yet, if this first rule is implemented that is absolutely not the case.

The three scriptures are from and Job 1:6-12, Jeremiah 17:9-10 and Mark 7:18-23. All are considered to point directly to the source of evil. First Job 1:6-12: * Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. *

This is one of the proof texts for the existence of Satan as the fallen angel, father of lies, Lucifer, deceiver of Eve, instigator of the Fall, etc. There is a small book called ‘Why America Is Not In the Bible’ by Glenn Dawson that lays out this most widely held doctrine of Satan. There is only one small problem with this passage used as proof text for this almost universally held doctrine. Whether Job is a real historical person or not, the book itself is written in the genre of a play. To interpret it as historical narrative, which using its passages as proof texts proving literal truths requires, is to twist the Scriptures to support an idea that may not be true!

I guess this would be a good time for a side trip into the definition of truth. Can we all agree that truth is that which accurately relates reality? When we speak truth we are either speaking or writing something that is true according to our knowledge and belief, according to our point of view. There is a problem with this definition of truth. Do you know what it is? Our knowledge and beliefs are imperfect, so that which relates truth, true truth, as Dr. Sproul put it, is that which relates what is true, relates reality, in the eyes of God, from His perfect point of view! And since the Bible is the Word of God, we should, as believers, be about seeking the truth from His point of view, revealed in it to us. I believe that is part of the reason Paul told Timothy to ‘study to show thyself approved, a workman rightly dividing the word of truth.’

Now, back on track! Since Job was written as a play, the characters in it, whether real world figures or not, are used to portray traits of character and circumstances for us to examine in ways that are otherwise difficult or impossible. Good and evil have always been grist for playwrights. Characters are created with these traits portrayed in ways that make them appear as good characters in terrible circumstances or evil, dastardly characters we love to hate. But since evil is many times visited upon the ‘undeserving’ from sources beyond control or understanding it is easy to create an evil character whose sole mission is to visit affliction on the ‘undeserving’.

Job is not written as historical narrative, that is, a telling of actual historical events, but there is much to be gleaned about God and man from Job, however, it should not be considered a proof text for the existence of a spiritual being named Satan. We should look elsewhere for the source of evil in this world. Job suffered theft, vandalism, natural disaster, death of his sons and daughters, the scorn of his wife, disease, the ridicule and misunderstanding of his friends, all of which we classify as evil and all of which are known to be part and parcel of the condition of the fallen world in which we live. He suffered and could not understand why. He hated himself and his life and even cursed the day of his birth, but not once did he blame God for his misfortune or his pain and suffering. There are lessons about character and enduring trials to be learned from Job; but as a proof text for the existence of Satan? No. It is the ideal example of an implicit text on the source of evil. It is implicit, not because it is unclear, but because it is not written as historical narrative but as a play whose characters and their interaction give us insight into the fact that there is a far deeper game afoot than we can know.

The next scripture is Jeremiah 17:9-10:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Much of the book of Jeremiah is written in the form of ‘poetic oracles’. The passage above is considered part of a sermon involving signs of the coming judgment on Israel. Jeremiah is warning the people of the true condition of man, all mankind including Israel; calling them to repentance. The people refused to accept this truth and continued to believe that they were better than others because they were chosen of God.

When God says clearly and with no equivocation at all that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things‘, there is only one way to understand what He means: First there is no greater deceiver than the heart of man, and it has no greater goal than to mislead and misdirect us; to do all in its power to turn us away from truth and righteousness. The second part is that it is desperately wicked, which means that it constantly casts about, is always trying to find a way to pervert truth and righteousness, to turn us against what is pure and right. We are forced to answer for ourselves just how much untruth does it take to create a lie. Aren’t the best lies just shading the truth enough to misdirect one from doing what is right? When faced with owning up to something we have done wrong, isn’t our first inclination to find a way to make ourselves not look so bad? Shade the truth just a bit? Share the blame just a little? The heart is the ultimate master of not only self-deceit, but of deceiving others if given the circumstances. I don’t know about you but I have known people who would lie when the truth would serve them better! And this is the literal truth of what God has revealed to us concerning who we are as unregenerate sons of Adam. The unregenerate will do anything to deny that truth. God alone knows that heart because He alone is not affected nor infected by it. He is holy, separate from all that is unrighteous and untrue. God knows our hearts and yet showed us how merciful He is through His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Didn’t Jesus say, ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father?

The third passage is Mark 7:18-23:

* 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 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. *

This follows an episode with the Pharisees in which they called Him and His disciples down for eating without washing their hands. They claimed it would defile them and be sinful. Jesus made it perfectly clear (and this is written as historical narrative) that it is what comes out of the heart of man that defiles; that nothing entering into the man from outside can defile him. He goes on to give a fairly comprehensive, though not exhaustive, list of sinful thoughts and behaviors that do defile the man and again makes it clear they are not from any external source! That source according to our Lord Jesus Christ, is our own unregenerate heart. He said nothing entering in can defile… He didn’t say, ‘nothing except Satan.’ He didn’t say, ‘nothing except demons.’ He didn’t make any exceptions!

We are misled today. We work on the principle that we’re all basically good, when in Romans 3 it clearly states:

*9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. *

We have conflated doing good things with being basically good. They are not now and have never been the same. We deceive ourselves. We want to believe the best about people and have let ourselves believe the lie! It isn’t that we can’t know the truth and still be merciful! What it is, is that our nature is so in rebellion that we are willing to deny the word of God on the subject even though we know the truth. We see the character, Satan, so clearly depicted in Job and latch onto it as absolute truth when we know it isn’t. We want to blame somebody, anybody else, for our sin. What was the first thing Adam said when God said, ‘What have you done?’. He said, ‘That woman You gave me…!’. He blamed God and Eve for his crime!

For us, as Christians, to color inside the lines, we have to repent; change our minds about what really is truth and Who is in charge. There is a Calvinist doctrine; the first of the five points, called ‘Total Depravity’. It has been vilified by many in today’s church as misrepresenting man who was ‘made in God’s image’ (as if we know what that really means). Yet Jesus Himself said that all sin comes from within. Total depravity does not mean that man, or any particular man, is as evil as he can possibly be, only that all men, who are sons of Adam, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

How can we stay inside the lines? There are so many doctrines that are created by religions today! We need to repent; go back and seek true truth!

Consider the human will. Dictionary.com defines it: The ability to choose, think, and act voluntarily. For many philosophers, to believe in free will is to believe that human beings can be the authors of their own actions and to reject the idea that human actions are determined by external conditions or fate. Say what?

Human beings can choose actions that are not determined by external conditions or fate? I’m going to jump right to the ad absurdum argument here: If the action one chooses is not determined by external conditions and one chooses to live forever, what is it that eventually overwhelms the will and brings about death? And if anything does or is able to do so then by the definition above, the will is not truly free!! Yet this is the very corner stone of free will theology.

I used the example above as the ad absurdum argument. It is absurd because no son of Adam expects to live forever in this world no matter how much they might want to cheat death. Many have had their bodies frozen, placed in cryogenic stasis awaiting some hoped-for scientific break-through that will bring them back. My guess is their hope is in vain.

Now, a second ad absurdum argument can be stated: I choose Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I have cast out devils in His name and done many wonderful works in His name. He cannot and will not turn me away because I chose Him! Yet in Matthew 7 Jesus is quite clear: * ‘ 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’* It obviously cannot be my will that determines Jesus’ decision.

Yes, I generally choose my actions, but even in that my will is limited by a great many factors! My will cannot propel my body fast enough to run a 3 minute mile. My will is not subtle enough to give me the ability to produce a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa. My will is not economically savvy enough to choose a scheme, stock, bond, crypto-currency, whatever, to make me a millionaire overnight! Yes, I can make choices, but the consequences of those choices are not completely subject to my will, now, are they! There is a very old saying, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!’ It is as true now as it was for Adam. My choice to try, does not guarantee success, does it?

So, the question virtually jumps into the mind of the Christian, ‘Why have I been told all my life that I have to choose Jesus or I’m going to Hell?’ Well, given all the above, that is the question, isn’t it.

The definition above speaks of the will as being the author of our own actions. It seems obvious enough that the results of our will to do something, can be largely beyond our control which leaves the actions themselves. Choosing to live forever is a free choice. But the action-actually living forever-does not seem to be within the power of the ‘free’ will to accomplish. So at this point it is necessary to revisit the definition of ‘free will’.

Another, and I believe much more correct, definition of free will is this: Free will is the ability to choose, any at all, of the moral options offered in a given situation.

The word moral in this case means the degree to which any action in a given situation aligns with God’s revealed will concerning that action. It might also be thought of as a scale from doing that which perfectly pleases God to doing that which is perfectly abhorrent to Him. Of course, only God can choose what pleases Him and what displeases Him. No created being has that prerogative.

God is the Lawgiver! He has already determined the morality of any action we can take in any given situation. A good example is the parable of the good Samaritan. When Jesus asked who acted as the neighbor should, even the scribes and pharisees had no doubt.

We color within the lines when we ascribe the power of God to God not man! Only God has free will. That should be obvious when we profess that He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. God cannot be Omnipotent if our actions limit Him in any way. God cannot be Omniscient if we say or do anything that He has not already accounted for, since He perfectly knows the end from the beginning. God cannot be Omnipresent if He is not always in the right place at the right time to do what is necessary to bring His perfect plan to fruition.

We color within the lines when we ascribe the limitations of man to man not God! In our natural state as unregenerate sons of Adam, we are slaves to sin. It isn’t that we can do no civil good, but that we are not, and cannot be perfectly Holy as God is Holy. Instead of free will, we have what might be termed ‘free agency’ that is, the ability to choose our actions based upon our strongest inclinations at the time. We are responsible to God and the rest of humanity for those actions. In a manner of speaking, one who has free will is a law unto himself; while one who is a free agent can make choices according to his own lights, but he is still responsible to others for the consequences of the choices he makes.

To ascribe to man the free will many claim he has, is to usurp an attribute of God with which we were never endowed. In fact, to do so describes quite clearly the action of which Scripture says Lucifer was guilty and was cast out for it. He claimed he would sit in the throne of the Most High. God has revealed to us that such a goal will not end well!

Coloring outside the lines is easy; don’t have to be careful; neatness doesn’t count. The same is true with biblical interpretation, if you don’t really care about staying within the bounds of what reason and revelation dictates is the truth it seeks to relate, it is possible to make Scripture say virtually anything; and sound good doing it. The problem is, in the end, all you have is something that tickles the ears and there is no absolute truth to it. Isn’t that where majority Christianity stands today? 

We may not like what God has to say about a lot of things. Much of what He has to say cuts right to our hearts, convicting us of the sin we own. He calls us to repentance. He calls us to admit that He is right and righteous. He calls us to know His mercy. He calls us to color within the lines. How will you answer?

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The 500 Year Old Question!

 

Arminianism vs Calvinism…

  Cut to the chase!

Calvinists say Its God’s choice and I can live with it.

Arminians say Its my choice and I can’t live without it.

Either God IS all-Powerful or He is not.  If my choice over-rules His it is obvious He is not!

Where does Scripture say we have free will?  Indeed it says we are captives to sin until the Lord sets us free and those whom He sets free are free indeed!

The Peril We Face!

The Peril We Face!

25 … Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

29 … how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

Please think about this long and hard:

What these verses mean to America.

Verse 25 says to every AMERICAN, not something-American, but AMERICAN that if we allow ourselves to be divided against each other by those lawmakers, instigators, community organizers, globalists, communists, HATERS ALL, who would put personal interests of the moment and the quest for personal power, above the eternal principles of morality and personal responsibility upon which this nation was founded, we will be brought to desolation!!  The Government of We the People is NOT centered in Washington D.C. It is centered in the reason  and conscience of each and every one of US!

Verse 29 reveals the plan they are using against us!  We, the strong man within his own house, has freely allowed those inside who hate him and will do their best to destroy him and spoil his goods.  They are inside his walls, inside his doors, inside his defenses and are using that position of free access to bind him by claiming their right to do as they please inside his walls.  As if their very presence gives them the same rights of ownership as he.  Rights to tear down walls, enslave his children, rape and murder his family, sell or destroy his property, do whatever THEY see FIT! All because HE recognizes that man has inalienable rights and has come to the mistaken belief  that all men are basically good.  Consider Jer. 17:9 and Mark 7:18-23

Jeremiah  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Mark quoting the words of Jesus

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.

Lastly Verse 30

We are at a crossroads in our history.  We have not been so divided since the Civil War. The barbarians are not just at the gates they are inside the walls in greater numbers by the day. There are homegrown haters being produced all the time.  America is a land which was founded on the principles of personal freedom and individual responsibility.  Those who are not willing to support and defend those principles, and live up to them in their own lives, are part of the group trying to destroy all that the rest of us hold dear.  We are a nation of laws. We must stand for the enforcement of those laws or we will be destroyed by those who hate.  Those who are not with us are against us.  We operate on the principle of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’  They operate on the principle of ‘my way or else’.

Americans need to stand for what America was founded to protect. We must not let ourselves be bound mentally or physically so the spoilers can have their way. Wake up America.

What IS the Question?

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” – Dietrich Bonheoffer
OR is it:
The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it teaches its children to cherish and pass on to their children!
Bohheoffer was correct in so far as he went. The greatest generation did what they could to leave us a free country but they didn’t demand enough of us. They didn’t demand that we understand how valuable freedom is. They didn’t demand that we cherish it as much as they did. It takes a very deep love of an idea to be willing to sacrifice your life to preserve that idea. But it looks like it takes an even greater love to indoctrinate your children with the reasons for that love and be willing to accept nothing less of them than that they grow to show as much love for what our Founding Fathers bought for us as they had and that the greatest generation tried to preserve.

What is the question?  The question is, do we love and cherish the truth of what the Founders gave us: the self-evident truths that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

No nation before or since has recognized these truths enough to set the foundations of its government upon them. We the People are to govern.  If we cannot govern ourselves as individual citizens of a nation founded upon the recognition of these truths, if we allow people to live within our sovereign borders to deny these truths to others, we have lost what the Founders handed down.

Any person or group that cannot or will not live under the laws necessary to protect  the inalienable rights of the individual that our governmental structure was erected to protect is a lawbreaker, a criminal.  This in no way is meant to imply that there is no room for honest dissent.

At this moment we have in our midst a growing religion/political ideology/theocracy, that doesn’t recognize these truths.  In fact under their economy, truth is a convenience to be bent, twisted, denied or used to further their goal of domination.

Their goal is to obliterate from the face of the earth any and all other beliefs. These people are willing to use our very belief in individual freedom to create a condition within our borders that would force people to give up essential liberty for safety. Our Founders knew and were familiar with such seditious methods.  In fact, Benjamin Franklin said,  “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

What is the question?   Sharia and the Constitution cannot coexist within the same borders as rule of law.  The one denies the other. They are polar opposites  concerning the rights of the individual.  Are we willing to send those who profess and practice, and demand to live under Sharia, back to nations where that is the norm?  Can one claim citizenship in a place where he denies the authority of the government to enforce the law of the land and at the same time reserves to himself the right to enforce his own laws upon others?   No nation can survive that allows that to go on unopposed. Examples of failed states and states near failing are plentiful in the world today.  Must we fail as a state to show how tolerant we are?

Reason says they must either change to live under our Constitution and rule of law or we must demand that they leave, move to a place that welcomes their rule of law.

What IS the Answer?

What is the answer? Our Constitution guarantees the right to freely practice your religion. Until the turn of the millennium, there were few issues with that. Then Islam began to use that right to claim they could live under Sharia in the USA. That continued and escalating demand  MUST FORCE us to look at the truth of what our Constitution IS actually protecting via the First Amendment.
The first question is this: Was the intent of the First Amendment to authorize ANY RELIGIOUS practice that overrules the right to Life, Liberty, and Property that the duly elected authorities are in place to protect?
The obvious answer that anyone with two brain cells to rub together is a resounding NO!
Therefore, Sharia, which encourages the absolute authority of the man over the woman, honor killing of disobedient children, the stoning or caning of the wife who displeases the husband, female genital mutilation, the chopping off of hands or other appendages for theft and other crimes, etc., etc, etc, simply CANNOT be considered to be protected under the First Amendment.
Some punishment for breaking any religious law that does NOT also break CIVIL law simply MUST not be allowed to deprive ANYONE of Life, Liberty, or Property. If a particular religion has laws that call for the death of the lawbreaker for blasphemy (for instance), shunning (being considered dead to the other adherents of that religion) is permissible but killing them IS NOT!
The First Amendment Rights do NOT trump the INALIENABLE rights of the individual! How hard is that to understand? And why must it be such a crisis of conscience for Americans to stand up an say so?

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?

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