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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Should Man Fear God or Just Stand in Awe of Him?

Over the years there has been much teaching supporting the view that the Bible teaches men to stand in awe and reverence before God and not to fear him.  We are to love God and not fear him is the idea.  I John 4:18 seems to fully support this line of thought for it reads:

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18 NKJV)
The problem is most of us doubt having that perfect love John speaks of.  Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15 NKJV)  We generally know we have often not done a very good job of doing that.  So what about the fear of God?
Here is a link to an article written by man by the name of Dick Sztanyo that may help out at least a little.  I do not say it answers all questions.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Late at Night

More and more people are labeling Christians as haters and evildoers.  We are said to be prejudiced intolerant people who pass judgment and condemnation on others and are unloving.  I have given that some thought.

I wonder if those who despise us so much would rather have their car break down late at night in a neighborhood known to be made up of those who profess to know Christ, who attend church services regularly, or in a neighborhood that is noted for its secularism, worldliness, and un-Christ like behaviors?  So far I have never heard of anyone fearing for their safety in a Christian neighborhood, no not even a homosexual whom we are falsely accused of hating.  I suspect the homosexual would much rather be with us late at night than in the other neighborhood.

Yep, we are a bad people until late at night when the car breaks down.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pregnancy, Prayer, and Abortion



I recently learned I am to be a grandfather for the first time.  I have started praying for the baby God's blessing.  Not long after starting to do that the thought came to my mind that that is one thing those who contemplate having an abortion and those who believe in abortion cannot do.  I had never thought about that.
How does one pray for a baby they plan to abort, kill?  How do those who believe in abortion pray for what they consider to be nonhuman, just a mass of blood and biological tissue?
If those who believe in abortion respond saying we can pray for a pregnancy where no abortion is planned then I say how is there any consistency in that?  Is that which is within the womb human if we plan on keeping it but just tissue and blood, nonhuman, if we desire to rid ourselves of it?
"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is HIS reward." (Psalms 127:3 NKJV)  Obviously, not everyone is willing to accept that.
What if the child is born out of wedlock?  What if it is?  Jephthah, the son of a prostitute (Judges 11:1), is listed in what we often call God's hall of fame of the faithful in Hebrews 11:32.  Based on the way his half brothers cast him out it seems very likely his father was never married to the prostitute mother.  Lange's Commentary reads as follows:
"If he had been the son of one who was properly a wife, his brothers would doubtless have been obliged to admit him to a share in the inheritance; for Rachel, the ancestress of Gilead, had also several co-wives, whose sons … inherited as well as Joseph himself. But they maintained that his mother had not been a wife of their father at all, not even one of secondary rank,—that she was nothing but a harlot."
No matter how a child is conceived God is responsible for giving the life.  In the womb God is in the process of making a child.  "Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?" (Job 31:15 NKJV)  Jeremiah says the word of the Lord came to him saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." (Jer. 1:5 NKJV)  Would it have been okay to abort Jeremiah while he was still in the womb?  How about the apostle Paul?  How about Jesus himself?
One never knows how a child will turn out but we must remember the child is God's creation, not our own.  Man should not interfere with God's work.  God opens and closes wombs (Gen. 29:31, 30:22, 1 Sam. 1:5-6) and it is he who fashions us in the womb.

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jesus and Gay Marriage


Some people say Jesus never spoke on the issue of gay marriage.  However, I believe Jesus did speak on the subject indirectly if not directly.  Let us read Matt. 19:3-9:
"The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?'  And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.' They said to Him, 'Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?'  He said to them,  'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.'" (NKJV)
There are some significant facts in this short exchange that need to be brought out.
(1) We learn from Jesus that God made mankind male and female and that for a purpose, the purpose of a joining together to become one flesh.  Now think about that.  If the purpose of making mankind male and female was so they could become one flesh (obviously for godly purposes) then if a man mates with another man has he not violated God's purpose for making him a man?  If not, why not?  God did not make man to become one flesh with another man.
(2) The wife in this marriage scenario was a female.  Jesus speaks of the wife and makes it clear the wife is a "her" (see verse 9).  Jesus and the Pharisees were agreed on that.  The marriage involved a male and a female.  I do not know what a couple in a homosexual relationship will call their partner if gay marriage is allowed but I know it cannot be "wife" and be the truth.  If the relationship sours over time and there is a divorce what will be divorced?  It can't be a wife.  Can you have a marriage without a wife?  If so where in scripture do you find such a marriage?  I have never read of one in scripture and neither have you and Jesus never knew of any either. 
 (3) We learn what God joined together was a man and a woman, not a man and a man.  Does God join together a man and a man?  If so Jesus knew nothing about it.  If so find the scripture that shows it but I will tell you before you begin it cannot be done.  If God does the joining together of a male and female in a marriage and the Bible not once indicates anything other than male and female then who does the joining together of male and male?  Is it God or man?  This is an important point for the text says God does the joining together.  Is God under obligation to accept man's invention, one that opposes directly his purpose for making man male and female?

 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Early Christians Believed About Abortion


If you will look to the right side of my blog here, just below my picture, you will see a section entitled "Good Bible Study Sites."  One of those sites, the first one listed, is about the ancient writings of the early Christians.  There are some great topics on that site.  I would encourage you to check the site out.  One article you will find there is one dealing with what the early Christians had to say and believed about abortion.  You can find that article by clicking here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

More Troubling Than Gay Marriage?


Today is June 24, 2014.  As everyone knows federal judges all over the country are declaring state bans on gay marriage unconstitutional.  It happened here in Indiana this week and I believe also in the state of Utah.  One other thing happened this week related to this issue that should cause embarrassment and concern to all who believe the scriptures.
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A., which was in 2011 the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, voted to redefine marriage and allow its pastors to perform same sex marriage ceremonies in votes, each being a separate vote, that were not even close but overwhelming.  It now joins the United Church of Christ in its support of same sex marriage. 
In doing some follow up reading on this event I ran across an article by a pastor of the denomination, a man by the name of Sheldon Steen.  Let me quote a little of what Mr. Steen had to say about the changes that were made.  He said, "My deepest prayer is that this moment will become for us like Peter’s rooftop experience in Acts 10. That we will all be able to affirm together the words of God to Peter, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.'”
This brings up an issue more troubling than gay marriage—how does one exegete (interpret) scripture correctly?  Listen to what the New Testament says about homosexuality:
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."  (Rom. 1:24-27 NKJV)
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."  (1 Cor. 6:9-10 NKJV)
"Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."  (1 Tim. 1:9-10 NKJV)
"And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."  (Jude v. 6-7 NKJV)
(Underlining for emphasis—DS)
Jude speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah saying they were an example.  The "strange flesh" Jude speaks of that the people of those cities went after was without doubt that of a homosexual nature.  When two angels who appeared as men came to Lot in the city of Sodom the men of the city surrounded Lot's house, "And they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.'" (Gen. 19:5 NKJV)  Go back to the OT account in Genesis 18:16-19:29 and read it, then read again also Rom. 1:24-27. 
When you read the words of Jesus in the New Testament you will hear him speak of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Why?  They were as Jude, speaking by the Holy Spirit, says—examples of wrong doing and God's punishment.  One will note in reading what Jesus had to say that no one questions him about it.  It was a well known fact among all the Jews of what had happened to both Sodom and Gomorrah and why.  They became a sort of standard for evil and God's judgment against it.  No explanation was needed.  All knew about it.  For passages where Jesus mentions either or both Sodom and Gomorrah see Matt. 10:15, 11:23, 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29. 
Now how can Mr. Steen in view of these passages say God has made clean homosexual relationships?  How does one exegete scripture to come up with that conclusion?  This is the more troubling side issue of the gay marriage controversy.
I know the emphasis today in religious circles is on grace and God's love, not on obedience.  Jesus said, however, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:10 NKJV)  What if one does not keep Jesus' commandments?  What if one willfully and knowingly breaks his commandments and that is his/her practice throughout life?  I am not speaking of occasional lapses into sin for all sin in one form or another from time to time (no man is perfect) but rather I am speaking of living a life of sin such as is the case in gay marriage.
I know sometimes people want to claim the only words in the New Testament that are Jesus' words are those printed red in a red letter edition of the Bible.  Sometimes a person will hear someone say Paul said this or that, not Jesus, with the idea being that what Paul says was only his own ideas and do not matter as Paul had his own agenda.  If you believe that read John 16:12-15.  Jesus says, "I still have many things to say to you." (John 16:12 NKJV)  Well, is he never ever going to reveal those things?  Read the text carefully.  I think you can figure it out without any problem.  The Holy Spirit spoke the words of Jesus and Paul was an inspired apostle (Acts 9:17).  The attempt to diminish Paul's authority to speak for Christ fails. 
If it is possible for a person to read plain unambiguous texts from scripture and yet reject them and declare God has changed his mind (is this not what pastor Steen has done?) then what good at all is a Bible as a guide?  I am as serious as can be.  In such a scenario we cannot know what it is telling us.  It does not mean what it clearly states.  Where does that leave us?
I suspect the answer to those who would respond would run something like this, "the Spirit leads us."  Leads us to what is my question?  Does it lead us to reject the scripture the Spirit gave us?  If that is the case we have the Spirit in conflict with himself.  Seems to me we need to try the Spirits and see which come from God.  "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1 NKJV)  The only way I know how to do that is by the word of God.  What does it say?
One ought to read again 1 Cor. 6:9-10 which I quoted above.  I have a question to ask about it and you might want to give it a shot and try and answer it.  That passage gives a list of those who cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  If homosexuals can now inherit the kingdom of God, I am talking practicing homosexuals, then why not fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, etc., also mentioned in that passage? 
Some think a legal (according to the law of the land) marriage ceremony would make a homosexual relationship holy.  If a homosexual marriage is acceptable to God so is an adulterous one.  "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matt. 19:9 NKJV)
God never condemned a sexual union between a man and a woman but he did regulate it and make it dependent upon being married with both parties to the marriage being scripturally eligible for such a marriage.  Such cannot be said of a sexual union of two people of the same sex.  In fact, God declared such a union as an abomination (Lev. 18:22 and 20:13).  We no longer live under the Law of Moses and no one is advocating putting to death practicing homosexuals but the Leviticus passages do show us how God has felt about homosexual unions in the past.  Combine that with the passages I have quoted from the New Testament above and one sees, who is willing to see, God's view of the matter.
Those who desire to please God are going to have to make a choice.  Are they going to be guided by the word of God or by the opinions of men?  I would say to Mr. Steen who implies that God has cleansed the homosexual marriage (?) relationship to prove it from the scriptures.  Tell me why the scriptures I have quoted are of no account.  Every day it is becoming harder for men to stand up for the written word of God.  People no longer hold it in the high esteem they once did.  It is not uncommon to hear not just the word of God but God himself being attacked and Christians are being accused of bigotry, hatred, and intolerance.  We live in a word where the goal seems to be no boundaries of behavior, no moral judgments.  On judgment day we will not be judged on the basis of society's standards or on the basis of what a federal judge has decided.  The real judge will set on the bench that day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Death of America

I think most conservative Americans who believe the Bible to be the verbally inspired word of God and thus it, not man, is the determinative factor in deciding right from wrong believe America is on a track that will eventually destroy our nation.  There will be no more "Morning in America" or a "Shining City on a Hill" for our country.  I ran across this article yesterday that I thought I would share with you as being as good a piece as I have come across in awhile on our plight.  I think the author hit the nail square on the head as to where we are at today.  See what you think.  The link is below.

http://townhall.com/columnists/mattbarber/2014/03/09/no-political-fix-to-americas-death-spiral-n1806266

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Depressing State of Christian Faith


As I write this piece I confess to being somewhat discouraged and depressed myself about the declining state of Christian faith in America today.  Evidently, I am not the only one who sees faith in decline for Gallup did a poll in May of 2013 in which 77% of those surveyed said they felt religion was losing its influence on American life.  In a poll taken by Harris in November of 2013, 23% of Americans say they are not at all religious.  While that number may not seem that great the most troubling aspect of it is that just 7 years ago that number was 12% so it has nearly doubled in just the past 7 years.  If things continue on as they are today what will that number be in another 7 years?  Only 19% of Americans in the Harris poll were willing to describe themselves as very religious.  America is rapidly becoming a secular nation with no moral compass.

Fewer and fewer people believe in absolute truth today (a postmodernism effect), believe the Bible is verbally inspired and without error, or that man must submit to its dictates or suffer the consequences if he does not.  Sin is now generally accepted and no attempt is made any longer to hide it as long as the law of the land will allow it.  We abort babies (a holocaust), commit fornication (taken for granted these days), and become adulterers thinking God wants me to be happy or else not caring at all what he thinks.  One of the things that has amazed me recently in my own neck of the woods is the push for gay marriage among groups of people whom you would have thought never would do such a thing which illustrates the state of mind of many who confess to be believers today.

One man was quoted in a local paper as saying that there was no scriptural justification for denying gays the right to marry?  I just could not believe that a person who knew anything at all about the Bible could say such a thing as that.  Another wrote that he was a born again Christian and he was a supporter of gay marriage.  Please tell me how a person can read 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and get that we ought to support gay marriage.  "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."  (1 Cor. 6:9-11 ESV)  There is a footnote in the ESV for the phrase "men who practice homosexuality" as follows:  "The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts." 

Now I ask should we Christians be in the business of helping people sin by giving our consent to it and striving to pass laws to promote it.  If the passage above is not enough for you on the subject of God's will in this matter try Jude 6-7, Rom. 1:24-27, and 1 Tim. 1:9-10.  When I wrote on the subject, which I did, one lady wrote in telling me Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.  Is that right?  Did Jesus ever mention Sodom?  Check out Matt. 10:15, Matt. 11:23, Matt. 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29.  In most of these passages Jesus is saying with regards to a specific city that it will be more tolerable for Sodom in the Day of Judgment than it will be that particular city.  But I ask the question why does he use Sodom as a standard for comparison?  Was it not because it was infamous?  Had not all the Jewish people heard of what was done to Sodom and Gomorrah and why?

No doubt he used Sodom as a basis for comparison because all were aware of how evil it was and the consequences it reaped as a result.  Jude says Sodom and Gomorrah were to serve as an example "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 6 NKJV)  He gives the reason as well saying they had "given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh." (Jude 6 NKJV)  So don't tell me Jesus never talked about homosexuality.  When you talk about Sodom you are talking about homosexuality.  

And then there were some spokesmen who wrote in to a local paper on behalf of their denominational bodies supporting the move toward the acceptance of gay marriage.  

Yes, I oppose the whole manmade concept of gay marriage and I do so on scriptural grounds but the thing that is even more troubling to me is the loss of faith in the word of God by those who call themselves Christian and yet opinionate that God approves what he has clearly condemned.  In the Old Testament he even calls the homosexual act an abomination (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).  Where is the faith in statements of scripture that cannot possibly be misunderstood?

The words of the Bible seem to no longer have meaning among a certain class of people that would like for others to think they are God fearing.  They speak of love and grace as though the commandments of the Bible can be tossed aside as of no consequence and God be mocked in doing so.  If they decide among men that an act is holy and righteous that overrides everything the Bible has to say about the matter.  Jesus spoke of just such a group when he said, "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men." (Mark 7:8 NKJV)  I don't think any gay marriage advocate will ever have the gall to say that gay marriage is from God but if it is not from God where is it from?  Whose tradition is it?  To ask is to answer.

Eve had trouble accepting the word of God when presented with another option.  Today's generation ought to learn from history or do people ever learn from history?  Sometimes it seems we do not.  Eve set aside God's commandment on the say so of another that it would be okay.  Are we not being told to do the same today?  We are when we deny the words from the passages I have quoted.  Read 1 Cor. 6:9-11 again and then take on the role of the serpent and tell people it will not matter.  Tell them like the serpent told Eve, "You will not surely die." (Gen. 3:4 NKJV) 

For those advocating gay marriage on the basis of love the Bible says, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3 NKJV)  You and I as mere men do not have a right to define love when God has already done so.  What are you going to do, are you going to override God?

To endorse gay marriage is a violation of the golden rule and of love.  "Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise." (Luke 7:31 NKJV)  I do not want any man to encourage me to sin.  To do that to me is sin against me and it carries a consequence.  "Jesus said to his disciples: 'Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.'" (Luke 17:1 NIV)  Those who are presently encouraging gay marriage are encouraging people to sin and there will be a consequence. 

For those who think the homosexual act is sinful outside marriage, just as fornication is, but would be acceptable to God in a marriage relationship they need to give that a second thought.  There is a difference.  God has never condemned the sexual act between a man and woman as sinful in its own right.  In fact God said to Adam and Eve "be fruitful and multiply." (Gen. 1:28 NKJV)  "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Heb. 13:4 NKJV)   But note the sexual act outside of marriage, fornication, is condemned so it depends on the relationship between a man and a woman, are they married or not?

That cannot be said of the homosexual act between man and man.  That act God has declared to be sinful in itself and that is the big, big difference.  As for marriage the Bible refers to Eve as Adam's wife and thus a marriage designed by God.  Nowhere in scripture will you find God making a marriage between man and man.  Thus such a thing is an invention of men, and of men, not of God.

Postmodernism would say there is no absolute truth thus all my quoting of scripture amounts to nothing with a postmodernist.  That my friends is the day and age we live in and mindset that seems to have captured so many of our people.  Let the Bible as the inspired word of God take a hike.  That is depressing to me to know we have come to that state of affairs.  Faith is now the invention of man, each making his/her own faith, making their own truth, thinking all the while that all is A-okay.  We will see.  We will see.