Friday, October 31, 2014


With every printed ad, attractive people (some say “sexy” people) promote everything from trash bags to the latest electronic gear. Underwear ads are getting obscenely revealing. (Back in the 1960s when I was a teen, my father took me to work with him. His boss, the owner, had Playboy centerfolds plastered all over the walls of his office. Those centerfolds were considerably more modest than today’s underwear ads are.)

With increasing frequency, TV shows are promoting the “gay” lifestyle as normal and mainstream. (I for the life of me can’t figure out why, with increasing frequency, even within cooking competition shows such as Chopped, the one thing competitors feel compelled to reveal about themselves is that they are homosexual. You never hear heterosexuals make their sexual orientation their main achievement to feature about their lives. In fact, in that gays say they "were born that way," indicates it was not an achievement at all. However, the reason is more than accidental. It is because of the agenda of the LGBT lobbyists. But I digress.)

Comedians today think sex jokes are the only jokes worth repeating. Personally, I have heard people laugh much louder and heartily at old “I Love Lucy” and Carol Burnett TV episodes. Music videos are becoming so risque that it is sickening. Video games now have ratings on them due to “adult content.”

My Point
Maybe 10 or more years ago I would have concluded that it is “nearly impossible to avoid seeing and hearing these things.” However, today I would remove the word “nearly.” It now IS impossible to avoid those things. With all the onslaught of immoral propaganda, the ease of finding such on the internet (even when you aren’t even looking for it!) can raise curiosity for those who have not built up their spiritual armor. Still, scriptures encourage true Christians to brace up their minds (determined conviction) to remain UN-curious.

To be clear: The only action I recommend is one of self-defensive "bracing our minds" to reject any of this world's loose immoral behavior. I am not advocating taking an offensive stance toward those that live those lifestyles. While Christians judge the conduct as unacceptable and falling very short of what God approves, it is God who judges individuals.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved

Those promoting the idea of “once saved, always saved” (OSAS) claim very strongly that the belief is firmly rooted in Scripture. Based on the passages used by one such group, here is an examination of their claims:

John 3:15-18. The phrase the OSAS fixate on is that merely believing in Jesus is sufficient. You only need to declare Jesus as Lord in your heart, they claim. The apostle Paul made a similar declaration at Acts 16:31 to a prison guard that was awestruck by the circumstances surrounding Paul’s miraculous release from prison. But what is involved in believing in Jesus? Commenting on this, the publisher’s foreword to the 1965 edition of the Amplified Bible wrote: 
“Webster defines it: ‘to place credence…apart from personal knowledge; to expect or hope…to be more or less firmly persuaded of the truth of anything, to think or suppose.’” The Foreword then continued: “In this sense, most people believe in Christ—that He lived; that He was a perfect Man Who sincerely believed Himself to be the Son of God, and that He died … to save sinners. But this is by no means the meaning of the Greek word which twenty-two New Testament versions out of twenty-four consulted render ‘believe.’ They do so because there is no one English word that adequately conveys the intended meaning. Actually, the Greek word used here for believe is ‘pisteuo.’ It means ‘to adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on.’ Consequently, the words, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…’ really mean to have an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
Yes, believing, as taught in the Bible is much deeper than most realize. It goes beyond a mere mental acknowledgement of Christ, it reaches deeper than the emotional outbursts that some make. It is an informed decision of commitment and dedication. Really, examining the context of scripture it is easy to see that is so. For example, Acts 16:32 states that Paul went on to relate “the word of the Lord” or, as some translations render it (more accurately) “the word of Jehovah.” In other words, there was more that Paul related to that man than is detailed in Acts 16. (Paul was not known for brevity.) Really, reflect on the bulk of writing in the Greek scriptures (aka New Testament)—If merely believing was all that was necessary, why would there be so much written (four gospels, a detailed record of post–resurrection activity known as the Book of Acts, 21 letters on Christian belief and conduct and one far-reaching prophetic book known as Revelation)? Obviously, God wanted us to know much more than who Jesus was and what he did for us.

One website promoting OSAS claimed that Hebrews 6:4-6 supports the OSAS belief. I could not help but chuckle when I read the heading from the link they provided to that scripture because the heading plainly says “Warning Against Apostasy.” They actually went out of their way to completely convolute the plain teaching that salvation CAN be lost for those disowning their belief. Instead, they try to make the scripture sound as if it is saying it is impossible for someone to renounce their faith. Is that so? Is there any example in scripture that would demonstrate that one way or the other? 

Yes, there are at least three. The first is the case of Ananias and his wife Sopphria. Their devious action resulted in direct condemnation and their immediate death from the very hand of God. Next is the case of Dimas. At first, Paul gives this man a compliment, referring to him as a “fellow worker.” But later sadly observes that Dimas left off serving God because he preferred what the world alienated from God had to offer. The third example is found at 1 Timothy 1:18-20. There, Paul cites two former believers that disregarded their conscience and, as a result, suffered "shipwreck of their faith." (See also 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:15-18)

Really, those claiming that it is impossible to become "unsaved" are arguing against logic—why? Because God gave mankind free will. To say that once we become believers, we forfeit free will is simply not true. Think about Adam and Eve. Before they sinned, they were perfect yet they expressed their free will, lost their lives and will never live again. Are those purporting OSAS saying that we imperfect offspring of Adam are not allowed to have free will after we accept Jesus? The two accounts cited prove that is untrue.

One more thought about Acts 16:31. As noted in this link, the greater number of translations all use the phrase "will be" (not "are"). "Will be" denotes future tense, not present tense. Indeed, this is in full agreement with the first scripture listed below at Matthew 24:13. So considering one's self to be saved at the moment of belief or baptism is not in line with what scripture states.

What other scriptural evidence is there that OSAS is wrong? Consider this list:
Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus indicates that merely claiming to be his follower is not enough. Give this scripture serious thought. If the ones mentioned here were truly expending themselves in doing acts that Jesus himself did (prophesying in Jesus' name, expelling demons, and other powerful works) and yet Jesus rejected them, how can one who merely claims to be saved expect Jesus' approval?

Matthew 24:13 Jesus pointedly states “he that endures the end is one that will be saved.” Now ask yourself. If we are "saved" upon becoming believers, then why would Jesus say we wouldn't be saved until "the end"? (Supporting this, Romans 8:17,23 Paul indicates that suffering for the sake of the Christ and leaving behind our mortal bodies (death) must take place before we are truly adopted (saved) as sons.)

Romans 10:9,10; Hebrews 10:35-39; 1 John 2:4. These three passages, taken together, help us appreciate that “exercising” faith through active obedience and proclamation of our convictions, is what saves. Faith is much more than a mere belief. Just claiming to know that God is real does not get his approval.  (See also James 2:19)

Romans 11:20-22 Just as the nation of Israel was lopped off the main tree (losing their approved state with God and hence reaping not a reward to everlasting life) so those becoming individual believers could be cut off if they proved disloyal/unworthy.

Galatians 4:11 Why would Paul fear for those in Galatia if they were saved for all time? Obviously, they must not yet be saved eternally, otherwise Paul would not have been concerned.

Galatians 6:7-9 “Mocking” God by expecting that he will tolerate any conduct on our part is merely self deception. Paul concludes that whatever a man is sowing is what he will reap. Yes, action ("sowing") is what is looked for, not merely saying we believe and then doing whatever we want.

Philippians 3:12-14 If Paul believed in once-saved-always-saved, he would not have written these words.

Hebrews 10:26,27 Paul makes it very clear that willful disobedience means losing the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice.

Hebrews 12:7-11 Herein Paul explains that if we are without discipline we are illegitimate children of God. (Some OSAS proponents claim that after accepting Jesus, they can commit whatever sin they want and God will overlook it. Paul helps us understand that not even human parents would put up with such conduct, how much less would God who time and again has demonstrated he will not tolerate flagrant disobedience.)

2 Peter 2:20-22 Here, Peter makes it quite plain that those not remaining active and firm in the faith have a worse outcome than those who had never known.

Jude 3. Jude writes that he felt urged to write fellow Christians to put up a hard fight. Why would he write that if merely initially believing was all that was required? Evidently, constant and consistent effort is needed.

Revelation 2:2-5 Here, Jesus counseled a congregation that at first was very zealous but then got complacent that if they didn't repent of this complacency they would have their lampstand removed, in other words, they would be rejected. (See also Revelation 3:16)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Not Mere Hearers

There is not a business or field of activity that I can think of where merely listening, even eagerly and attentively, is enough to curry the favor of those promoting the activity. Everything from little league to salesmen to corporate leaders are required to act on what they hear. Consider the salesman that gets very excited about the product when he hears the features of the product, the easy sales pitch, the support system, and the money he will make. But then, immediately after leaving the meeting, does nothing with that. If he were to expect any compensation for producing nothing, generating no sales, would the company show him anything but “the front door” (firing him)?

That is thrust of Jesus words at Luke 13:26,27. By illustration, Jesus said that people would feel they should be rewarded for merely listening to Jesus. In our time, what sort of people are these? One group that comes to mind are those stating that they “go to church.” Even if they listen attentively, is that all that is expected? The blunt answer is found at James 1:22-25.

What then is expected; what is does it mean to be “a doer”? Read these citations and see if you can get the sense of what a true Christian should do.

Mark 5:18-20. In this account, it was a man Jesus cured that turned around and started to declare his faith--he was not a trained preacher. Is this not the way each of us should feel about publically declaring our faith?

Luke 9:60. Consider: The ones spoken to here were those being invited to follow Jesus. These were not one of the twelve apostles.

Acts 8:4. In the surrounding verses, it is mentioned that a persecution arose against the congregation. It was the members of the congregation that were scattered. All of them were declaring the Good News.

Romans 10:9,10. Consider: Is this only directed to preachers, ordained ministers, priests?

It is my conclusion that each of us are required to declare our faith. What is your conclusion?

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Implicit Trust

There is a phrase in scripture that seems to have a few “colors” (nuances). That phrase is “the fear of Jehovah” (or, “the fear of God”, “the fear of the Lord”). In some cases, this might be understood as having implicit trust in God, regardless of the situation.

Let me illustrate: A young person has been raised by his (or her) parents to reject any offers of drugs. But one day at school, he is approached by peers and offered drugs. Now, out of peer pressure (a fear of displeasing his peers), that young person hesitates, looks around, and sees no one else. He (or she) then accepts the drugs. But now, what if there were police watching this and the child got arrested? Later his parents are summoned to the police station.

The parents look at their child without a word. Can you imagine the shock, embarrassment and sadness the child would feel? The child may have actually truly loved his parents, just not enough to stand up to peers. If that child had greater respect (fear) of displeasing his parents, he should have rejected the offer without hesitation. Apparently, the child didn't have such respect. (Some may want to argue that perhaps the child was just trying to avoid a confrontation and actually planned to throw the drugs away, but that was not the training and instructions he received. Even if he tries to explain his actions that way, what will be the likelihood of his parents or the police believing him?)

The fear of Jehovah is the same way. We fear displeasing God more than we fear whatever others may do to us. Just as the wisest action the child should have taken was to completely and immediately reject the drug offer, the wisest action those claiming to worship God in truth can take is to act exactly as God directs. One of the greatest (in my mind) scriptural examples of this are the three Hebrews who were threatened with being burned alive if they didn't fall down and worship a statue that pagan king had made. Their unwavering loyalty to God was demonstrated in their response. (Daniel 3:16-18)

Contentment, A Mark of A Mature Person

Search Google for the keywords “money” and “happiness” (or unhappiness), and you’ll find polar differences in opinions. There are those that, from experience, realize that money and the things it can buy really do not “make” people happy. I realize this more every day when I read online posts by those intent on having the latest mobile phone. I’ve been reading and contributing to a few sites for enough years to know that every year, those that felt that the latest and greatest would make them happy are, just a few months or maybe a year later, dissatisfied and no longer happy with their phone. It is not that their current phone is defective, it is just not the latest/greatest on the market.

People of that sort actually demonstrate the truth of the statement that money and the things it can buy do not, cannot, and will not ever buy real/true happiness. If a person were truly happy with what they have, they wouldn’t become so quickly and easily discontented. It really is a vicious cycle that is akin to a dog chasing its own tail—even if it catches itself, it eventually has to let go in order to catch it again. (Admittedly, in my own experience, my happiness with a product lasted up to the point that the next model came along.)

In contrast to this is Jesus’ observation that insatiable greed does nothing to extend a person’s life. Hence, the Bible advises true Christians to be free of the love of money. Contentment is one real key to true happiness that is not short-lived. Once a person realizes that chasing the never-ending, insatiable desire for the “next best thing” actually doesn’t have any ability to make one truly happy, they can start to live a contented life.

However, does being content mean that you will never want to treat yourself? No, it doesn’t. But the difference is akin to a donkey being led by a carrot dangled on a stick in front of its face as opposed to a donkey being fed at the appointed meal time. Is what we want just desire built by marketing or is it something we truly need and can put to use?

Based on the two aforementioned scriptures, mature Christians should weigh carefully why they feel they need and how they will be benefited by whatever it is they have their eyes set on.