Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Slavery

Even speaking of slavery as an injustice is a risk because some have memories of close ancestors who were slaves and more still feel the effects of involuntary servitude.  However, in my blogs, I say that I will speak truth. Slavery has existed from time immemorial, but that doesn't make it right. The intent here is to find and answer as to why God allows bad things to happen to good people. The subject at hand is slaves. Not just those with African origins, but slaves in every nation. My own ancestors were indentured servants. They were slaves to their masters for a period of time, just as Jacob served seven years to Laban (Gen 29:20), but for my ancestor and Jacob, freedom was in sight. Others were enslaved for a lifetime. That's a travesty and an injustice!

Slavery has been in existence on every continent throughout history. The Greeks and Romans owned slaves. Egypt's dynastic achievements were built on the backs of slave labor. Defeated peoples served their new rulers as slaves. In the 1500's slave trade was institutionalized with most slaves coming primarily from Africa. Powerful tribes sold weaker tribal members into slavery. Eleven million Africans were exported worldwide into slavery.

Jews became slaves and they too owned slaves:

Leviticus 25:44 (ESV) "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly."

Yes, God allowed, but didn't ordain, slavery. Slavery was due to disobedience of mankind. It's a shame that we ever had slaves, but then to, it's a bigger shame that man ever sinned. Slavery was even an early means of currency:

Exodus 21:20-21 (ESV) “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money."

Since slaves had value they were to be treated with great care. Just as a master is told to treat his beasts humanely, the same applied to slaves. Slave masters were forbidden to be cruel:

Colossians 4:1 (ESV) "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven."

Furthermore slaves were to be good servants:

Titus 2:9 (ESV)  "Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior."
Colossians 3:22 (ESV)  "Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord."
God allowed slavery for a time just as he allowed divorce and multiple wives. It's not that God ordains divorce, adultery and slavery; but that our hearts are calloused.  See here what he says about those who enslave others:

1 Timothy 1:10 (The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient):  "The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine..."

You can readily see that those who would make a slave of another are equivalent to homosexuals, liars, and the sexually immoral.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to mankind? It's because man chose to follow the ruler of the world (not meaning that the slaves were the disobedient, but that the institution is because of man's disobedience):

Ephesians 2:2 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience..."
Satan is the prince of the world.  John 12:31 supports the ruler of the world to be Satan. Just as God removed his protective hedge from around Job, since mankind was disobedient, he removed his protective hedge from around everybody. Just as Job was faithful and still suffered persecution, those in slavery may have been faithful, they too were persecuted. Slavery is not of God, but he allows mankind to suffer our own devices! Just as Jesus said that the poor will always be with us, servitude will be as well! It may not be ownership, indenture or pecuniary slavery, but slavery will always exist.

Jesus didn't come to free mankind from earthly masters, but to free them from sin and fear of eternal death!  With one word Jesus could have ended poverty and obliterated slavery. However, he chose to leave them alone! Why?

It's no shame to be a servant. In fact we're all to serve!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV) "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

Christians are all slaves! We're slaves to God. Spiritual slavery is a duty and an honor! Likewise, human slavery is a picture of our relationship to Christ. In our eyes it's a great injustice, but for the Lord, the servants to man are a special people. His own chosen people were servants to Egypt. Egypt was a picture of slavery to sin and the Pharaoh was a picture of Satan. The Hebrew people were delivered from slavery (sin) in Egypt and became a mighty nation in their own right! God allowed his people to be slaves, and he had a reason:

Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

Servants are an example of meekness. Good servants are a better example. Those who suffer slavery will get their reward. There will be a special crown for those who serve others, but slavery has another reason as well.  Persecution spreads the gospel message!

If Paul had never been imprisoned Christianity would never have spread so rapidly. If Peter hadn't been crucified upside down, Christianity would not have grown. Injustice breeds growth. Just as more Christians suffered under Nero Caesar and the gospel message spread, likewise slavery spread the gospel to a distant dark continent and it's indigenous peoples. God used the persecution of human beings as a means to lead them to Christ!  His desire was not slavery. That was Satan's desire, just as persecution of early Christians is of Satan. However, God used this crooked stick to allow all peoples to hear his word.

Today, those descendants of slaves are a glorified righteous people on the whole. They worship the same Christ that we worship and salvation is for all!  Without persecution, many peoples of the world would never know of the grace of Jesus!

Biblical support for slavery can never be justified any more than biblical support for divorce nor adultery. God's will is that all men shall be free. Man was created a free creature, not even a servant of God, but a willing worker in his garden; a friend!  Adam's disobedience put the curse on the earth. Man was cursed with toil in tilling the earth. Before the fall of man the earth was fruitful and God provided all the needs of mankind with little effort on the part of man.

With hardship in tilling the soil came slavery. It's one of the oldest institutions known. Man, because of the deception of Satan, is responsible for slavery. It's not God's will that man serve others, but to serve him alone!

Heaven is a wonderful place. Those who suffered slavery here on earth will sit at the table of angels and glorify God who finally makes them free. "Free at last. Thank God, Almighty. Free at last!" (Martin King).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eternal vs. Conditional Security

There's a huge doctrinal argument which makes the biggest difference in the world as to the efficacy of salvation. 5th Point Calvinists (preservation of the Saints) believe that once one is truly saved they are secure in their salvation and regardless of later sins, they shall have eternal life. Charles Stanley, the most watched Baptist preacher, says in his book Eternal Security "“Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy” (Chapter 10, p. 93)." He believes that if a Christian commits murder he or she is still heaven bound.

If the Bible speaks of even one person who commits apostasy, then Charles Stanley and Eternal Security bites the dust, so to speak. Although this argument has been broached from all avenues, it isn't settled and never will be! Even if a verse outright said "Eternal security is a lie!" those who believe it would never relent. In all fairness those who believe in conditional security are as adamant. However, all that I seek is truth!

In my Bible I have underlined every verse having to do with assurance of salvation. Some passages seem to favor eternal security, others conditional security, and still others seem to support both! The following verse is evidence of this:

Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God..."

This verse is the most often used by those who espouse eternal security. The argument is that since salvation is a gift of God, he saves you even though you don't deserve it! Furthermore, since grace is an undeserved gift, no "work" you do can gain it. Since you do nothing to gain salvation, then there's nothing that you can do to "lose" your salvation.  Lose is in quotes because those who believe in eternal security are always careful to say "Those people believe that you can lose your salvation. Ha! HA!"  Conditional security says nothing about "losing" salvation, but failing to hold onto faith, thus giving up salvation; called apostasy.

"Ye are saved through faith" is a key phrase. We all agree that it takes faith in Jesus to be saved. However, the efficacy of salvation lies in the duration of faith. Those with an eternal security mindset seem to place faith as a one-time event. A person feels remorse,  expresses belief in Jesus, repents, gets baptized and is thus saved. For the remainder of their life they have Christian liberty to sin as much and often as they desire!  Those of the conditional security mindset believe that faith must be persevering and steadfast until death. If the Christian willingly denies Jesus or ceases to commune with God, that person has given up the faith he or she had at salvation and is in apostasy. They become reprobate (damned). The argument then lies on how the believer perceives faith. My belief, and I won't quote scripture here, is that faith is steadfast and enduring. (I leave it to the reader to review faith since I've written much on faith previously).

There are several  instances in Scripture where a believer abandons God. I'll use one from the New Testament:

Acts 8:9 "But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

Luke says that Simon believed as did the others who became Christians and was also baptized. Some believe that baptism saves and some that it's symbolic of salvation. Regardless, Simon believed and was baptized. This is being "born again" as taught to Nicodemus by Philip who was the saved through the ministry of Philip. However, Simon didn't take long to get confused about what he believed:

Acts 8:18 "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me."

Firstly, Simon, although a new Christian, became confused. He failed to bury the old person with baptism. He saw the opportunity to prosper with his new-found faith!  (He was just like many Christians today!)  Peter judged Simon to be a sinner, rebuked him as he should and told him to repent so that he may be forgiven of his sins.

So far those who believe in eternal security should have no argument with Simon. He was a "saved sinner". In their view, even if Simon never repented, he's still saved, but Peter told him to repent! Simon was contrite. He asked Peter to pray to the Lord for him. According to eternal security dogma there was no cause for Simon to repent except to please God. He would be saved regardless. However, it seems that Simon was sincere in his contrition and deserved another chance as long as he held onto his faith. However, even though Simon believed, was baptized and repented; those adherents of eternal security would say that Simon was never saved at all!

Not only do they say that about Simon, the same logic is used today, when a saved person "goes bad". They say "He was never saved to start with!"  That's circular logic to support bad theology!  If Simon was saved and failed to maintain his faith, he gave up  his salvation, and since this one man did that, it stands to reason that conditional security is a valid doctrine. There's not two baptisms!  Simon had the same one Christians have today.

However, in all honesty it would appear from Scripture, that Simon never gave up his faith. As far as Scripture goes, he's still appears to be a Christian. However, later non-canonical writings tell of the apostasy of Simon. Claudius made statues of Simon as a Holy God because Simon did miraculous acts. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, wrote in the Catechetical Lectures about 350 A.D. that Simon Magus appeared in the clouds with demons and was defeated by Peter and Paul in joint prayer. Other literature tells of Simon preaching his own gospel in opposition to Holy Scripture. Indeed, I believe that Simon was the "thorn" in Paul's side. (I've written of the evidence of this argument earlier).

Those who commerce with demons are surely enemies of God. Hence, secular and early religious writings would indicate that Simon, who was born again under the preaching of Philip, was in apostasy and became reprobate, a Scriptural condition of the damned.

Therefore, since Simon Magus renounced God by deed (works), evidence of that one person doing that supports the position of "conditional security". Since Simon was in apostasy, likewise Christians today are free to exercise their own will and abandon the one who offered salvation!

Do I believe that a Christian must believe in conditional security to be a Christian? Not at all! However, conditional security is a motivator for Christians to pattern themselves after Christ. Being righteous isn't a sacrament (saving), but it is a demonstration of the love of God. Christians are told to keep the commandments: love God and others!  How can one never praise God and still love him! How can one love others yet murder? The answer is Not "They weren't saved to start with!", but that their faith was planted on rocky ground and failed to grow! Their faith turned to doubt and their doubt to unbelief!

Don't get angry with my analysis if you disagree. I'm not angry with those who differ. I have the assurance that if I maintain my faith that I will be saved! Others that they believed and were saved. Which position offers the most assurance. I'll take conditional security! I look forward to finishing the race and being told "Well done good and faithful servant!" Those who tire of the race and lack perseverance should be wary of gaining the trophy of eternal life! If they're wrong, they're toast.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dress for Success!

What are you wearing? People who work dress for the job. Lawyers wear the best suits, spit-shined shoes and colorful neckties. Doctors dress in a manner which reflects hygiene and professionalism; if they want the patient to trust them anyway. Linemen wear cleats and safety apparatuses.  Teenagers dress casually and old farmers wear bibbed overalls. What is the proper apparel for what you to wear?

Of course it's necessary to dress appropriately for the occasion!  A soldier in battle is ready with the proper clothing, boots for utility and rough terrain, and proper weaponry. They also must be alert to dress in an instant to battle the onslaught of the enemy.  If soldiers want to win the battle and still be alive after a long duration war, it's necessary to dedicate themselves to preparedness!

You're a teenager, a young married or even an old coot. You too lust be prepared for the enemy!  During the cold war bombers flew in the sky every day, people had air raid drills even in grade school and many had underground fall-out shelters. Those people had little faith in negotiations with an evil empire and were ready to save themselves and their families. Although, the cold war is over, war still lurks:

Ephesians 6:12 "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."

Principalities are rulers of the dark. They are evil supernatural beings (angels) who constantly undermine Christ by attacking Christians. They know they'll never win the war, but they delight in killing soldiers of the cross. It's not a physical death they desire, but spiritual death! Their methods are evil-doing. They attack by offering tribute to those who succumb. Tribute is the reward given to those who abandon the will of God and live for pleasure. Pleasure, riches, power and fame are their weapons of destruction.

Even Christians, Christ too, battles principalities. Jesus fought the battle for 40 days and won the battle with ease. We're not Jesus, but Jesus is on our side. Nobody is beyond attack:

Matthew 26:41 'Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

As Christians we want to please God!  As much as we desire this, Satan still throws out that same old fruit as he threw out to Adam and Eve. He lies and through deceit, tempts us with all types of rewards. We each have our own weaknesses and that's where we're vulnerable!  No one is immune from the attacks of principalities, but their targets are Christians. As angels sing when one soul is saved, demons rejoice when Christians transgress. That's their reward. Their desire is to take away the majesty of Jesus by provoking Christians to disobey!

Not you? Even Paul! He had what he called "a thorn in the flesh".

Here's the battle plan. It's used by the powers of dark and one must be aware of how sin works. There's a relationship between temptation and sin although temptation isn't sin until we fall prey to it:

James 1:14-15 (ESV) "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

Everybody is the same! Immunity is not given for age, race, denomination, or sex. We are all equally vulnerable! However, the righteous are given a special weapon:

Ephesians 6:11 "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

All your armour... don't leave home without it!  What armour is this?

Ephesians 6:14 "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel..."

Sometimes all of us wake up in the morning, head to the battlefield, and fail to dress for success. I've done that and so have you!  When we forget to dress for battle the demons find that gap in our protection and thrusts that thorn in our side. After we are injured in battle, we are weakened!  We become more vulnerable to our thorn and leave open ourselves for more thorns until the spiritual battle makes us destitute. God never abandons us, but our spirit ceases to be in harmony with God's will. Satan is pleased that Jesus has been undermined. The soldier of the Cross has been  wounded and is no longer a great threat to Satan. Some fail so miserably, their faith is diminished and they abandon Jesus. When that happens the Christian dies a spiritual death. Don't dress for death... dress to win the battle. Dress for success!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Positive Christianity

Many people listen to those who preach what's called "Positive Christianity". We all like to feel good and be blessed!  We look to the future with hope. Just as those who gaze at horoscopes wish for brighter days, those who see only a "positive Jesus" have their eyes on the wrong star. Yes, Jesus is mostly positive. However, positive Jesus is conditional!

I want truth. The truth is that there are requirements for the blessings for being a Christian. A Christian must have experienced a rebirth:

John 3:2 "The same (Nicodemus) 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?

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, one who was such a zealot for the Law, that they persecuted the one for which they awaited. Nicodemus, in breaking with his group, came in the night to Jesus so as not to be ridiculed or ostracized. He sought truth! He believed in Jesus, that he was a great teacher and that he was sent from God. Nicodemus was a believer, but is that enough?  Jesus answered Nicodemus'  implied question with a straightforward answer: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".

Jesus' answer was twofold. It had negative and positive conditions. If anyone is born again, that person has hope in eternal life. That's a promise and it's positive!  However, Jesus used the word "except".  For those who are not "born again" they will see no reward.  That reward is "the kingdom of God". Scholars define that expression differently, but that kingdom is a spiritual reward. It's the true Church and those within that church who accept and obey the ruler of the Kingdom who is God. Those who are born again live in the Kingdom of God immediately upon being "born again". Yes, we're born into a new kingdom when the old person dies and the new person is born!  The destiny of a any citizen of God's Kingdom is eternal life and freedom from eternal punishment.

Nicodemus believed in Jesus, but he wasn't a Christian. Just as I believe in space travel doesn't make me an astronaut. It takes more than belief. What is it that distinguishes the difference between one who believes and one who is born again?

John 3:15 "That whosoever believeth in him (God) should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

In verse 12 Jesus told Nicodemus that he didn't believe, yet Nicodemus just expressed his belief!  Belief just isn't enough because Jesus said that even the demons believe. Hence, belief is more than mere acceptance that Jesus is a real person. Although "belief " (verse 16) is what rebirths a person, it has criteria. One must believe that God loves man without bounds (verse 15) and that God gave his only Son in recompense for the sins of everybody (verse 16). Jesus died on the Cross for all the sins of the world by everyone past, present and future. Being "Born again" is accepting that Jesus is God, is the Son of God and that God himself died on the Cross "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish"!  Perishing in a spiritual sense is eternal damnation; eternity without hope and with severe isolation and pain.

Those "born again" are true believers in the sacrificial atonement of Christ. Those who believe this shall have eternal life. How about those who believe in the man, but not the love and sacrifice? What about those who don't believe in Jesus at all? Those with fleshly belief or are unbelievers shall perish. They face eternal death and punishment. Jesus said so!

Now, back to positive Christianity.  These same verses would be rewritten to say:

John 3:15 "That everyone shall have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he has saved everyone regardless, that whosoever ever lived and breathed shall have everlasting life."

It is to be noticed that any and all conditions for salvation have been removed, that everyone shall be saved whether they believe or not and that there are no references to anything negative, including any type of punishment or retribution by an all loving God. This is "positive Christianity". Many preach that today because "God loves everybody so much that he would never punish that harshly!"  Likewise, we can all do whatever we want and never have to worry about consequences. However, there's one big problem: that's not what Jesus said!  Many modern preachers teach positive Christianity and that God is so loving that obedience isn't necessary!  A loving God looks beyond our sins and rewards those who sin, even those who hate, because everyone is basically good. Hitler and Manson will enjoy the same reward as the true believer!

Furthermore, all the Old Testament is excluded from "positive Christianity".  Why? The Law is what the Old Testament is all about and it's reasonable to assume that if The Law is broken there are consequences. Consequences are negative and at odds with positive Christianity.  Likewise, Jews as instruments of God, meted out destruction to evil-doers and punishment is negative. Positive Christians believe that the God of the Old Testament is a demiurge and is evil! They assert that Jesus, the New Testament God, is all about unconditional grace, even to those who fail to believe and that Jesus is a different God than JHWH (Jehovah).

Consequently, positive Christians have disdain for God, obedience, punishment and Jews!  That's where "Positive Christianity" arises. The roots of positive Christianity lies in the heretical belief system of the Nazi regime. It's the religion of Hitler's Reich.

Wikipedia says this bout "Positive Christianity":

"Positive Christianity (German: Positives Christentum) was a movement within Nazi Germany which blended ideas of racial purity and Nazi ideology with elements of Christianity. Hitler included use of the term in Article 24 of the 1920 Nazi Party Platform, stating "the Party represents the standpoint of Positive Christianity". Non-denominational, the term could be variously interpreted, but allayed fears among Germany's Christian majority as to the oft expressed anti-Christian convictions of large sections of the Nazi movement. In 1937, Hans Kerrl, the Nazi Minister for Church Affairs, explained "Positive Christianity" as not "dependent upon the Apostle's Creed", nor in "faith in Christ as the son of God", upon which Christianity relied, but rather, as being represented by the Nazi Party: "The Fuehrer is the herald of a new revelation", he said. To accord with Nazi antisemitism, Positive Christianity advocates also sought to deny the Semitic origins of Christ and the Bible. In such elements Positive Christianity separated itself from Christianity and is considered apostasy by Catholics and Protestants."

Although explicit in Nazism the "God of Reason" the state God of Revolutionary France replaced Jesus with "Reason". As we know from Genesis, the "Knowledge of the Tree of Good and Evil" is "Reason". Hence, Jesus is replaced by Satan. Basically, positive Christianity is a all the "good" of Jesus with any belief in the real Jesus of Scripture. Secular Humanism fulfills that role as well. It's main tenant is social justice.

Positive Christianity is where the New Age Church is at now and what most Christians will believe when they miss the rapture. Buyer beware! Believer beware!

Isn't it strange that a religion whose profession is "positive" professes so much hate!

Friday, April 25, 2014

True Friends are a Godsend

Most people we know are acquaintances. We like them, but trust may not be there. That's the difference; trust. I rely on my friends for their integrity. Friends back you when you're right and chastise you when you're wrong. It's the spirit in which the rebuking is done that makes the difference. Friends don't have a mean spirit. They reproof out of love. Friends never assume, but have the courage and fortitude to believe in you. When they doubt they just ask. When the answer comes they accept. That's a friend. Furthermore, friends don't gossip or focus on flaws.

Enemies are those who pose as friends. On the surface, they've "got your back", but that trust is not there. They may even secretly have pleasure in your misfortune. Some false friends are there for you when you're in their presence, but abandon you when they are with another. These folks are fickle.  They are as bad as the person who has serial manipulative relationships!

Friends don't manipulate. Manipulators shrewdly and by cunning rearrange circumstances to suit their own motives. Manipulation is the most evil tool of false friends. Manipulators have as a friend themselves only. Their focus is on self.

For a relationship to work, both parties must be friends. Without trust the home becomes a house and the house shortly becomes a prison.  True love trusts. Infidelity is never considered because with true love it can never be consummated. That works for those not Christian, but Christians have another tool in their tool box. We have the Holy Spirit!

John 14:26 (ESV) "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter sent by God to help us be righteous. He's there for us when we're by ourselves, our actions are between us and God only, and he guides us to do what is right. What is right? All that Jesus has said to me. All that he has said to you. Christians do what is right, not only because they love their friend, but because they listen to the Spirit. It's a question of "What would Jesus do?"  Christians who trust other Christians have the added security of knowing that the friend desires to do the will of God!

We're all tempted to do wrong. Sometimes we ignore the Spirit and serve our "Self" god. However, Christians are to value the will of Jesus and contemplate on the broken communion which sin causes. Breaking that relationship with God is why Christians don't steal, don't lie, don't curse, don't hate and so forth. A Christian's guidance by the Holy Spirit is why they make good reliable friends. I trust my Christian friends, not because they're perfect, but because they don't want to disappoint God!

Satan uses a lack of trust to put up relationship barriers. Secret worlds are created by those who fail to trust. We all do that. Those I fail to trust, I become slightly paranoid in our relationship. Paranoid relationships are unhealthy and Satan always destroys through paranoia. That's not a good thing!  Some get so paranoid that irrational thoughts become, not only surreal, but a false reality. As a rule of thumb trust those who you love. That's a sign of love!  Another rule of thumb is to not trust those who have no vested interest in your success in friendships.Never take the moral advise of non-Christians, even psychologists, or others who may want you to fail because they have failed so many times.

People are comfortable with like-minded people. Your friend may be your friend because you share character flaws, and if you don't have those flaws, and  if you listen to them, you soon will!  Losers desire you to be a loser so you can be just as they are!

Where does one get advise on friendships and trust? They learn to love and to be loved. You listen to the Holy Spirit whose there for that very purpose:

John 14:15-17 (ESV)  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."

What are the commandments? Love God and love others! The Holy Spirit is there to help you do that. If you're a Christian the Holy Spirit is right there with you all the time. However, one must listen to him. His desire is that you love others. Be friends with others. Trust others!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

First Love

Most women remember their "first love". Men men don't remember clearly when they last showered, let alone who they dated years ago! Their "first love" is little more memorable than that last shower! STY (Smile to yourself).  Who is your first love?

Revelation 2:4 (ESV) "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first."

Yes, you abandoned that first love! You have memories and perhaps that will suffice, however, maybe your first love was meant to be.  Who knows how happy you  would be today if you married the one you loved first. You might be content, complete, in harmony, joyful and perhaps loving. If only you could do it again!

With your spouse or chosen partner, you can redo what's undone. It's a matter of looking at the green grass right beside you and understanding that the green grass over there has fungi yet to reveal itself. Beneath that green luscious sod lies devouring insects and depleting soil. It's only a matter of time before that grass withers more than the grass under your feet right now. Rather than desiring the green grass over there, cultivate the grass you already have. The fertilizer of restoration is "lightweight offset paper"; paper which words of wisdom are printed upon! Within the pages of the wisest book are instructions for growing a green lawn.

It's not only what you put on the grass, it's what's not done as well. Perhaps the first step in greening that lawn is to quit trampling on the grass!  The grass may have brown spots and diseased areas, but walking on the grass impedes it growing further and inhibits renewal. Try adding a little love to the grass. Plants need loving care. I suppose grass is no different! The grass needs to hear tender words of love. Criticizing will kill it's will to live and you'll end up with withered grass in your own backyard, whereas others have "Miracle Grow" lawns. That grass has been loved, watered and fertilized. That's what it takes. Dumping the dishwater on green lawns kill what's there and ruins the roots seeking nourishment from below.

You can't have your first love back. Things have changed!  Your first love may now be dead grass. It's not the same green turf you remember when you were eighteen. Your first love likely found some new sod. You may appear to be full of weeds in the eyes of your first love. That loved one you had at first may seek young seedlings vibrant and jubilant. No, your first love cannot be had. It truly wasn't meant to be! However, some married their first love, but seek love from another, tiring of that old relationship where romance is no longer!

Our first love loved us first!

Romans 5:8 (ESV)  "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Are you willing to die for the one who loves you? Would you die in place of your spouse? God loved us so much that he did in fact die for us. What do we offer in return?

1 John 4:19 (ESV) "We love because he first loved us."

That's mutual love. Jesus loved us and we love him back! That's the love we had at first; our first love!  Fidelity is maintaining a loving relationship with the one we loved first. We must not love another nor look at what appears to be greener and neglect our first love!  Lot's wife did that and was turned into a pillar of salt!

A Nickolodeon television commercial flashed back and forth between beautiful dancing girls and a hell-fire preacher. It asked the kids listening "Which would you choose?". For children they would choose the beautiful women and the party life. The preacher looked bland and intimidating. We're not children yet we're fooled by the pleasures outside the Church. We leave our first love and live for pleasure. Oh, we may stroke Jesus once a week, but the rest of the week, we cuddle with our new love; the one with greener grass.  Jesus weeps! The bridegroom weeps because his bride the Church fails to love him as she once did. We have left our first love!

Revelation 2:5 "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."

Look at that new love. Does your lover offer joy in life and hope forever. No, your present love is temporary. Sorrow lies ahead and your first love may remove the wedding candlestick and you will go  from two loves to none. That new love's charm fades with time. You will begin to despise what you once relished. "No, problem!" you say. "I'll find another love."  There is but one faithful. It's the love of your life and the one who has been true and faithful. Repent of your negligence and disrespect. Repent for loving another. With repentance your first love is faithful. He has the grace to take you back for another chance. Your marriage to him is forever unless you leave the one you love for an illicit affair.

Your first love will take you back. You're not what you used to be, but to him you're beautiful and vibrant. His eyes judge fairly. It's not the structure of the temple, but the love inside it's sanctuary. He looks at the heart, not the dome!

Jesus weeps with your infidelity, but the angels rejoice when the bride repents!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I want - I deserve - I fail

A few years back there was a car commercial is Nashville where the young girl sits in a new car and says "I deserve this car!".  She may "want" the car or even "need" a car, but does she deserve one? The "I deserve" mentality coupled with an "I want" emotion is the ruination of this generation, although many of our antecedents were just as bad.

"Deserving" means meritorious and worthy. For a person to "deserve" the focus is on rewarding "self" for hard work or excelling performance standards. We all "need" reliable transportation to get around in most U.S. environs to either get to our place of work or to do our job. Likewise, we all need transportation to function. To acquire food and visit family requires personal transportation. We're a little different than third-world countries who get by on foot, bicycle or public transportation. Indeed many in Africa, South America and the Orient believe Americans are "rich" because most of us have a car, and many two or more!

If the world citizen looks at our housing they are flabbergasted!   Whereas, the third-world lives in the side of mountains, in huts, ghetto housing or at best multi-family tenements, Americans live mostly in single-family homes with garages for our cars!  Many have garages for second homes; their RV's.  Truly most folks in the United States are blessed. Those in soup lines in the big cities have color TV's, video recorders and stereos. The world citizen would be impressed with how we live!

We have "everything" so to speak!  Why, then, are Americans so unhappy? Affluence, for most, is selfish and greedy! It's not wrong to have things; it's just wrong to place too much importance on materialism. That "importance" is holding something which should be low priority in high esteem:

Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

We all know who God is; I hope!  Who's "mammon"?  Mammon is the god called "worldly gain"!  We cannot seek prosperity and love God, for by doing so, our attempt is serving the wrong master, but worse yet, endeavoring to serve two masters!  On a global scale Americans are rich, but are never satisfied! We always "want" more and think that we "deserve" it for some obscure reason. The reason we "have" is because we've been blessed; it's not because we've done something meritorious. In fact God has blessed us in spite of our selfishness!  He's patient with us, but just how long will he be so?

Mark 8:36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

As we approach sure death mammon should become less important!  In fact my brother Joe, affluent, but not rich, gave his money away as if it was water on his deathbed. Where he was going it had no pecuniary value!  Indeed the streets are of gold in heaven and riches are mere pavement if our new home is Paradise!

Proverbs 30:8-9 "Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

"Wanting" something is an emotion seeking to make one happy. Happiness cannot be found in possessions. Indeed, having gets in the way of joy. As for myself, I collect fountain pens. I enjoy the "hunt" of making the find, the extra profits which will hopefully be handed down to my family, but as I go into my study and look at my collection, there is no happiness to be found there!

I was at an auction of a vast collection of fountain pens and was bidding profusely and winning many. However, midway through the auction I was told that the wealthy lawyer who had owned the collection had committed suicide!  My excitement ebbed. I virtually quit bidding and kept not one of those pens for my own collection. Things do not happiness make and now I get little joy out of my possessions of any kind. They are temporary:

2 Corinthians 4:18 "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Pens, cars, houses, boy toys and the like do little to make me happy. I'm grateful that God has provided my needs, as well as many wants, but what truly matters to me is love. I know that God loves me and that I make a feeble attempt to love him back. Likewise, I strongly love my wife and family, but struggle to show it. My desire, more than anything, is to have the love of my family!  My friends loving me is important, but secondary. Companionship is a necessity, not just a "want". I don't deserve the love of anyone because I'm not worthy, but I desire that others love me in spite of myself!

What if no one loves me? I'm disappointed, feel alone and lack a basic need. However, I still have God who loves me and his love (grace) is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9)!  as others swarm around me as if I'm invisible the invisible God loves me without measure. Whereas, my home, car and toys are temporary the invisible realm of God is forever. He has a place ready for me right now:

John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."

God had a a "place" early on. His earthly home was in the tent of meeting; the Tabernacle. He was worshiped in the Holy of Holies and dispensed grace on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. God was content in his tent of cloth and his wooden seat. His needs were met!  He was a happy God because he was in communion with and had a relationship with those who served and loved him!  Kings came and in a feeble attempt to please God, they insisted on building him a regal house of the best cedars trimmed in gold. God deserved that, but he didn't need it. All that God desired was love!  That he failed to get. In the quest for mammon mankind took their eyes off their first love and looked upon the "Self". God's servants chose mammon. Great buildings and societies were built. However, happiness was not found. Great societies destroyed themselves because of their god Mammon; their own Self!

God blessed me with a loving family, a good education, a great job, reliable transportation and a house beyond my wildest dreams. I'm content with what God provided, but in the eternal scheme of things, with mortal death, they mean nothing to me! I do thank God for the use of his things while I'm here and that he provided well. I will give them back soon!  However, I never deserved what God blessed me with in spite of my own hard work. God had the grace to place me in America, gave me some degree of intelligence, provided an opportunity for an education and gave me a continuous job for 41 years!  On top of that he gave me many wants. However, I seldom placed much desire on wants, but prioritized satisfying the needs of my family!

My prosperity will soon be left to others. As far as what I need: a warm cabin, food, health, and a junker car is about it. Oh yes, I need love. I need that more than anything. Love makes me endure!

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things"

Yes, "love makes the world go around"!  Love is a basic need of everyone and since we're created in his image, God needs our love! He's a jealous God. He needs our love without sharing it with others! He needs all our love and our love of mammon is a roadblock to loving God. Just as mammon interferes with the love of God, it too interferes with out love of each other!  The short story "The Gift of the Magi" is the story of a couple who loves each other so immensely that they each sold their best possession to buy the other a gift. Their love was sacrificial. They put aside their wants and focused on the one they loved; their mate.

That's just as God. He desires that we sacrifice our wants and love him only. We then depend on him to meet our needs and he does that!  Likewise, earthly relationships must be the same. If we love one another, God will provide!  He won't necessarily give us a mansion here, but our promise is a room in an eternal mansion. That promise is fulfilled when we destroy mammon and go with God!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Heavy Heart

Sometimes a thought doesn't have to be long. There's not much we can do to heal a heavy heart, but the closest we can come to it is ask to be forgiven. Forgiveness is not guaranteed, but we must do so. Sometimes we hurt others when we have no intention of doing so. What we perceive as benign many not be in the eyes of another. With that said here's what I'm thinking:
Colossians 3:13 "Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
I have a heavy heart. To be able to do things over would be so convenient, but alas, we can't. There are consequences and sometimes consequences hurt.  I've made restitution before to those I wronged in years past, but sometimes restitution just can't heal. Sorrow makes me long for eternal joy where hearts are happy again. Unfortunately, it's impossible to force forgiveness. A spark must come from the Lord.

Most of the time those we hurt, intentionally or not, are those we love the most.  My prayer is "Lord make things right that I mess up. Have those love me whose love I've lost."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Marriage: A Picture of Christ and the Church

Marriage is not in vogue. It's beginning to be old fashioned! People live together with no commitment and dating is acting the romantic part without the encumbrances of obligation. When couples tire of each other they move on. Dating is an antecedent to divorce! By that I mean that serial dating makes it easier for serial marriages! Let's take a brief look at marriage and divorce.

First off a marriage is not merely a wedding nor does a wedding solely define a marriage. A wedding is a marriage ceremony, but a wedding doesn't necessarily entail a lifelong commitment. In fact weddings, although expensive normally, are in vogue, as marriage is not! Most women look forward to and dream of the ceremony, but think little of what marriage really is and the work required to make it endure. Hence, a wedding is a dating ceremony with bright lights and pomp, but little else, unless it's intent is forever! Furthermore, many who have a wedding do have good intentions for its duration, but have already been trained through fickle dating relationships that divorce is just a consequence of incompatibility and dreams.

Marriage is a legal union, but a document does not make a marriage. It's easy to get a clerk to cut a document and an official to authorize a marriage, but the piece of paper does not make a marriage. People do get married without commitment and sometimes without a sexual relationship associated with marriage. In fact the mode of marriage for years was marriage by "banns". That type of marriage was made by an announcement in church. If no one objected, without further ado, the couple became husband and wife. Most of us had ancestors who were married by banns. Outside some formal denominations there are no records of those marriages, but some of those marriages lasted the longest! They were ordained by God!

Modern marriage is dynamic and different in different cultures. A marriage in some countries is not legal without a civil ceremony and the religious ceremony is after the marriage. In other locales both the civil and religious ceremony are simultaneous. In others only a religious ceremony is required, and in other locales no official act, religious or civil is required. That's called "common-law" marriage and is legal after a long period of cohabitation. In the Christian community the institution of marriage is not dynamic and a Christian commitment was at one time the foundation for marriage in the western world! Let's look at the first marriage:
Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me..." 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
Woman was created for man. In fact Eve was of Adam and was the mother of of all that were to come! Several points are made in these passages: 1) Marriage is an ordinance of God, 2) Marriage is so that man (and woman) shall have companionship, 3) Man and woman are to be faithful (cleave) to each other, 4) Man and woman shall be in unity and harmony with one another, 5) God is the match-maker and he will provide the mate, 6) The by-product of marriage is to be child-bearing, 7) The married couple should "desire" each other meaning that they are to have sexual attraction and love each other intimately [Eros love], 8) The husband is to be the head of the household, 9) The woman is to be subservient (not a slave) and a  helper for the man; being his complement, 10) They are to be comfortable with each other and there shall be no shame in their relationship. These are all God's intent for marriage and with that man and woman were to "know" each other, go forth and multiply. That's what marriage is, but it goes deeper as we will see later!

Why do marriages fail and end in divorce? Just look at the opposite of what marriage is!  Marriages fail because God is not paramount in the lives of one or the other, the couple ceases to be friends, one or the other is unfaithful in thought or deed, the couple acts as two individuals rather than as a unit, one or the other takes the mate for granted and fails to honor God for providing the mate, arguments ensure about children and how to raise them, couples lose their sexual desire for one another oftentimes because of triangulation, one or both infringe on the God-given roles of the other, the woman especially and both are to respect and honor each other, there are to be no secrets in marriage and everything is to be exposed, and encompassing all these aspects, marriage is to be for life and approached that way!

If there is trouble in a marriage one only has to look at what's wrong in the points above. To remedy the marriage, it takes work! Each of us can be hard to love and when compared to the muscle-men and unblemished women out there, real people are sometimes less attractive. Likewise, age takes its toll and Satan tells men and women that they can do better. What's more, most marriages are entered into with either partner giving little thought to what marriage really is. How can a marriage work when young people have no idea what marriage truly is!  Unfortunately, many marriages have become a means of a source of sex without societal taboo. It's a way to make legitimate the lusts of the flesh and the instinct to propagate the self through children!
Matthew 19:6 (On marriage and whether the married are allowed to divorce) "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." 
Marriage is an unending institution established by God and divorce is wrong in any case, but allowable in only one:
Matthew 19: 7 "They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you,whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
Yes, people of old divorced. It was because they were so out of relationship to God that it became nonsensical to punish people for divorcing when their hearts were not on God anyway. Now we know better for Jesus tells us outright!  Divorce is a sin and divorcing can make the faithful party sinful if after divorce, they marry an adulterer. Hence, marriage is for life and the only legitimate non-sinful reason for divorce is because one mate or both and is in violation of "they shall be one flesh" and "thy desire shall be to thy husband (or wife)". Infidelity is holding in little regard the institution created by God. (More about this shortly).

Divorce, in God's eyes, is not an option because of incompatibility, bad sex, loss of attraction, an argumentative environment or any other reason!  Society exacerbates the difficulty of marriage by propagating the lie of equality of the sexes and the independent woman. Women and men in marriage are to complement one another and act as one. Couples must play together, vote as a unit, attend the same church and work to enjoy and love one another. If one does not "work" to make a marriage, little commitment is there!  No commitment means God's will is secondary to the idol we all worship: Our-self, Me or I! You say, "But I no longer love him (or her)!" That takes work! "Thy desire shall be to thy husband" means that God commands a woman and man to love one another. Being contentious is not an emotion of amelioration:
Proverbs 25:24 (NIV) "Better to live on a corner of the roof  than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."
Those who find fault with each other drives the other to sin!  This passage is not a legitimate reason for divorce, but merely an explanation for one of the main faults causing divorce!  A woman (or man) is argumentative, knit-picking, and makes life miserable for the other. Rather than divorce the offended mate should separate themselves from the arguing partner by taking some recourse. Living on the corner of the roof is the suggestion, but perhaps a separation is what it means. At any rate, the object of the instruction is not divorce, but changed behaviors and we all need to change toward harmony and peace "they shall be one flesh"! The offending mate's obligation is to look at the partner, the mate, through the God-given lenses of love and commitment! The English Standard Version says it best:
1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things"
First we see what love is not. It's not being contentious and argumentative. It's not being prideful, independent and rude. It's not being self-centered and irritating! Love is patience, belief in one another, hope for happiness and longevity and is a commitment. No where does God say that love is strictly an emotion felt at sometimes, but not others!

Why is marriage so important to God? Our church fathers, according to the word of God, allowed that divorce is beyond grace. It, like blasphemy, is an unpardonable sin!  Perhaps it is! Perhaps it's not! Why the dualistic explanation? It may be that divorce is a result of apostasy. It may be that by divorcing we violate the commandment "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."  By placing Self over God, the person ignoring God is idolizing "Self". Whatever the case, divorce is a serious violation of the will of God and there are no loop holes. Divorce, except for adultery, is a sin!  I have sinned, repented and asked for forgiveness, but each day I suffer the consequences of my sin (remember that David repented, but there was still dire consequences to his sin). I believe God's grace covers all sins except for blasphemy. His love is sufficient! However, grace is not a ticket to serial divorces! One cannot say "Lord forgive me for what I'm about to do!" Divorce, unfortunately, is the road most traveled because we are a disobedient people. God's ordained institution is not to be taken frivolously.

Some churches "punish" those divorced by not allowing them to become deacons. With God, when he forgives us, our slate is wiped clean! He forgets our sins, but some churches don't. They continually remind us that we have sinned! However, the same churches fail to take adultery into mind. Yes, an adulterer, also forgiven, can be a deacon!  This raises the question, are those who fornicate on a regular basis husband and wife? Where are we to look? How about let's see what Jesus says:
John 4:16 "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."
It would appear that the woman at the well was having sex with another man after she had had long sexual relationships with five others!  Yes, "knowing" another person (repeated fornication) is common-law marriage. It is not a holy union, but an unholy one, but is still recognized by God as a marriage, in this case, five marriages. If the woman's relationship was to continue with this man, she would have six!  Therefore, those who have affairs are as guilty, even married to the adulterer, and are as much a sinner as is the divorced because long term fornication is marriage!  In short, adultery is a violation of the institution of marriage and leads to polygamy which is wrong in God's eyes.

Allowing a deacon to be an adulterer, but not a forgiven divorcee, is a disconnect in thinking! (By the way, most people believe that because she believed that Jesus was he and spread the news, that the woman at the well became a Christian, implying that she was forgiven.  God forgives those who act remorsefully and believe in him although they don't outright ask for forgiveness. Their faith makes them whole!)

Why is marriage so important to God? That's the larger issue, but why is divorce so repugnant? The marriage institution is a picture of the Church's relationship to Christ! Like salvation marriage is for life:
Romans 7:1  (ESV)  "... the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives..."
 Marriage is forever. A married person is bound by God to stay married. Divorcing is akin to apostasy for the Christian! Just as those who abandon God fornicate with other gods, a divorced person fornicates with another person. If a Christian can't keep the marriage vowels how can they be committed to Christ?
Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
The Church (us Christians) are the bride. Jesus is the bridegroom (scripture many places). He refers to himself as "the bride groom". The divine ordained institution of marriage is as dear to God's heart as is the relationship between Christians and Christ!  It's a picture of that relationship with Christ and we're not to have an apostate event (divorce) from Christ or our spouse! We really need to be careful in divorce because once we abandon Christ it's as if we're crucifying him again. Likewise, divorce is a great disappointment to Christ, especially with serial marriages and divorces, even serial sexual partners!

When I was married the first time, I was young and took my marriage vowels frivolously. Saying those words meant nothing to me because I knew not of the sacred institution of marriage. Indeed, I had never considered the seriousness of marriage. That's no excuse for divorce, but divorce is a consequence of failure to take marriage for what it is: serious business and an holy institution!  However, when I was married the second time (another sin by the way) I did make a commitment not only to "love, honor and cherish", but wrote my own more stringent marriage vowels to make sure that I understood the life-long commitment I was making. When times get tough, I remember those wedding vowels. I remember God's commands. I remember the good times and "for better and for worse" I did she wed!

Love is a hard thing, but commitment is necessary. I have likened myself to "Shallow Hal", but in reality, I'm "Sincere Sid". Outside of my marriage to Christ, the next most important thing in my life is marriage. Divorce would be like death... just like spiritual death.  The most stressful thought in life is that Christ doesn't love me. The second most is like the first; that my wife doesn't love me. With the first I die a Spiritual death, with the latter I my spirit dies!
1 John 4:7 (ESV) "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God."
Where do we get love? It's from God! You don't have any love within you? Get it from God!  That's the "gettin' place"!

And for those who are single, I ask that you consider strongly, is it lust or love? Marriage based on lust is doomed for failure unless the potential marriage partners take seriously the commitment required to make the marriage enduring and dedicated to God. Both parties, to do that, must take Christ seriously to enable themselves to take marriage seriously! Marriage is more than a wedding. It's the combination of a commitment to life together and death together "until death do you part"!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Keys to Forgiveness

Are you too bad to be saved? Likely, but God has mercy on the person who's sorry and repents. King David, "a man after God's own heart" lusted, lied, usurped authority, committed adultery and had the husband of his desire murdered! When confronted by Nathan the Prophet who cleverly used a metaphor, David accused himself. When he found out that the person he was condemning was himself, David felt remorse! The 51st Psalm is David's repentance. If he can be forgiven anybody can! You can too.
Psalm 51:1 "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."

Keys to forgiveness are embedded in this psalm. It's the Old Testament equivalent to the Lord's Prayer.

1) God is loving.
2) God is merciful.
3) David confesses his sin.
4) David knows that God can cleanse him
5) David confesses that he's a sinner and that his sin is his responsibility.
6) David admitted that he sinned against God and only God.
7) David acknowledges that God has the right to judge him.
8) David recognized that he is a sinner born in sin.
9) David acknowledged that he was conceived in sin. (Meaning that from the time he was conceived sin was his destiny).
10) David knows that God desires an inward truth. One must confess even sins unknown to others.
11) Wisdom is searching the heart for wrong and coming to terms that we are indeed are evil.
12) God can purge sin and make the sinner clean.
13) David knows that the sorrow he feels is of the Spirit of God.
14) David asks for joy and gladness to be restored. (This implies he's has guilt and desires to deal with it).
15) David asks that his murder of another be forgiven.
16) David acknowledges God's authority to save.
17) David makes a covenant with God to praise him when he's forgiven.
18) David asks God to empower him to praise God.
19) David knows that God doesn't seek a sacrifice of anything, but self.
20) The sacrifice of self is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.
21) God desires true introspection.
22) David asks God to do good for his kingdom with his own timing.
23) Then after honest introspection and confession God will again be please with sacrifices.

For anyone who sins, this is a sinners prayer!  That means his a prayer for all of us. We're not all murderers, etc., but if we confess our rebellion, we'll find that our hearts are much different than David's. This is my prayer right now. It's an ongoing prayer because as each day proceeds we fail God. If we "keep on top" of our sins and continually ask forgiveness with a sincere heart, God is merciful!

For those who've tried to "clean up their act" before they seek salvation, this is your roadmap. Take that road less traveled. Thanks, David!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Moses Led by Jesus: How can it be?

What's this got to do with Jesus? When reading the Old Testament always ask that question! Why? It has everything to do with Jesus because the Old Testament is all about Jesus. If you've read my previous posts on the Trinity and the nature of God, you know that whenever God revealed himself in the Old Testament, it was the Word speaking... Jesus is the Word!

Moreover, Moses is a "picture" of Jesus. Albeit, he was a dim picture, yet his entire life points toward Christ, especially from the time he spent in as a common man after killing an Egyptian. Right now I'm not going to point out all the different pictures of Christ, but will focus on the parting of the Red Sea.  Where do we find out "the rest of the story"? On "page 2", according to the late Paul Harvey. We turn to the New Testament:
1 Corinthians 10:1 "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
Paul was enlightened by Jesus Christ. Jesus was with Moses. Jesus knew Moses and Moses is not Jesus (He disobeyed when striking the rock)! However, Paul was enlightened about the purpose of the escape from slavery in Egypt!  Egypt represents "the world" and the world is material. Sin is in the world. In Egypt there also was the "Plain of Sin". It's plain to see that Egypt represents sin. Sin enslaved the Hebrews. Their life in slavery represents the bondage of sin. As Satan rules this world, Pharaoh represents Satan.

In that Moses was sought by the Pharaoh to kill him, that's a parallel to Herod seeking Jesus for his murder. Moses was saved by water (Moses means water) and Jesus was baptized by John in water. Both were set apart for God by water. To escape harm Jesus and his family went down to Egypt.  To escape Pharaoh, Moses hid out in Egypt. Moses delivered the Jews from the hands of Pharaoh (Satan) and Jesus delivers Christians from the hand of Satan. Moses took the Hebrews out of Egypt (sin) and Jesus saves any who believes from sin.

For now, I'll skip the Passover for it's entirely representative of the crucifixion, and move on to baptism!
Exodus 13:21 "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."
God manifested himself to man before Jesus was in a "mortal" body. This manifestation is the Word. Although he had yet to be born in the flesh, Jesus existed always. Here we find Jesus as a "pillar of a cloud "and as a "pillar of fire".  Yes, Jesus, led the way for the Jews to be saved. In doing so, he assigned Moses (and Aaron) to do his bidding and to lead according to his authority. Yes, it was Jesus in the burning bush!
Exodus 14:19 "And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night."
Jesus was known, not only as "the Word", but throughout the Old Testament he's called "the angel of God" in that being the Word, he was an angel; meaning messenger.  Jesus provided the light to those in sin (the Jews) because Jesus is called the "Light" in the New Testament. Jesus put himself between sin (Egypt) and the Jews (who were being saved by God's mercy). It is to be pointed out that the Jews had been contaminated by the false gods of Egpyt, hadn't accepted the One True God, and were truly in sin. Moses' job was to point them toward Canaanland which represents Paradise. He provided the hope for the Hebrews by the grace of the Word (Jesus).
Exodus 14:26 "And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. 29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore."
Compare the above passages to 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 above:

"Our fathers were under the cloud" means that the Old Testament patriarchs were led by Jesus!

"All passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea..."

The sea "baptized" the Hebrews. As they passed from that part of Egypt wherein they were enslaved and living in sin, as they passed through the Red Sea with water deep and above them, the old persons died and as they came up from out of the sea, they were new persons, just as in baptism! Moses as a picture of Jesus and the cloud "Jesus himself" saved the people from destruction; enslavement in Egypt and from drowning in the sea. Those who passed through the water and were in sin (the Egyptians) perished, as those who are sinners perish. (The sea swallowed them up and destroyed them just as in the times of Noah and just as the New Testament says the end of times will be).

Then Paul said "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ".
Exodus 171 "And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?"
It's obvious that Paul was referring to Christ being with them at the rock of Horeb! "The Lord" commanding Moses to strike the rock was Jesus!  What came forth from the rock? Water? Jesus is "living water"!  Paul capitalized "Rock". The rock of Horeb is a picture of Christ because it produced living water! Jesus is referred to as a rock in the New Testament! He was the Rock mentioned by Paul above and he is the Rock on which the church is built. He was the cornerstone!

The children of Israel said in derision "Is the Lord among us, or not?" Yes, the Lord Jesus was right there with them, saving them from perishing and baptizing them with water. He baptized them with the Red Sea and gave them living waters to drink. Now that's all about Jesus!

Is the Old Testament meaningless Bible stories and history? No, it's what was read to convince early Christians that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Christ!  Likewise, every story in the Old Testament points toward Jesus because Jesus was with them always!  Why was he called a "Cloud", "Fire, a "Burning Bush" and an "Angel of God"? Because he had yet to be named! He's the Word and just IS. With his birth of the Spirit and a mortal woman, he was named "Jesus". He was then called Emmanuel "God with Us". However, even though Jesus had yet to be clothed in flesh, the "Word", the "Rock" and "the Lord" are all Jesus in Spirit!

Jesus Wept

In the King James Version we find the shortest verse in the Bible:
John 11:35 "Jesus wept."
There is no exclamation point to "make a point" or to add emotion to a statement of fact. From that short sentence cries for all the world to hear, the humanity of Christ. He feels our pain!  That's why God came down to take on flesh! The same flesh which we have. He was tempted as we are, he hurt as we do and he died for us.

The "Agony in the Garden" is the time recorded in scripture from the last supper until Jesus was arrested. Jesus said:
Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Jesus is not referring to the apostles, he's referring to himself! He had just asked God to "take this cup", which is his body, and found the apostles sleeping. While he was agonizing over death and what he was about to face, his followers were sleeping as at any other time. Indeed, he felt so alone! The Spirit of Jesus was willing to die for mankind, but his body (mind) dreaded dying! Jesus loved everyone, loved the faith of those who believed and mankind had become his family. Yes, Jesus was about to leave his family and something inside him made him not want to go!
Luke 22:44 "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
Agony is the struggle which precedes death. We all, including Jesus, fight to remain in this world. We all dread death. Jesus did too! He cried out to his Father on the Cross "Why did you abandon me?" Inside the dying person is intense emotion.  It's both an intense mental pain (anguish) and physical hurt.   The 39 lashes Jesus was soon to receive paled in comparison to his agony in the garden! He hurt because there was a battle going on! Jesus knew he must die, but yet he desired to live; just as we all do! In order to die for us Jesus had to have the same feelings and pains that we have. Whereas, our pain is for us, Jesus' pain was for all mankind! He died because he loved us so:
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
This is just as easily said "For God so loved everyone of us that he gave his own Flesh, that whosoever believeth that God shed his own blood for all, should not perish, but have everlasting life!"

What's the key word? God so LOVED...
John 11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
Jesus loved Lazurus, his friend, who had died and began to decay. "Jesus wept." Yes, Jesus cried! He cried, not because Lazurus died, but because Mary the sister was weeping. Jesus hurt for her! He felt her pain!  Jesus does not want us to hurt and he groaned for her. He groans for us! When a person loses a loved one the loss is great! Mary loved Lazurus. Jesus crying in empathy with Mary is a picture of his crying for all mankind!

Here we have the people who are weeping for the dead; the loved one lost. Jesus' cries for those who are lost as well. However, his burden is not for their flesh, but for their eternal life! Jesus cries because, unlike Lazurus, he knows that most will reject him and his vicarious death for their sins! He cries for those who are lost too! However, Jesus defeats death. Lazurus' stinking decaying body was not even a challenge for him! Death is a servant to Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:52 "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Just as Jesus defeated death for Lazurus, that's just a foretaste of what he did for mankind!  However, Mary hadn't yet great faith!
John 11:32 "Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."
Was Jesus crying because of her pain or because of her doubt? Maybe both! He hurt for her pain, but yet she was a shadow of mankind's lack of faith.  Jesus had feelings for her loss, but pain for her doubt as well. Whereas, Mary came to Jesus, even after Lazurus was dead, to tell him she had faith that he could save those from perishing, she had yet to belief that Jesus had victory even over death!

Short and sweet! The shortest verse in the KJV of the Bible! "Jesus wept." It says so much about Jesus that an entire book could be written. In fact it has been already. Have you read it? It's called the Bible. Read it and see why Jesus weeps!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trinitarian Belief: Necessary?

Christians everywhere always say "Jesus and God" when speaking of the object of our worship.  First, let me quantify "object". Using that word is a feeble attempt to operationalize the deity who created everything! We are at a loss for words to describe his majesty!
Exodus 3:13 "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you."
First off, God, doesn't have a name at that time!  Unlike the other gods, he just IS. To give him a name at that time would make him like the other gods. Our God is special. He wasn't to assume a name until much much later! No, his name isn't "God"! His existence defines his position. He IS and his authority is GOD:
Genesis 17:1 "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
God tells Abram that he IS and his authority is "Almighty God". In our feeble attempts to magnify God our forebears came up with titles. The Jewish Masoretic Text assigned seven names of God, that when written, can never be erased, because they are so holy: the Tetragrammaton, El, Elohim, Eloah, Elohai, El Shaddai, and Tzevaot. (For that reason Jews do not write God's name, but leave it blank when writing about him).

The Tetragrammaton (Greek language) is not God's name! It's "yodh he waw he" (Hebrew Language), written right-to-left. Because "tetragrammatron" means "four letters", its an acronym for the Hebrew words transliterated to the Greek. It's normally written JHWH יְהֹוָה and pronounced "yah-wey" (written Yahwey) or in the English it's transliterated YHVH and pronounced and spelled "Jehovah', mostly in Christian circles.  JHWH comes from the Hebrew I AM THAT I AM, hence although JHWH is defined as "God's name", he is without a name in Old Testament times.  When we're told not to take the name of the Lord in vain, that obviously refers to what we call God or better yet, do not take "I AM THAT I AM" in vain, by whatever we use to describe God's existence! To avoid using God's name in vain the Jews call him what's transliterated as "Adonai" or "Lord" since he is "Lord of the Universe". Hence, we don't take the Lord's name in vain. "Lord" is not a name, but a title giving honor to God's authority.

Eloah "God)", Elohim "Gods or Powers", Adonai "Lord", Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh "I am that I am", YHWH "I am that I am", El Shaddai "God Almighty", HaShem "The Name" and YHWH Tzevaot (Lord of Hosts: Sabaoth transliterated in the Latin). These are the Jewish "Seven Names of God". There are many more names less used, but these can never be erased.

We are looking at God as an existence who has assumed titles of adoration. What is God's name? Here's where the term "Trinity" comes into play. It is not a term to be found in the Bible, but is an explanation of the monotheistic essence we refer to as God. Christians are monotheistic; we have a belief in the existence of one God.
Isaiah 44:6 "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."  
Hence it is apostasy if we don't believe in God and heretical if we believe in multiple Gods (polytheism). Hence, the criteria for Judaism or a Christianity is believing in and proclaiming one true God! The Jews always had trouble with this! Their most prevalent sins were worshiping other gods right along with God. This is called syncretism and since the destruction of the Jewish nation and the temple of God, the Jews have rightfully been careful of worshiping multiple Gods. They had been severely punished for their rebellion! That strong belief in monotheism is a roadblock to their believing in Jesus, not understanding Jesus as do Christians.

Christians too believe in the one true God. We too are monotheistic! The concept which we refer to as the Trinity is described well in Christian scripture:
1 John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."
Jesus himself said simply  John 10:30 "I and my Father are one." and as an excuse, was crucified for saying that!

These two verses rank among the most important in the Bible. In essence, it's saying that Jesus is God (as well as the Holy Spirit). Before Jesus was given human form his title was "The Word".
John 1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." 
The Word is Jesus as can be seen from "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us". Like God, the Word, was always here. He was at the creation and was never created. The "Word" is the personality of God someday to assume a body of flesh. Since no man could look upon the personality of God we call the "Father" when the Old Testament patriarchs spoke with and saw God, they were communing with the Word. The Word is Jesus who assumed that name later:
Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
 Isaiah the prophet said hundreds of years before Christ's birth that he (the child) is "a son" and is "the Everlasting Father". Here we see how Jesus was to be the Son of God as well as God! That's a critical concept! Then in the New Testament at the time of Jesus' conception it was said:
Matthew 1:22 "Now all this (the virgin birth of Jesus) was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
Matthew revealed the truth of what the prophet Isaiah had said! Jesus at his birth was named "God with us" because he IS God with us!
Luke 2:21 "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb."
 Just as with God, the Christ was called just plain "God" because he IS. His given name was "Jesus". That's when God was assigned a proper name! "Jesus" is God revealed to mankind. He's God in the flesh. He came to bear spirit with mankind and provide the Way!  Isaiah acknowledged that Jesus, the Lord God, was to be the Savior of mankind when he wrote:

Isaiah 43:11 "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour."

Jesus saves! God saves! It's not God or Jesus saves! It's God Jesus, the Savior, who saves. He's the Son of God because he was born in the flesh, yet his Spirit always WAS and IS! The "Angel of God" was made "mortal", but indestructible, and showed the world that "mortals" are immortal if only they have faith! Jesus, witnessed to his own previous existence. He too is the beginning (and the end):
John 8:58 "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am"
Ignatius, a pre-Nicene Church father, described God as the like the sun. The sun is light and emits that light as seen in the sun's rays. The rays are of the sun yet are still light as is the sun. The rays represent Jesus who is still light and of the sun and the Holy Spirit, also of God and light as is the sun. It is to be distinguished that the rays are not something different than the sun, but are as much sun as the sun itself. Mankind sees the sun by the light it emits. Likewise, we see the Father in the Light emitted (Jesus). We believe because of Jesus, but we were left with God in the form of the Holy Spirit, who is also as the ray of the sun. We don't see the ray, but we sense his presence, just as we sense the light of the sun by the heat of the ray of the sun!

It's crucial to believe that Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father (God) are all God, but detected by man in different forms. Jesus as God on earth wasn't a separate being, but was still God! He was God with us (Emmanuel), but God the Father was still where he resides. The Spirit of God in Jesus bore witness to the Spirit of God in heaven. Jesus, being the Word who became flesh, was at one with the Father (God) in heaven. Hence, we are told to be baptized in the name of "Jesus". Who is Jesus? That's the earthly name of God and he is God. Likewise, we are to be baptized in the Name:
Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..."
If there exists A and B and B=3, and if A=B, then A=3!  If one is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Spirit), then that person is being baptized in the name of Jesus, because "Jesus" is God and God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

We cannot comprehend God's essence and this is a feeble attempt to reveal God. We put God in a box and within the bounds of our understanding. God's outside the box! God is a mystery and desires to remain so. Because we can't define him, doesn't dim his majesty.  If we deny Jesus, we're denying God! If we grieve the Holy Spirit we are denying God. If we believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are three different persons, that's heretical and it misrepresents God. That's polytheism, called Modalism, one God manifested in three different discreet identities. Modalism is heretical and contends that God is not omnipresent. He is limited to being one place at one time. We know that Jesus spoke to his Father (God) in heaven. God is with us everywhere!

Study on these things. Until a Christian understands God who he worships, it makes it difficult to love God! We love God because he died for us! Jesus died for us. He is God! To love Jesus is to love God. Since, God came, put on flesh and died, we must accept that God did die for us. We must accept God Jesus and not only God the Father, because to deny Jesus is to deny the grace of God in feeling and responding to our condition!