Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Ghosts Have Clothes

Pictures taken always show ghosts wearing clothes. At Octagonal Hall in Salmons, Kentucky, the site of a Civil War hospital where surely many died, ghost hunters investigate relentlessly. One photograph published was of a soldier in uniform. Why is a ghost wearing a uniform. Why do ghosts wear clothes? Below in Figure #1 is a ghost of a person, very vaguely seen, but again... wearing clothes!

Figure #1: Ghost Image at Octagon Hall
I suppose that we should be thankful that there are no naked ghosts running around! That would be obscene. But since they can't be seen, why wear clothes?  

First off, what is a ghost? It's the supernatural appearance of a person who has died and whose appearance is indistinct. Since humans are thought by many to have an afterlife, ghosts are a legitimate outcome of this belief. However, clothes are not "persons", they have not died, and why should they appear in the supernatural world? Do ghost dressers provide a wardrobe upon entering Spectre World? If so, do they dress in vogue with Spectreland styles or do they have to wear apparel contemporary with the world from which they come? (Smile here).

It appears that since clothes don't have ghosts, then the person's ghost should either be stark naked as they were born, or wear clothes designed in Spectreland. It is possible that disembodied tailors could make a suitable wardrobe for new citizens of Spectreland, but why? Do those in that realm find ghost nudity repulsive? Are ghosts insecure with their phantasm form? Are their some nudist ghosts? If ghost busters visited nudist colonies, would they detect naked ghosts? You see, there are many questions about ghost nudity and inhibitions!

Do ghosts really exist?
1 Samuel 28:3 "Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city... 7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. 8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. 11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. 12 And when the woman saw Samuel... 14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. 15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?"
It would appear that the witch of Endor did in fact bring up the ghost of Samuel to advice Saul. However, if one examines scripture elsewhere, God had already refused to answer Saul, so why would he allow the real ghost of Samuel to appear? There is much commentary on this subject. I believe that the ghost of Samuel was an evil spirit masquerading as Samuel! For a full study see Don Stewart : Did the Spirit of Samuel Communicate to Saul at En Dor?

First off, Saul did the forbidden. He sought the advice of a medium (more on that shortly). Secondly, Saul asked for a "familiar spirit". That is the ghost of a dead person. The second definition is a "spirit or demon". Saul was asking for advice, knowing that he was taking a chance. It could be Samuel's ghost or it could be a demon in disguise!

What did the witch bring up? A ghost of an old man wearing clothes! Yes, Samuel was now supernatural, but his clothes weren't! Did God provide a wardrobe? Is there a neverland in the supernatural that is neither heaven or hell? I believe that the angels are heavenly beings and demons are of hell! From Genesis chapter 28 Jacob's ladder had angels ascending and descending from heaven. Demons are kept in darkness. It seems they are restrained there, but are free to go to and fro  as Satan does. Darkness is hell. That's where demons reside. As such the real Samuel "please stand up". He can't because he is in heaven and not an angel who can come and go. The impostor of Samuel stood up and was seen! The ghost did a poor impersonation. He wore a mantle which is a sleeveless cloak. This ghost wore clothes!
Leviticus 19:31 (ESV) “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God."
Isaiah 8:19 (ESV) "And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?"
Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (ESV) "When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you."
Leviticus 20:27 (ESV) “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”
Leviticus 20:6 (ESV) “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people."
Why do ghosts have clothes? Because they are not "real" ghosts. They are demons posing as loved ones! They wear clothes because people expect their loved one to be dressed, and they are dressed as they would have been in real life so as to  fool the person who seeks contact. Since God accuses those who turn to mediums of being spiritual "whores', infidels to him, real people can't be ghosts!

Some people turn to the spiritual world for comfort. God is supernatural. He is in a spiritual realm, but so is the devil. They are waging war right now (Ephesians 6:12), and you are in that war whether you like it or not! Demons are clever angels. Being angels they are messengers. As messengers they must have a device to communicate to us. Ghosts are one way which demons deceive those who did as Saul did. When your sweet sister communicates with your dead mother, she is communing with a demon. She cries in the demon's presence and longs for an embrace from that demon! Demons give advice just as the bizarro Samuel did, but it's deadly advice. Saul's destiny was to die in battle and that he did. Bizarro Samuel didn't bring good tidings, but maybe set the atmosphere for Saul to die!

Why do ghosts wear clothes. To deceive you! And you fell for it!

Summary of Speaking In Tongues

 Before I go into the  critique the language itself, let me mention that some say that there are three types of "speaking in tongues": in public worship, in song and a prayer language, where those praying are speaking to God in God's own language. (See 1 Corinthians 14). It is clear that there are "tongues" in which some speak. "Unknown" is not in the Greek. It's added because the interpreters thought it to be implied. In that passage Paul spoke in tongues, Christians did, barbarians did, but some did not. Those speaking in tongues were given occasions for doing so and warnings about. It also prioritized the exercise of the gifts of prophecy (teaching) over speaking in tongues.

Now for my personal commentary: I believe that even in apostolic times there were genuine "speaking in other languages" by those who were not native to that tongue, and the understanding of that language by others in the spirit. I also believe that there were instances of false "speaking in tongues" because of the warning about barbarians. The question then: "Was speaking in other tongues for merely the apostolic church as a miracle for its growth or was it meant to be for all time?" There are those of both persuasions:
"Glossolalists could, apart from those practicing glossolalia, also mean all those Christians who believe that the Pentecostal/charismatic glossolalia practiced today is the "speaking in tongues" described in the New Testament. They believe that it is a miraculous charism or spiritual gift. Glossolalists claim that these tongues can be both real, unlearned languages (i.e., xenoglossia) as well as a "language of the spirit", a "heavenly language", or perhaps the language of angels.
Cessationists believe that all the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased to occur early in Christian history, and therefore that the speaking in tongues practised today is simply the utterance of meaningless syllables. It is neither xenoglossia nor miraculous, but rather learned behavior, possibly self-induced. These believe that what the New Testament described as "speaking in tongues" was xenoglossia, a miraculous spiritual gift through which the speaker could communicate in natural languages not previously studied." (Wikipedia, Glossolalia).
I would be a "cessationist" to be honest about my bias. However, because we're not to "grieve the Holy Spirit", I'm careful about judging the authenticity of speaking in tongues. There are occasions where I know of hardy Christians who speak in tongues and have confidence that they are not faking it!  My position is that they are indeed "caught up in the spirit" and are speaking with ecstatic speech. However, many of those same people speak in public and without interpretation and are consequently in violation of Paul's rules for speaking in tongues from 1 Corinthians 14.  By having silence rules, it would appear that the speaker has self-control over speaking. They can choose to do it or not. If when speaking tongues alienates others or causes confusion, it is not to be done.

In Acts Chapter 2 "they were of one accord" (no confusion) and the spirit came down upon them (Jewish Christians). Those present had no control over the Holy Ghost! Later on it seems that those who spoke in tongues had control over the Holy Ghost. Since Paul told them to do that, it must have been the right thing to do, but had involuntary speaking evolved into voluntary? Of course since it was voluntary, it's at odds with many pentecostal teachings of today.

The difference in tongues between the advent of the Holy Ghost and Paul's letters indicates that speaking in tongues had changed from the "miracle" aspect to the "works" aspect, both of course, by the Holy Ghost. What I am implying is that by the time Paul wrote things had changed! The church had already been established and the gentiles had become included into Christianity (remembering that it was the Jews who needed the miracles). The necessity and desirability of speaking in tongues had already been diminished. The second generation of Christians leaders (bishops) said little about speaking in tongues.

Of all the writings of Christians, the last known account of 207 A.D. when Tertullian spoke of "the interpretation of tongues" [ Warfield, Benjamin B. (1918). Counterfeit Miracles. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 10. ISBN 0-85151-166-X. OCLC 3977281].

It is to be noted that Tertullian was a defender of the sect of gnostic Montanists who preached that the Holy Ghost spoke through Montanus who was a pagan priest before his conversion. This sect was declared heretical by the early church fathers, but lingered in Carthage (Africa) much later. Many Pentecostals use Montanists as examples to support their notion of the workings of the Holy Ghost. Montanism, in opposition to scripture which teaches the "silence of women" in the church, were the main propagators of this "ism". (Note that pentecostals for the most part ignore the scriptural teachings on women's roles in the church).

So it appears from the writings of our church fathers that "speaking in tongues" died out to history until the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles between 1906 and 1915 led by the black preacher William J. Seymour.
"The revival was characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by miracles, dramatic worship services, speaking in tongues, and inter-racial mingling." (Wikipedia).
This occasion was the advent of the modern pentecostal movement. In other words, "speaking in tongues" was a dead work from 200 A.D. to 1900 A.D. If speaking in tongues is evidence of being filled with the spirit, then it would appear that many of those martyrs of the ages who were baptized with blood would have been filled with the spirit! I would think that the evidence of dying for your faith is more of a validation than is speaking in tongues!

I have a theory, not yet researched, regarding the modern era of speaking in tongues. First study what linguists say:
"Practitioners of glossolalia may disagree with linguistic researchers and claim that they are speaking human languages (xenoglossia). Felicitas Goodman studied a number of Pentecostal communities in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico; these included English-, Spanish- and Mayan-speaking groups. She compared what she found with recordings of non-Christian rituals from Africa, Borneo, Indonesia and Japan. She took into account both the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and the supra-segmental elements (rhythm, accent, intonation) and concluded that there was no distinction between what was practised by the Pentecostal Protestants and the followers of other religions [Wikipedia, Goodman, Felicitas D. (1972). Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-30324-6. OCLC 393056.]"
Glossolalia by Christians is scientifically the same as glossolalia by pagan religions.  Admittedly science has its bias, but I've often wondered about testing for structure and meaning in modern tongue speaking. It appears that there is none! Of course God isn't bound by man's rules!

My proposition is that African influenced rites carried over into this black church while pagan influences were still quite alive in black communities. Seymour, the son of former slaves in Louisiana, in my opinion, was the Montanus of the day. Seymour witnessed one of his followers speaking in tongues and came to believe that the speaking in tongues was evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and then the person had true proof of being born-again and  a Christian who was going to heaven.

Under Seymour people spoke in tongues, a few of the holiness crowd, because that's what he taught them! This goes back to Paul's time when speaking in tongues was controllable, but they instead taught that it was a miraculous sign, as in the advent of the Holy Ghost.

Why do sincere Christians speak in tongues then? Because they want to and are expected to. They need the evidence that Jesus is real and the Holy Ghost is evidence. We know that when people believe things sincerely enough, it become reality! It's sincere, but it's not real! The "speaking in tongues" in the modern era came into being because, just as the Christian Jews, pentecostals need "proof".

Jesus taught that we are his by faith in his blood sacrifice in our place. Nowhere does Jesus teach that it's another act which saves. The evidence that we are saved is in love. As gratitude for being saved from damnation, we are to love Jesus. We show our love by obedience: loving others. Those who are without love have no evidence of salvation. Anyone can speak in tongues. Even the barbarians did! Not everyone loves!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Holy Spirit: When?

The issue of "when" Christians get the Holy Ghost is the one event which separates Pentecostals and those who do not teach "holiness". (This term "holiness" is applied to those who believe that the filling of the Holy Ghost comes at a time subsequent to when one first believed.)

First off, we're all called to be holy:
1 Peter 1:14 "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."'
All men are called to be holy if they claim Jesus as savior. Churches which fail to teach holiness, are not teaching God's word (above). All true churches teach holiness. However, some of those who do teach holiness may have a different idea of what it takes to be holy.

Because Paul says "because it is written" one should ask "Where is it written?"
Leviticus 19:2 "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy."
Leviticus 20:7 "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God."
If one compares the OT to the  Letter to Peter, the reader should notice that they say the same thing in two different ways. The latter parts of each admonish "Christians" to copy God. Since God is holy, we are to be Godlike. Then if we look at the first parts of 1 Peter:14 and Leviticus 20:7 we see the that we are to "sanctify yourselves".  That is done by being "obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance". In effect, being "holy" as God is, is being sanctified. Sanctification is to "dedicate and separate" for the sake of holiness. In layman's terms it's to set ourselves apart and be holy meaning simply that "we need to change"!
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Christians are "new creatures". We no longer fashion ourselves according to the former lusts". We change the "old creature" into the new. That happens when we become "in Christ".
Galatians 3:26 "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
We become "in Christ" when we place our faith in Jesus. Faith would be "believe in and trust" Jesus. What's most important is that Jesus saves us and is the only way to salvation. Not coincidentally, salvation is becoming that "new creature"! We are "born again". The old old creature dies and the new creature takes it's place.

If we look at the latter part of the verse, many believe that "baptism" consummates being "in Christ". That's a topic for another day! It  too is controversial. However, it would appear that these two means of rebirth are at odds. We are in Christ because of our faith and then again, we have "put on" Christ with baptism. To me, that means with "faith" we get those new clothes and with "baptism" we put the clothes on. It's the difference between "accepting" and "obeying"!  It's a difference between sola gratia and works. Since grace is the gift of God and salvation is by grace, then being "in Christ" is by grace, and baptism is a work of obedience.

Before Christ's death Christians had only the "Baptism of John". It was one of repentance.
Acts 19:1 "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 
These Corinthians were disciples. As such they were people who were devoted to and followed Jesus. We know that they were also Jews because John baptized Jews only. Before the murder of John it had not yet been revealed that Christianity was for gentiles as well. These "disciples" aren't referred to yet as "Christians" (belonging to Christ) because they had yet to be called that. However, they had faith in Christ, had repented and followed Jesus.
Matthew 16:24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Jesus defined "disciples": 1) Those who present themselves a living sacrifice, 2) self-deny and faith that Jesus is the living God whose destiny is dying for the sins of mankind, and 3) follow after and serve Jesus. They were Jews who had faith in the living Christ, that he is the Messiah. They had repented of their sins, but were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit who had yet to come (they had never even heard of him!).

Paul ran across some of those Jews at Corinth. When Paul confronted them, it was after Jesus' death where their sins were paid for (redemption), and Paul gave them a good "Jesus Baptism". With the baptism of John, we have learned that only Jesus retained the Holy Spirit. With the others the Holy Spirit did not remain on them because Jesus had yet to ascend! The Comforter came after Jesus ascended.

When Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus, they already had faith, now they obeyed! When they obeyed, the Holy Ghost came on them.

If we look at the day of Pentecost, who was it that received the Holy Ghost that day? They were Jews from all over the world who were dwelling  in Jerusalem:
Acts 2:4  "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven."
Jews were peculiar people. It took miracles to convince them. The miracles of Jesus were for the Jews to believe. In the Book of Luke in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham (in paradise)  told the rich man:
Luke 16:31 "And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
The allusion here is that Noah and the prophets did miracles at the inspiration of God, and the Jews didn't even believe them! Why then would they believe a miracle from Lazarus. It took great miracles to convince the Jews, and that miracle was "the speaking in other languages" and the understanding of those. Again, these were not "unknown languages" but merely "other languages". The "Speaking in other tongues" was primarily for Jews who were hard to convince. They needed miracles!

The "speaking in other tongues" was a miracle to convince the skeptical Jewish people whose trust was still in Moses. It was meant for a certain people, but as the Jews were convinced, so were many gentiles, who also came to believe in Jesus and got the same Christ that the Jews did!

The  Holy Spirit was given to mankind after the death of Jesus and after he ascended. Those who had repented, believed in and followed Jesus (saved)  had not yet received the Holy Spirit. After Jesus died, if they accepted his free gift which they believed in before it happened, from scripture, they received the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost wasn't available to men, until Jesus was gone. After he was gone, the Holy Ghost came. This was the filling of the Spirit for those who were believers, but yet had not been baptized in Jesus name (The Baptism of Jesus). This was not a "second work of grace", but for the Jews, a completion of the first work of grace!

Christian Jews in Jerusalem were experiencing Christ for the first time because the Holy Ghost at that time, had not been with us. It wasn't a "second act of grace", but the consummation of the first. It was the time when the Jewish Christians tasted of the Holy Spirit the first time. They had Jesus before; now they had his replacement!

The argument then becomes "Does the filling of the Holy Ghost come with faith or does it wait on baptism?"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What is Speaking in Tongues?

Today I resume the topic of "speaking in tongues". Linguists call it glossolalia: ""to speak, talk, chat, prattle, or to make a sound" (Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus).

Yesterday's scripture follows:
Acts 10:4 "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."
The Bible says it's "speaking" (verse 4).  Likewise, the same verse indicates that the speaker is uttering things from God whose Holy Spirit is the intermediary. Furthermore, the utterings are "other tongues". The meaning of "other" from the Greek is uncertain, but perhaps is "different" or "altered". "Tongues" from glossa is also uncertain, and is likely a "naturally acquired language". In other words, it is not a faked language as many of us attempted when we were kids! Therefore, "other tongues" is a real language different from what they speaker normally spoke. "Utterance" is "speaking plainly with enunciation". The speaker did not speak garbled nor was it mumbled!

Speaking in tongues has a purpose; it is to transmit "the wonderful works of God" (verse 11). Speaking in tongues therefore are not to self-aggrandize, but to magnify God. Also, it's to show what God can do. God's work, in the case of glossolalia, is a demonstration of God's power and his very existence. Speaking in tongues was a demonstration of the truth that God is real and is there in each of them! (Christians being a new sect, needed to know that God was with them. The speaking in tongues were a confirmation to them that Jesus is real and the Way and still there in spirit).

Continuing on, speaking in tongues is more than mere speaking. It's hearing as well (verse 6); "every man heard them speak in his own language". What was spoken, the "different language" was heard by everyone in their own language. Paul spoke in Corinthians of "unknown tongues" and "diverse kinds of tongues" in several places".  First off, "unknown" was added in the English transliteration. It is NOT in the original Greek! That leaves us with "other tongues" or "diverse tongues" or "diversities of tongues". "Diverse" is not in the original Greek in 1 Corinthians 12:10. However, "diversities of tongues" is in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It means "the different tongues of the nations".

"Unknown tongues" is non-existent in the Greek! It's "other languages" and even if it was "unknown" it could be that it is languages unknown by the hearer. The speaker spoke "other languages"; different languages than that which the hearers were accustomed.

Acts 10:6 says that "every man heard them speak in their own language".  It wasn't that they heard the speakers "other language" but they heard the speaking in their own language! Those in the spirit would hear, but not detect the "other tongue" for what they heard would be Greek if a Greek and Hebrew if they were Jews.

"Every man heard"! Not just some or a few, but ALL heard the speaking in their own language. It was to convince all Christians gathered there of the truth of God, not just a few! They ALL understood! Of course, later Paul said an interpreter should interpret, but that would be for those to hear who weren't yet Christians. The interpreter is a tool to draw others to Jesus (more on that later).

In effect, if a person was there, but failed to understand, they were not in the spirit. If speaking in tongues is extant today, that would indicate that speaking other tongues is a test for being a Christian. I know that a mere few will enter the narrow gate, but this test makes the gate so narrow that hardly any would enter!

Tomorrow I will continue with the "when". When do Christians get the filling of the Holy Ghost. Later, we'll examine what pentecostals refer to as "prayer language".

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Speaking in Tongues: In Search of Truth

Acts 10:4 "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."
This one event has divided the church that was just being formed. Even today Christians have much dissension about "speaking in tongues"! Most just know that our own understanding is how it really happened.  It DID HAPPEN! It says so right here. Few truly Christian people don't even deny the truth in these verses. What is the issue the issue then? There are several, and here are some:

  1. When do Christians get the Holy Spirit?
  2. Do all true Christians get the Holy Spirit or is it for a special people?
  3. Can one be spirit-filled and not speak in tongues?
  4. Was the speaking in tongues for all times or was it to be only evidence to aid in the growth of the Christian church?
  5. Which was speaking in tongues: hearing, speaking or understanding, or a combination of all?
  6. What is "speaking in tongues"?
Let me first acknowledge my personal bias. I am a Christian because I believe in and trust Jesus Christ as my savior. I am a Christian who fails, but I believe that it's my faith which sustains me through Jesus. I don't believe that faith is measured in terms of whether I speak in "tongues" or not. I have asked the Lord if that is his will, that I speak in tongues. I do not!

Anecdotally, I would say that I know Christian people whose lives reflect holiness who speak in tongues. I would never question their sincerity nor honesty. I don't believe they would fake this gift. With that said, I have seen occasions where I believe that Christians do put on a performance, not only by speaking in tongues, but doing "holy" things on cue. In those instances, there are five options: 1) It is true holiness which I fail to understand, 2) It is an act for the benefit of those around, 3) It's real, but it's an emotional response, 4) It's a reaction to what's happening, or 5) or people are just showing off.

Since I'm not to judge, let me narrow that down: 1) It's real or 2) or it's not. I can't say because I'm not the final say for sure, that it's either real or it's not. because I'm not the final say!

First off, when other people exhibit behaviors most people are uncomfortable. Since the options are few, then most people follow the others. That's herd mentality. Some people get excited and blessed by music. I don't! When they stand up "in the spirit" I do too! Why? I'm nit being a hypocrite, but I'm also trying not to be the focus of attention. If I was the only one to remain seated, people would have their minds on me, not God. Also, I feel uncomfortable for being alone in my experience. Consequently, I stand up even though I'm not in the spirit of the music! (I do get in the spirit when the preacher preaches truth, but when that happens then is that no one stands up, and I would be a distraction if I stood up by myself. Others, if I did, would then be obliged to stand with me so they would not appear to be outcasts!)

Then we have action/reaction pairs. Pavlov demonstrated that with dogs. People do things when the right stimulus is provided, and become acclimated to exhibit the same results even without the stimulus. In effect people clap when there is a beat, they raise their hands when the music is feverish, they amen when truth is preached, and they may utter aloud when the cue drives them to do so. What I'm saying is that some may speak in tongues because they have been acclimated by others who do, that this is what one is to do!

Then there are personalities. I'm referring to those who show emotion. I never get excited at ball games because that's not my nature. Others are fanatics who shout, hoot, yell, jump up and down and wave their arms. They are demonstrating their excitement. I don't get that excited! Some people who get excited like that get excited in like manner in church. Inside, I'm screaming in joy, but by nature, people would think I was apathetic! I'm just not emotional. I laugh easily, but cry with difficulty. I wish I was more outward with my emotions, but God made me as I am. However, being emotional is not a test of joy, peace, truth, love or anything else. Quiet people can and do love God just as much as do those who are emotional!

Speaking in tongues may be an ecstatic expression of emotion. Even so, it can still be of God, or it could be of the "self". The speaker may not even know! He or she just may feel the emotion and credit God with the speaking in tongues.

On the veracity of "tongues", it is real. People still spoke in tongues as acknowledged by Paul in his letters. However, the church was still forming. Likewise, the speaking in tongues was done in the early apostolic church, but it too was still forming. As late as 400 A.D. Augustine still spoke of speaking in tongues:
"We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them in the laying-on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues."
However, the church was still being formed.  After that there was no reports of which I'm aware where Christians spoke in tongues. Either the miracle of that had waned or people had grown more cold. When many Christians were persecuted for their belief, they died by fire and blood, testifying to their faith, but there are no reports of those baptized with blood who spoke in tongues.

For further comparisons on the "cessation of tongues" please read The Gift of Tongues (click the link).

Then there are those who fake everything! They are false Christians. They do what appears to be holy for the sake of others. They live a lie because they can't do what they know that they should do! I'll give the benefit of the doubt: This is not the norm, but the exception!

Most people then either truly speak in tongues or they have some type of emotional or behavioral experience. There are tests for that even for the apostolic church!
1 Corinthians 14:27 "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God."
If the test was good for Paul and his church, then I accept the test and so should you! If even a few are speaking in tongues in the church, someone must be interpreting it as they speak. There must be a test for the interpreter as well! Those who claim the gift should be able to write down what is being spoken and all those who are in the spirit should write the same sayings. That's a double-blind test of authenticity. As far as I have researched there has never been a double-blind test of speaking in tongues which, of course can't prove it, but could support it. (A controlled experiment with proper methodology is necessary and the Holy Spirit just may not cooperate!)

"[Glossolalia] consists of strings of syllables, made up of sounds taken from all those that the speaker knows, put together more or less haphazardly but emerging nevertheless as word-like and sentence-like units because of realistic, language-like rhythm and melody.[Samarin, William J. (1972). "Sociolinguistic vs. Neurophysiological Explanations for Glossolalia: Comment on Goodman’s Paper". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 11 (3): 293–296. doi:10.2307/1384556. JSTOR 1384556.]

That the sounds are taken from the set of sounds already known to the speaker is confirmed by others. Felicitas Goodman, a psychological anthropologist and linguist, also found that the speech of glossolalists reflected the patterns of speech of the speaker's native language. [Goodman, Felicitas D. (1969). "Phonetic Analysis of Glossolalia in Four Cultural Settings". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 8 (2): 227–235. doi:10.2307/1384336. JSTOR 1384336.]

It would appear from science (linguists) that the language is truly "unknown" but it has the characteristics of the speaker's own language. In other words, the language is pieced together from how the speaker speaks. Of course, as with much of "science", it has it's own built-in irreligious bias and data is subject to interpretation. Also, keep in mind that they didn't "prove" anything, but merely operationalized and analyzed what they heard. As with many scientific "facts" generally accepted, they are no more than theories. However, we do have to be pragmatic and add all the data to form what only can be an educated opinion or acceptance through faith.

Admittedly, I have yet to define "speaking in tongues", referred to by scientists as "glossolalia". Tomorrow we will continue on our journey to at least present the evidence and refutations in search of what each of us should desire: TRUTH.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Comforter's Grand Entrance

Acts 2:3 "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them."
Jesus kept his promise. When he promised that "the Comforter" will come, he was in effect saying "I will still be with you!"
John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
John 16:7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
The four gospels were about Jesus' birth, ministry and resurrection. Acts is about the fulfilling of Jesus' promise: that the Holy Ghost will come to comfort us! Jesus ascended into the sky, then immediately he descended again in spiritual form. Jesus was spirit who had the ability to be seen and heard in the Old Testament, but can only be sensed in Acts and thereafter. How Jesus can be in paradise and here at the same time is one of the mysteries of God. We don't know how he does it; he just does it!

I've often wondered why when some spoke in"tongues" that I saw no fire! It's "as if" the languages were "as fire". In other words, as lightening comes, the languages came in an instant. Likewise, it would seem that the people "saw" something because something, the languages, appeared, to them. Rather than "appeared", "gaze" may be more descriptive in that they were amazed!  Was it amazement of "seeing" languages, or the amazement that they saw people speaking in languages unknown to each of them, even speaking likewise themselves?

 I believe that what "appeared" to each of them was a changed church. On that day Christians got something they had never had before! They changed! They were filled with the Holy Spirit and when it entered into each of them, they were amazed at what they were doing! The distributed languages "appeared" to them, not in a visual sense, but one of cognition. They understood a language which they had never understood before. This is not a case of speaking a previously unknown language, but understanding what had previously been unknown to each of them!
Acts 2:2 "...and there came suddenly out of the heaven a sound as of a bearing violent breath, and it filled all the house where they were sitting..."
"Suddenly" describes the fire. It was as lightning. It came from above; from the sky, roaring as if driven by a strong wind. It was a directed air stream because it came to them and filled the house where they sat.

My thoughts is that God spoke in his language. Some linguists believe it was an ancient Hebrew tongue, that they speak the language of God. (Yahweh's Assembly in Yahshua).

As God spoke whatever it he said, that divine language was divided and distributed among the Christians of the nations such that each heard God's word in a form which they understood. It was a divine language that they did not speak, but yet understood!
Acts 2:4"... and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, according as the Spirit was giving them to declare."
Each were imbued with a "Holy movement as of air", describing the spirit of God in qualities which men can understand. It's as if the swiftness of the imbument created a jet stream when each person who was there got his portion of God's language.  If God spoke a divine language, each person must have heard the same thing in their own language. Therefore, they understood the same message and each of those who heard, should have understood the same message. Each would know what was said to the other!

Because Jesus' promised that he would come back in Spirit keeps our hope alive. Jesus is always with us! Forget the notion that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate "people", but are not persons at all. All three are God and each of the three aspects of God manifests differently. It was God hanging on the cross and it is God who comforts us. It is Jesus who spoke in the Garden and Jesus who spoke at Pentecost. It is the Holy Ghost who was with Abraham and it's the Holy Ghost who carried the cross to Calvary.

Not to confuse the reader, but let me simplify it! Jesus, like the mild mannered reporter who disappeared into the telephone booth when disguised as Clark Kent, but was like  Superman who saved the day as the powerful man of steel! It is Jesus, the mild-mannered Savior who suffered death, but it was the man of steel who arose from the tomb!  Jesus had no krytonite because his Lex Luthor (Satan) tried and failed! Jesus has now went to his palace on a faraway world (heaven), but he is still with us here. Because of his power, time and walls are no barrier to him. Flesh is not necessary now to be here with us. We know he's here because he is with us!

Jesus merely went into the sky, changed his robes and returned unseen, but manifested. The appearance as wind and fire was so that he could reveal his identity to those who love him. Yes, he's superman and he CAN DO THAT! We are the "Lois Lanes" to whom he finally is found out!

So complicated, yet so simple! We merely take God out of the box that we understand and let him sit on his throne in heaven with his feet on earth's footstool. God sits in paradise, but he stretches forth even here!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Aggrandizing: How to Compliment

I once was involved with a drug rehabilitation program because of a family member. As such there was a high degree of confidentiality. Anything about anybody was to be first hand and it was "put in the vault" according to the Seinfeld Lexicon (The Jerry Seinfeld Show).

What this entails is that no one is to gossip. Everybody, it seems, gossips. When people talk they speak idle talk, maybe even true talk, of others about personal matters; matters in which  confidentiality is stressed and if revealed, is even damaging. The more chance of damage which may result, the better the tid-bit! Gossip is a conscious or sub-conscious technique of denigrating others; even those we are to love!
Proverbs 16:28 (ESV) "A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends."
Proverbs 6:16 (ESV) "There are six things that the Lord hates;  seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers."
Wow! It's unrighteous to gossip, but yet Christians do just that! I would bet, based on observations, that Christians may even be worse then the infidels because infidels take pride in their deeds. Rather than gossip, they speak so everyone can hear, being honest with their insults!

Gossip is meant to separate, divide, humiliate, and denigrate. Gossip is how a jealous person splits friendships. Gossip causes bitterness between friends! (Proverbs 16:28).

The Lord hates gossip. (Proverbs 16:16). It's one of the seven things he mentions together which disgusts him! He equates gossipers with lustfulness, lying, murder, wickedness, and an eagerness to sin! Yep! It's disgusting to God, yet Christians gossip all the time!

Gossiping is putting bad grapes in with the good wine. It's makes what should be effervescent and delectable to be pungent and moldy. It's the bad grape vine, which is in the midst of the vineyard, disguising  itself as  just another good vine. The juice it produces kills, yet Christians offer their bad wine in new glasses.

Person "A" divulged confidential information to three people. He trusted them because they were friends. He asked that they tell no one else of his information because what was shared in confidence had the potential to hurt innocent people. You say "But 'A' should not share the information then!" Sometimes people need to discuss issues with friends for guidance and comfort. We all need a confidant! However, those in whom we confide should be few. People just can't keep secrets. It's human nature.

One of persons "B", "C" or "D" recounted the story to person "E". Perhaps it was a spouse or another friend. Perhaps all three or two of the three breached confidentiality! At any rate, the vine began to grow!

I was not a part of the scenario. It was none of my business! It wasn't about me nor any of my concern. However, I learned very quickly, within a few days, this confidential information. I heard it (without inquiring by the way) from another who was not part of "B, C, D, E, F" or any of these. The vine had grown! I heard it from another who was way "shoots" way down the vine!

Gossip may be truth, a mix of truth with falsehoods or outright lies. Most of the time, gossip becomes outright falsehoods whose root is in truth. Face it, truth often is dull. It must be gussied up to be more exciting. After all, who wants to hear a dull story without a murder?

Aggrandizement is gussying up the story to make it more juicy. Even the mannerisms transmitted adds excitement! When someone tells a story with wide eyes and haughty demeanor, it accentuates. People are good at making a poor story interesting. Most often, it belittles the one who is the subject of the gossip.

Furthermore, people fail to listen well, and many even fail to put thoughts into good words. What was once said, when repeated with multiplicity, becomes an exaggeration of what really occurred. Oftentimes, the original statement can't even be detected since original context was lost in the growing of the vine! People are poor communicators. I have a motto: "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see!" Why? Because of poor communication, biased or untruthful people or misunderstanding. Chico Marx (paraphrased) once said "Who are you going to believe me or your own lying eyes?"  There is quite a bit truth to this because people have scotomas!

We believe we are seeing it it all when we look, but we fail to gain essential details which can make a difference. For instance, read this again. Read it slowly and with purpose. Did you see that the word "it" is in the sentence twice? It could make a difference in real life! Sometimes our senses lie to us. We see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear! We not only are selective in our hearing but our seeing as well!

Now let's go back to the drug rehabilitation program. They had two confidentiality rules about gossip: 1) Never speak negatively behind another person's back and, surprisingly, 2) never speak positively when not in the individual's presence!  The reasoning behind the former is that it's gossip and destructive. The reasoning behind the latter is two-fold: 1) The recipient deserves to hear the compliment first hand, and 2) If compliments are not done personally, they can be distorted! Let me add, another: be careful with both criticism and compliments. Even when said directly to the person, human beings have an innate ability to be pessimists!

For instance, if I say "You look pretty today! even to one's face there are many outcomes:

  • A mature person would say. "Thank you for the compliment. That was nice of you to say that!"
  • Another might think "Today? What was wrong with me yesterday?"
  • Still another might think "What is it that he wants?"
  • Another: "I know I'm not pretty! Is he making fun of me?"
  • Another: "I know I'm pretty!" It enhances their narcissism.
  • And maybe another "That old geezer is flirting with me, I'm flattered!" 
  • Or worse yet "That old geezer is flirting with me. I'm offended!"
There may be more outcomes, but only one of these is based on what actually was said. It's not gossip because it was first hand, but it was as destructive as gossip because "Immature people can make immature assumptions and create new facts more in line with their irrational thinking!" (me, today).

Therefore, not only is criticism destructive, but compliments can be as well! We need to keep our compliments first hand and make them with discernment. If there is a chance they can be distorted, some people; those immature will distort!

Now how do we compliment effectively? It's hard, especially for those of different eras, different mind-sets and of opposite sexes. Face it, the opposite sex is accustomed to the technique of flattery to woo. It's imperative that we not give that impression for what we say or do can be misinterpreted! "You look pretty today!" seem so benign, but look at how cancerous it can become!

I had an elderly lady look me in the face and say "I want to go home and go to bed!" I replied "Is that an invitation?" very excitedly and we laughed together. We were both mature in our thinking and her unfortunate selection of sentence  building was actually funny! However, others, less mature, would think "That old lady wants to go to bed with me!" It seems silly, but some people grab onto every statement and try to make it an issue! Why?

Satan smiles! Satan needles us to betray friends and friendships. He delights in division and separation for he knows that when Christians are in harmony, God is demeaned. Who wins as the result of  gossip and aggrandizement? The devil and his team (for a moment). Who loses? The gossiper, the gossipee, and Jesus!  Gossip is a Satanic tactic in minimizing Jesus. Look whose team most people are on!
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Three Types of Death: Two Types of Zombies

There are three types of the "dead": 1) physical death, 2) spiritual death and 3) spiritually dead. The first is at the time we physically die. It's when our heart stops and the brain follows suit (or vice versa). The second "death" is called just that! It is THE "second death" and it's when the spirit of man is condemned. It has rotted, and needs to die, but it's kept alive to suffer in payment for rejecting Jesus. No words can adequately describe "the second death", but here is what it is:
Revelation 20:14 "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
Residing in a "lake of fire" is death, but the soul lives on, even contained within non-destructible, but real bodies. Spiritual death, unlike mortality, is an eternal process. One begins the dying process, but full death never comes! It truly is the walking, speaking, thinking dead. For all practical purposes those who have died a spiritual death are type-2 zombies! "What are type-1 zombies?" You ask.

It is the third type of death. Those whose body still lives, but they are "spiritually dead". Most people are already dead. They are those whose only hope lies in the pleasures of life.  As a Christian, you are not in necropolis with them. Your city is in the kingdom of God! Just as Jesus can't be found among the dead, the Christian cannot be found among those who are spiritually dead!
Luke 24:4 "And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen..."
When the reaper comes looking for me to take me to my eternal home, he wastes his time looking among the dead! I'm not with them!  My dust will be buried among those who have died (first death), but my soul will be alive! My body will be there for awhile, but my soul shall be gone!

Here it is! Here it is!
1 John 3:14 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."
I'm alive because I don't hate. Zombies aren't a threat to me any longer because I gave up "my flesh" so to speak. It can't be killed by them because it's protected by God! Anybody who harbors hate within his heart is dead. By "abiding" he still lives, but his soul is dead. You won't find me among those dead! I may disagree with them or be appalled at their behaviors, but just like Jesus, I don't want anyone to die (neither mortal nor spiritual death). I don't even want them to be spiritually dead because I want them to love others! And me included.

The spiritually dead, those without love, are the living dead. In effect they are spiritual zombies! These are type-1 zombies. They are friends, family and even husbands and wives. They are those who haven't cast off the old creation (type-1 zombism) and replace it with a new creature! You won't find me among them! I "hate" hate. God "hates" hate! Hate can never be in the presence of God, except I suppose for judgement.
Habakkuk 1:13 "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?"
Satan has been in God's presence. God has seen evil beings. In fact he made us who turned evil. However, he turns his divine eyes from sin. He knows the details, but since he is pure, he doesn't look upon it. He can do that. He's God! We can't! Why? We're not God!

But like God we're to hate evil. As such we are to stay away from it! Sure we love even our enemies, but we turn away from their sin! We should not be found among those who live a life of evil. Why look for the living among the dead? We are not there!

Moral of the commentary: Stay away from type-1 zombies so that you won't get their virus and be among the type-2 zombies. Type-1 pleasures themselves in the flesh. Type-2 suffers in the spirit. Better that the flesh die than the spirit!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Another Promise Fulfilled!

The Promise:
Joel 2:12 "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? 27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
Joel was a minor prophet, but what he said was not minor! His writings were few, but what he said was profound. There should be no doubt: God spoke to Joel. This is prophecy, but it's prophecy with a promise! Although it was written by some estimates around 500 B.C. The most reliable estimate is that Jesus died April 7, 33 A.D. The resurrected Jesus was with us for 40 days. Hence, he ascended into heaven sometimes in May 33 A.D. (By the way, the 40 days Jesus was on earth was represented by the 40 days of rain in Noah's time when the entire earth was baptized! Just as the earth was filled again with life from God, at the end of 40 days, the world had life again with the coming of the Holy Spirit! The rainbow should be a symbol of the coming of the Holy Ghost in 33 A.D. which Noah was aware of ca 2348 B.C. by some accounts!)

Rather than viewing the rainbow as a civil rights symbol or acceptance of homosexuality, look at it as God intended: a symbol representing the infilling of the Holy Spirit!

In Jesus's ministry he reminded Christians, incidentally who were quite aware of what Joel wrote, that when he left, that another would fill in for him:
John 14:16 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
The Holy Ghost was promised by Jesus that he would come when he was gone. Just as Jesus ascended the Holy Ghost descended! As Jesus went to the Father, the Holy Ghost came from the Father. As such the Holy Ghost is Christ's "replacement"  left here to provide comfort to Christians. And actually, the Holy Spirit is the spiritual aspect of Jesus! As such Christians have the Holy Ghost! For the apostles, he came to them at Jesus's departure. For Christians, he comes to us when Jesus comes into our lives!

(Note that there are doctrinal differences as to when Christians are filled with the Holy Ghost. In the Book of Acts it was an event after Christians first believed, but that was the case because Jesus had yet to ascend.  Regardless when we submit and ask, "Jesus come into me!" That "coming" is the Holy Ghost because he's Jesus's "stand-in" since he and Jesus are our intercessors with God. How can that be? Because Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Hence, as Jesus was God in the flesh, the Holy Spirit is God's glory!)

I've spoken of the unity necessary for Christians to welcome the Holy Spirit (my last Daily Thought). Joel tells what it takes to unify

Now let's look at the time Jesus left and what he left behind!
Joel 2:12b "... turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him..."
This "activity" defines how one is "born-again", and as one suffers the "new birth" God will leave a "blessing" behind for those who repent. That "blessing is the Holy Ghost". With John's Baptism, there was not a filling of the Holy Spirit (except for Jesus). Why? Because Jesus had yet to ascend! The Holy Ghost had yet to come to replace Jesus.  With the new birth comes the Holy Spirit because he is God himself! When Jesus "comes" into our lives, it's his representative who comes. It's the Holy Ghost who is a reminder that we're a new creature in Jesus Christ!

John was the apostle whom Jesus loved. As such John was truly in touch with Jesus. He is the only writer of the gospels who truly understood the nature of Jesus Christ! John understood that Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost are one, and always were one. He understood that Jesus was with God in the beginning and that salvation was always through Jesus. The patriarchs were saved by their faith in what Jesus will do, whereas we are saved by faith in what Jesus did! As such their faith was greater than ours!

John, in tune with Jesus, was told by Jesus: "he (the Holy Ghost) shall testify of me". "Testify" is the "giving of evidence". He validates to the Christian, that indeed, "I am born again!" Therefore, the "new creation" has been filled with the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Ghost! It's the same Spirit which covered the flesh of Jesus at his baptism and lighted upon him (and stayed) at his own baptism. In honesty there are doctrinal differences as to when the Holy Ghost fills the Christian. It's not expedient to argue when, but if we're not filled when we first believed, what evidence would there be that we indeed are believers?)

Salvation is by grace. It's not dependent upon our works. But we can prepare for the Holy Spirit to enter our lives. That's a sincere sacrifice of our selves to the Holy Ghost. He can only represent Jesus if we allow him to! We render our hearts to him in sincerity. We weep and mourn in sorrow as we repent. With faith we turn our lives over to God. It's not the walk to the altar which saves a person, but what occurs after the walk. We must submit to God and when we do, Jesus, represented by the Holy Ghost comforts us. Our faith in Jesus is validated! (If we have to wait until we're baptized, how did Jesus come into our lives, when he [the holy Ghos]  really didn't?) It must be that the Holy Ghost comes into our lives as Jesus comes to us because each are one and the same!

The Promise Full-filled:
Acts 2:2 "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
"Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." That's us all who "call" and as Joel said "if he (whosoever) shall turn and repent", shall be filled with the Holy Spirit! Acts reinforces the premise that "salvation" and the reception of the Holy Ghost are one event!

Isn't it great that God didn't really have a "Plan A" and a "Plan B"? God's plan all along was that salvation is only by one: Jesus Christ. The same Jesus who died for me, died for Abraham. Because Abraham believed in what was to come, he had greater faith than I!
 Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Note that it does not say that Joel, Abraham, Moses, Noah and the others were saved any differently than how we are! It's the same Jesus who saved them because The Word (Jesus) was there with them explaining, as with Joel, "all things about Jesus!" God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and it is by the same faith in Jesus with which we're saved, that they were! They had the Holy Ghost with them because Jesus was with them. We have the Holy Ghost because Jesus left us bodily, but remained in Spirit. It's Jesus who lives within us!

There's a reason that we are not to "grieve the Holy Spirit". It's because rejection of God's Spirit is rejection of Jesus. That's the unpardonable sin!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Of One Accord: Or Gorillas in our Midst

Why is the church dying? It may have something to do with dissension. There are factions within the church with such factions in disagreement on various aspects. Some, but not all are:

  • Doctrine, of course.
  • Music genre.
  • Who sings what.
  • Characteristics of the preacher.
  • Sermon topics.
  • Who substitutes for the preacher.
  • Personal animosities.
  • Personal preferences.
  • Power struggles.
  • Cliques.
  • The church environment: decoration, parking, temperature, etc.
  • Even where people sit!
You get the idea! Any topic Satan can use, he will use so as to divide! Let's look at one from scripture:

 Mark 10:35 "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 39b Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John."
Here we have two of the apostles in dissension, causing more dissension among them all. Each of the two wanted to be favored! They wanted recognition, reward, favoritism, or something which would magnify their own status. Rather than worshiping Jesus, they were still there to serve their own self! The other ten apostles were upset with James and John. "How dare them want to be leaders!" Was it because that they understood that all were to be servants, as Jesus challenged them to be? Or was it that they desired positions of favoritism? We don't know! All that we know is  that even apostles sometimes were in dissension.

There was one thing amiss in their lack of unity: they had not yet received the Holy Ghost. This is the "baptism of Jesus". Jesus, baptized by John, had the Holy Ghost come upon him and STAY. This implies that John's Baptism was only for "the remission of sins", not for the filling of the Holy Ghost!
John 1:32 "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him (Jesus). 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending (Jesus), and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."
Jesus received the Holy Ghost at his baptism! At that point Jesus manifested the entire godhead. He was Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The apostles had not yet tasted of the Spirit. They were arguing about things of which they hadn't a clue.  They were in dissension because they were not guided by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit unifies, but without unity, the Spirit is hampered!
Acts 1:5 "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."
Luke explains here that "You don't have it yet, but you will get it when the time comes!" They had yet to experience the same baptism that Jesus experienced. They had not yet received the Holy Ghost. It is to be noted that if they had still been in dissension, that the Holy Ghost would not come upon them. It took preparation for the receiving of the Holy Ghost. They all "continued in one accord in prayer and supplication".

They sought unity in preparation for the reception of the Holy Ghost. They put aside differences, factions, jealousies, arguments, and other evil influences, and became of one accord!  They did so through prayer (seeking God's will through communion with him) and by supplication (they begged for unity). They relied on God to be with them and to remove dissension!

Why aren't modern churches more "spirit-filled"? It's because Christians aren't spirit-filled. Yes, they are anointed by the Spirit, but they're not filled with him. And why are they not filled with the Spirit? It's because of dissensions. They are not of one accord!

Just look at people in the church, What is it which interests them: camaraderie, where to eat after church, whom to socialize with, what they're going to eat, which team won, who slept in church, who deserves gossip, who is still a sinner, what to wear next Sunday, and the obvious list of dissensions from above. You know, Christians sit in church with each other and are not even friends! They hug, but they don't love. They hang on to anger and never let it go. They have jealousies they don't resolve. They are puppets of the devil's angels and can't even see the strings!

People don't get filled with the Spirit because it's already filled with evil. There is dissension housed in the soul which must be vacated before the Holy Spirit has a vacancy to fill!

Before our church is spirit-filled, church members must be! As I sit in church I detect those who are in disobedience. I don't judge them, but they indict themselves. You can see them be unfriendly, seclusive, and even sad. They don't welcome visitors nor comfort those less popular. They're not there for others. Sure they believe, they just don't truly love. Church becomes a scorecard. If a person gets a good attendance score and DO THINGS, then they DESERVE to be a Christian.  Jesus wrapped up the dissension argument in his little group by saying:
Mark 10:43"But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."
How do Christians prepare for holiness? They serve. To serve is to love, forgive, befriend, advise, and be there for people without regard for their own welfare! We are amiss in why we are Christians. Because we fill the house of God; the community of us who miss the mark with out service: unity, accord and love; hold the Holy Spirit at arms length. The church isn't spirit-filled because we're not! The Holy Spirit fails to be there in his fullness because we're not of one accord. There are "gorillas in our midst"; big monkeys on our backs which burdens us down!

If you're at odds with someone or something in your church, you've got a gorilla on your back. Those gorillas can be dethroned if we all work together for the glory of Jesus and put all this petty stuff aside! And then he came:
Acts 2:1 "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting."
Into the room came the Holy Spirit. He came because they were of one accord!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Being True to Yourself

There are abstract phrases which people rattle off to sound self-actuated. Worse yet, most believe their abstract thoughts! The most common is "I've got your back!" when most often a person doesn't even take responsibility for their own protection. Another is "She has low self-esteem." when the person to whom they are referring is the most narcissistic person around! On The Bachelorette one suitor said "I'll guard your heart!"

One of the most often used abstractions is "I'm true to myself!" What in the world is that suppose to mean? I didn't know, so guess what I did? Yes; I Googled it!
"To be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe.
If you know and love yourself you will find it effortless to be true to yourself.
Just as you cannot love anyone else until you love yourself,be true to yourself you cannot be true to anyone else until you are true to yourself.
Be who you are! Have the courage to accept yourself as you really are, not as as someone else thinks you should be. Do not take action or pretend to be someone else for the sake of gaining acceptance." (Essentiallifeskills: Be True to Yourself!; Z. Hereford)
Let's examine this.  First off, Hereford says that "If you know and love yourself..." Let's examine that. Society says that people are self-haters; that people have low self-esteem, etc. Is that true? Do you see self-haters out there or those who're selfish, prideful, arrogant, and critical of others? Is self-hate a common characteristic of mankind? Let's find out. Our Creator should know how he created us, so we'll turn to God's Manufacturing and Service Manual to find out:
Ephesians 5:29 "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:"
Assuming that "hate" is truly the acronym of "love", then this could read "All men love themselves!" This is validated by what each does for himself. He nourishes and cherishes himself. To what extent? A profound amount! God loves the church (that's us Christians) and he loves us so much that he sacrificed his own son for us (John 3:16)! In effect men love themselves as if they are their own god! They appease themselves by providing nourishment (keep it in good condition) and cherishing it (adoreing and esteeming themselves). The world says people have low self-esteem. God says that's not a person's problem. They esteem themselves too highly. (I have written a Daily Thought on self-esteem: Christ-esteem: The Answer to Self-Esteem).

I have proposed that the "other god" which God tells us not to have is each of our own individual "Selfs". According to Paul, we all love our god to the extent that we give it all types of good things and esteem it highly! You may ask "What about those who commit suicide?" God made no exception for those who destroy their own idol because it doesn't get "nourished" by others. Yes, "love" is a basic need. Maslow was right about that. People hurt because others don't love their god as they do, and they want to make their god to quit hurting by committing suicide. Ironically they love their god to the extent that they destroy it to protect it from pain!

Suicide is the ultimate sacrifice of the self to the Self. Others may argue that depression causes suicide. I'm sure clinical depression causes abnormal thinking and those who are irrational do irrational things. It's not "love of self" which inflicts them, but I understand it's misfiring of the synapses. For those who are mentally alert, Paul, as inspired by God, indicates that everybody else love themselves!

Hereford also identifies "being true to oneself" as not having to gain acceptance from others. Even suicidal people seek attention and acceptance form others! Claiming to not care what others think is absurd! Since  people cherish their own flesh, they want others to feel the same way. Having a facade' of a non-caring attitude is lying to oneself. It's just the opposite of "being true to oneself". If that is the case, being "true" is being a liar. "I am a liar because I say I don't need acceptance, when I really do!"
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."
Psalm 133:1  "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
God instilled in men as he created them, the need for friendship. Those who need friends need others to accept them. God even needed companionship. God even needs acceptance. God has one expectation! He expects us to love him. He tells us that. Although, we're not God, we were made in his image. We too have the need for acceptance!

Being accepted is being incorporated into the lives of others. We are to dwell together in unity! We need each other! When people say that they never need to have the acceptance of others, they are liars! That's a human characteristic. What God wills for us that we not do wrong for gain, whether it be for money, power or acceptance. For myself I don't even want hateful people to hate me! I bet you're the same way!

"To be true to yourself means to act in accordance with who you are and what you believe.' (Hereford).  Who are you? Pretty much, if there is no God, you're walking fertilizer. You came from the dust and to dust you will return. Since there is God, he says that you're a sinner and you need to change! Because of God, you're not mere fertilizer, but a precious being who he loves!

The goal of God for all mankind is to make you over!
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
God not only wants you to live forever, his will is that you CHANGE! The "you" that is now, becomes a totally new person. That rotten personality of selfishness shall change to a charitable loving person. That what being "born-again" does. being "true to self" is hanging onto the "other god" which you are placing above God. It's toppling your own idol and presenting a changed person to God as a servant of God and others! You're remade from a god to a servant.
Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
The second part of the definition is "being true to what you believe". Guess what? "What you believe until God sets you straight, is mostly lies. Satan has lied to you and you bought into it! Adam and Eve were deceived with tricky words from the serpent and you believe lies everyday! Are you happy in believing lies? If you are "true to yourself" you live a lie in spite of truth!

I'm going to be really really critical. You that spout that garbage are fools, and those who believe they are "being true to themselves" are deluded. That is NOT a desirable thing to do! That person we're trying to be faithful to: our Self, is the one who gets short changed. If you are being true to your self, you're being faithful to Satan! You are right where he wants you to be: adoring and cherishing that silly idol of flesh instead of the One True God!
1 Peter 4:2 "That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
God's will is that we change! Rather than "being true to our self" we should put away that flesh with it's lusts and delusions, and do the will of God. Rather than being "true to self" we "accept the truth of God". We become "true to God"! How's that done?
Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
You must, to please God and gain his acceptance, sacrifice your own self. You give up your faithfulness to you and start being faithful to God. You need God's acceptance and he will accept you if you desire. He never forces you! If you are being true to yourself, then you damn yourself; a very foolish option! Do not listen to the philosophies of men. Listen to the truth of God!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Mechanism of Sin: Satan's Process

Why do people sin? It's obvious if one looks at the true definition of sin! "Sin is the acceptance of pleasures beyond God's provisions and the corruption of what is from God." God does provide pleasure! Not all pleasure is bad. What are the pleasures which God provides? Joy, hope, peace, faith, love, friendship, beauty, gratification, and several more. Even having our hunger and thirst satisfied and our health are basic pleasures provided by God!

Let's take a short review course in sin:
Genesis 3:5 "(The serpent speaking) 'For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."
The "shiny objects" which hypnotized Eve were knowledge (eyes opened), esteem (be as gods), reason (knowing good and evil), appetite (food), beauty (pleasant to eyes) and wisdom (make one wise). The fruits of the tree provided those temptations. Eve had yet to overtly sin. Then "she took there of, and did eat". The sin was consummated. Then because she appeared not to have died (as God had warned Adam Genesis Chapter 2), Adam, tempted by Eve "did eat" and with that both had overtly sinned.

My premise in the past has been that their first sin was even "being there" where they were warned by God that there would be temptation. Rather than standing under "The Tree of Life", they stood under "The Tree of Forbidden Fruit" (my nomenclature).  I may have been wrong before, but let's look:
Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Jesus said "enter not into temptation". We think of "sin" being the act of sinning and for being tempted, we're not in rebellion. Jesus was tempted, but he did that to demonstrate his humanity, his divinity and his obedience. Jesus voluntarily faced temptation and defeated it because he is God! Believing that we can do the same and defeat Satan is having too much esteem for ourselves. We are making our "self" as God.

Jesus warned us about going where we will be tempted. For instance most men will have temptation if they were to go to a strip club. After yielding to temptation, sin is inevitable because we're not God! Therefore, "enter not into temptation" is a command of Jesus. When we go where humans aren't to go, we meet strange dark forces who tug us toward death. If we are to ward off evil, we stay away from the unholy ground where temptation roams!

Now back to Adam and Eve. They entered into temptation by being under the forbidden tree. It was The Word who warned them about that tree (don't eat of it or you will die) and it's the same Word who said "enter not into temptation". Being under the forbidden tree was entering into temptation. This, I still believe, that there was disobedience in the hearts of Adam and Eve before they overtly sinned!

Sinning is pleasurable. Adam and Eve sinned for pleasurable things: esteem, wisdom, beauty, etc. and so do we! We know that God is the author of sexual desire and emotions. He gave us that to multiply to populate the earth. Although sexual pleasure is of God, the abuse of pleasure is sin. Sexual pleasure outside the divinely ordained institution of marriage is sin, whether dreaming about it or doing it with another!

There are sins of "doing wrong things" and "abusing right things". Both categories are sins. Likewise, "failing to do right things" are sins and "causing others to do wrong things" are sins. Face it, most things humans face are sinful! It's easy for us to sin because temptation, unholy ground, is at most places. That's why I like church. It should be a sanctuary since it's holy ground, but sinners bring temptation and actual sins right in onto holy ground.

Let's look at the mechanism of sin. I have two charts to demonstrate:

Figure #1: The Mechanism of Sin
Not shown is "temptation". Maybe it should be. I believe it would be part of the "planning" stage. The chart has as the x-coordinate "time" and as the y-coordinate "self-satisfaction". Although Figure #1 is for Christians, non-Christians whose household has been exposed to the Holy Spirit, also exhibits these same emotions.
James 1:14 "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren."
Christians still sin. James is speaking to "brethren" (other Christians). Yes, even Christians are tempted, even Christians lust, even Christians are enticed and even Christians still sin. As a result of living a life of sin, yes, even Christians can die spiritually. We have security in our hope of salvation as long as "Jesus' Life Matters".

When we are tempted, lust for what we're tempted with, ensues. The upward slope of Figure #1 is the planning stage. We think of what we're about to do. This exposure to lust is the "high" sinners feel when they anticipate the fruits of sin (and there are many on that tree). Eve anticipated Epicurean delights, wisdom and other pleasures. This stage is the drumbeats to excite your idol. Your "self" begins to feel excited!

Then lust gives way to sin. This is shown as the vertical arrow in Figure #1. The thrill of sinning waxes high as the sin is done. Your idol is on LSD! However, the remembrance of the sin continues to wax even higher. Most people reach a peak of pleasure afterward while the memories of "reward" are high. Your idol is transcendent!

After a period of time, the memories are no longer fresh and the flesh misses the excitement and lingers for more. The person is no longer satisfied reliving the event because it's only a blur. Pleasure wanes. Also, the Holy Spirit uses his check-valve to convict the sinner of his sin. That valve is guilt. For the person exposed to the word, guilt accelerates the waning of pleasure, and at a certain point, guilt replaces pleasurable thoughts. Thereafter, there is no excitement to be had. Your idol begins to topple!

After a period of time, just as the pleasure did, guilt wanes. We forget our sin. It seems as if it never happened, but it did.  Because we fail to respond to guilt, we don't feel remorse, don't repent and finally the guilt is snuffed out. Your idol is put back on its pedestal. Unless we repent, we are more prone to sin again because the guilt is forgotten, while the memory of the pleasure incurred with the act of sinning is still filed away in the mind under "Things which excite my god, the self".
Acts 8:22 "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee."
If we sincerely repent, then God forgives us. Our "hearts" (or desires) turn to God and away from sinning. We're less likely to sin again because we don't want to disappoint God. He clears our mind by his Spirit.

However, for those who don't repent the process continues. Temptation not only leads to sin, but one sin leads to another. The emotional high that your god (you) has experienced, unless you repent, is remembered and missed! Now let's look at Figure #2:

Figure #2: Sinning Without Guilt
This is the same chart, but with multiple sins shown: sin 1, sin 2, sin 3 ... sin n. Each time, as pleasure waxes we anticipate (lust after) what we're about to do (A1, A2, A3 ... An). The sinning we do leads to a peak level. Even if we sin more, we're never satisfied with the amount of pleasure. The sinning person; without guilt, sorrow and repentance; is doomed. Like a dope addict they can never consummate their pleasure and they always need more "dope" to endeavor to stay high. 

The "dope" of habitual sin is an addiction. Those who gamble always want more. Those who drink booze always want more, those who fornicate always need more and so on. Sin is mankind's addiction and it leads to death, just as Jesus said. Dope kills and sin is our idol's dope. It's ironic that we are our own idol and it's "we the people" who destroy our own idols!

Even with repeated sinning, pleasure wanes. Just as the drug addict can never get enough, neither can the sinner. His god cannot be appeased, is unhappy and demands more. It gets to the point where the sinning goes on even though there is no pleasure in it. Your idol is subdued. You become a slave to your own "self"! There is one way to freedom, but most sinners never get there, because they are dulled to the tool of the Holy Spirit. When sinners cease to feel guilty, necessary for sorrow and repentance, they become reprobate. They are no longer sensitive to God, and cannot be corrected!
Romans 1:28 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers..."
The fruits of the forbidden fruit are endless! This is a partial list, and those who live a life of unrighteousness are reprobate; they damn their own god, the self, and because their hearts are calloused and fail to respond to correction, they relinquish all pretenses of righteousness.  Romans 1:27 uses as an example, homosexuality. They may be reprobate and as such, doomed. I pray not, but my desire is that they not chance it. The stakes are high!

That's the mechanism of sin. It's Satan's M.O. for killing your soul. All men sin and deserve death, but because God loves us he died in our place to cure this Satanic disease. The prognosis is good. Even if we sin, we don't have to die because of God's grace. All those sins (S1...Sn), Jesus took on his own shoulders and died for them all. We only need to accept that his blood washed away the addiction of sin!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hearing: Never Changing

I've discussed this with the pastor. I empathize with him! It's an almost thankless profession and preachers must preach because they love others. There is no other explanation. On a much smaller scale I have experienced this as a Sunday School Teacher and lay preacher for years. I say "lay preacher" because I fill in in the absence of the regular preacher. However, it's enough to get a small taste of his angst. People hear, even listen, but the fail to apply! They are without excuse!
Romans 1:20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
Although, even without teaching and preaching, people have no excuse for not "getting it", they are entirely callous if they "don't get it" when it's preached. Get what? A saved ("safed") person is a new creation!
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Let me paraphrase this in two ways so that you can "get it": "New creatures become different persons." and "Christians are to CHANGE!"  I can say without qualification that most Christians never change to a large extent in their daily living. They want "fire insurance" (to be saved from hell), but they don't want the "life assurance", which is reward for their service! I'm not sure the fire insurance is all that God had in mind. His desire is that we mimic him. When we become a "new person" the new is to be "printed" on the perfect "pattern". Because it's a mere "print" and not the original work, it will never be as good, but it can be an imperfect replication. Of course that perfect pattern is Jesus and the "print" is sanctification.
Ephesians 5:25b " Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." 
 1 Thessalonians 5:23 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
What does "sanctify" mean? It means that Christ sets Christians "apart as holy". That's the process of becoming "a new creation" or a "different person". Paul even defined what "sanctification" is: "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish". Jesus said "be ye holy for I am holy"  (1 Peter 1:16 from Leviticus 20:7).

A person strives toward holiness by endeavoring to be like Jesus. However, since God is always with us, he still ministers to us through the Holy Spirit. Striving toward holiness is being attentive to the direction of the Holy Spirit (our Comforter) who leads and guides us, or at least he does if we are sensitive to his presence!

What is it that Christians do? How is it that we are sanctified? It's by obedience. Baptism presents to the world a new person cleansed by the blood of Jesus. It's a mockery if we ascend from the water a new person and put our old "clothes" (flesh) right back on!
Mark 2:22 "And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."
In effect as a Christian we need to change! That old flesh must truly be replaced with new! That's not what most "Christians" do! Why? Because it doesn't please "the flesh", the "self". Even Christians still fight change. They claim Christ as savior, but still live for the devil. If they're "new persons" sanctified by the blood of Jesus, then they sure fool me! We are called to make a sacrifice:
 Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
As a Christian, we are to be like Jesus. He came to serve, and to be like Jesus, we are to serve. How do we serve Jesus? We become the sacrifice! We sacrifice our will and replace it with God's will. Jesus even tells us that we pray in that manner; that "God's will be done". We become the epitome of what Jesus taught!

It's easy to quit cursing, attend church, and give up bad habits; but the things of the heart are strongholds! People just won't give up anger, selfishness, being inconsiderate, gossip, bad-mouthing, nor pride! Without doing those things "Christians" are little more than wet hypocrites!

This is the attitude which the preacher faces on a weekly basis! Sure they hear and may even listen, but they seem to never change. Is the preacher preaching in futility? It appears so. It's only for the few who desire to be to sacrifice themselves to Jesus that keeps the preacher motivated. His desire to see souls saved and people living for Jesus is why he teaches the word of God each Sunday. If there is no change, that people never live holy, is his job and effort in futility? We are getting to the point where the services of a preacher may no longer be needed because people seem to never heed the message. Pray for the preacher!

As I write my Daily Thought my goal is to tell others about Jesus and holy living. It's not merely for others that I write, but for myself! I want to live a more sanctified (holy) life and studying the very words of God allows me to be sensitive to his Spirit who is still here. By reading and studying the Most Holy God it makes this hypocrite (sic) want to change. Indeed "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". Make that flesh as strong as the spirit. Seek God, be holy and the devil will flee!