Thursday, August 25, 2016

Impute: Dispense Grace

Romans 4:6 "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
David was anointed of God. He had the Holy Spirit. Even so, David sinned greatly! Without elaborating on the details he lusted, he fornicated, he was treacherous and he murdered! However, David was tricked into judging himself by Nathan the priest. When he realized how greatly he had sinned, he felt guilt which the Holy Spirit brought onto him!  Psalm 51 is a song of his sorrow, repentance and quest for restoration. Because of God's grace he forgives even those who are already his from their sins! Note that David was already anointed, but he still sinned. Forgiveness are for past sins, and when a forgiven person sins, it is necessary to repent of those and bring all sins to God!

David failed to obey! Obedience is "works" because it's things YOU DO to PLEASE GOD. Sometimes righteous people still appease their own flesh (an idol). David had been content. When Bathsheba laid all her flesh out there for anyone to see, David sought to appease her idol (herself), and as such "another god" in addition to his god was added to his repertoire!

Satan most often uses sexual lust to enslave righteous people. Christians are not immune from this virus! Bathsheba wasn't really a goddess, but Satan made her appear to be! What do I mean by that? We desire what we fabricate in our minds. This construction of a new goddess is an altar made by man. When righteous people built their altars in the times of the patriarchs, they were always to be of rough stone. That was so that what man had made did not become the object of worship! However, our deceived minds create other gods and goddesses whenever our own idol needs pleasured.

Throughout scripture, from Eve to Keturah, to Bathsheba, to Delilah, to the pagan wives of the kings to the pagan wives of the Hebrew people, and to Salome in Herod's time; the lust for women have created other goddesses before God!  God makes the beauty of a woman; Satan uses immodesty and flirtation so that man will make her his goddess!
Proverbs 6:25 "Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes..."
Solomon wrote this? Why do you suppose he did that? Because, like his father, Solomon was weak in the flesh. He made many idols of women and flirted with their gods. These goddesses men make of women is how Satan entraps even the righteous. Women, to magnify their idol tempt others to worship them. Pagan worship is nearly always in a sexual manner.

Look what we're really worshiping:

A temptress who flutters her eyelashes and captures your eye appears to be a beautiful pure unicorn, but when lifted up and prone to inspire your desires, the view now becomes clear. It's now a merely the hole of an ass you see and all your dreams are destroyed by the aroma of what is actually a decadent garbage pit!

That's crude and excuse the use of this metaphor, but I'm trying to topple goddesses of every era with reality! Those goddesses are of the same substance that we are and outside of God their main function in life is the same as ours - to take what God provides and make fertilizer of it! My implication is that the goddesses which we create are of the mind! Eve, Bathsheba and even Salome have returned to the dust and what once men craved are now ashes. It's just not worth it, yet all men are tempted to do it. (I'm sure many women do the same for their hunks or gods!)

Bathsheba was David's goddess. He finally saw that and sought forgiveness. God restored David to favor, but it took guilt to bring David to repentance. David's works were disastrous. He and many people were hurt and at least two died: Bathsheba's husband and David's infant son. However, by God's grace David's iniquities were forgiven (verse 7).

God "imputed" righteousness to David. In effect David was not righteous, but his faith made him clean. God did the cleansing. God ascribed David's guilt to himself and paid for the iniquity with grace. What was that grace? David's sin was covered by the future propitiation of the blood of Jesus! David's sins were covered by Jesus who took them on his own back at his death. Jesus died for the sins of all men who had come before and after him.  David knew that. We know that he knew from what he wrote.

Since God imputed the sins of David, David was blessed (verse 8). David's empire expanded to the bounds promised to Abraham. He was the victor in war and he became a righteous king. Through him the promise God made to Abraham came about, not just in territory, but through him a Savior was born. Jesus is called "Son of David" because God imputed the sins of David, both knowing that it was to be David's Son who covered the sin! Can you imagine the humility of knowing how greatly you sinned, and that your own offspring would die in your place?

Never forget that we all are sinners such as David, and just as for David, God imputed all our sins through the death of his only Son! Even if you're not a Christian God has already imputed your sins. You merely only accept that he imputed for you!

Some people are self-righteous: "Your sin is greater than mine!" That may be, but that's not another's place to say that. Let God be the judge for while self-righteous people walk around in their false purity, it's their own self who seeks the glory! God uses sinful men to serve his purpose: Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Samson, all the apostles and the chief sinner; Paul!

I too am a chief sinner. That may be. God has imputed righteousness for me because of my faith. Just like David, my righteousness must be obtained, and that is through meekness. Like David, Christians must all repent, not just at the time of the new birth, but time and time again! The Law is a standard so that we know that we have not met God's expectations, not to damn us! He loves the pleasing aroma of repentance!

If I had my druthers (sic), I would I'd druther be a sinner who repents and have God impute my sin, than a law-abider and believe I have no sin to impute!
"Thank you Lord this day for imputing my sins of yesterday and beg of you to impute my sins today." (My prayer).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Five Smooth Stones

Things strike me as I ponder God. In church last week while brother Danny Brown was preaching about David and Goliath, I was struck! Why pick five and use one? There's got to be  reason for God specifically said (through the words of Samuel) "five smooth stones". God was specific for a reason because those words weren't there just to make the story more interesting! Why then five?

Many theologians have argued why David chose five stones, when it only took one to kill Goliath. Some say that it was because of little faith. Others believe that he was merely being pragmatic. I believe that when something, when said in scripture, has great significance. There is significance in every word which is written!

Let's look closely at the scene. The army of God is fighting the army of Dagon. The former are the Israelites and the latter are the Philistines. In those days the battle was more than about  who is stronger, but the winner validates whose god is the mightier. Of course Dagon has no power since he is a false god, but the power of the Almighty God is unleashed with faith leading to obedience. Fortunately God had made a Covenant with Abraham and the fulfillment of that promise was at hand!

If the battle is lost, God has voided his Covenant. If it is won, then David, whose destiny is to be king, will have all the land promised to Abraham, which indeed eventually came about. This was no mere battle over land. It was indeed a show of power for the Almighty God! In essence it's God fighting the battle with David as his instrument. Therefore, keep in mind while reading the following scripture that it's not David who has the power:
1 Samuel 17:38 "And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. 40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. 45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee... 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David."
Goliath represents evil. Each day for forty days he threatened the Israelites. Of course they fought, but his threats were to tempt them into surrendering. It's Satan threatening God for forty days, and is symbolic of Satan's tempting of Jesus in the desert for forty days. Then Goliath is a "type of Satan" and David is a "type of Jesus". As we find out later Jesus' is often referred to as "the son of David", not only for his genealogy, but for his prodigy!

Saul then dressed this young man in armor. David was protected all over with coat of mail, had upon his head an helmet of brass, and was  given a sword. David in his youth was fleet of foot. David was ready to go to battle and was fully dressed as a soldier of God.

Did David need this armor? Apparently not, for he removed it! David showed great faith, the same faith Abraham showed when he trusted God enough to deliver his only son!

At some point in time David had the Holy Spirit because of his faith in God. Perhaps it was when he was alone tending sheep. We don't know exactly when, but at the time of battle David was not alone in front of Goliath for he wrote later on:
 Psalm 51:11 "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me."
This passage was written as an apology to God; in contrition after he sinned greatly! Hence, prior to that David was endowed with the Spirit of God. It may have been from birth because God ordained David to be king of the Jews years earlier as part of the Covenant with Abraham.

But you say "The Holy Spirit didn't come until after Jesus ascended!" (See my commentary at link: SPIRIT VS GHOST).  Briefly, "Holy Spirit" is the essence of God. "Holy Ghost" is that portion of God's Holy Spirit which was with Jesus on the cross. Hence, as Jesus ascended, the Holy Ghost, HIS SPIRIT descended! Therefore, David did not have the Holy Ghost since Jesus had yet to die, but he was imbued with God's Holy Spirit! David wasn't alone in the face of Goliath and Goliath was not alone in the face of David. Principalities were in the army of the Philistines because of their idol Dagon, and God himself was there in Spirit with David. It was truly a battle of the gods!

It is possible for David to lose because the Israelites had sinned many times! However, remember God's grace. He knows how hard it is to obey and he stood there with David regardless! The Hebrews DESERVED to die, but God offered them hope back there in Abraham's time. Right now the Israelites are faced with extinction They were about to die. The time from Abraham to David was symbolic of life itself. They had run the race! Would they now have faith to win the prize (Canaanland, symbolic of paradise)? They had faith to put David out there as the living sacrifice. Ironically, he wasn't the first born son of David, but in God's eyes because of his faith, he was firstborn! We know that because he inherited the throne from his Father in heaven! Again, David is a "type of Christ" and his blood was willing to die for God!

David removed his armor. That was the turning point in the battle. He threw off himself and turned things over to God. He won the battle with God. It was faith which saved him! Not only him, but all his household (people) as well! This battle is a parallel to Jesus' death on the cross. It was there that Jesus defeated all the Goliaths who ever lived or ever will live. He took the Goliath of sin on his own shoulders and saved us all!  In the parallel, David defeated sin for the Israelites! Goliath carried all the sins of the Philistines and David defeated him! Even today "Strongholds" are Goliaths which stand taller than all sins, and must be turned over to God to smite them!

In order to kill our Goliath's it takes great faith. We must turn them over to God. When David took off the armor, he turned his Goliath over to God. When we slay our Goliath we must do the same!

Let's look at how we defeat our Goliath:
Ephesians 6:9  "And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..."
Goliath threatened every day for forty days! Paul tells us how to "forebear threatening" (Ephesians 6:9).  It's to put on the "whole armor of God" (verse 11). God had no regard to the size of Goliath. He was just another warrior. In verse 9 above he says that God is no respecter of persons! David and Goliath were equal in stature standing together facing God! Goliath was pared down from nine-feet to the same stature as David because he stood on Holy Ground, in the presence of God!

Goliath represented "spiritual wickedness" (verse 12) because the Philistines worshiped Dagon, the chief fertility god of their people. Their god was a whore. Fornicating with other gods is always symbolic of wickedness! Hence, the battle of the Hebrew peopleias symbolic of our own fight with Goliath:
Ephesians 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
 Dagon and the army of the Philistines were these "powers and principalities". We fight the same army which David fought if you think about it! We must fight in the same manner. We must quit fighting evil ourselves, take off  those things which impede us (coats of mail, helmet of brass and heavy weapons), and put on the whole armor of God just as David did! Did you notice? All this extra stuff only weighted David down. The things of the world only burdened him. Now that David was freed to get stones from the brook and run back and face Goliath, he was agile to sling that stone. In other words when the burdens were removed he was swift on his feet! That is the same outcome when one puts of the whole armor of God without the extra baggage! David's feet were shod with the Gospel of Peace!

Who was the Gospel of Peace? With Paul it was Jesus Christ! With David it was The Word of God; the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Messiah!  Jesus' Ghost was not there, but he was there in Spirit! David's feet became swift because of his faith. David knew about Jesus because the Word guided his life! David became a soldier of the cross before dying by death on the cross was ever practiced in Israel!

As David took off Saul's armor he sacrificed himself to God. He presented himself a "living sacrifice" because that would be the outcome if was not for God! When he stood there in the face of evil, he turned his life over to God. With great faith, he then put on "the whole armor of God"!

What was the armor which David put on?
  1. The girdle of truth
  2. The breastplate of righteousness
  3. The shield of faith
  4. The helmet of salvation
  5. The sword of the Spirit
You may have noticed that there was a sixth thing mentioned: It wasn't armor. It was "preparation" David prepared for battle. He put his faith in God in action. He calmly used the staff of God and a sling to hurl the things of God at his Goliath! Then David picked up "five smooth stones", but only used one!

"Stones" represent Jesus who was "the cornerstone". The church was built on that stone (Jesus). When David prepared he gathered those stones. His preparation was to gain "peace" by the "gospel". That Gospel was faith in Jesus Christ whose Spirit was there alongside of him as it had been when fighting bears and saving the sheep!

The "five smooth stones" were the "whole armor of God" specified as truth, righteousness, faith, salvation and The Word of God (the sword of the Spirit). That armor was the five stones which David selected. He put on God's whole armor (five stones), but only used one! Why is that? The one smooth stone was the Sword. David still had the whole armor, but he only needed the sword to defeat sin! That Sword is The Word, Jesus Christ! That's in whom David's faith rested!

Note that David had the shield of faith, but Goliath never had a chance to throw his spear (darts of Satan)!  His girdle of truth was there, because his God is truth. He was the instrument of truth and fighting for God!  David's heart was right. That was his breastplate. Of course his faith shielded him and he was "saved" as he presented himself as the sacrifice for the honor of God. Those stones represented the armor David had on his body!

One stone killed his Goliath (his Sword, The Word). He had on the rest of the armor (the other four stones). Hence, David did use all five stones. Even the one smooth stone was of the Spirit because God guided that one stone and killed David's Goliath.

He did that for David and Paul tells us that those same five stones can kill our Goliath! Now you know why he picked five and used one! He didn't. In reality he threw off the armor of Saul (faith in man) and put on "the whole armor of God"! He used all five stones!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Personal Testimony: Part 3

Figure #1 - Eye on Prize
Back to me again! It was I who I wished to discard. I wasn't arrogant nor proud. Neither was I rowdy nor troublesome. I loved my parents, respected them and had unity with all my siblings. God wasn't impressed. I was a "good" boy, but not by God's standards!

My teenage daughter one time asked "Grandpa", "Did Dad eve get into trouble?" Dad told the truth as he always did, but his mind failed him. He told her that I was never any trouble. I suppose that's partly true because I loved my parents! However, it only SEEMED that I was good because I never rebelled against my Dad. I was smart enough to remain respectful to my Dad while I was even disrespectful of my heavenly Father. As such my Dad gave me freedom. He was permissive because he trusted me to self-govern.

My Father in heaven is no different. Believe it or not, God is permissive! Whereas, other religions bind men with rules and regulations, with Christianity mankind binds himself with those. You see, it's the glasses with which commands are viewed! If we look at commands through coercive lenses, we cheat and rebel. If we look at the same commands through loving lenses, commands become a privilege! Christians have the liberty to sin, but because of their gratitude for the hope of salvation, Christians deny themselves and follow Jesus.

How are sinners and soon to be Christians to deny themselves? "I can't save myself. I need you Jesus!" With that realization the Light enlightens and we make our own living sacrifice - our self. Although by Dad's standards I was "good", but my "goodness" was laughable to God although he cried for me! I wasn't funny. I was pitiful! As others thought I was good, by God's standards I was a hateful infidel.

As Paul admitted, I also admit, in all my "good" behavior, my heart was evil! I was a thief, a liar, jealous of  others, prideful. manipulative, lustful, and many other rotten fruits of the forbidden tree. I didn't DESERVE eternal life. No one does!  So what did I do? I cleaned up my living to prepare myself for salvation. In essence I was my god still thinking that I could save myself!

We are to come to God just as we are for those who he forgives the most tend to love him the most. We don't have to clean up ourselves; it's Jesus who does the cleansing!

Albeit, I put on a moral and forceful façade of  "goodness". I wasn't more "good" because it was for APPEARANCE sake.  That's how we want others to see our idol.

God was neither fooled nor amused! Knowing I was living the lie, even I was not impressed! I felt guilty because I was so fake! Let me give an instance:

By my teenage years, now certainly at an accountable age, I attended The First Church of the Nazarene in Clayton, Indiana. Our services were long. Brother Enoch Ralph, an excellent righteous man and a loving person, would not dismiss service until all of us had time to consider our own condition and go to the altar as is the routine in that denomination.  Because I was tired and wanted to go home, I would think "He wants me to go forward, and if I don't this service will never end!"  Then, I would go forward and "pray through" so that I could go home. That is blasphemy and rebellion. My sin was worse than those alcoholics and wayward women at the bars who I criticized!

God looks at the heart and my heart was selfish. It's easy now for me to see that I was worshiping another god before him (or "in his face"). That God was me and my flesh was my idol. Before, I could be born-again, it was necessary that I die! That death is not a physical death, but when one spiritually dies to the world. Rather than appeasing me, I had to please God. His pleasure is when I sacrifice that hypocrite to him and let him do the saving, since my own god couldn't even get me out of church without deception! I was a fraud!

Even today, because of those memories I fear that I'm not being "true to God". It's God, after all, to whom we must be true. Being "true to self" is doing what is right in our own eyes, as is written in scripture. I confess though; I was being dishonest to God and even to myself.!

Satan still uses that against me. Even when I cry for his mercy, is it him to whom I'm crying or because it is my own idol I'm still trying to magnify in the eyes of others? Doubt is a slick maneuver and Satan places doubt along our path.

I don't remember when my guilt became excessive enough to humble me, but it was at the Nazarene Church when I was fourteen or fifteen. (No one advised me to write down my date of new birth).

At times Satan plants a thought, "Were you really sincere? I think not!" Satan wants me to believe that I'm not really born-again; that it' still all a façade as were my teenage years.  Being born-again lightens the load for those heavy laden. God does that, but sometime, as you'll see, as we live, Satan has many burdens that he tricks us into carrying.

"Guilt" is the foremost tool of the Holy Spirit. It's a good thing. When one ceases to feel guilt their spiritual condition is "reprobate" and their psychological status is "psychopath". My guilt was tremendous. God's grace was still available! Guilt is an emotion driven by thoughts that we have violated acceptable standards. In morality it's what others deem is right. With God, it's driven by the thought that a sinner is unfaithful to God. Guilt for disobedience to God is induced by the Holy Spirit. I was feeling guilty a lot as the Holy Spirit drew me to repentance.

All the while God was drawing me, because the Holy Spirit is fully God, Satan had hold of my arm. As God was telling me the penalty of death, Satan was saying "You won't die!" (He used the same tactic on Eve).  There was a battle going on for my soul. Satan wanted me to undermine Jesus and his very reason for existing, and Jesus wanted me because he loved me and still does!

I went to the altar several times seeking relief for my guilt. It took courage to go forward when I was serious unlike the cowardice I demonstrated when I faked it! However, even as I walked forward I could feel Satan saying "Look back,: while Jesus was advising "Don't look back!"

As I arrived at the altar seeking salvation, too many times I looked back. What I saw was pleasure. Satan said to my mind "You'll have to give up all this fun!" God countered "It's not true pleasure and it's something you'll not want to do any longer!" Those aren't exact quotes, but that's the gist of the war for my soul!

My enlightenment was gradual. Going forward was merely a first step.  I wanted to please God and follow hem, but to follow one must accept Jesus as Lord, feel contrition and repent! The light came on, but Satan kept dimming the light. I wrestled with God (see Jacob's wrestle Genesis 32), but he could not overpower me. I had to submit voluntarily as I fought against him. Satan was my coach, but finally I realized that to be saved was more than belief! It was trust and the willingness to obey God's will! Only later did it occur to me that faith isn't a one time event. It's a lifetime commitment!

Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—"
Salvation is not when you are born-again. It's when God grabs you from the burning bus to hell as you die and makes the last second rescue. Of course he provides a seat belt and an airbag (symbolically) to make your journey safe, and with that safety you have "the hope of salvation!  Being a passenger with your own will, you are free to throw off that safety anytime. Therefore, faith must be enduring and steadfast. However, because of God's grace even a little faith will keep that safety intact!

One time, I listened to God! I quit looking back! Rather than envisioning what was going to be missed, I focused on my gain! God showed me "the prize". It was at the end of the race! Now follow me as I discuss Figure #1.

Paul likened salvation to a race. Of course this race has obstacles. They are the mountains and gullies put there by Satan. It's more of a Zombie Mud Run with the Grim Reaper tagging his prey. The runner must make it through to win the prize. There are just a few who run the race and many of those slip and slide in the mud until they're off the track. There is more than one winner, but they are few!

The race start is when those without hope finally see the light. The lightening bolt in the figure signifies the event of enlightenment. It's when the soon to be runner realizes that he can't get the prize without divine intervention and  to obtain he must run the race. That intervention is fair and free! God's gift is the hope of winning the prize! Salvation is the prize and it's when one endures to the end. The track is paved by hope and the runner is fueled by faith!

The runner can't pass it off, but he has a baton. It's not a relay, but an endurance course and it's necessary that the baton cannot be dropped. It can be fumbled, but it must always be carried. That baton is the cross which you see in the hand of the runner in Figure #1. The cross is empty because the Tree of Life (Jesus) who was on it paid the price with his own sweat, tears, water and blood and although he died, he still lives. The baton indicates that you are a qualified runner because this gate to the race course is the only one. Like the Garden of Eden that gate is guarded and there is no back gate!

The baton is the qualification for running. Few seek to attain that. The runners are few.

The path is narrow, but with the baton for balance, it can be navigated without falling! Rich and Joe navigated the course and have the prize. At around 14 I started the race and I'm nearing the end now. I still carry my baton! Because the prize is in sight I am assured that I will carry it to the finish! The run is hard, but because I run with diligence, I get help! It's not cheating, but my help comes from an invisible person. The Holy Spirit catches me when I trip. However, only if my faith is strong does he prevent me from the constant tripping of Satan and his own invisible army!

Satan isn't allowed to kill me or force me to end the race. Everything else is fair game. He has scantily clad women, riches, power, and even false directions scattered all along the course. I am free to pick them up (as you are) and burden myself with much weight, even until I am heavy laden. I can even spend so much time acting  like a good runner that I forget why I'm running. The prize has one contingency: I must love God and to demonstrate that I must also love my competition!

The latter love is so important! Because I was my own god, it's necessary that I quit appeasing my god and spend my time loving others. That's the hard part of the race; loving my own competition, but that's all I have to demonstrate to God that I love him, and the race must be run to God's rules!

The vertical scale on the graph is sin. It is divided all the way from "without sin" (no sin) to "unpardonable sin" (greatest sin). In between is "one sin" and "many sins". Forgiveness cancels out all previous sins! That's the rule! Any sins before the race are blotted out by God and the newly refreshed person can run carrying no weight. However, once the runner leaves the starting line, Satan's forces can start placing burdens on the runner. They can't burden the runner directly, but merely tempt the runner with the free stuff. Although the runner always carry the baton, remember it can be fumbled without disqualifying the runner.

On parts of the track are trees. They contain knowledge and that places a shadow over the track. It's when the light is concealed by the shadow that the temptations are placed on the track. In darkness the runner is free to take thereof! As they do, their load becomes greater and the run is more difficult!

As the runner is burdened his invisible partner turns on the guilt. He helps steady the baton and the runner is sorry that he is carrying that extra burden. He tosses off those things which handicap him and starts the race refreshed just as if he is a new runner! He's actually energized and runs with diligence and peace, He's enthused! "I'm going for the prize again, " he thinks! He is joyful that the prize is his!

One runner gets loaded down with pleasures placed on his shoulders. He keeps looking back at the fun and fame and stumbles often. The invisible empire places more and more worthless prizes along the route and the runner partakes of them. Sometimes he realizes "This load is getting heavy," and passes over some of those temptations. His path is erratic and his faith fails to be steadfast. Before long there are as many falls as steps and a trend develops. The runner keeps fumbling the baton, tires of it and puts it in his back pocket. "Oh!" he thinks. "It's so much easier to run without the baton!"

I can't show it on the graph, but the runner runs the wrong way. The prize is ahead, but he turns back. He may as well be a dead pillar without hope as a runner because running the wrong way is toward the desert. Some wondered there forty years before they met their fate. Others didn't last that long, and some might last slightly longer. The prize when looking backward is death (the skull) and the baton is broken because it fell from the pocket to the ground (the broken cross in the figure).

The runner didn't know it because of apathy, but sometime after that cross was put in his pocket, he became reprobate. His desire to carry the baton was lost because he was okay running by himself!  Satan had his cheerleaders out there cheering because he had won those losers over. We don't know when, but when there is a trend in the sinning, always increasing, God gets the idea "This guy is not even running the race anymore. He doesn't care enough for me for the persistence to win the prize. He dropped the cross and now he's on his own." The confused "stumble-man" keeps running toward the shiny objects until he kills his own idol. He becomes reprobate and is damned! Jesus was crucified for him once... and he won't do it again!

Another runner is steady and persistent. Any sins are quickly repented of and his faith becomes steadfast. He keeps the eye on the prize and that baton is always held in his face. He sees Jesus on that baton because his Ghost is still there. However, the prize is held in fair hands. It's in the limbs of The Tree of Life. Along the way The Word silently speaks to him and the Holy Spirit shares his load. When the runner is tempted, sins and stumbles, the Spirit keeps him from falling. He says "Carry on runner. Your faith has made you safe!"

There is a trophy near the prize. The runner who perseveres until the end gets the prize (eternal life), and the trophy is a seat in the presence of God. The good runner dies at the end of the race, but it's not a sad race. It's not really death, but a transition from runner to winner! He gets a room in God's mansion and a glorified body for the eternal course. Sure, a faithful runner needs to replace that turmoil  and pain. He's given a new perfect body, but in a short time. God gives all those who will, a chance to run the race before creating new persons in a new world (glorification)!

It's worth the wait. It's worth the race! I am nearing the finish line and the closer I get to the prize the better I see it in sight. I'm a tired runner. My flesh is weak still, but because I see the prize and know that it's real, my Spirit is willing! I WILL BE THERE! It will be mine! It's for free! "Run, Larry, Run!"

"Run, Jose run!"

"Run, Ahmed, Run!"

"Run, LaJames, Run!"

"Run, Ping, Run!"

"Run, Forrest, Run!"

The start of my race was hard. I was standing there at the starting line, but kept looking back. Once I start the race and because I want to win the prize, this runner must change. My regimen an diet have been rich. I must be sensible. As I run with the Light  I am a new person. If I continue as that old man runner, I stand little chance of winning the prize. God wants me to change and change is hard! Satan still trips me up because the old Larry was his, he wants him back and will endeavor to do so at any cost!

Some give up on Christians when they sin, especially sins which are great by their own scale. Divorce is a great sin, even by my own metric. I've been there. It's a grievous sin to God and because of that, I too grieved because I failed God! However, divorce is not the unpardonable sin, thank you, Lord for your grace! I asked for a pardon and I've been reprieved.

Although I'm a Christian, I've done all manner of sins since I started the race. In the eyes of the unsaved, I'm a hypocrite. In my own eyes I failed God many times. However, many times I fumbled that baton, I never ever put it in my back pocket! I carry it in full view each day. When I fall, the Comforter's invisible footprints are there which showed me that God caught me.

With death eminent, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, but sure for certain; I see the prize and am determined to get it. It's not deserved, but that prize was a gift and I want it!

I still stumble much with hate. No,  I don't hate like you think I hate, but sometimes I don't show adequate love. I feel superior at times when unappealing people wander into my path. Rather than wait for fate to meet, God wants me to pursue those who seem lesser than me, Note that they are not lesser, but my other god still haunts me by wanting attention and validation.

I brag on my achievements when all that I have achieved is by God' grace. I am proud of my health although God supplies my good health. I can't seem to completely destroy my other god and we never will! However, God topples gods and he is the one who can destroy that idol. Until the race is done my idol will shudder and shake, but when I die that idol dies with me! He is not there when I shall win the prize, but that shining face of mine will smile at God when he says to my surprise "Well done, runner! You were persistent!" I will only say "Thank you, Lord. The glory goes to you because my other god is dead!"

I've spoken of my born-again experience using doctrine and illustrations. That seems impersonal, but I actually went through those processes, thoughts and behaviors. Actually, I cleaned "me " up quite a bit in this testimony!  I have been so much worse than I will ever say in words! You have too!

I sometimes say when joking "If you could read my mind, you'd scream!" That may not be far from the truth. When I sin, Jesus cries. Thank you Jesus for your patience.

God is patient. I still commit some of the same sins that I did before I became a Christian. The difference is that I repent. I repent often because I sin often. If I say "I am without sin,"  I am a liar! If you say that you are, you are a liar! Fairness is using the same standard with others as with oneself.

I am hurt when I am wronged. I bet you are too! God has me give the benefit of the doubt. I would never want to offend a Christian brother!  Even when someone sins greatly, I too am a great sinner. Part of loving others is using a fair standard. Jesus is wronged every day, He still forgives when the sinner asks! Not only does he forgive, but he puts his arms around his prodigal sons and says "Welcome home" because he loves us so! That's the type of love he seeks in us!

I am a prodigal son. You are a prodigal son or daughter. Just as your Father welcomes you home with open arms and love, we are to do the same as brothers and sisters.

Lack of true love is my stronghold. It's yours too! I can tell by how you treat others. You can tell with me because of how I treat others. I pray that I can please God. Others must too!  That track on which we run in the figure above; it's paved with love and the faithful knows how to keep it paved. As he or she runs they sweat tears of love. Those tears come from the living water which God sheds for us1

Monday, August 22, 2016

My Personal Testimony: Part 2

Remembering all the times that the Holy Spirit tugged at my heart is hard because it was often! As often was Satan tempting me to remain in darkness. God is Almighty. Satan's power is limited to what God allows. (For those limitations read Job 1). We oftentimes give Satan too much credit when much of what we do is evil in our own hearts. Just like Satan is given limited power, mankind was as well!

What is the power which we are given? It's the human faculty which selects the most desirable of the options of which we are confronted. Will power is the energy which it takes to select the right decision over the most desirable decision. We have that power. Satan can only influence it by temptation. Satan has few tools in his box. He offered Jesus the same things which he had to offer Adam! The only carrot in Satan's garden is pleasure. Regardless of whether it's money, power, glory, sex, or whatever, they are all things which provide us pleasure!

In order to make us friends with God, he wanted us to make the decision. He loves us and in return his only desire is that we love him back. Love of God results from using our will power to deny pleasure in favor of what's right! God has created metrics for what is right and are the things he wills us to do. The metric is less desirable than pleasure. Satan is given that extra "stroke" because his power is below par. The only metric God has is that we must love him. The way to operationalize that one metric is the command to love others as our self; even our enemies!

The operation of God's love is hard to do! It's hard to love imperfect friends, let alone mean-spirited enemies! Because God has always been persecuted he knows how hard his metric is! Because he has empathy for us, his grace abounds. God even endured the same temptations which his creation did when with Satan forty days! He understands us, knows why we fail, but provides divine assistance to make us strong! Job was a righteous man. He had the power to serve Satan, but Satan could not force that. God shared his power with Job and put a hedge around him. Today, I have that hedge. It's the whole armor of God!

God is omniscient. He knows the outcome even of our personal lives! Before I was born, although he gave me my own volition to go my own way, he knew that I would choose him and even when that was to happen. That's God's foreknowledge. No man has the knowledge to do that and clairvoyants are of two substances: 1) frauds or 2) evil spirits! My first experience with God is when I was born. My very birth was by God's grace. It didn't happen merely by chance or as a result of two humans, male and female, engaged in a frenzy. I was planned by God. He was there to give me life with a soul which he stands ready to fill with his Spirit when the time is ripe. He even knows when that will be!

Before my "birth canal crawl" God's will could have been curtailed. When God creates it's his will that it not be put asunder, or he would not have done it from the start! When a child in the womb is terminated, God's will is usurped. Like it or not, anyone who causes an abortion kills what God created and is a murderer in God's eyes. Anyone who encourages or even propagates and abortion is an accomplice to murder. God has the same punishment for both. It's eternal death - unless when he knocks that you accept. That is grace and the same grace which I received!

I am a murderer too! Why so? Did I ever kill another person? No, but I have hated and am still tempted to hate! Let me clarify:
1 John 3:15 "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."
Because "to love" is the greatest command, then hate is the greatest sin! To show God we love him we love others. When we hate others. we hate God. I hated people and as such I hated God. My sin is as gross as a murderer in God's eyes! As such without God's grace the murderer and I have the same eternal destiny!

But you think that you are not a hater? I thought that too! However, "The Ten Commandments" are ways to "Not Hate God" (1-4) and to "Not Hate Others" (5-10)! Those rules written on stone are the ways to NOT HATE and even if we show hate with one we miss God's mark which is to NOT HATE in any way. Another step in being enlightened is when it comes to me that I deserve eternal damnation because I am a hater and a murderer. I came to realize that, but it is a slow process! God helps us along by using the Holy Spirit to tug at our heartstrings!

The Holy Spirit is God's essence. He is totally God and he IS God with us because God just IS! The Holy Spirit IS ALWAYS here and has always BEEN. In present tense, he said "I AM". In past tense he always WAS and in future tense he always will BE! God doesn't wait until Satan strolls beside us to grow that hedge. He plants seeds so it's there when the death harvester comes! He calls us to him!
John 6:44 " No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Everyone is drawn to God as even I was! Why? Because God "so loved me"! He loved me so much that he didn't want me to perish! His will is that I have eternal life even though, as is everyone else, I am a murderer. That hate is called "sin" and is a rejection of the lesser pleasure; it is pleasing God rather than self! I was my other god. I sought my own pleasure with little regard to pleasuring God. That was my lifelong battle and it's the same as yours! As such we are "as gods", but fall short because "we are false gods" with limited and weak power: limited by our freedom to choose!

Part of God's drawing was the time in which I live, the place of my home, my friends and family, the church, someone who told me about Jesus and last, but not least, God's direct intervention! All these influences drew me to Christ! Foremost was my Dad, Elston Herrin. Mom did too, because of the degree that she nourished and loved all her children. Mom was the most loving mother of all time. When a mother shows love, the child respects her! When a father governs well, the child respects him and as such, the child grows up in the way of the Lord, and even if the child deviates for a spell, he shall return to what is known as right!

For several years I was the prodigal son,  but I came back to Dad! For awhile I was a prodigal son, but I came back to my Father in heaven. God gives us chances and knows how we will choose! I chose him, but the battle was tough!

I remember vividly when the "race" started, because Paul does liken the road to salvation as a race! Note that in the passage above that when we are called by God the race is on! However, the prize is when he raises us up on the "last day". Salvation is when we get that prize! Really there are two prizes because there are two "last days". The first is when we die. The prize is that we are rewarded with immediate relief for our soul. It's taken to paradise that very instant! The second prize is more formal. It's when we go through the court of judgment and are deemed worthy and are glorified with new bodies. Our worthiness has one metric! The same one we're commanded: To love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and others as our self! Love is important and that importance will be obvious when we stand before God!

My race was set off with a flare! I remember the night well. My entire family was in our old '37 Chevy as we traveled down Jacktown Road, coming home safely from our "down home" trip to Somerset, Kentucky. We were all quiet. All of us!  I was about five years old at the time and was looking over Mom's shoulder down the dark road as if in anticipation! Slowly I saw an angel gliding from the skies and hovering above our hood ornament for a short spell. The angel was about twelve-inches in height, had no gender-type characteristics, and had translucent wings of gold. The entire form of the angel was of light, not translucent except for the wings, by opaque and glowing.

The angel may have been a seraphim because that is one of their forms!  Seraphims are six-winged angels, but this angel had two wings. Angels are not constrained by our thoughts, but by God's will. It was he who sent the angel!

I saw the angel. I was spell-bound and never said a word. Never did I mention this until I was a mature adult and knew the meaning! All of my family members probably saw the angel because all of them were speechless! It's as if the calm of God imbued the space of the car as our moving object became holy ground. Everyone got quiet. Everyone remained quiet!  I can't see what the others saw. It may have been they were merely silenced by the presence of God, but I saw an angel and still can vividly in my old mind! The race was on!

I was called that instant. I believe that God made a promise because of his foreknowledge. I believe that God old me the outcome of those in this moving tabernacle. My interpretation, even at five years old has always been this, "You and your household shall be saved!" I believe that because of Dad's and Mom's righteousnous, God planted his hedge that night so that it would grow into the safety of salvation!

Note that at five I didn't understand all that! I did know that I saw an angel and Dad had taught me the meaning of salvation. I also, even at that age, understood that I was being told that my family would be "safe" in God's hands because the master can cause his household to be saved. That too is the grace of God!

The worst of the worst (WOW) was my oldest brother Rich. He was THE prodigal son, but before he died (about three months previous) he told me of his faith and "born-again" experience. He said he failed to live the life, but that he did return to it! You see, that's what God promises!  Rich is in heaven. He wishes that he had shown God more love, I'm sure, but because of grace Rich still lives! This has to be because God tells us so!

Then we have Joe who finished the race. Joe lived a righteous life. He is a "type of Job" because he had many obstacles that could cause his faith to be stolen. Losing his wife to divorce failed to dissuade him, being robbed by another wife failed to dissuade him and cancer failed. I saw Joe give away all his possessions before he died!

He had one wish that he revealed to me: his two daughters would not listen to him. On his death bed, at Rich's instigation when he said "Larry, will you read the Bible because Joe couldn't make it to church this morning?" Rather than reading, with Joe holding may hand with tears in his eyes because both his daughters were there, I presented the plan of salvation! His daughters finally heard about the hope of salvation and as I preached, Joe pumped me up by squeezing my hand repeatedly as he held it there on his death bed.  Joe smiled with relief even in his extreme pain. Joe hirt bad with his cancer, but never once complained! He knew the pain would be decimated in a short time because of Jesus!

Joe died the following day. His daughters had heard the gospel. His last regret was past. One daughter ran out in obstinance, the other cried right there. She called me shortly thereafter and told me that she too had come back because Joe brought her up in the way of the Lord! We're still praying for one, but Joe knew at his death that the seed of that hedge had been planted in both his gardens, his two daughters.

Joe finished the race. The flare was shot at the start with that angel and for Joe the prize is in hand. Two of my brothers joined my parents in receiving the prize and now there are four! All four of us are in the race to win and win it we shall!

Tomorrow, I will continue with part 3 of this 2 (sic) part testimony to God working in my life! I too am a prodigal son, butI wont' focus on my disobedience, for there were many, but on my hope. Continue with me tomorrow if you will!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Personal Testimony: Part 1

My earliest memories are attending Maple Grove Christian Church on Jacktown Road near Hazelwood, Indiana. I was about four at the time. This was a rural and small church, but it was packed! Many of those were my own family because there were nine of us. I don't recall my brothers Joe and Rich going there regularly because they were ten and eleven years older, respectively, and certainly too old to be concerned with religious stuff!

Dad was dedicated to finding a "right" church, but right sometimes takes years and much church hopping. My family attended there for about a year or two. My memories there are few. I do remember sleeping under the pews as the adults paid attention. I do remember them drinking the wine, which Dad assured us was grape juice for he was a tee-totaller just as I have been all my adult life. Of course the little wafers and grape juice weren't for nourishment, but to be done "In Remembrance of Me". Most churches, that one inclusive, had that engraved on the "host" table where the elements of "The Last Supper" were kept until two men with piety removed the white linen from it and began to serve those who were "eligible".

In protestant churches there are two types of "communion" which has also the fancy name of the Eucharist. It's where Christians have spiritual union with God, but it's in remembrance of Jesus Christ who is God incarnate. There are closed communion where only members of the particular church can be served and open communion where any Christian can commune with God. Communion is not for unbelievers, and as a child I had yet to develop faith although I certainly believed because my parents believed!

However, Christianity is not inherited. Sin, unfortunately is! Therefore, I got my parents genetic propensity to sin, but failed to get their faith! It seems like a raw deal, but that's how it is. I learned at a young age that I'm a sinner because Adam sinned. That's tough to understand because reason would have us believe that we are merely responsible for our own devices. Here, as a three-year old, I was held accountable for what Adam did. At an early age Mom assured me that because of my age I was not accountable for my actions. That was a relief. It seems, according to Mom, that I got reprieved until I was twelve-years old.  That is not scriptural, by the way. It's a Jewish custom called bar mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls. It's when they are spiritual adults and sin they become responsible for their own spiritual condition.

Before I move on to take communion one must not do so :unworthily". This is from scripture, but who is "worthy"? No one DESERVES communion with God, but by grace he communes with those who claim him. Grace is getting things we don't deserve. Hence. unworthiness is endeavoring to commune with God when there is unpardoned sin. Before one takes the elements "bread and wine", they are to repent of sin in their life. Repentance is not a one time event, but is a continual process. Now back to "accountability".

I always dreaded becoming twelve! Because of my age I got to sin all I wanted until I was twelve and I tried to squeeze as much sinning in as possible. Why so? SIN IS PLEASURABLE and I wanted to enjoy myself. "Original Sin" is when Adam first sinned. Only years later did I realize that Eve was the first sinner, but Adam was accountable for her sins because he was the spiritual head of the family. His job was to make sure that Eve never fell into sin and God gave him directions for that. "Don't eat of that other tree!" Of course being a woman who hears, but doesn't listen, Eve added "or touch". Because she took on the role of spiritual head, she was disrespectful to God for doing so and of Adam for assuming his sole job assignment; to tend the Garden of God.

Sinning for a child is innocent sin. It's doing things natural. We are inclined to sin as our nature, and that I did! I took things which weren't mine. I stole from my brothers and neighbors. Mom had to question us when we left our cousins house; "Did you take anything?" She asked that because we didn't have toys of our own. I might have stolen a toy, but if I did it's long forgotten! I learned over time that if I forget a sin, it's not forgiven, so it's best to seek forgiveness lest one forgets!

I still have problem with "forgetting sin". That's not my place. That's what God does and I'm not God!

Hebrews 8:12 " For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
Even now as I "forget sins" I'm actually usurping God's authority just as Eve usurped Adam's. It wasn't her place to talk with the serpent because he misleads. It's not my place to forget my sins because that's a maneuver of the serpent even today!

Let me give an example. If I watch a television show, for instance, which I feel guilty that I'm watching, I would likely do that on Monday night because it's three days away until Wednesday service. Therefore, I have three days to "forget" my sin and not feel guilty about it. That's childish, but that's a remnant of my childhood. I'm not alone! Sinners sin the same.

So for twelve years I developed a pattern of sinning which has a drastic effect on my adult life. God tells parents to "Bring up a child in the way of the Lord, and he shall return to it." Unfortunately, if a parent does NOT bring up a child in the way of the Lord, there is nothing to which the child can return! Dad brought me up in the way of the Lord! I knew right from wrong at a tender age. I sinned, knowing it was sin, because I was not to be accountable for it for many years. That too is a maneuver of the serpent.

We attended Hazelwood Christian Church after that. We had begun our "church hopping", hunting the perfect church. Of course, as the saying goes, "The minute anyone steps into the church it's no longer a perfect church".  I went to Vacation Bible School (VBS) there. I insisted that I be in my sister Judy's class, although she is nine-years older. Judy was my surrogate Mom because Mom was spread too thin with seven kids. Judy's job was to mother me. I still call her my favorite sister, but she is the only one I have!

All the while we are church hopping Dad is reading the Bible most evenings. (To us younger children at any rate).  Dad always read the King James Version (KJV) and in those days people even prayed in King James English. I was impressed that it was the language of God he was speaking and to speak to God, one must speak as King James did. Some of the older people still do that, but it has no more efficacy than conversational English. I remember at a young age when I realized that it's not necessary to pray that way. God wants your heart! The words merely reflect the heart and speaking in a fake language isn't impressive. As such I started talking to God just as I would any other person. Later on I started talking to God as the day went by!

It is ritual that one save up a number of sins until the guilt is overwhelming and then release it all on God at the altar on Sunday. That's fine, but God's will is that you not sin, but if you do, ask forgiveness immediately lest you forget or minimize it later! The altar, I learned young, is where we submit ourselves to God as that "living sacrifice", but to stay alive in God requires a steady walk with him. It's amazing how much time one can spend each day asking God for forgiveness when we sin each day. Rather, I learned later, it's best to ask God to lead me from temptation! If I forget to do that, where is it I go? To the plain of Sin!

When Dad read the Bible and prayed, actually I didn't listen. Why not? Because it is boring I thought! Anything which is complex and requires attention can be boring to a child. I was sometimes resentful because I had to stop what I was doing and have home Bible Study. Dad didn't ask "Are you too busy?" He merely called us together and started his study. Dad was endeavoring to "bring us up in the way of the Lord". I must say without Godly parents it's possible that I would never turn to God. Their role is important! Some parents say "I'll let them grow up and decide for themselves," have likely just made the decision for them. Most of those children who have permissive parents are destined for hell. Love is when parents want their children to have eternal life. They must love them so that they MUST tell them about Jesus to provide the hope of salvation! Dad did that!

All the while I failed to listen, or so I thought! Dad's and God's words were filed away in dusty drawers in my brain. I didn't even know that they were there.... until; until I needed them, and out those thoughts came!

Digressing a bit, as an adult I was listening to Hillary speak when Bill Clinton was running for president. Of course because I'm a Christian, I am there to protest Bill in front of Hillary. I was right in front of her as she was speaking. Some older man stood alongside me and cursed me all the while. Shortly he slugged me on the right cheek. In  my mind and anger, I had a mental picture of me knocking him through the chain link fence where we were. God's word, came to me because of Dad. "Turn the other cheek!" I then said to the mean guy "Hit me here too," as I pointed at my left cheek! That verse was pulled from those dusty files where Dad had filed it so many years before!

Later on we moved to Cartersburg and went for a short time to the Methodist Church there. Then we moved on to Stilesville Christian Church. This may explain why my siblings attend that denomination and I do not. As young adults that's what they remember. Dad quit going to Stilesville Chiistian because the deacons smoked between Sunday School and Church. Although Dad was a smoker at that time, he was already convicted that it was wrong. His spirit was willing to quit, but his flesh was weak, just as was the Apostle Paul's. Because Dad smioked, as a young child of five, I took his cigarette butts from the ashtray and smoked them. Of course I got sick and coughed, but the desire to do as the adults do was another trick of the serpent. Satan put the smoking monkey on my back until I was 35. It was a new birth! I quit on  my birthday Feburary 15, 1984.

Cigarettes are not spiritually benign, at least not for me. When I sinned in other things I "justified" (rationalized) it in my mind by thinking "So why not sin this time. I smoke anyhow!". You see cigarettes were enablers for greater sins.  Some say that all sins are equal. They are not! The punishment for unpardoned sin is the same for any of them, but some sins are more grievous than others. Adultery, murder, homosexuality and hate are great sins. Hate is a cardinal sin! Why? Because the "Greatest Commandment" is to love. Therefore, the "Greatest Sin" is to hate. In fact the unpardonable sin is to deny Jesus and by hating others, contempt is shown to God!

Another roadblock to righteous living was alcohol. My first impression of alcohol, because in my day civil people drank at home, was the drunks. They were the loud-mouth cursing bullies. The women were normally tattoed and low life, since at that time tattooing was not in vogue except for sailors and rough women. (I still despise tattoss, and God led me to that; Leviticus 19:28). I learned at a young age that obedience doesn't earn heaven, but it sure is a way to demonstrate love! Years later I noticed that scripture supported my opinion (John 14:15). I would bet that Dad's Bible Study planted that in my belief system! Thanks, Dad.

I drank a few beers as a teenager. I even picked up discsarded liquor bottles and tasted what remained. I even drank nearly a pint of mint vodka when I was a junior in high school (after the age of accountability). You see, I was trained to sin and when I matured, I was well trained! Sin is compounded as one sins routinely! Dad taught me that!

Well, on my twenty-first birthday my friends took me to"The Kings' Armor" in Flint, Michigan where I attended college. As I walked in I asked the waitress to bring me cokes (as a joke), but as the night wore on, others became drunk and stupid and I saw their stupidity. There are sins which go with drinking because drinking alcohol suppresses inhibitions. At this young age, I realized that these friends were as boistorus as the drunks from my childhood. I made the decision not to drink on February 5, 1970. It seems that God uses my birthday to remind me to grow up spiritually!

When my Dad worked second shift, we didn't go to church. Because most of my friends did, I too wanted to go. You see, those with whom one associates have a drasic influence on a person's life. I wanted to fit in. In those days kids from repectiable families went to church. I wanted to be respectable so I started attending Coatesvile Methodist Church at that time (before it united). At the age of about fourteen, I took the catechism class. Since I attended church without my parents, on Sunday people asked "Didn't your parents come today?" I wondered why! Unknown to me or God the Pastor Norris King announced "Larry got an 'A' in  catechism class. He's now a member of this church." It appears that I got "saved" and God nor I had any knowledge of it! That's a reason I'm so skeptical of salvation for those who fail to understand!

Later on I was baptized by sprinkling (affusion). I was now a damp sinner, not even wet!

Salvation is enlightenment. One must see the Light. To have light, it must shine in darkness. "Darkness" is the belief that God isn't needed for eternal life. "Light" is when one realizes that their own god of self is powerless to save anyone and salvation is only by Jesus Christ. With that light aglow to be born-again the person accepts Jesus' sacrifice because they have faith that he can save them!  Without that experience, me or any other person is jus a church-sitting sinner who feels secure in our false security!

Later on because my friend Gary Nance was going, I went to Baptist Church Camp run by the Missionary Baptist Preacher and his family. Malcolm Neier gave the sermon in a tent at the camp the last night. I never heard, but one thing he said "If you want to stay after and pray, do so." I opened one eye and the kid beside me stayed.. I did too. I day-dreamed while the preacher prayed. I learned that night in evening service at the conclusion that I had been "saved". Everyone thought I had been, I didn't want to spoil the party, so to speak, so I said nothing. I was still a sinner.I was fourteen at that time.

By the time I was fourteen I had been "saved" twice because that's what Baptists call it. As an adult I have learned that there is one salvation and that's when we "shall be saved" if we ""endure to the end". That's called conditional security, but it's a critical doctrine. I suppose that Dad filed that doctrine in my head and I certainly have always had a bias for that doctrine. However, it's not Dad's legacy which matters, but truth. As such in the 1990s as I was reading scripture I wrote down all the scripture on both eternal and conditional security and the outcome was heavily weighted toward "conditional security". Conditional security is the allowance that one can deny Jesus and relinquish the security in Jesus through a loss of faith. Faith is dimished if one doesn't follow Jesus with prayer, scripture and praise. If God loses his importance in one's life, then that's apostasy.  In effect one is not "saved", but has the "hope of salvation" as Paul called it. Salvation comes at the time of death if one "endures to the end" according to Paul.

Eternal Security is when free will is relinquished and a person who believed at one time is always "saved" "Shall be saved" is interpreted a "right now" even though it's a future event. Even the word sazo in the Greek means "safety".  Therfore, as a believer I have faith in Jesus Christ and am born-again. Therefore, I am made safe by God and have the hope of salvation! I can give up that faith anytime and that's what Satan tries to do to me through temptation. If he keeps my mind on pleasure, then I gradually lose interest in Jesus and "forget" the joy I once had!

Be patient if you will. So far in this spiritual autobiography my mind has been bent toward Jesus by my parents and friends. Satan has deceived others twice about my security and I have formed sinful habits which afterward became an obstacle, Tomorrow I will follow up with the "real deal" which sometimes Satan makes me doubt. Stay tuned for my further spiritual adventures!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Letter to the Muslims

I am reading the book "i am n" about the persecution of Arabic and African Christians by their own people who are of the Muslim faith. As I read it was obvious that the zealots for Islam terrorized nice people because they were so intolerant of Christians. They would gladly admit that their persecution and murder is driven by hate, but it's a vengeful type of hate to please Allah.

In spite of all the chaos around them, many of these Christian victims were loved and protected by other Muslims. Most of their neighbors were zealots who only did what Mohammad called them to do! Others were nominal or secular Muslims who demonstrated love for their fellow man. Even though their religion is different than ours those who risked their lives to help Christians are the true heroes, but not saints, because they did what mankind knows is the right thing to do!

There are many "good" and loving Muslims. Many are coerced into staying Muslim for the penalty of apostasy is so great, even death! Others ignore the vengeful teachings in Islam and obey what was "good" in the Quran. Satan is deceitful. He always mixes just enough "good" in his deeds to propagate evil. Many things Mohammad wrote are good things, but it was to gain acceptance for wrong things. Some Muslims discern what is good or bad, but zealots for Islam swallow it all!

By the time Jesus had died sincere, but sincerely wrong, followers had already misunderstood who he was, why he came, if he died and whether he was even resurrected or not. It was even thought that Jesus was not a man nor was it a man who died on the cross. In modern times these skeptics still exist!

Paul spent much of his ministry in competition with a false gospel. Paul told Timothy:
1 Timothy 1:3 "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer."
By far the most false doctrine was Gnosticism preached by many, but largely by the one who I believe was Paul's "thorn in his side": Simon the Magician  or Simon Magus. The primary teachings of Gnosticism are:
  • Material is evil and only spirit is good. Hence the Creator God is aa demiurge who is at odds with the Supreme God and this demiurge is against the spiritual world. There are those who call this demiurge Satan, thus it was Satan who created all material things in the universe. As such it is Satan in their view who is our father. The implication is that Satan tries to make the world a better place to live.
  • That lesser Gods evolved from the Supreme God. (Aeons).
  • Since all matter is evil then the body is something from which to escape. One can easily see the relationship between karma and endless cycles of reincarnation! Hence, they did believe in a physical resurrection of all people. (Note that it is physical only).
  • That scripture has a deep hidden meaning and only those who have this secret wisdom would be resurrected.
  • That Jesus only seemed to be human. In other words it was a phantasm who died on the cross.
  • Thus incarnation was not accepted as right doctrine. (i.e. Jesus was not Man) and there was no virgin birth.
  • That men only "fall" into the material world and that salvation is when the divine element returns to the divine realm by a spiritual awakening.
These are all false teachings.  False religions distort Christianity on one or more of these elements. Regardless of the element the Creator's power and goodness is diminished and the efficacy of the birth and death of Jesus Christ is diminished!   Being given that secret knowledge is the key to what opens the door to their own salvation. Hence, secret knowledge (gnosis) is given to those heretics!

The nature of Gnosticism brings me to Islam. Before I get into that religion let me first comment. Of course the perfunctory "I have many Muslim friends," is in order, but the reader expects me to say that. As a matter of fact my partner was one of my best friends and he was Muslim. This commentary is not against people, but is to point out the errors of Islam. 

Like Christianity today, many of whom are nominal Christians, the same holds true for Islam. In Christianity people call themselves Christians because they believe that Jesus existed, but practise few if any of his teachings. In essence they consider themselves Christians because they live in a nation which defines itself that way and most people they know do as well. Nominal Christians establish a comfort zone by being like everyone else. They are a product of their place and time in history when it was in vogue to call oneself a "Christian". However, they fail to live as Christ taught. In order to be a follower of Christ, it's necessary to let Jesus be the model for one's beliefs and behaviors. Most Christians do not do that! They can be nice people, but in God's eyes, their nicety is as filthy rags!

True Christians are those who believe and practise the teachings of Jesus. The paramount teaching in Christianity is to love God with all the heart, mind and soul. Few people do that! Those that do are the few because that gate is strait, having a narrow passage. It's narrowness is that only those who believe in Jesus as Savior may enter in! After the gate is entered we find that the path is narrow. Many fall off the path. One must endure persecution and temptation to sin until the end of life. In other words, they must have steadfast faith until they die! These Christians are in effect "fanatics" because they are "fans" of Christ. In scripture they are zealots, not for Zionism, but for Jesus Christ!

Hence, zealous Christians are few and they can be recognized by their works. What are their works? Their "job" is to love others as themselves! They don't hate others, they don't murder others, they don't covet what they have, etc. Their love is so deep that they want others to have the hope of heaven just as they have! Such joy brings about the need to tell others of their hope. In secular terms, this is proselytizing and is not politically correct thing to do! Muslims take offense at others sharing their hope (because they love them), and have strict laws in their countries against Christians who show them this love! Why do Christians want Muslims to believe?
John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. "
We tell Muslims about Jesus because God "so loved the world". God doesn't want anyone to perish in an eternal hell, so he has the grace to provide a sacrifice in our place. My sins are pride, lust, greed, selfishness and the like. The sins of Muslims include a false god. Allah, in Arabic, means God, but his nature is not the nature of The One True God!  God has three "traits". He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He's not three Gods, he is One. Muslims and Christians agree on that, but Muslims fail to grant God any personality. God appears to mankind as the Creator Father, his earthly manifestation (Jesus) and his Spirit here on earth, the Holy Spirit.

Islam believes that Jesus WAS merely a prophet of Allah. Christians believe that Jesus IS God incarnate himself!  Islam teaches that Jesus was merely transported to heaven and did not die on the cross, but that another person was substituted. Hence, Jesus (God) did not truly die for our sins! Since God didn't provide grace as a gift, then the only way to their paradise is by works. Hence Sharia Law provides the way. Unfortunately, their laws are for a different purpose! "The Ten Commandments" are ways to love God and others. Sharia is ways to punish people when they fail to obey!

Even Muslims zealots sin. ISIS members are great sinners. When Muslims sin they are harshly judged, sentenced and immediately punished. Even the types of punishment are unjust, unmerciful and lacking grace. God's reward when Christians sin is grace; he gives us another chance! What must Christians DO to be saved? Nothing at all! Although we don't deserve reprieve, all we must do is acknowledge that Jesus is God and his death on the cross paid for all our sins. Almighty God is a just and loving God. His righteousness is that he gives sinners a multitude of chances!

Zealot Muslims sin atrociously. They terrorize their own Islamic believers. Their only way of appearing righteous is to keep their own Sharia violations a secret for fear that their fellow Muslims will see their hypocrisy! Even the Twin Towers "martyrs" watched pornography before they were martyred! They thought what they did was their little secret, but now the world and Muslims know that they were mere hypocrites! ISIS is a caliphate founded on sin, lies and the deception of their own people. Not only are they secret sinners, but take pride in terror, rape and murder! What would a just Allah think of that? It certainly is not a reward they would give. Those seventy virgins are possibly only 72 lashes and burning  flesh!

Muslims... use your head! God loves you, but Allah is merely a punisher god if he even was truly a God! God loves you and wants you to live for eternity. Allah deceives you. You even waste your lives trying to earn what can never be attained. Salvation is obtainable and free! Jesus knocks at your door right now. Answer that knock and you will be a new person; full of love and merciful yourself!

You believe that Jesus is coming back in the flesh. He is really coming back in body and spirit and as king. The real Jesus will battle your false Jesus who we call the Antichrist, and Islam will die for ever. I would hope that you want to be with the winner and Savior. That is Jesus. The false Christ will be destroyed!

Mohammad claimed to ascend to heaven the same place that Jesus died. Mohammad is now dead and in his grave. Jesus cannot be contained by walls. He IS ALIVE and in heaven right now trying to persuade you to believe in him! Don't look at nominal Christians in the west. They are infidels. Look at true Christians. You don't see them deep in sin, but living a righteous live. We share the same disdain of what you see. Many are not living as God would have them to live. Read the Bible and find the love of Jesus. He will give you love and joy, never vengeance and hate!

Even from a logical standpoint you should know that haters can never be happy. I've never seen such a pitiful group of believers than Muslims whose strong adherents hate the world, even their own believers!  Jesus can take away that hate and those who turn from certain death in Islam can be made alive again in Christ!

Mohammad, just like the Gnostics, got secret knowledge, but those secrets were false doctrine. It wasn't Allah who gave Mohammad this knowledge, but Satan posing as Allah! God wants you to live forever in righteousness, whereas Allah wants you to die forever in agony! Only you can chose eternal life over eternal dying. Choose wisely!

Friday, August 19, 2016

When in Rome Do Not Do As the Jews Do!

Romans 4:1 "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
I don't really understand how this would be meaningful to the Romans, but let me consider it! Abraham meant nothing to them. Perhaps this was a sly way of speaking to the Jews in Rome who were bound by works. Whichever is the case, Paul's doctrine was of God either way so what he said and to whom he said it was God's will! It could be that Paul was merely telling the Romans more about the Jewish faith.

Paul's faith was the faith of the Hebrew people! Never forget that. Paul wasn't teaching new beliefs, but was correcting error in belief. One must remember how Satan works. Sinners are already his. He merely feeds them enough pleasure to keep them in chains. That's an easy task for him because people are inclined genetically to seek pleasure. That inclination is due to original sin; the desire to sin, which we inherited from Adam.

Satan's self-ascribed job description is a more difficult task. It's to take God's children from him. How does he do that? By deception! By the time God came around to fulfilling the "Abrahamic Covenant" by giving Jesus to the Jews, it's obvious that Satan received a merit raise by that time. He did his job well! The Jews were deceived and it was Satan who did the deception!

My sincere belief is that Judaism is NOT a viable true faith. My belief that it is an aberration of truth. What Judaism consists of is a cloud which still hovers after the curtain was ripped in the darkness of Jesus' crucifixion! As the curtain was torn asunder the light returned, but the Hebrew people failed to see the Light.

Paul, a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, was of the same faith as was Adam, Noah, and Abraham, Moses and David. All the patriarchs of the Old Testament are Christians! I say "ARE" because no one can have eternal life without belief in Jesus Christ, and all the patriarchs are now saved!

The promise was made to Abraham! He was a Jew. Eternal life was given to Abraham we know because Jesus spoke of Lazarus in "Abraham's Bosom". There is ONLY heaven and hell. Purgatory is a fiction created by Satan! Abraham is in heaven! Abraham is a Christian!
Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (Jesus)under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Jesus Christ was the Word who spoke with his own Voice back there in the Garden of Eden. Adam was "born-again" when God's Light shed the blood of animals for him! The original faith was in the Messiah. The faith of the patriarchs was in the approaching life and death of Jesus Christ. The Word revealed God's plan to the Jews and in Paul's time converts were made to Christianity by prophecies and activities and FAITH in the Messiah of the prophets and patriarchs. Paul used Abraham, who is a Christian (present tense because he is alive today in paradise), to convince the Romans because Abraham was (is still) a devout Christian!

Judaism is a sect of Christianity. Since they do not meet the criteria of Christianity because of denying Christ, they are a cult who distort the teachings of Christ. The distortion is their interpretation and use of the Law and that the hope of salvation is for the Jews alone. Most cults claim that they are the only group who can go to heaven. Of course Christ is the Way, but the Jews claim that it is them alone who will have the promise and that it is by works.

The "mystery of God" which Paul reveals throughout his letters to the true church is that salvation is and always been for everyone and that it was always by faith because of God's grace! Judaism denies that. They fail to understand grace and faith because they are enslaved to the Law. In other words they are so zealous in DOING things that they fail to LOVE. All cults are militaristic and regimental in REQUIRING people to DO things their way to gain honor and stature.

WORK is YOU DOING things to EARN salvation. It is depending on one's self to get to heaven. It's the worship of another god besides God. It's self-worship. The Jews did worship God, albeit incorrectly, because they still worshiped the god of self. The leaders of the Jewish faith in effect were deceiving their followers! Their first desire was that the Jews please them, by earning salvation by worshiping the self!

Paul came to dispel the heresy of Judaism, and who better to expose a fraud than a Jew himself? Jesus was of the Jewish race, but he was not of the Hebrew faith. The faith of the Hebrew people had been mutated by generations of deception by Satan. Of course scripture never changed, but just as Eve did, the Jews kept adding links to the chain of burden. When she added that God said "do not touch" God didn't say that. It was an extra burden which Eve put on herself. Jews are noted for adding heavy chains just as Eve did to make salvation impossible to OBTAIN!

"Grace" is the removal of that heavy chain by merely accepting the gift of salvation! In effect WORKS is endeavoring to PAY the debt owed to God by working it off! What is the condition of those who work off debt? They are indentured servants and since the sins are so great that the debt is infinite, it can never be worked off. The servant is indentured for life and becomes a slave. They are in bondage to the Law. Grace is accepting Christ's payment such that we don't have to work it off. His blood was the pecuniary measure which redeemed the prisoner bondage to the self. The curtain which were the bars of prison were torn when Jesus paid the price. The debt was paid and the prison cells were thrown open!

The payment has already been made because God loves us so, but yet people still try to WORK it off!  Paul was telling the Romans to not do it like the Jews do. Let God DO the DOING and we set back and enjoy the gift! It's just too easy to believe!

People always want "free things".  Eve wanted the good "free stuff" on the tree and it was hers for the taking. People are the Eve's yet today. People still want free things to appease their self-idol. The ultimate "free thing" which is available is faith, yet it's the one "free thing" at which they turn up their noses. The Jews turned up their noses at free grace and Paul didn't want the Romans to copy them. That's what the Jews wanted! "Be like us. We're the way it should be done!" They could not be more wrong, and maybe while Paul was writing to the Romans, but knew the Jews would read the letter!

The Romans came part of the true church.  Most of the Christians of the world are products of Roman Christianity. They were not the "universal church", but were certainly part of it because many listened to Paul. The universal, or catholic faith, was of the true faith. It's the Romans who committed the same sins that the Jews did which eroded the Roman catholic faith into the Roman Catholic Church. With time the Romans, one link at a time, put chains about their own body in spite of Paul's admonishment in these passages! Today that denomination is again bound in the chains of works still trying to earn their salvation without being born-again.

The new birth is when the sinner dies to DOING and becomes a parasite on the body of Christ. We must partake of the blood of Jesus. His is the host body alone and our very livelihood depends on his blood.

Adam's sins were covered when the pre-incarnate Jesus covered his shame with the blood of innocent animals, but it was Jesus who did it! Before that Adam's sole job was to tend to the Garden. (That is to be a servant of God). After his disobedience he was required to work and sweat with the futility of weeds and thorns. Even with his own WORK it wasn't the work which saved him, but when Jesus, because of grace, covered Adam's shame with the skin of animals. WORKS were not necessary for Adam and neither are they for us! That's what Paul was telling the Romans: "When in Rome, do not do as the Jews do!"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Laws of Works and Faith

Romans 3:21 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
First off, I am using the English Standard Version for a reason. Paul's manner of speech is superior to most of ours. He was a brilliant and inspired man! The King James English, now archaic adds to that complication! I prefer the KJV because it's less tampered with modern thought!  However, if I cannot understand what is written, why read it? Therefore, proceed knowing that I am honest enough that I shall never compare myself with neither Paul nor King James!

Let's take a look at Paul's points:

  1. There is a "law of works"(Verse 27). A "law" implies that "works" are commanded. Laws are to regulate behavior. All men break the law for "all men have sinned".  The law was put into effect so that men are without excuse. It's written on stone because it's eternal. Jesus himself did not come to replace the law, but to complement it! The Law is not done away with, but is eternal (Luke 16:17). Likewise, it can never be changed (Matthew 5:18). Therefore, all this information defines the "law of works", except for one thing: The reason for obedience to the Law. Abraham's obedience to God's instructions was accounted  to him as faith. His faith is what made him righteous, not that he obeyed God. In effect the "law of works" has never changed! The Law was never intended to save people, it was ALWAYS by faith through the GRACE of God! That Law has not changed. It's still faith which is God's desire and faith is demonstrated by faith!
  2. What is the 'law of works". It's faith in action. All the works commanded of God can be summed up in one word: LOVE. Why are we to obey God? To demonstrate our LOVE for him. Why are we to LOVE others? To demonstrate our LOVE for God who "so loves the world"! Obedience is all about LOVE. Love is dictated. It's "The Greatest Commandment". It's not optional. Those commands written in stone are "Ten Ways to Show God That We Love Him!"
  3. There is a "law of  faith" (verse 27). Again, as is works, faith is commanded because it too is a law! As a Christian no one is under the law, but under grace (Romans 11:6).  However, grace is by faith and it too is a  part of the law (Ephesians 2:9)!  How can that be? Faith is  the condition of what we call "the heart". It's our reason for obedience, or doing works. Grace is receiving something which we don't deserve. In the case of eternal life, no one deserves to live forever. Why? "All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (verse 23). Sin alienates us from God! It even alienates Christians. Try living a life of sin without obedience to God and look at the consequences of sin! If one isolates oneself from the justice of God, that person becomes reprobate and damns their own soul.
  4. Works is a demonstration of faith. When Abraham did his works it was accounted to him as faith (Romans 4:16). That passage implies that we are to have the same faith as Abraham whose faith was great.  James tells us that "faith without works is dead". If Abraham had disobeyed God, he would have been of little faith. He was "saved" by faith in who was to come whereas we are saved by one who's already been here (verse 25)!
  5. We are all justified by grace. Justified is a technical term for "made right" from our wrongs. Since we all have sinned, God's justice is to bail us out by making payment for us. His payment for our own sins is called redemption. Jesus redeemed us by shedding his own blood (verse 25).
  6. When we accept payment for our sins, it is by faith. There is no way in which we can accept redemption by our own efforts. That would credit our own god for the salvation. That god is each of us. Our god can't save anyone, even save itself! Faith is turning to Jesus and that his blood was sufficient and that Jesus is who he says he is and has the authority to do what he says that he has: grant us immortality!  Works implies that we shed our own blood or made a sacrifice for our own sins. Faith gives the credit to Jesus Christ by whose blood all are saved!
  7. God is righteous! That means that he and only he is "good". All of us can only endeavor to do "good" things. That effort is "works". We cant do "good" by forgiving our own sins because that would be evil. That would be prideful. Only God can forgive sins and as Jesus shed his blood, it was for all the sins of mankind ever, but at that cross-section in time it's only FORMER sins of which we are forgiven (verse 25).
  8. We always live in the present (verse 26). As we sin we are to ask forgiveness. When we were forgiven at the time we first believed, all those are covered by our contrition. Thereafter, we must seek forgiveness if we sin, not sinning with the intention of seeking forgiveness, for then our contrition would not be sincere!
  9. The law of faith does not outweigh the law of works (verse 31). The law is never voided (Luke 16:17). In effect the Law is a meter to warn us that we are failing to love God. If there is no works we are without love or "works without faith is dead!" If we are not in obedience, we are  not loving. There is a correlation there! The "old person" either disobeys or obeys because he is feels coerced to do so. The "new person" obeys out of gratitude for God's grace. If a Christian fails to obey, that person isn't showing gratitude! That DESERVING feeling is what the old person has who works for salvation! In order to get from the old person to the new is a changed heart. When one is truly born-again a new creation, that implies change. The change is the REASON for obeying the Law. It's is no longer a means to salvation, but a demonstration of love for God's grace. Some say that Christians should not be rebuked for sinning. That is the lie of the devil. Becoming new persons means change. The change is from unrighteousness to righteousness!
  10. Christians are to uphold the Law (verse 31). We are to uphold them for right reasons. That reason is that our hearts have been circumcised!
  11. Sinners are circumcised not by obedience, but by faith. Christians have been circumcised by their faith, not by the law (verse 30).When Abraham had his flesh cut off, it was partial, but was through obedience that he demonstrated his faith. After Jesus came we submit ourselves a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) by cutting off ALL our flesh! The new covenant of circumcision is of the heart (Romans 2:29).  Has that really changed? No! It was Abraham's heart which was circumcised. That was the faith which the patriarchs taught (Jeremiah 4:4).  Faith was the condition of the heart when Abraham cut off his flesh and faith is the reason that we today circumcise our heart. The DESIRE to sin is turned over to God. We are to do his will. God's will is that Abraham obey and his will is that we obey!
  12. Nothing has changed! Salvation was always by grace and the gift of eternal life always resulted because one had faith! Even those with "a little faith" can be born again, because of God's grace. All one must do his trust Jesus and they shall be safe! Trust involves DOING Things. Those are works. What are we to DO? Accept what Jesus did for us! What was that? He died in our place. You see grace is a gift as a result of faith and faith is a work. However, since God calls us to faith, even the work of faith is the gift of faith. Nothing is of ourselves. We must credit God for even our breath!
Some say that Christians who sin should not be criticized nor rebuked. Rebuking is one reason that we have God's word. Changed people should show change! If one claims to be a new person, but still behaves as the old person, one should ask "Have I changed?" If little change is detected, it's likely that the old person is alive and well and the heart has not been circumcised. The new person is to ask that "God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Those still cursing, carousing, getting drunk or high, fornicating, lying, or whatever need to do one thing. That "thing" is to change!

Some say that change is gradual and to be patient. Learning God's will takes study of his word, but some things we know are inherently wrong because the Holy Ghost tells us so. We must listen to the Jesus' Spirit guiding us. I knew it was wrong to curse and get drunk even before I was saved. The Holy Spirit made me feel guilt for doing those things. After I was born again, I still felt the guilt, but now I had Jesus' Spirit to help me to make change. He's the Comforter, so that if we are willing, he is the One who makes us able! He's not comfortable with us sinning against him and seeks quick change.

I know drug pushers and heroin addicts who changed IMMEDIATELY when they were born-again. They knew before they were saved that they lived a life of sin. Immediately, with faith and remorse, God changed them; their hearts were circumcised. With God all things are possible and with obedience he can deliver on his will! We need to quit making excuses for sinning Christians, and I do not excuse myself. They need to change and the sooner the better or Satan will get hold of them again. The faith of some is not great enough to seek change, but great faith is there for the asking!