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Doctrinal or Theological
Question:Can you help me to clarify exactly what this "Faith" that I hear Christians always talking about REALLY is ?? I have asked many "christians" that I know, and have YET to get a satisfactory answer !! All that I seem to receive is a lot of "religious double-talk" and catechisms that they must have received in their "religious training classes". I get the same kind of empty, thoughtless, mindless answers that you receive now days when you ask ANYONE about ANYTHING. No one seems to be able to provide ANY intelligent, rational answers based upon FACT and THINKING.
Answer: Thank you for taking the time, energy and interest to write. I applaud you in the fact that you appear to have the sincere determination and concern to find out the truth regarding biblical matters for yourself. God rewards seekers of "TRUTH" (REAL Truth being the Knowledge of Him) by revealing it to them !! I myself have observed this regrettable phenomenon that you write about myself, most recently in a bible study group in reference to this very subject. Sad to say, this pervasive lack of concrete biblical knowledge (and even the interest in and desire to posses it) is becoming (perhaps already HAS become) a curse and a plague upon Christendom.
A prime example of the "religious-speak" that seems to pervade Christian circles come when you inquire of someone as to WHAT "faith" is. Usually, the depth of the answer will consist in quoting the following verse, with no further explanation nor understanding. This results in the questioner have ABSOLUTELY no greater understanding of "faith" than they did before asking the question !!
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen **** Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
This same phenomenon repeats itself regarding MANY "religious catch words" such as "holy, holiness, suffering, love, grace, The Blood, The Cross, etc."
The SIMPLE answer, as taken from everyday English usage, is that "faith" in the Bible means EXACTLY the same as it means when we speak of having "faith" in a trusted individual -- one who has proven him or herself to be reliable and trustworthy through years of knowing them, observing and/or being a part their lives, and watching how they deal with events and/or situations.
Synonyms for the word "faith" would be: "reliance, trust, dependence, assurance, have confidence in, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty), and belief (of truth) or belief in.
The word is also often used in the Bible in the sense of - "The Faith" - meaning the "system of belief in doctrine that is known by the name of Christianity". In this case it means, "trust in the doctrines of Christianity (The Faith)".
In any case, it is NOT trust in some obscure, mystical, unknowable and undefinable supernatural entity called "faith or MY faith" that achieves all that the Bible attributes to "Faith"!! It is rather, "reliance, trust and dependence" upon God and Jesus Christ, based upon what is revealed about them in the Bible (the WRITTEN Word of God) and the testimony of the indwelling Holy Spirit (the Living Word of God).
This faith should grow as you grow in maturity in Christ and witness and experience His faithfulness and reliability in keeping and fulfilling His promises within and through YOUR own life experience. The growth and acquisition of this "faith" IS, in one sense, a supernatural gift from God, inasmuch as one means of its impartation is through God's indwelling Holy Spirit.
It should also be built up and increased as you read about what He has done in the lives of others over the last 3,000 plus years from the Bible, from other Christian books and from those Christians who are contemporary with you and/or whom you know personally.
Jesus said to them, "Have faith in God" **** Mark 11:22
On the basis of faith in Jesus' name ...... The faith that is through Jesus ---- faith in our Lord Jesus ---- those who are sanctified by faith in me (Jesus) **** Acts 3:16; 20:21; 26:18
So that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God. **** 1 Corinthians 2:5
For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus **** Galatians 3:26
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God **** Romans 10:17
Question: Are Christians "sick in the head" or something ??? I hear so much talk about "suffering" among them !! Some say that it is a GOOD thing - that God is somehow happy when He sees people suffering, and that there is even something meritorious about it. Others talk as though it is God Himself who causes them to suffer because He hates them or is angry with them. Then there is a third group who talk as though there should be NO suffering in the world. They seem to claim that if you "have enough faith and are right with God", every day will be all happiness and bliss.
As a non Christian, I believe that suffering "just is" -- or as they say, "Shit happens" !! Everyone suffers at some time, the supposedly "good" AND the supposedly "bad" -- it is "no respector of persons". It is not a "GOOD" thing and it is not "punishment" from God (if there REALLY is one) !! I get so confused and angry listening to all of the stupid, contradictory opinions.
I ran across you site on the WEB, and decided to write and ask, "What do YOU think" ??
Answer: I commend you for a VERY profound question AND observation of the situation. Yes, I too often get troubled listening to the contradictory and (seemingly) unintelligent discussions and arguments regarding the topic of "suffering". Many of them paint God in a very diabolical light, making Him seem either to take great delight in seeing people suffer or to actually bring the suffering upon them Himself (or BOTH).
In an attempt to shed some "Biblical" light and understanding upon the controversy, I have prepared an article entitled, "Understanding the Suffering of Christ" (and of His followers). Please click [ Here ].
Question: I have been following the news lately, and the Republican and Democratic parties. There was a young woman before the US Congress speaking about birth control, and that she believed that birth control should be covered by insurance. Anyway, there is this conservative talk show host speaking about her on his radio show. He broke down what she wanted as if she is a slut because how much sex do you have to have in college and how much should the government contribute to protection.
It ends up being that Republicans are against birth control because there is something that is called the "morning after pill" that aborts a pregnancy the morning after one had unprotected sex. So the girl (according to the talk show host) is wrong in wanting the coverage because the Republicans say it leads to the government and/or insurers allowing abortion through these pills. The Republicans side with the church and family and are anti-choice. Meaning they want to prohibit abortion or birth control all together. Planned Parenthood is the program that helps the woman.
I see a little light at the end of the tunnel here. If I was not on the pill (which Medical pays for), I would find other ways or simply abstinence. These younger girls are very active, however, and asking them to do that wouldn't work. I am wondering what you think about a woman's right to choose and what GOD would have to say from a Christian background?
Answer: The answer to your question is in two parts:
FIRST, for those who are Christians (followers of Jesus Christ) - whose lives are given to be lived in obedience to what HE says is right and wrong - the answer is that the Bible (scripture) says that sex outside of marriage (called fornication) is a sin, and is therefore forbidden. For those who can accept this answer, there is no further discussion necessary on the matter.
Flee sexual immorality (fornication) ! Every sin a person commits is outside of the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. **** 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
As with everything else that God requires of us, it is NOT laid down as some arbitrary law or rule without a good and beneficial reason behind it. As a matter of fact, there are a number of reasons behind this prohibition.
The act of sex, or the physical union of a man and a woman, is much more than just two animals coming together to copulate - there is a hidden, mystical, spiritual element to it. There is a joining together, not only of two bodies, but of two spirits and souls - of two separate entities joining together for a period of time in as close and intimate a union as is possible in this life. It is a "mystery" as the scripture calls it (mystery because we can not now fully understand its meaning or significance) representing that union, that measure of oneness or joinedness, that will one day exist between God, Jesus and His people.
A man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great - but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. **** Ephesians 5:31,32
Do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute (or anyone else) is one body with her? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." **** 1 Corinthians 6:16
It is intended to be reserved for that SPECIAL ONE that we (with God's guidance) choose to commit to and spend the rest of our lives with. To give ourselves wholly and fully to that one ALONE - intact and complete - is a gift that can only be given to one person. Once it is given, it can not be repeated.
When we give ourselves thus one to another, something of each is given to and received by each partner -- both the good AND the bad of each other. It is intended by God that this relationship is to remain pure and unadulterated. It is an interesting point that the word "adultery" (illicite sex with someone OTHER than your marriage partner) also means in the general sense, "adulterate -- to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element; especially : to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable with less valuable or inert ingredients". Thus to "spread our sexual favors" among many people is to "adulterate the product" -- US and our ability to enter into a meaningful sexual relationship with another -- and to make it of less value.
One of the reasons that people from multiple relationships (marriages) often have problems making successive ones work is that each time, "baggage" from the previous relationship is carried over into the next, corrupting that one. The more relationships, the more "baggage".
It is also God's intent to protect the woman -- emotionally the "weaker vessel". She is so-called because she usually invests much more of herself into the relationship than does the man (because, whether "woman's lib" likes it or not -- THAT is the way she is constructed - much more sensitive and emotionally responsive than is the male) and expects and NEEDS to get much more out of it. She is therefore more easily and deeply disappointed, hurt and emotionally damaged by successive, unfulfilling sexual relationships. Also, with each failed relationship, it becomes harder and harder to enter into real emotional intimacy as the level of baggage (hurt, distrust, bitterness, resentment) increases.
Perhaps this is why so many people are running from one sexual encounter to another, never finding any REAL intimacy -- because the physical was to be ONLY the vehicle for entering into the TRUE intimacy - the emotional joining and sharing. After so many partners, their ability to enjoy sexual union has become so marred, so polluted, so corrupted, so ADULTERATED that the end result is little more than two dogs copulating in the street.
As for the SECOND part of the answer - for those who are NOT Christians - I can only say as does the scripture, "What part have the people of God with those outside??" What I mean is, God does NOT expect them to understand nor abide by His ways - nor SHOULD the Church - for they do not understand them nor are they capable of following them. That is why Jesus Christ came - to give us the power to follow the right way -- God's way.
One day we will ALL (Christian and non-Christian) stand before God to give an account of our lives, and He will then judge our actions according to His perfect mercy and justice. In the mean time, we are ALL subject to the laws that He built into this creation, which work on EVERYBODY. As the scripture says, "The rain falls on the just as well as on the unjust - equally". The reasons for having one sexual partner that I outlined above apply to EVERYONE -- they work the same way in EACH life and the consequences are the same for ALL.
6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool of (mocked). For a person will reap what he sows. 6:8 The person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. **** Galatians
The rest of my answer is NOT from the Bible. It is my opinion and pragmatic.
I do NOT feel that the government or health insurance should pay for birth control or abortions, any more than it should pay to subsidize and support those who are insistent on destroying their lives through their addictions (whatever form they may take).
If a woman is REALLY in control of her body, then let her control it in abstinence if she doesn't want to marry and have a family. If she wants to use birth control (I am not necessarily against it), then let HER or her partner pay for it. What I AM against is abortion and the BS about a woman's "right to control her body". If she wants to "control her body", let her do so toward the avoidance of pregnancy, not the murder of an innocent life to indulge HER selfishness. There has only been one "virgin birth" that I am aware of, so I think that most women should know how and where babies come from !!
We are a nation of hypocrites!! We scream about personal rights, free choices, liberty and freedom, moral independence, lack of government interference, less or no taxes, etc., ETC. on the one hand. On the other we want "Big Brother" (or the Tooth Fairy or someone) to pay for our education pre-KG to Ph.D. (whether we have ANY academic aptitude or not). We want our health coverage to be free for anything and everything without limit or restraint. We want our financial lives subsidized so we can enjoy doing nothing while someone else supports us. We expect the capable and aspiring to be restrained so that the lazy and incompetent won't feel singled out and/or out of place. We expect that rudeness, laziness, slovenliness, insolence, immorality, greed and lack of respect should not only be endured and tolerated, but actually encouraged as the right of ones chosen lifestyle and mode of personal expression.
Nothing is FREE - SOMEONE has to pay for it. What the government GIVES to some with one hand, it has to TAKE from others with the other hand. Someone once likened a handout from the government as one who reached into his right pocket and spilled half of what he took out in an effort to fill his left pocket. There is nothing charitable nor benevolent about the government. They are like Satan in the respect that you can rest assured that they will eventually turn their "gifts" and "handouts" into a means of dominance and control !!!
This nation is on the verge of financial insolvency and moral bankruptcy. Everyone cries for more handouts and less taxes. They want the government to do more and fix more while at the same time they complain that it is increasingly sticking its nose more and more into our personal and private affairs. We want more "rights" and less (NO) responsibility for our lives and actions. If this isn't a state of insanity, I don't know what is !!!!
Question: I am a Greek Orthodox Christian, but found that Universalism's way of approaching Christ, as presented at your site, is very close to my own quest. I would be very grateful if you could answer my two questions that stand as an obstacle in my attempt to come closer to Christ.
[a] Evil, sadness, pain, death and sorrow seem to be one of the basic elements that the world was created by. It seems very hard to believe that a disobedience of humans some ages ago caused all these problems -- lions killing deer for food, virus infecting human cells to survive, etc. It seems like higher levels of life have to kill in order to stay alive and physical destruction is routine all around us. (1) Could we say that humans disobedience created all these problems? (2) Could we say that there is a spiritual battle taking place in creation between the forces of good and the rebellious forces of evil? (3) Could we say that this is the way God created things to be in a manner that cannot be understood by human minds and hearts?
[b] Since our basic concern as Christians is to kill practically the Self and allow God to take the place, does it mean that, for example, when one is practicing the guitar, because one loves the guitar and enjoys the music it makes, since one has not in mind to create music for the others but just to have a good time for oneself and does not practice humility or love at that time, but just self satisfaction, does it mean that one is committing sin at that moment and there is a penalty and justice from God for the time one has been spending on oneself and pure self satisfaction? Does the same apply for every time that we sleep more than absolutely required, have a dinner out with friends, watch a film, walk by the sea, go on holiday etc.?
Answer: I will answer the second portion of your inquiry first.
I perceive that you have a VERY austere, ascetic and legalistic picture of WHO and WHAT God is and of our relationship to Him !! Perhaps it is an outgrowth of your Greek Orthodox background. As you seek to "come closer to Christ", my prayer is that He will free you completely from the "serpent of RELIGION" so that you may discover who He truly is. Religion (in ALL of its forms and disguises) is nothing less than the serpent that deceived Adam and the Scribes and Pharisees that crucified Christ !! It is a tremendous first step down that road to have discovered Universalism, but it will be a greater step again to search out the Mystery that, "It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us FREE!!" Click [ HERE ].
You stated, "Our basic concern as Christians is to kill practically the Self and allow God to take the place". To this I can only answer, "God protect us from this EVER being ANY concern (let alone the BASIC) of ours." All that this will EVER produce is a legalistic, introspective, Pharisee who will not only destroy ALL Joy of life for themselves but also for EVERYONE around them !! It is God ONLY, by His Holy Spirit, who will and MUST deal with that "man of Sin" within us. If it were up to us to "kill the Self", all that we would ever succeed in doing is to "inflict a slight flesh wound", while his greatest wickedness would flourish undetected and unhindered.
Also, the end is NOT to "allow God to take the place", but that God (again by His Holy Spirit) might so transform US that we will be truly free to become that special, unique individual that was in His heart for us from "before the ages were created". It is NOT in God's heart to destroy our uniqueness and individuality (THAT is what Satan and his World System does). God's intent is to bring that individuality to its pinnacle of perfection, that EACH of us might display some one facet of HIS Glory. It is said that He doesn't make two snowflakes alike -- how much less two of His children !!
If God has given us talents, it is FIRST for His Glory and enjoyment that we should develop and display them. Would He begrudge us enjoying that which He has given to us. If He has placed Joys and Beauties here in THIS creation, are they not for us to make use of, to enjoy, and to give thanks to Him for His love and generosity ??
Take a lesson from the Book of Galatians. God would have us live IN Him and Through Him by FAITH ALONE. It is the Legalists, the Religionists, the Pharisees, those who would seek to boast in their "works of flesh" -- who would take away this "liberty of Faith" and replace it with "works of Law". They would bind you with "great weights" and not lift one finger to help carry them. They would NOT enter into the Life of Christ themselves, and would prohibit YOU from doing so also.
God is NOT, First and Foremost, the great Judge and Lawgiver, seeking to administer "penalty and justice". He is, before and after ALL else, our Father, of whom He would have us say, "Abba, daddy". He seeks to rejoice as He helps us grow up into those mature sons (after the image of His firstborn, Jesus) who will one day populate His creation.
Now to return to the first part of your inquiry. I left it for last because, unlike the second part, it REALLY has NO meaningful answer. For what they are worth, and in their own way, all THREE of your speculations are correct.
In a way it is like asking why the sky appears in its blaze of color during a sunset. You could give the "scientific" answer, "that the color is due to the diffraction, refraction and reflection of light as it passes through the atmosphere on its way to the earth's surface". You could also say, as early savages no doubt thought, that it is because some great spirit paints it so with a giant paintbrush. Now answer number one, while more intellectually satisfying, doesn't in any way alter reality or enhance the enjoyment of the phenomenon.
So it is with Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, and YES, even much of so-called "science". We formulate theories, doctrines and hypotheses in order to provide us with an intellectual satisfaction regarding matters that often we have NO REAL, concrete understanding of. We believe (wrongly) that because now we have "locked the elusive genie in a box" and have attached a label to it, it is now OURS and We control it !!
The REALITY remains, however, that we have NO concept of what or who God (in His TRUE essence) is, or of the realm and manner of His existence. We do not know the technical details of how or why He created, of EXACTLY how the salvation of Jesus Christ works, or of HOW the Holy Spirit lives and works within us. This is so because we lack the "frame of reference" and vocabulary to express and comprehend these realities. ALL that we know (and all apparently that God felt that we NEEDED to know) He conveyed to us in His written Word in a symbolic form that we humans would have sufficient frame of reference to understand. He has also placed within us (whatever that REALLY means) His Holy Spirit to instruct and lead us (as Jesus told us) into ALL (necessary) Truth.
What we may UNDERSTAND is NOT necessarily the reality, just as scientists tell us that what we see of creation and of the universe is NOT the reality. The REALITY is that ALL of creation and of the universe is pure energy, expressable ONLY in mathematical formulas. The necessary FORM is provided by our senses, and it is sufficient to produce a "working reality". While the theories may be incomplete (or even WRONG), the perceived reality STILL functions as God intends. While clarifying the "theories" may be intellectually satisfying and gratifying to our pride and ego, it does NOT affect the functioning of the "reality". Does the universe actually FUNCTION any different now we know that the earth is round and revolves around the sun than it did when we thought it was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth ?? Likewise, no matter WHAT theory you may ultimately subscribe to, Evil will continue to exist and represent a paradox and Death will continue to thrive and function !!
An understanding that satisfies MY "need to know" has been formed mainly from the works of two writers, CS Lewis and William Law. You may read an excerpt from Law [ HERE ] and download an eBook of his complete works [ HERE ]. I specifically point your attention to the two books, "The Spirit of Love" and "The Spirit of Prayer". In brief, Law believed that Man was created as a two part being: flesh and blood of THIS creation covered by a mantel or "clothing" of divine and celestial radiance or "glory". As long as he remained in harmony with and submission to his Father (God), his place was to tend this creation (while remaining separate from it) and bring it to full maturity and splendor, while he himself would grow and advance from "glory-to-glory". Instead, he lusted to taste of and be a part of THIS creation, and thus lost his divine splendor and union with his Father. The upheaval thus spread throughout the whole of creation, with increasing measures of decay and corruption. You might consider the similitude of a beautiful, cultivated garden which, having lost its caretaker, degenerates into a wilderness, more-and-more- feeding upon itself. In Genesis 2:17, a rather strange phrase occurs in the Hebrew -- "dying you will die". Some take this to mean that the PROCESS of dying (previously unknown) was introduced into creation, along with ALL of the corruption and ultimate death that this would entail.
So Adam's (and Eve's) Sin was NOT a simple act of disobedience, but rather an action that severed them (and creation) from the divine stream and source of life and power !! Jesus came to rebuild or reestablish this link or union.
2:15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it. 2:16 Then the Lord God commanded the man, "You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die (Heb. dying you will die)"
3:17 To Adam he said, "Because you obeyed your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' cursed is the ground thanks to you; in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field. 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return" ****** Genesis
8:18 For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. 8:19 For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility -- not willingly but because of God who subjected it -- in hope 8:21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God's children. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. 8:23 Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. ****** Romans
Question: How can I maintain my Faith (my walk with Jesus Christ) when so many seemingly solid Christians that I know seem to be abandoning theirs and turning away from THEIR relationship with Jesus ?? Please help me -- I am DEEPLY troubled !!
Answer: Thank you so VERY much for exercising the trust and openness to write regarding this question. It is certainly of EXTREME importance.
First, however, I need you to consider and ask yourself EXACTLY what you mean when you write, "so many seemingly solid Christians that I know seem to be abandoning theirs and turning away from THEIR relationship with Jesus".
One - Do you mean that if THEY can't maintain THEIR relationship with Jesus, how can YOU hope to ?
Two - Or do you mean that YOU already find yourself questioning YOUR walk with Jesus and turning away ?
If you mean reason # one, I refer you to the following verses, and ask YOU the same question that Jesus addressed to Peter, "what concern is that of yours?"
21:19 ...... After He said this, Jesus told Peter, "Follow me"" 21:20 Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. 21:21 So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" 21:22 Jesus replied, "If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!" **** John
Now in some "schools of Christianity", this answer MAY sound rather cold and heartless, but it REALLY is not.
The reality as far as your walk with Christ is concerned is that what others are or are not doing is of NO concern to you - and YOUR salvation is in NO way dependent upon them !! Your salvation and "walk of faith" is a matter between you, the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit -- PERIOD.
It is ALSO NOT based upon the current vogue of "touchy-feelee, physiological, sentimental faith (if such it can be called)". It is SOLELY through the work of Jesus Christ that we were saved in the first place. He sought US out (when we were yet His enemies) -- we didn't go looking for Him. We had NO redeeming qualities that He sought us and we have no redeeming qualities that are going to save us or insure our continued walk with Him. We are secured IN HIM and by HIS faith alone. It is NOT going to be by OUR efforts, good intentions, OUR faith, our labors and works, or ANYTHING else that originates from within us (of the flesh). Otherwise, we could boast that our salvation REALLY was from OUR "good works" rather than a TOTALLY undeserved, unmerited gift of love bestowed upon a TOTALLY unworthy, wayward, rebellious, LOST child by his (her) loving Father !!!!!
What IS needed from us is a LIVING FAITH -- one that is integrated and built into the fabric of our lives, until our "Christian Faith" is NOT what we DO but what we ARE !! This means being a disciple of Jesus and having a living obedience to His Holy Spirit
7:24 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 7:25 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. 7:26 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 7:27 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!" **** Matthew
1:22 Be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. 1:23 For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. 1:24 For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 1:25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out -- he will be blessed in what he does. **** James
As the Apostle Paul puts it, "when we have done everything that we can possibly do to stand in our faith, then there is one thing more, and that is to STAND" !!
6:10 Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 6:11 Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 6:13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. **** Ephesians
If, on the other hand, you mean reason # two, that ties in with what Paul said above and the scripture below.
I ask you a pointed and simple question, and PLEASE -- no religious rhetoric: "Why are you following Jesus and what do you expect to get out of it?" In other words, what do you think that Jesus offered you for "accepting Him (His salvation)" ?????
It is due to a misconception regarding THIS issue that many (most??) of those that turn away (fall away) and cease following Him do so. Moreover, as Peter and Paul understood, IF we have truly come to realize and comprehend the state of our present existence and that for which we have been chosen and saved, we will be COMPELLED to say with them:
"Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life." and "For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us." **** Romans 8:18
6:53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 6:54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." 6:60 Then many of his disciples, when they heard these things, said, "This is a difficult saying! Who can understand it?" 6:61 When Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining about this, he said to them, "Does this cause you to be offended?" 6:66 After this, many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer. 6:67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You don't want to go away too, do you?" 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 6:69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!" **** John
You need to understand NOW, that the ONLY thing that Jesus offered in THIS life for following Him and for His gift of salvation and eternal life was a CROSS and PERSECUTION !!
9:23 Then he said to them all, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." 14:25 Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." **** Luke
15:18 If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. 15:19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. 15:20 Remember what I told you, "A slave is not greater than his master." If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too. **** John
Anything beyond this, as they say, is PURE GRAVY !!
Jesus did NOT promise his followers worldly riches, success, prosperity, comfort, happiness, good health, great friends, nice cars or homes, a good job, a beautiful family, a great ministry or spiritual gifts. Some of these things MAY be included in the package and then again -- they may NOT. Jesus has a unique place within His body for each individual. What He does for one He is NOT obligated to do for all (refer again to reason # one) !!!!!!
20:11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 20:12 saying, "These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day." 20:13 And the landowner replied to one of them, "Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn't you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 20:14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 20:15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?" 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last. **** Matthew
What Jesus DID (and DOES) promise to EVERYONE who follows Him as His disciple is HIMSELF (who will NEVER leave nor foresake us), forgivness of ALL of our sins, eternal life and the Holy Spirit. That is the END of the list (though QUITE a list it is !!).
If you expect or DEMAND more than this, you too WILL be disappointed and, like many of His disciples in the scripture, "many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer"
13:20 The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 13:21 But he has no root in himself and does not endure; when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. 13:22 The seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth choke the word, so it produces nothing. 13:23 But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown." **** Matthew
Please click on the following links to listen to two songs by a VERY annointed Christian singer and musician named Keith Green. Much of his music has REALLY blessed me over the years !! Click [ HERE ] and [ HERE ].
Question: On January 30, I had a miscarriage. Weeks before I was praying very hard to God every morning, noon and night to just let me know if I was pregnant or not. I thought that it was too early to check, but that week I started my period, so I just figured that I was not pregnant. Disheartened, I went on with my day. Then on the 30th, I went to the ER, only to find out that I had been pregnant but had lost the baby. Now I feel that it is my fault for praying so hard to God, asking him to let us know if I was pregnant or not. I feel that He was saying, "Yes, you can get pregnant, but now is not the time". That day I stopped praying and even talking to God for fear that any thing that I pray for will end in disaster like the loss of my baby. What should I do? I am so scared to pray now. Thanks.
Answer: I am VERY, VERY sorry for your loss. I won't say that I know how you feel, for only you can truly know that. However, I assure you that God DOES know, and He feels your sorrow and grief with you !!
There are no direct biblical quotes or answers that I can refer you to in answer to your need. They wouldn't take away your sorrow, grief and fear anyway.
I can only respond to your need by saying that based upon my 30 years of relationship with Jesus and our Father, I do NOT believe that God would cause you to miscarriage JUST because you were anxious to know whether or not you were pregnant. IF He was saying, "Yes, you can get pregnant, but now is not the time", then I do not believe that He would have allowed you to conceive in the first place. Just as surely as this child would have been yours, it would have LIKEWISE been His. I do not believe that our Father would kill one of His own JUST to teach you a lesson !!
Both Jesus and the Father are the essence of Love. They love us, in ALL ways, far more than either you nor I can even begin to conceive. They want us to trust them explicitly and have perfect faith, trust and rest regarding their love, care and concern for us. How would we ever give them this love and trust if they acted toward us as you fear and believe. Please read two articles by me dealing with God's love [ HERE ] and [ HERE ].
Death occurs in this world -- it is part of our and its fallen condition. It may not make it any easier to bear, but it is also NOT a direct indication of God's anger or displeasure. It come to the good and the wicked -- to the YOUNG as well as the old -- to the deserving as well as the undeserving.
Since I know NOTHING at all about you except from your brief eMail, it is pretty hard to offer an answer that is meaningful. Your letter seemed to me to indicate a GREAT deal of STRESS on your part over whether or not you might be pregnant. Was this pregnancy something that you wanted -- or NOT ?? If you do a WEB search with Google, you will find that many authorities today feel that stress may play a part in early miscarriages.
Then there is the matter of your relationship with God. If you do NOT know Jesus in the relationship of your OWN personal savior, friend and protector, and God as your Father, then THAT is your FIRST priority. Seek out a spiritual guide that you can trust to help you.
If you HAVE so received Him, then use this experience to draw closer and learn of Him in a deeper way. As I said, He is weeping WITH you in your grief.
"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." **** Matthew 11:28-30
As for your fear, "That day I stopped praying and even talking to God for fear that any thing that I pray for will end in disaster like the loss of my baby" -- this thought is directly from the Devil or Slanderer, the Father of lies !! It is TOTALLY contrary to the heart of God. Jesus tell us:
For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! **** Matthew 7:8-11
Question: Am I missing something ?? I led a pretty bad life before Jesus found me and I made a LOT of mistakes and poor decisions. However, I truly repented and gave my life over to Him. Since then, however, events from my past are still cropping up to haunt me, and bill collectors are still dogging my footsteps. I don't understand ! I thought that when one gave their life over to Jesus that He was supposed to make everything OK -- my debts ALL forgiven, "new man", new life in Him, you know - all that stuff ???
Answer: Congratulations ! You have just discovered God's "Universal Law of Sowing and Reaping". Sadly, as you have found out, it is a law that few discover until they have had cause to regret it. Usually, those of us who have "sown our wild oats" in the spring of our lives live to reap a crop of weeds in the autumn.
Your question reminds me of a situation that my wife encountered when she was secretary at a Christian school. One of her duties was to collect tuition checks from the parents of the children who attended there. One father was PARTICULARLY remiss in making payments. Finally, my wife approached him about his back payments. His reply went thusly, "I thought that when Jesus died on the cross for me that He paid ALL of my debts. If that is the case, why should I pay them again ??" Enough said along these lines -- I HOPE !!
God's universe is an "Organic" universe, and functions according to "organic principles" -- if you desire a crop, you must plant a seed -- like springs forth from like - you do NOT plant a dandelion seed and expect a crop of corn. GOOD crops require careful tending - WEEDS don't. The seed must be planted upon fertile ground. The planting must be cultivated and nurtured if you expect it to yield a good harvest. And of course - the BIG thing that farmers understand that we "city dwellers" don't - though you plant the seed in early spring, the crop may not appear until late autumn. Meanwhile, it is still there -- GROWING - ready to appear in ITS time.
We think that because we do not see or suffer consequences for our action today - or tomorrow - or next month - or even next YEAR - that we are "off free". It doesn't work that way. One of the prime laws of physics states that, "for EVERY action there is an equal and opposite REACTION". Often the REaction of today's action may not appear until MANY years later, but the universe WILL restore dynamic equilibrium !!
There is a 17th century poem, "Retribution", by Friedrich Von Logau, that goes like this:
Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all."
3:8 Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. **** 2 Peter
My point is this, if you have sown BAD seed, you WILL have to harvest a crop of "weeds". The "debt" that Jesus paid on our behalf was to eradicate the barrier that stood between mankind and God, that we once more might cross over and have open and unlimited communications and fellowship with Him. God DID NOT promise that He was going to overturn the functional "laws of His universe" for you!! He has, however, promised that He will be with us to enable us to endure the harvest - and to LEARN from it. His Spirit also wills to teach us how to sow GOOD seed so that we might reap a FAR more profitable crop of "peace and righteous".
11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. **** Matthew
One of the greatest of Gods "Gifts of His Spirit" is to give us a heart such that we might LEARN and profit from the mistakes, misfortunes and hardships that pass through our life, rather than to do as so many of "this world" -- to merely harden their hearts and close their ears and eyes, and march proudly and blindly over the "cliffs of destruction".
6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, 6:8 because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 6:9 So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. **** Galatians
My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. **** 2 Corinthians 9:6
Question: I am a relatively "New Christian". There is something that REALLY bothers me -- A LOT !! It seems that there is so much that I want to do for my Lord - and I seem to know so little and seem to have so few talents. Other Christians are going on missions, doing exciting work, preaching to great crowds, and winning so many souls for our Lord (at least, it seems so to me). I am still just trudging along in my everyday life. Also, before I became a Christian, I thought that I was a pretty "great and talented" person. Now, I seem to see so many things wrong with my life and so many failures and shortcomings in it that I get downright discouraged. I want to be so good and do so many great things to please my Lord, but I feel like such a failure so much of the time. I just can't help but feel that He must be as disappointed in me as I am. HELP ---- Is there something WRONG with me ???
Answer: Thank you for writing. I can understand that how you are presently feeling is EXTREMELY painful, discouraging, and humiliating. I know, as do most of God's people who are truly sincere in wanting to grow in and be pleasing to Him. We have ALL either passed through or ARE passing through this stage of growth, just as ALL children MUST pass through the painful physical growth stage called "adolescence" -- not a child but yet, NOT an adult !! Rejoice, for there is NOTHING wrong with you and the only "help" that you need is to remain close to Jesus and continue to follow Him as you have and ARE doing. The fact that you feel your heart so "pricked" by your imagined inadequacies shows that His Holy Spirit is working in you. Your very statement, "I thought that I was a pretty 'great and talented' person" shows the contrast between when you were led by the "spirit of THIS world" (which loves its own) as opposed to being led by God's Holy Spirit, who is day-by-day "transforming you into the image of Jesus Christ".
I have a in-depth article dealing with your question, which you can read [ HERE ].
Question: I don't understand about "finding God". I have been trying to find Him for years, but I don't seem any closer now than when I started. Am I doing something wrong ?? I don't understand !! I feel so discouraged and frustrated.
Answer: Dear "seeker" -- thank you so much for writing !! I can full well relate to your confusion and frustration. I also searched for what seemed to me like "endless years", "looking for God", with NO seeming success. I will assure you, however, that from the very beginning God has noted the desire in your heart, and has been pulling you toward Himself. Were this not true, you would have NO desire for God AT ALL, for it is Jesus Christ alone that "draws men (and women) to Himself". Consider the following points CAREFULLY:
One - C.S. Lewis was a a one-time atheist and later, an ardent "seeker". He gives this advise in one of his books, "If you TRULY want God and are having trouble finding the way, TELL HIM SO !! Don't hide behind a lot of double-talk and self-delusion -- spit it out plain. God won't be offended and He CERTAINLY won't be angry with you. Get rid of all of the hypocritical, pious sounding, "religious talk". Tell Him about your obstacles, troubles and doubts STRAIGHT OUT, and tell Him that you need answers. If you are sincere, He will see that you get them !! God LOVES seekers."
He brings out what may be a number of hindrances to your search -- "double-talk and self-delusion; hypocritical, pious sounding, 'religious talk'". First and foremost, God is looking for sincerity and pureness of heart. He wants you to seek after Him with "all your heart, mind and soul". Second, He want you to seek Him because you want HIM, NOT what He can do for you or give to you. This sounds pretty simple, but believe me (and the bible) -- IT IS NOT !! Our hearts are conniving and deceitful beyond our imagining. We USUALLY say one thing and mean another. We USUALLY do, expecting something for ourselves in return. Rarely, if EVER, do we not have ulterior motives (often even hidden from ourselves).
If you seek the Lord your God from there, you will find him, if, indeed, you seek him with all your heart and soul. **** Deuteronomy 4:29
29:11 "For I know what I have planned for you," says the Lord. "I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. 29:12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 29:13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, 29:14 I will make myself available to you," says the Lord. **** Jeremiah
4:1 Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? 4:2 You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; 4:3 you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. **** James
Two - If we truly want God, we will TRULY seek for Him. If a man wants treasure or riches, he will usually devote his (or her) full life to it. If we desire the "riches of God (which are the TRUE riches indeed)", should we not be willing to do likewise ? Should we expect God to reveal himself to the "Sunday morning seeker", who is consumed with himself the rest of the week ? ASK -- SEEK -- KNOCK -- Just HOW hungry are you ??
Napoleon Hill wrote what has become one of the classic motivational or "success" books entitled, "Think and Grow Rich", in which he expounds the famous Andrew Carnegie formula for moneymaking based upon, "The Thirteen Proven Steps To Riches". The primary principle that he set forth in this book has been and is accepted as being true and valid by millions of successful individuals, and has represented the foundation stone of many multi-million dollar estates and fortunes. That single principle is simply this, "That which you set your mind upon continually, that which you desire above all else, that which you meditate upon day and night, that which you set before ALL else, that which you WORSHIP -- will surely manifest itself in your life and will transform you into itself". In other words, "As you think, so will you be !!"
As stated in the OT by God Himself, Jesus reiterates that the FIRST and PRIME commandment, if we are to TRULY love God and become godly ourselves, is that we are to love and to seek after Him with our ENTIRE being, holding nothing back !! This is in keeping with His Prime Law of Creation, "What we think upon continually with ALL of our resources, we shall have and become".
If you want to read MUCH more on this topic, click [ HERE ].
2:1 My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, 2:2 by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, 2:3 indeed, if you call out for discernment -- raise your voice for understanding -- 2:4 if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, 2:5 then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. **** Proverbs
7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 7:9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 7:11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field. 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 13:46 When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it. **** Matthew
12:29 So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. 12:30 For all the nations of the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 12:31 Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. **** Luke
Three - You MUST Seek and Ask BELIEVING that there is an answer. What kind of a traveler would you be -- and what hope would you stand in ever arriving -- if you set out on a journey, not believing that your destination even existed, much less where it was located ??
21:21 Jesus answered them, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive"" **** Matthew
3:22 Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him. 3:23 Now this is his commandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us the commandment. **** 1 John
11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 11:2 For by it the people of old received God's commendation. 11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. **** Hebrews
1:5 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. 1:6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 1:8 since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways. **** James
Four - Perhaps, in the beginning, this is the greatest stumbling block. We must be ready to receive that which we know NOTHING about, that which is alien to ALL of our past life experience, that which may (and probably WILL) contradict all that we believe about ourselves and the way that the "world" functions. Our friends and family may even turn against us (at minimum, NOT be there for support) -- tell us that we are foolish, idle dreamers, perhaps that we have even taken leave of our senses.
1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel -- and not with clever speech (not with wisdom of words), so that the cross of Christ would not become useless. 1:18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1:19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent"" 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. 1:22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 1:23 but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 1:24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1:26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. 1:27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 1:28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 1:29 so that no one can boast in his presence. 1:30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. **** 1 Corinthians
I hope that this answer has not dampened your enthusiasm. If you know what (WHO) you are seeking for, I doubt that it will have. If you are seeking fairy tales and fantasies, better you get pointed in the right direction NOW, before you waste any more time. I will close with this one thought, "The One whom you are seeking gives you HIS promise:"
7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 7:9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 7:11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! **** Matthew
For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us **** Romans 8:18
3:12 Not that I have already attained this -- that is, I have not already been perfected -- but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 3:14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus **** Philippians
Question: I have been taught that ONLY some 144,000 people will get into heaven. Is this true ? If it is, what hope is there for me or ANY other average person amongst the billions ???
Answer: There are basically two areas of scripture, BOTH in the Book of Revelations, which speak of a "144,000".
7:3 "Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God"" 7:4 Now I heard the number of those who were marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed from all the tribes of the people of Israel
14:1 Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Fatherâ€™s name written on their foreheads. 14:3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. 14:4 These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from humanity as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, 14:5 and no lie was found on their lips; they are blameless.
First, I want you to understand CLEARLY that the Book of Revelations is filled with imagery, metaphor, allegory, and parables. These entail using "visions" and symbolism to convey a story or a point. MY POINT is, the book IS NOT intended to be read and understood with a literal, "every word means exactly what it says" frame of mind. There are AT LEAST three major modes of interpreting the Book of Revelations, each of which produces a MARKEDLY different understanding of it.
Second, I want you to understand that, whatever else these scripture may refer to, they most certainly DO NOT refer to the total number of people that will be saved. For one thing, it speaks ONLY as reference to those "from all the tribes of the people of Israel", NOT of gentile (non Jewish) believers. In the second place, it says that "for they are virgins". That would be a pretty selective salvation in ANYONE'S book, don't you think ???
When you study the scripture, keep a few guidelines in mind:
1. Do NOT listen to ANYBODY'S OPINION. Search it out in the scripture and study sources FOR YOURSELF !!
2. Do not listen to those who take selected scriptures out of context and build ENTIRE DOCTRINES on them. Weigh scripture against scripture and consider what the ENTIRE bible -- ALL of scripture teaches on the subject.
This is the issue with this "144,000" question. Certain groups, for LESS than worthy and noble reasons, have isolated this SMALL area of scripture all by itself and built from them a terrible, damaging and destructive heresy. On the other hand, the ENTIRE bible teaches us that Jesus says, "He will draw ALL men (and women) to Himself" and that, "Of ALL that will come to Him, he will in nowise cast ANY out" He also tells us that He leaves all others behind that He might search for that last, "lost sheep" in order to bring it home to His and our Father !!
The Apostle Paul also EXPRESSLY states that it is God's explicit intent, at the completion of His Purpose, to reconcile ALL things (creatures) to Himself !!
He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ -- the things in heaven and the things on earth. **** Ephesians 1:9,10
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross -- through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. **** Colossians 1:19,20
Question: I was born again over 20 years ago. I was strong at first, but then walked off the path. I never lost my belief and trust in Christ, but I wandered into sin. Now, I am coming back to life and feel like I am being reawakened, but I am afraid. Since I wandered before, I am afraid of doing it again. I hate what I did in those years of wandering -- It was sinful. I gave in to my weaknesses and I don't trust me anymore. I have thought that if I'd died then, I would have gone to hell. Now, I am very confused about salvation. Before, I believed that I only had to believe and I was safe and saved. However, I wandered so badly that I don't trust that belief now. I'm trying to find out where I went wrong and what happened. I no longer believe, "once saved, always saved" like I did before. That made me a very lazy and unethical Christian. Now I am seeking the truth. I have recently been introduced to Calvinism and Arminiism, which I'd never heard of before. Are those false teachings? What do you think of this? I take the Bible literally, and there seem to be verses to support and contradict both of those points of view. Is there some truth in both? There are also plenty of verses telling us that we must endure to the end.
Answer: To answer your first question first -- YES Calvinism and Arminiism are valid doctrines of the Christian Faith. As a matter of fact, a VERY large segment of Christianity divides its allegiance to one or the other of these concepts. When you believed in, "once saved, always saved", you were a Calvinist.
In its simplest form, Calvinism states that God Himself, by His Sovereign Will, elects some to salvation and others to damnation. Those elected to salvation CAN NOT fall away, for they have been chosen to salvation. It also states that man is TOTALLY and utterly depraved, and can do NOTHING to help himself toward salvation !!
Arminiism, on the other hand, basically centers around man's free will versus total depravity, and common faith versus efficacious faith. Arminiism teaches that man can choose to come to God if he will so will, while the Word shows that man cannot and will not come to Christ in his OWN power. If he does come to Christ, it is because God brings that person to Himself. In the area of faith, Arminiism teaches that all men have the faith necessary to be saved.
You are also quite correct (and astute) when you observe that, "there seem to be verses to support and contradict both of those points of view". This in itself should be enough to convince a thoughtful, discerning individual that NEITHER, in and of itself, can be TOTALLY correct, and that there is indeed, "some truth in both" !!
There is, IN FACT, one mode of Christian thought that, when properly understood, embraces and encompasses not only the previous "contradiction", but MOST "seeming biblical contradictions" that are often raised. This school of thought is called, "Christian Universalism" or "Universal Reconciliation". I want to warn you upfront that there are MANY schools of thought calling themselves, "Universalism", but many take NO account of the necessity of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the SOLE source of salvation or of a Day of Judgment for the unrepentant. Christian Universalism, on the other hand, FULLY encompasses and reconciles ALL valid biblical beliefs (when PROPERLY understood from the vantage point of the Original Scriptures). I have written an in-depth book on the matter, which you may view online [HERE] or download [HERE].
I believe that if you will DILIGENTLY read and study the above (and related) work, and seek the Truth of God to be found in a living relationship with Jesus Christ (NOT in ANY doctrine or church) revealed by His Holy Spirit - that you will find ALL of the love, security, peace and assurance that your heart and spirit desire. Has He not promised, "Seek Me with ALL of your heart, Knock, Ask - and the door will be opened and I will be there" ??
You are right to say that "belief is NOT enough" (at least NOT the kind that you refer to). James 2:19 states that, "Even the demons BELIEVE, and tremble" !! There is "belief" and then there is "FAITH". Jesus stated:
8:31 Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, "If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" **** John
He is stating that you need to be a whole hearted follower, a DISCIPLE, filled and led by His Holy Spirit, for His Word to be truly effective in your life. He states the same IDEA in Matthew where He says:
11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry". **** Matthew
He promises us that HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light. Can you say the same regarding YOURS ??
Perhaps you have already stated the problem with your experience. You say , "I was strong at first" and "I don't trust me anymore". It is our WEAKNESS and our TOTAL trust in Christ and HIS strength that is our security and safety. By contrast, it is OUR strength and goodness that are but, "dung and filthy rags, the foolishness of this age" !!
Do NOT let Satan condemn you !! It is God Himself who called you and loves you, and will keep you safe and free from falling. If you do indeed, "Love Him with ALL of your heart", then He is your security - NOT your belief or doctrine. Though you may fall, you will rise again, for it is He who upholds you.
6:37 Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away. 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. 6:39 Now this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day. 6:40 For this is the will of my Father -- for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. **** John
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? **** Romans 5:10
For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all. **** Romans 11:32
The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. **** 2 Thessalonians 3:3
I believe that certainly He has ALLOWED (NOT caused) you to fall and wander these many years so that, like the Prodigal Son, you to may discover the Truth of Father's House and be eager to return home again. Just remember:
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. **** Luke 15:20
Question: I am confused !! How can a Christian support the military, or the police force, or capital punishment when the Bible (God) CLEARLY says, "Thou shalt NOT kill"? Does God condone killing or not ?????
Answer: The problem here may again be attributed to the arbitrary and NON- concordant translation of our revered "King James Bible" !! In Hebrew and Greek, as in English, there are different words to clarify the act of taking a life, such as: murder, kill, slay, butcher, assassinate, etc. In the Old Testament, there are nine different words, represented by the following reference numbers from Strong's Concordance: 2026, 2076, 2491, 2873, 4191, 5221, 5362, 7523 and 7819. In the New Testament, there are seven different words: 337, 615, 1315, 2380, 3385, 4969 and 5407.
The usual "proof text" in the OT used to support the premise in the question under consideration is the Sixth Commandment, "You shall not murder (kill) (07523)." **** Exodus 20:13. The word rendered "murder" here and "kill" in the KJV is Strong's Reference 07523.
"Which ones?" he asked. Jesus replied, "Do not murder (5407), do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony" **** Matthew 19:18
The exact same ARBITRARY bias of the KJV translators may be seen in the NT. Here, in this parallel verse to the OT Exodus 20:13, they render 5407 "murder". In its OTHER 11 uses, they render it "kill" and "slay" !! How can you POSSIBLY trust and relay on such arbitrariness and inconsistency ????
While this STRONGLY supports the contention that God DID NOT rule out the taking of human life in ALL circumstances, it is NOT conclusive proof, for I said that, "07523 is GENERALLY rendered murder". It is not so in EVERY case - sometimes it IS merely rendered "kill".
CONCLUSIVE proof, however, comes directly from God Himself. The "Ten Commandments", though usually called "THE LAW", were only a summary. God expanded upon them in detail in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It seems that there were FOUR categories of "killing": Murder, Accidental Killing, Sacrificial Killing (as of an animal), and Judicial Punishment (killing). It is the forth that I want here to address. God's Word makes it VERY clear that He Himself assigned a number of crimes for which the Judicial Remedy was loss of life for the offender. These included premeditated murder, rape, idolatry, sorcery, kidnapping, dishonoring father or mother, copulating with an animal, adultery, homosexuality, and a few others.
See scripture list following: "Put to death" -- Exod 21:12, Exod 21:15, Exod 21:16, Exod 21:17, Exod 22:19, Exod 31:14, Exod 31:15, Exod 35:2, Levi 20:2, Levi 20:9, Levi 20:10, Levi 20:11, Levi 20:12, Levi 20:13, Levi 20:15, Levi 20:16, Levi 20:27, Levi 24:16, Levi 24:17, Levi 24:21, Numb 1:51, Numb 3:10, Numb 3:38, Numb 18:7, Numb 35:16, Numb 35:17, Numb 35:18, Numb 35:21, Numb 35:30, Numb 35:31, Deut 13:5, Deut 17:6, Deut 17:7, Deut 21:22, Deut 24:16
If you go to the following link [ HERE ], you will find a scripture search with different bible versions. The VAST MAJORITY render Exodus 20:13 as, "You shall not murder" -- EVEN the NKJV !!
It is also VERY clear that God did NOT prohibit the taking of life during warfare, for he was continually instructing His people (Israel) in warfare, and often times was said to lead them out, and/or fight for them Himself !!
An even better "proof text" is contained in Genesis Chapter 9. This far predates the Mosaic Law AND the Nation of Israel. It is essentially part of a covenant (agreement) that God made with ALL of mankind !!
9:5 For your lifeblood I will surely exact punishment, ....... From each person I will exact punishment for the life of the individual, since the man was his relative. 9:6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God has made humankind.” **** Genesis
An excellent site may be accessed [ HERE ], whose sole function has been to work toward a consistent, CONCORDANT rendering of the Hebrew and Green into English, where the rendering remains as uniform as possible. Their desire is to help eliminate linguistic errors such as we have just discussed !!
Question: I get so frustrated with the formality of "worship" that seems to exist within most (ALL ??) of the Christian Church !! It seems to be nothing but "formula and ritual", without any real meaning and reality to it. You supposedly feel closer to God for one or two hours on Sunday and maybe Wednesday, and for the rest of the week its "business as usual". Is this ALL that God intended ? I want to have an ongoing relationship with Him. I want to be able to be with Him and communicate with Him ANYTIME and ALL of the time, like I would with a close friend. Can you help me understand ? I feel so frustrated and confused, and I don't know where to turn for help !! The leaders in my church don't seem to have a clue regarding what I am asking.
Answer: I am so VERY glad that you wrote. I understand your feelings of frustration and confusion perfectly. What you have expressed in your eMail has been a growing desire inside of me for many years. There are, no doubt, MANY other of God's children who feel the same way. But rejoice, for God wants EXACTLY what you want, and probably even more so !! He is constantly at work by His Spirit looking for just such seekers. Continue to seek after Him and have no doubt, He WILL be found (or rather, He will find YOU). I cannot give you any easy answers as to exactly HOW to achieve your heart's desire, for in this area, I too am still groping, as they say, "in the dark". I have just finished an in-depth essay concerning this subject which, I hope, may provide you with some insight. It may be found [ HERE ].
Question: I have been studying the various religions, and it seems to me that there were MANY teachers before Jesus who taught the same basic precepts. What makes him different from Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Zarathushtra, Moses, the Hindu sages, Plato, Aristotle, etc. ? Also, what makes Christianity so much different or special from the religions that THEY represent ? What difference does it make WHICH one that I believe - isn't it the ideas, the TRUTHS that they represent that are important -- NOT who said them ???
Answer: I am going to begin by giving your the short answer -- then I will elaborate. The ONE thing that makes Christianity unique among the various "religions" is that IT proclaims that it IS NOT the ideas or precepts, or the following of this teaching or that teaching that is important. It is the believing in and following after the PERSON of Jesus Christ that possesses redemptive power. Jesus proclaimed, "It is NOT the words ABOUT me that are important, it is I MYSELF, the person." He does NOT profess to tell you ABOUT God -- He says that He IS God (NOT a "god" but THE God) !!
5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You people have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time, 5:38 nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent. 5:39 You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, 5:40 but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life. **** John
He goes on to say that NO ONE comes to The Father (the Creator God) EXCEPT through Him. He is the ONE and ONLY door. He says that He has the power of life and death -- and of "judgment and eternal life". He claims to have the power to forgive sins -- ALL sins. He sums it all up by announcing that HE and the Father are ONE -- to have seen and known HIM is to have seen and known the Father !!
14:2 There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. ... I am going away to make ready a place for you. 14:3 I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. 14:4 And you know the way where I am going." 14:5 Thomas said, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 14:6 Jesus replied, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him." 14:9 .... The person who has seen me has seen the Father! 14:12 I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father. **** John
C.S. Lewis, a popular British theologian, comments on these claims in one of his famous essays: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (Mere Christianity, pp. 40-41.)
More on this line of thought may be found [ HERE ].
Click [ Here ] to read "The Everlasting Man", Chapter 2 -- "The Riddles of the Gospel", by G.K. Chesterton.
As C.S. Lewis also observed: It in NO way detracts from Jesus to say that others before Him taught many of the same things. He DID NOT claim that He came to bring a totally new book - the precepts of God had been in existence since creation. It would be strange if no one else HAD proclaimed them. What Jesus proclaimed was that NOW the AUTHOR of the Book walked and spoke among men, here on earth -- in the FLESH !!
The other Truth and Reality that Jesus came to bring is that it is NOT words, concepts, doctrines, and teachings that will make man right before God, but nothing less than a NEW SPIRITUAL BIRTH. He said that, "Flesh and blood WILL NOT inherit (enter into) the Kingdom of God". This is not some arbitrary decree, but a revelation of Spiritual Reality.
When man first walked upon the moon and mars, it was (and is) mandatory that they wear a protective life suit. Why, because someone passed a "law" saying, "Outside the confines of earth's atmosphere everyone MUST wear a life suit upon penalty of death" ?? Of course not !! It is because man is not physically constituted to survive outside of earth's atmosphere.
So God is telling us, "As mankind now exists, he IS NOT physically, physiologically, nor spiritually constituted to exist in MY realm of existence (in heaven), in My presence. In a spiritual sense, 'I am a Consuming Fire'. Were you to come before me as you presently are, you would be destroyed. You must be 'Born Again', changed, take upon yourself My Nature. I have lovingly and graciously provided the way -- the ONLY WAY - and it is in personal acceptance of and belief in My Son, Jesus. You say that this makes no sense - how can it be? Tell me, what do you know of my realm of existence, its spiritual laws and ways, or about ME that you can judge ?? I have come to reveal these things to you by my Spirit."
3:3 Jesus replied, "I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ **** John
15:44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15:45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living person"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15:47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 15:48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. 15:49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. 15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 15:51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 15:52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. **** 1 Corinthians
THIS is what makes Christianity UNIQUE -- What sets it apart from ALL other "religions".
Question One: My name is YYY ZZZ. My husband and I were at the XX Church in 1973. I was looking at your web site and realized that you preach the doctrine of reconciliation -- is this the same as the kingdom dominion teaching? My husband and I are attending a church where they preach this, so I thought it was interesting that there was similar teaching on your web site. It's all kind of new to me, but I have been getting blessed. Write back if you want.
Question Two: Thanks for writing back. When you state: "Christian Universalism states, in its simplest form ......." We believe this, too, and that's what they teach at this church that we've been attending. So what do you think is the difference between Christian Universalism and Kingdom Dominion? I know I can probably research this myself online, but I thought maybe you can give me a short explanation on the obvious differences. I would really appreciate your input.
Answer One: I wanted to write to clarify a point. We do not in ANY way support, "Kingdom Dominion Teaching", nor has "Christian Universalism" ANYTHING to do with it. I don't know much about, "Kingdom Dominion Teaching", but from what I could research on the Net via Google [ CLICK HERE ], we DO NOT agree with most of what it teaches. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing actually ON our site that propounds this teaching. Perhaps some of the sites we link to do. We certainly do not agree with everything link sites may believe, even though often they do have very worthwhile cotent to offer !!
Christian Universalism states, in its simplest form, "That at the conclusion of the Ages, ALL things (on, under, and above the earth) will ultimately be reconciled to God. This will be accomplished SOLELY by God, thorough Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit." You may read a very in depth, totally scriptural exposition on it [ HERE ], written by me. There is also plenty of other material contained on the site.
Answer Two: As I said, I don' really know much about Kingdom Dominion other than my WEB search to answer your first post. What I found at most sites seems to be summed up [ HERE ]. IF this accurately reflects what your church teaches as Kingdom Dominion, then we (I) pretty much agree with ALL 10 reasons, and they have nothing to do with Christian Universalism. Also, as far as I can tell, pure Kingdom Dominion does not in ANY way have ANYTHING to do with Christian Universalism.
The "Christian buzzword" for this season seems to be "inclusion", as coined by Bishop Carlton Pearson. Click [ HERE ]. Perhaps your church has joined the two concepts into one doctrine. However, Universalism as been believed by the Church since the time of the Book of Acts, and was taught by the Apostle Paul.
Since I know nothing at all about what your church teaches, if these 10 points DO NOT reflect it and what you are asking me, perhaps you could enumerate the points of teaching that you are inquiring about to me in detail.
You ask for, "a short explanation on the obvious differences". BOTH of these teachings are complex issues with many variances among groups claiming to all believe the same thing. In many so called "churches", Universalism DOES NOT even involve a belief in Jesus Christ --- Hence it being considered a heresy by so many Christians. "Simple" explanations and "popular buzzwords" are the way gross misunderstandings as to what groups REALLY believe develop. The understanding of REAL doctrinal issues requires the willingness to invest considerable time, effort, research and study into REALLY understanding what is being taught, and NOT just looking to be "blessed".
I read terrible things in WEB forums as to what is supposedly happening at XX Church in Oregon. I truly hope that they are NOT true. I fear that some of them may be, for I remember that there were many in XX Church (and most other churches too) who had NO real idea as to what the church was teaching and stood for, much less whether or not is was biblically and spiritually TRUE and valid. Their main interest was to be a good church follower and be "blessed". Jesus said that you would be "blessed" by knowing AND doing the TRUTH.
Question: I have very many questions to ask you. Does God approve of white magic? If I practice it, will I go to Hell? If so, why? Does white magic exist? I define "White Magic" as: "Magic that does not involve the summoning of hellish creatures or the death of innocent people; magic not used by the Devil or his minions (followers)". I want to practice it in order to protect others and punish those who commit crimes or sin.
Answer: This is not a question that I can give a definitive, Biblical answer to since:
Number One: The Bible does not really discuss the issue as such. Number Two: Neither you nor I nor anyone else REALLY knows much of anything about "Magic" - white, black or otherwise. It is merely a term used to define what we can not explain in terms of the purely natural laws of the universe, AS WE NOW KNOW THEM !! Number Three: Most, if not ALL, of our present day acquaintance with "magic" comes from books and movies like "Harry Potter", "Lord of the Rings", and other such.
I will address the points that I can give you a clear, concise answer to first.
1. - "If I practice it, will I go to Hell?" -- We, as a ministry, do not see that God's Word (the Bible) presents a place called "Hell", at least NOT in the traditional sense. When this age has ended, we will ALL stand before God. Those who have NOT been reconciliation to Him through Jesus Christ will be subject to His Judgment and Correction, to be then cast into the Lake of Fire (the Second Death) until the "Consummation of All", when ALL of creation will be reconciled to God. The SOLE reason for being judged by God will be failure to have received Salvation through Jesus Christ. You may read in-depth regarding this subject here: http://www.tlchrist.info/universl.htm
2. - "I want to practice it in order to protect others and punish those who commit crimes or sin." -- HERE is where I detect the "Error of your ways". In the Book of Acts, 8:5-24, there is an account of a sorcerer named Simon, who tried to obtain power so that HE might be someone great. He was rebuked with the observation, "Your heart is not right before God".
8:9 Now in that city was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magic and amazing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. 8:10 All the people, from the least to the greatest, paid close attention to him, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’" 8:11 They paid close attention to him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men and women. 8:13 Even Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close to Philip constantly, and when he saw the signs and great miracles that were occurring, he was amazed. 8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 8:15 These two went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. 8:17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit. 8:18 Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money, 8:19 saying, "Give me this power too, so that everyone I place my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit". 8:20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire God’s gift with money! 8:21 You have no share or part in this matter because your heart is not right before God! 8:22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart. 8:23 For I see that you are bitterly envious and in bondage to sin." **** Acts 8:9-23
The ONLY possible reason that I can discern why anyone would want to practice magic of ANY sort is so that THEY might be able to wield POWER and thus be SOMEONE GREAT. God would have us depend upon Him to be Protector, Judge, and Corrector of Sin. Satan, on the other hand, deceived Adam and Eve with the lie of, "You REALLY can't trust God. Listen to me. I can tell you about POWER. I can tell you how you might be like God Himself !!" So he continues spreading the same lie today.
3. - Finally, we come to the issue of "magic" itself. We can not really discuss "magic" because it is an ambiguous, undefined term. Most of our ideas, as I said earlier, come from fantasy books and movies. I don't know anything about the "Harry Potter" genre, but I am a tremendous fan of J.R. Tolkin's "Hobbit and Lord of the Rings" series. Perhaps when you think of "white magic", you are considering the likes of Gandalf and the elves. While this IS pleasant to contemplate and imagine, you need to keep in mind a FACT. These writings and ideas are ONLY fantasy given birth out of the mind of an excellent writer. They ARE NOT real and do not exist.
Also, "magic" varies from age to age. Consider -- the technological marvels that we take for granted today would have surely been considered "magic" 1,000 years ago !! Magic, as I said earlier, may be defined as phenomena that we are unable to explain in terms of the purely natural laws of the universe, AS WE NOW KNOW THEM !! This has much to do with OUR ignorance. If mankind survives for another 1,000 years and continues at his present or accelerated rate of technological advance, imagine what "magic" he will be able to perform. In the TV movie, "Babylon 5", there was a group of people called, "The Technomages" who simulated "magic" with their highly advanced technology.
Even pertaining to "miracles", C.S. Lewis observes in one of his books that they are merely incidents occurring outside of our present realm of "natural" experience. They are "supra-natural", or above current nature. The miracles of Jesus were miracles precisely because the power to enact them is not presently possessed by mankind. In the "renewal of all things", however, after God has reconciled His creation to Himself, such occurrences will be "natural" phenomena.
Perhaps you are thinking about the type of "magic" that is related to the mind and/or the will, such as being able to control people, objects, or time with our minds. It is speculated that at their creation, Adam and Eve possessed vast and powerful mental and psychic capabilities. When they disobeyed God, he lovingly hid these powers, just as He shortened their lives, lest they go on to become monsters and demons with their vast powers and life spans. It is believed that some people are able to rediscover and use some of these powers. They are NOT "magic", but merely "supra-natural", or outside of the normal scope of man's powers and abilities. I have an eBook which will be available in about a week (03/05/06), in which Watchman Nee discusses, "The Latent Power of the Soul". Watch for it here: http://www.tlchrist.info/filenetz.htm
To sum up what I have said into an answer to your question -- YES, I do believe that, in the context of what I have written above, that there is indeed "magic", both Black and White, depending upon the purpose and the power for and by which it is enacted. Do I believe that God objects ?? To BLACK magic - ALWAYS !! To WHITE magic - for the purposes that you mentioned - YES !! The scripture tells us that ANYTHING can be Sin if it attempts to relieve us of or interfere with our dependence upon and trust in God --- if it would attempt to shift that trust and dependence to someone or something else, ESPECIALLY ourselves. "Magic", as it is popularly envisioned, has exactly that as its purpose.
Question: I see bumper stickers that read, "Try Jesus" and "Jesus Is the Answer". What exactly does this mean ?? I tried "The Jesus Thing", and it didn't work for me !!
Answer: I am not sure as to EXACTLY what you are asking, so I shall try to interpolate from your question. I think that you have NOT found the "Answer" because you have NOT asked the right "Question".
First, you say that you have, "Tried the Jesus Thing". It sounds like you consider Jesus to be some "feel good remedy" like alcohol or narcotics that you can use to soften the pains of life. Or perhaps you consider Him to be your magical key to riches, power and personal success -- or the latest fad in "Self-improvement or SELF-realization !!
So, if your question is, "How can I find MY god within", then Jesus most assuredly IS NOT the answer !!
If, on the other hand, you have discovered your inner emptiness and spiritual poverty, you long to find inner peace with God and with yourself, you finally realize your inability to really succeed in life with ONLY your own resources, and you are weary of your OWN vain efforts to make sense out of life, THEN indeed, YOU are ready for Jesus, and Jesus is ready for YOU.
If your question is, "Who can help set me free from myself", then rest assured, "Jesus IS the Answer" !!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. **** Matthew 11:28-30
Then Jesus said to those who had believed him, "If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." **** John 8:32,32
Jesus replied, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. **** John 14:6
At this point, I want to draw your attention to a few items:
First and foremost, we need to come to the end of our OWN resources. We need to know that we are in need, humble our proud wills, and sincerely ask for HELP. Jesus made it clear to those who were satisfied with their OWN strength, goodness and ability. He told them:
When Jesus heard this he said, "Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." **** Matthew 9:12,13
He is the Answer for the weary and for the burdened, for those who are willing to subject themselves to Him and LEARN from Him, and finally, for those who are willing to take His yoke upon themselves.
Now this concept of a Yoke is no doubt totally lost on us modern city dwellers. It is, however, well known to those in agricultural and/or "primitive" environments where oxen and such are used as beasts of burden. It seems that for training purposes, a young ox is often "yoked" together with an older, experienced ox by a large wooden yoke assembly. This forces the younger ox to follow the guidance of the older ox. To be sure, it no doubt chafes at the Will of the younger to be forced to submit to his elder when he would prefer "to go his own way and to do his own thing". This yoking, however, is the only way that the younger can learn, and his stubbornness and haughtiness be broken.
Jesus makes us a promise and an assurance, and it IS necessary that we trust and believe Him. He says that not only is His way truly RIGHT, but that His yoke REALLY is light and easy to bear, especially compared to OUR constant struggling and failure with ourselves !!
We see emblazoned upon just about every institute of higher learning the motto, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". However, the author, Jesus, attached a rarely mentioned condition to this promise - NAMELY, the need to be His disciple. Now a disciple is simply one seeking to learn from another (the word apprentice would have a similar meaning). One dictionary defines the word thusly: "One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. ** An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy. ** [Middle English, from Old English discipul and from Old French desciple, both from Latin discipulus, pupil, from discere, to learn.]"
Finally, we need to be freed from the mindless relativism of this corrupt "World System". It still sneeringly asks the same question that it asked through Pilate, the question that did and DOES continue to, "Crucify the Lord of Glory" ---- namely, "What Is Truth ??"
Then Pilate said, "So you are a king!" Jesus replied, "You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world — to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate asked, "What is truth?" *** John 18:37,38
Jesus tells us that there is but ONE absolute Truth and ONE absolute Way, and that Truth and that Way is He Himself !!
When and ONLY when you are ready to accept these conditions is "Jesus the Answer". Be assured, THEN He will NOT fail you !!
Question: I grew up in a very "religious" home, full of a lot of superstitions about Satan, the Virgin Mary, and other religious symbols. Latter, when I became a teenager, I rebelled against my family, and became involved in the occult and in Satanism. Finally, God rescued me, and I found my new life in Jesus Christ. However, I am still VERY confused, and hear and read so many conflicting things about Satan and demons. Can you tell me what is true according to God's Word. I really need to know -- I feel so afraid all of the time, like I am being watched and pursued !!
Answer: Thank you so much for writing. I will do my best to help. It is CERTAINLY NOT God's will for you to be confused and afraid. He came to give us a new life with a renewed mind, and to cast out the spirits of Fear and Confusion. These come from the Devil of whom you are inquiring, and unfortunately, in whose company you have spent FAR too much time during your lifetime. He doesn't want to loose such an old acquaintance, and won't give up without a fight. However, rejoice, for, "Greater is He that is in and with you (God through Jesus Christ) than he who is in the world (Satan)".
I have just finished an in-depth article on the subject of "Satan UNMasked", which should answer many of your questions. Click HERE to read it.
Question: My whole life is affected by my fear of death and dying. I am the type of person that doesn't worry about things .. example, money problems, or any other problems. I believe that things will work put for the best. Worrying is a huge waste of time. However, when it comes to death. I am scared, so scared. I laid in bed tonight and really tuned in to the whole death thing and tried to figure out which part scares me the most, and its two things. #1- What transpires after a person passes away as far as cremated or buried ... I would be by myself in the end and no loved one with me. I feel panic when I think about it and I feel a strong sense of loneliness. #2- Life after death ... Is there really something after or is it just a good story? The bible comes with a lot of power. But, bottom line .. its a book that somebody wrote. Do not get me wrong, I have the up most respect for the bible. But, at the same time. I'm a see to believe type of person. I know its normal to fear death, due to not knowing if there is something or not after. I am a 35 yr. old women with a 3 yr. old son and I am scared. I loose sleep. I research whatever I can online about death. I cry a lot, and I'm always begging God for a sign, and I have not had one. Please help me to at least be at ease somewhat with Death. Where do I find my faith?
Answer: I have JUST finished a very in-depth article on this question, which I trust should be of great help to you. You may find it here (Click Here). This link will start you at beginning of the article. If you wish, you may click on that page where it says, "(Click Here) to skip directly to section concerning Physical Death".
Question: I've already asked your friend at the other site, and he's unable to answer my question. He says the next Pope will be the Antichrist. You wrote: "the institution of the Roman Catholic Church, if NOT the antichrist, is certainly the blackest blot and foulest heresy that has come upon the Christian Faith !!" How can either of you say these things when the Catholic Church has always said that Jesus was truly God, and truly man? Doesn't the Bible say that any spirit that says Jesus came in the flesh is of God (1John 4:2)? How do you explain the spirit that's been at work in the Catholic Church for the last two thousand years -- Lords, Fatima, etc. Please explain ??
Answer: I will answer your first question FIRST, as it represents one of the gravest errors that the Roman Church (as well as many individuals who claim to be followers of Jesus) have made. It consists in replacing a living relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit with an empty worship of ritual, form, and manmade doctrine.
"Having a FORM of Godliness, but DENYING the POWER thereof" ** 2 Timothy 3:1-8)
Jesus makes it clear that an EMPTY profession of WORDS (even some spiritual sounding Creed) DOES NOT constitute a relationship with Him !!
7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 7:22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 7:23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’ ** Matthew
2:3 Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. 2:4 The one who says "I have come to know God" and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 2:5 But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 2:6 The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked. ** 1 John
Let us measure the Roman Church for a moment by THIS yardstick -- "ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked". Read the history of the Roman Church -- its Campaigns, its Dogma, its Persecutions, its Rituals, its Teachings, its Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, etc. -- even down to the present day. I ask you, can you find something claiming to be Christian that has been and IS more worldly, heathen, foul and corrupt ??? Search in vain for a greater collection of pagan superstitions, rituals and dogma residing under the "Mantel of Christ" !! All the while it is leading the innocent, the "lost sheep of our Lord" on to death and destruction in the "Name of Salvation".
Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven! For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in ** Matthew 23:13
In the process, they have become one of the richest and most powerful secular organizations in the world, despite the fact that it is the poorest of third world countries that are often predominately Roman Catholic. Perhaps they should heed our Lord's words, "let he would be master FIRST become a servant".
Their greatest heresy is that they claim that, "salvation is to be found ONLY in the Roman Church" as opposed to the Biblical Statement that it is the, "Holy Writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation (ONLY) through faith in Christ Jesus". They DO NOT even recognize the ultimate authority of God's Word, but state as official doctrine that it must rather be "interpreted and mediated by the 'Vicar of Christ' -- The POPE" !! It is further claimed that the Pope is the "one and only mediator between God and His Church", whereas the Scripture states, quite to the contrary:
For there is one God and one intermediary (mediator) between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time. ** 1 Timothy 2:5,6
The Roman Church is primarily an "Institution of Religious Works", offering "salvation" in return for allegiance to the Pope and "Holy Mother Church". Grace has been replaced by indulgences, money, and meaningless, worthless religious formula, dogma, and ritual. I would recommend a thorough study of the entire Book of Galatians. Paul specifically wrote it to refute the "Doctrine of (good) Works".
1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel— 1:7 not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ. 1:8 But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be cursed! 1:9 As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be cursed! ** Galatians
As to your Second point (question), I do not have a definitive answer, but I will offer you A answer.
The scripture itself warns in MANY places not to be led astray by "Signs and Wonders", but to measure these according to the Biblical Yardstick of God's Word. It warns us that in the "latter days" many will be led astray by "lying wonders", that Satan himself appears as a "Angle of Light".
11:3 I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough! 11:13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. ** 2 Corinthians
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. ** 2 Timothy 3:1
2:9 The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, 2:10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. 2:11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. 2:12 And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned. ** 2 Thessalonians
Likewise, the performance of great "signs and wonders" is no guarantee that the performer is, IN FACT, an agent of God !!
7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 7:22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 7:23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’ ** Matthew
As ONE biblical example that spirits NOT from God can be responsible for "signs and wonders", I give you these verses from the Book of Acts:
16:16 Now as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit that enabled her to foretell the future by supernatural means. 16:17 She followed behind Paul and us and kept crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 16:18 She continued to do this for many days. But Paul became greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out of her at once. ** Acts
Question: My wife and three children were recently killed by a drunk driver in an automobile accident. As often happens, the offending driver escaped with very slight injuries. I have tried to believe in an ALL powerful, loving God, but this one just "doesn't compute" !! I can't help but feel that He is responsible for their death. After all, if God is "in control", why does He allow things like this to happen ?? He could have stopped the accident in any of 100 ways. If this is our "Great God", I think that He and I are going to part ways !! I am VERY angry at Him and want NOTHING AT ALL to do with Him !!!
Answer: This is a very hard letter to answer, because I can not give you the comfort that you so very much desire and need. Only the God with whom you are angry can do that. All that I can do is to assure you that your wife and children are safely in God's hands, and are forever freed from the pain, insanity, and suffering of THIS age. I know, however, that this does very little to lessen YOUR pain, anger, and suffering !!
That said, let me attempt to answer your STATED complaint. I will NOT attempt to soften the Biblical Assertion that God, is INDEED, in charge of and aware of ALL things.
In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. ** Ephesians 1:11,12
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows. ** Matthew 10:29-31
According to the principle of "First Cause" (that which is the principle or primal causation factor), it IS true that God, being the creator of ALL, is indeed the source of all actions and causes. However, if you are looking to place BLAME for the accident, apart from the irresponsible and criminal actions of the drunk driver, why not blame your wife's parents for her birth, or your parents for your birth, or the drunk's parents for his birth. Why not blame you and your wife for ever getting married, ETC., ETC. The chain never ends -- without each link of which the accident would never have occurred !!
You say that God could have stopped the accident. Indeed He COULD have, but you would not REALLY like His method of so doing. We, as 20th century Americans, seem to be obsessed to the point of MANIA with "Personal Freedom" and "My Rights". Would YOU be happy if God turned YOU into an Automated Robot. Such is the way that He could have stopped THIS accident and ALL other acts of suffering, death, violence, and man's insanity. He COULD indeed move ALL things just as the one with the remote control moves the robot -- NO choice, NO chance, NO unexpected mishaps, NO WILL - Just Obedience !! Is that what you would have ?? It is the ONLY way to accomplish what you ask.
When it says that God made us in His Image (Genesis 1:26), I believe that, in part, it means that He created us with the dignity of "Causation", that our lives and acts could REALLY produce results of significance. Where would be the significance if each and every thought and move was preprogrammed like a computer ?? Of course, there ARE dangers in allowing random and unprogrammed action. We unfortunately see it abundantly today in the world about us. Man has gone astray. He has cast off restraint, "Each one doing that which is right in his own eyes."
God intended us to use our "Free Will" under the guidance of His Laws, governed by His Spirit. There would have thus been safeguards and guidelines (a safety net, so to speak). A crude example would be a freeway. As long as the drivers ALL follow the laws of proper driving and freeway usage, miraculously thousands of cars move at very high speeds in very close formation without (usually) incident. However, violate these laws, and Chaos, Death, and Destruction follow. Such has occurred in our society !!
If you are looking to place blame for the death of your family, it is MANKIND in general, NOT God who is to blame.
3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. **** 5:12 So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned ** Romans
To "Fall short of the glory of God" means that we have "missed the mark" (as in target practice). We have failed to Become according to the potential that God placed within us. We have veered away from His plan, and have become lost and corrupt.
However, God has not abandoned us to this condition.
First - He send His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to set us back on the Right Way, and, more importantly, to empower us to FOLLOW it.
5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 5:9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? ** Romans
4:3 So also we, when we were minors, were enslaved under the basic forces of the world. 4:4 But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights ** Galatians
Second - He is working within the confines of OUR wills to accomplish the Grand Plan that He has envisioned. It will be completed one day, and ALL of creation will rejoice and applaud at its Beauty, Grandeur and Glory, and WE will be a part of it and will have had an active role in bringing it into existence. Ultimately, it WILL be worth the price, though it is VERY hard to see that from our vantage point today, surrounded by the insanity of daily living !!
8:18 For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. 8:19 For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly but because of God who subjected it — in hope 8:21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. 8:23 Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. ** Romans
8:28 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, 8:29 because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. ** Romans
15:22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 15:24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 15:26 The last enemy to be eliminated is death. 15:27 For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says "everything" has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him. 15:28 And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. ** 1 Corinthians
Question: What did Jesus mean when He said, "We must be born of water and spirit" (John 3:5)? What is born of water???
Answer: An excellent question (or two) !! I will answer your question in two parts.
3:5 Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God! 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 3:8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8
First - the one that you actually asked, "What is born of water???" The very best answer that I could give to this question is already answered at another WEB Site. Click HERE.
Part Two - (a question that you didn't actually ask, but is implied in your inquiry), "What is born of the Spirit ???" This point is very well covered in my reply to a previous question - see On Beleiving and Trying.
Question: NOTE: This eMail was in response to an answer that I gave to a previous question. The part that I want to address is as follows "............... If you believe in God and you try to live your life as a Christian, ........."
Answer: I am very glad that my reply was of help to you. I want to address something in your reply that might be a hindrance to you.
Believing in God, in and of itself, is of NO real value. Scripture states that, "Even the demons BELIEVE, and they tremble in that belief" [James 2:19]. The Jews believed in God, and they sought to follow His commandments -- and THEY had the ONE whom He sent (Jesus) crucified !! Nor is, "Trying to live your life as a Christian" !! That is really NO different than trying to follow God's commands as a Jew. Neither is at all possible for fallen man. God never intended them to be. As a matter of fact, He tells us in the Bible that it was EXPRESSLY so that man might see his need for outside help that the Commandments (the Law) were given.
3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed— 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:19-22
Paul tells us of the war that rages within a man between his desire to do right and his desire to do wrong. He concludes that it is ONLY by the power of God's Holy Spirit living His (God's) life within and through us that we can in ANY way live pleasing to Him !! This is what it means to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior -- to be "Born Again". We receive the very Spirit of God to live within us and live His life through us. As Paul states, "It is NO longer I who live, but God living through me" [Galatians 2:19,20]. This is what a Christian is. A VERY worthwhile study would be Romans 7:14 through 8:16. Yes, I know that it is quite a bit, and it is NOT the easiest study, but a thorough grasp of these verses is a solid foundation in the Faith.
Christianity DOES NOT consist in "trying" to live ANY particular kind of life, nor in following ANY particular commandments, teachings, or church doctrine !! Those who do so end up as either (or both) Pharisees, trying to impose THEIR law on everyone, or as guilt ridden Legalists, continually failing and never knowing whether or not God REALLY loves them and is pleased with them. After all, if pleasing God consists of living a certain way and keeping certain rules and commandments, how do you EVER know whether you have kept them well enough, lived the right way, or done enough of the "right" things ??
Growing, whether it be physical or spiritual, is a continual process of failures. We try something new, we might fail, we get up and try again -- AND AGAIN -- until we learn to get it right, and then we move on, ONLY to repeat the process OVER and OVER and OVER, our whole life long. Those who are afraid to fail stop growing, stunted and underdeveloped, never reaching the potential that God placed within them. God is no more angry or offended because we fail as we seek to follow Him than He or ANY loving Father would be because his child fell while learning how to walk. The Holy Spirit was given to be our Instructor, our Guide, our Mentor, to lead and teach us in God's ways, and most of all, to EMPOWER us to make the necessary choices and changes. KNOWING what is right is often far worse if we do not have the will and power to DO what is right !! Our part of the process is to be WILLING -- God's part is to provide the ability, knowledge, power and means to DO IT !!
Question: HI !! -- I have been watching the Daystar TV Station. They have been talking a lot about tithing and October being the month of atonement, and sending atonement pledges and stuff. They have been saying you should pledge for 7 months at 77 dollars, and that this is an atonement pledge. My question is -- What if you don't have money to tithe ?? Are you looked upon by God as nothing, or are you a horrible person because you can't give money to the church? If you don't have any money to give to God, what else can you offer him ?? It does say in the bible, "Don't come to my alter empty handed." If you don't have money, though, what else can you give? Thank you.
Answer: Thank you for writing. I am going to answer your question in three parts:
FIRST - as a Christian (and I assume that you are. If you are NOT, please seek out Jesus. He is the answer to this letter !!), there IS NO "Month of Atonement" !!! The ancient Israelites (Jews) used to observe the "Day of Atonement" as the day when God would cover their sins for another year. Once a year, on that day, the High Priest would sacrifice a spotless lamb. They had to do this EVERY year. Their sin was never REALLY taken away. This ritual was a "looking forward to" the day when Jesus would ONCE and for ALL time take away the penalty of the Sin of ALL mankind. There is NO further atonement to offer. As Jesus died on that cross, He uttered, "It is FINISHED - and it WAS !!"
10:1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. 10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. 10:4 For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. 10:5 So when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. 10:6 “Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. 10:7 “Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come—it is written of me in the scroll of the book — to do your will, O God.’” 10:8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), 10:9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10:10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10:11 And every priest stands day after dayserving and offering the same sacrifices again and again—sacrifices that can never take away sins. 10:12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 10:13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. **** Hebrews 10
Christ also suffered ONCE for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit. ** 1 Peter 3:18
SECOND - "Atonement" has NOTHING to do with tithing, and tithing has NOTHING AT ALL to do with God loving us, or what kind of a person He sees us as being. Even to the Jews, the Tithe was primarily used to support the temple (church) and the priesthood (ministers). There were various offerings in addition to the Tithe, such as the Sin Offering, the Thank Offering, the Fellowship Offering, etc. God loved us with ALL of the Love that there is or could ever be when we were yet His ENEMIES (when we were lost and separated from Him by Sin). At that time, He allowed His most precious Son to be humiliated, degraded, and crucified so that the Way might be open for US to love HIM in return. Now that we are again His much loved Children, how could He possibly see us as, "nothing, or as a horrible person" ??
5:1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 5:3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5:5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 5:9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? Romans 5:1-10
THIRD - God would have us Tithe (10% of our INCOME) to help support the work of our local church and ministry, to be a part of that work, and as an act of Love toward Him. Also, it is a reminder that ALL we posses and ever will posses came from Him and ultimately, belongs to Him !! He is the ultimate owner of ALL that there is. Do you REALLY think that He is THAT concerned about money ?? It is MAN who worships money, NOT God !! If you have income, give as you are able. God does NOT set a "Giving Schedule" -- He looks at the desire of the heart, at the intent, at the Love behind the gift -- NOT at the dollar amount. Read Mark 12:41-44. If you truly have NO income, then you have nothing to Tithe out of.
If such is the case, give to God of your Time and your Talents directly. Help out at you local church, mission, Red Cross, shelter, etc. Give of YOURSELF to those that are in need wherever and however you are able. That is the offering that God TRULY wants anyway. He wants our Love, our Obedience, our Hearts, our Lives. Unfortunately, too many Christians give Him of their money, and feel that they have done their "DUTY". God does NOT even want such offerings. He says that they are a "stink in His nostrils" !!
Hebrews 10:5-9 (See Scripture Quote Above)
12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service. 12:2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1,2
Certainly you do not want a sacrifice, or else I would offer it; you do not desire a burnt sacrifice. The “sacrifices” God desires are a humble attitude — O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject. Psalm 51:16,17
For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice; I delight in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
I hope that this short letter has answered your questions, helped you, and relieved you of the burden of Legalism. We are no longer under the "Task Master" of rules and laws and regulations and rituals, but rather under the MUCH more binding, "Law of Love".
Question: I'm looking for scriptures about being in a relationship with someone of a different faith. I am struggling right now to come to peace with my boyfriend's choice of religion (not Christian). However, I believe we are right for each other and that God brought us together for a purpose. I don't want to force a change on him, but I do want to know that what I'm doing isn't wrong. Please help, if you can. Thank you and God bless.
Answer: I am going to answer your question, NOT in the "letter of the Law", or not according to what scripture says is LEGALLY right or wrong, but rather according to what I feel is the PRACTICAL reasoning behind what it says. That is MUCH more important for our guidance.
The bulk of my answer is related to marriage. You say that right now you are not looking toward marriage. Many do not start out dating a person with marriage in mind, but time changes their outlook. You can not convert or change your friend -- ONLY God's Spirit can do that. If he is open to seek the God of Christ (the ONLY true God), VERY good, but it must NOT be to win your love. If that is the reason, then he is not really seeking to know Christ AT ALL, and no matter what he says or does before your marriage (even as far as professing to accept Christ), you can rest assured that in time, AFTER the marriage, his beliefs and confessions WILL change, especially in the times of testing that a Christian marriage bring.
Paul says that though God MAY NOT specifically prohibit something, to go against His Word WILL bring about serious consequences -- NOT because He will punish us, but because they are the natural outcome of our actions. OUR CHOICE punished us, NOT God !!
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient : all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. ** 2 Corinthians 6:12
Then there are also the non-Christian premarital situations to consider. What if he wants prematerial sex or heavy dating? Can you properly assent to that? What if there were a child? You say that couldn't happen. That's what many young girls who end up getting abortions thought !! What about your entertainment and recreation activities?
Jesus says that we are NOT His servants, but rather His friends, His "Beloved". He therefore wants us to do what He says because we know that what He says will be for our GOOD, so that we might better grow in Him and avoid UNNECESSARY pain and trouble. There is plenty of pain and trouble in the world of relationships AND in marriage (YES, even in a Christian one) without going out of our way to needlessly look for more.
That brings us to the answer to your question. YES, scripture DOES explicitly recommend AGAINST a Christian having a deep relationship with or marrying a non-Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). This is NO reflection at all upon either party. It is a comment upon mismatched priorities. No matter what ANYONE says, a Christian and a non-Christian CAN NOT possible share the same life outlook, life values, or sense of priorities !! Your whole life should be devoted to Christ, with Him as your first priority, even above your husband. The other party can not possibly understand anything about this, and will no doubt ultimately come to resent it.
In a Christian marriage, the man is to be the head of his home and his marriage, to love, protect and nurture you as CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH. A non-Christian can NOT possibly have any idea what that means. How could the children possible be raised as Christians when the SPIRITUAL HEAD (the husband) is non existent? How can you work together as representatives of Christ, letting your lives and marriage share the Gospel with those around you, when one of you is, as the scripture words it, an ENEMY of Christ (Col 1:21 and Romans 5:10) ? Will your non-Christian husband be able to actively assist you in, "growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord" ?
If he is not only a non-Christian, but is already an adherent to a different faith (religion), then the problem is FAR worse !! How can you live and raise your children as Christians (which is one of both you AND you husband's MAIN responsibilities as Christian parents) when your husband worships a different God ??
Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. ** Matthew 12:25
There are MANY other issues, but I believe that these should give you the general idea.
I trust that I have said enough to answer your question. Following is a brief excerpt from another source.
2 Corinthians 6:14 declares: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
Most believers apply this verse to marriage only. It definitely applies to marriage, but it also applies to much more than just marriage. Marriage isn’t even mentioned in the surrounding verses of 2 Corinthians 6:14.
The passage goes on to say:
"What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you" ** 2Corinthians 6:15-17
The Bible goes on to say:
"Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character" ** 1 Corinthians 15:33
Having any kind of intimate relationship with an unbeliever can quickly and easily turn into something that is a hindrance to your walk with Christ. We are called to evangelize the lost, not be intimate with them. There is nothing wrong with building quality friendships with unbelievers – but that is as far as it should go. If you were dating an unbeliever, what would honestly be your priority, romancing them or winning their soul for Christ? If you were married to an unbeliever, how would the two of you cultivate a spiritual intimacy in your marriage? How could a quality marriage be built if you disagree on the most crucial issue in the universe - the Lord Jesus Christ?
Question: Can you tell me what Heaven will be like? I recently lost my husband and children in an automobile accident. Do you believe that we will be united together again one day as the family that we once were?
Answer: I believe that any TRUE comprehension of Heaven is impossible for the human, natural mind. "In the Spirit" we may receive glimpses and revelations (as did Paul and John), but these, I believe, will be shrouded in symbols, types, and allegory -- as are the references and descriptions of heaven and the heavenly life in the Bible.
Someone once remarked that for the human to contemplate heaven, his mind saturated with ONLY earthly references, would be akin to trying to explain to a four year old child why, one day, he or she will prefer sex (our greatest human pleasure) over candy bars and ice cream. The child has ABSOLUTELY no frame of reference as to what sex is or what it might be like. To him, the greatest pleasure that he or she knows is candy and ice cream !!
To take our purely human, earthly ideals and pleasures, and to try to squeeze heaven and the Life of the Spirit into them, has resulted in the worst biblical distortions and "earthly heavens" such as the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses preach. It is a horrible deception to console people with the lie that one day they will be united together with their loved ones again in a similar relationship. The scripture says that, "In That Life, there shall be neither husband nor wife, neither male nor female".
"Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." Matt 22:28-30
I believe that when Paul said that "it was not now permitted to speak of the visions that he had in the Third Heaven", it was because they would be beyond his listeners and readers comprehension and frame of reference, and would end up being distorted into wishful thinking, meaningless fables and fairy tales
Certainly, The Book of Revelations speaks much of "The City with Streets of Gold", but most will agree that the Book of Revelations is written in type, symbol, and allegory. Why should this particular area be any different, except that we WANT it to be -- it tickles our fancy and satisfies our hunger to "KNOW the details" !! Why should literal jewels, gold, pearls, cities, and all of the other material phenomena be of any significance to, "they who are changed into HIS glorious image. They who shall be like God Himself" ???
God, in His Word, tells us MUCH about what we need to know to live THIS life HERE AND NOW. He tells us next to nothing about what that "Life of the Ages Yet to Come" is like. Isn't that peculiar, considering that this life is but a fleeting instant compared to that life which will endure without end ?? Perhaps He felt that it was because the first is what we need NOW, the latter will be revealed in its proper time. Faith will wait and trust. Satan says, "There is some good thing that God is keeping from you. He is trying to hold you back and keep it for Himself !!"
When she was a little girl, Corrie Ten Boom's father once asked her, "Corrie, do you give the conductor the ticket when you get on the train, or when you get to your destination ?" "When I get to my destination", Corrie answered. "So it is with God", her father replied, "He gives to each what is needed at the proper time !!".
If your earthly father, whom you loved and trusted implicitly, and who you knew loved you above all else, told you that he was taking you on a vacation that would be so fabulous as to defy description, would you beg for the details, and if they were not forthcoming, would you doubt his word and question his love. No, you would be filled with overwhelming anticipation and excitement, waiting to arrive there.
So it is with our heavenly Father. He has not given us the details, but He HAS told us that in the end, we will be changed -- to bear HIS Glorious Image and to inherit HIS Life !!
15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. 15:21 For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ's, at his coming. 15:24 Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 15:26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. But someone will say, "How are the dead raised?" and, "With what kind of body do they come?" 15:36 You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive unless it dies. 15:37 That which you sow, you don't sow the body that will be, but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind. 15:38 But God gives it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. 15:43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. 15:45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul."* The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15:46 However that which is spiritual isn't first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. 15:47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 15:48 As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 15:49 As we have borne the image of those made of dust, lets also bear the image of the heavenly. 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15:54 But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Corinthians
Now we are children, "peering into a glass as if darkly", inventing imaginary playmates to console us on this "dream journey" of pain, loneliness and fear called "LIFE" . One day we will be full grown, we will be able to "see clearly" with the eyes of adulthood. The "dream journey" will be over, the nightmares put behind us. We will walk in the Garden again with our hand in that of Our Father !!