Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Progressive Revelation (or making the God of the Bible out to be a liar)


Recently I read a Mormon article about “progressive revelation.”  Throughout the day I kept thinking about this and then it occurred to me that Mormonism’s progressive revelation is not what it appears to be.  In reality, it makes the God of the Bible out to be a liar.  But Numbers 23:19a tells us, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.”

Progressive revelation can be likened to a rose.  First you see the bud, and as time goes on and it begins to open up, you begin to see the beauty that was hidden inside.  It was always there,  but you couldn’t see it.

Following is a Scripture that tells us of the progressive revelation of God.  Romans 16:25-27, “Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!  Amen.”

We can see from these verses that the Gospel was contained in the prophetic writings but only revealed to us or opened up to us when God gave the command.  I want to come back to this passage at the end of this post.

Now Mormonism’s progressive revelation does not reveal something more to us that is already contained in the Scriptures.  Mormonism’s progressive revelation in reality contradicts what we read in God’s Word and makes the God of the Bible out to be a liar.

Let’s say I were to meet with you for a cup of coffee and some conversation.  During the course of our conversation I relate to you that I have never had a drink in my life.  Two weeks later we meet again for coffee.  At that point I tell you I used to be an alcoholic.  What I have just relayed to you makes my first statement to you a lie.  That’s not progressive revelation.

But this is what Mormonism makes God out to be, a liar.  What God has revealed to us in Scripture, they change completely.  This is not progressive revelation.  Following are some examples:

  1.  Isaiah 43:10, “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.  Before Me no God was formed, nor will there be one after me.”
     
    So we see from this verse that God clearly says He alone is God and will always be the only God.
     
    Joseph Fielding Smith said, "Our father in heaven, according to the Prophet, had a father, and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:47).
     
    And Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet  said, “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, ...and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; ...you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another,... from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings. and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power" (History of the Church, Vol. 6, Ch. 14, p. 305-6).
     
    So we see that the God of the Bible said there are no gods before Him and there will be no gods after Him.  But Mormonism by its teachings makes the God of the Bible out to be a liar by their teachings that there are gods before God and that we can become gods.  This is not progressive revelation.
     
  2.  Here’s what the God of the Bible tells us of how Jesus came to this earth. 
     
    Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”
     
    Matthew 1:20-23, But after he (Joseph) had considered this, and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel”—which means “God with us.”
     
    The God of the Bible clearly tells us that Jesus would be born of  a virgin and that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit.  But following is what Mormonism teaches about how Jesus came to this earth:
     
    Brigham Young taught: "The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood---was begotten of his Father as we were of our fathers" (Journal of Discourses vol.8, p.115); and "when the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness [flesh and blood]. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost" (Journal of Discourses, vol.1, p.50).
     
    Bruce McConkie (LDS apostle) states: "Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 547, 1979).
     
    Carfred Broderick (Mormon author) writes: "God is a procreating personage of flesh and bone...latter-day prophets have made it clear that despite what it says in Matthew 1:20, the Holy Ghost was not the father of Jesus...The Savior was fathered by a personage of flesh and bone" (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn, 1967, p.100-101).
     
    The God of the Bible tells us that what was conceived in Mary was of the Holy Spirit and that Mary was a virgin.  Mormonism teaches God lied when He told us these things.  That Mary conceived Jesus by having relations with God the Father and that what was conceived in her was not of the Holy Spirit.  This is not progressive revelation.  This makes the God of the Bible out to be a liar.
     
  3.  Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him (Jesus) all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
     
    God tells us in this verse that Jesus created all things and is before all things.  Yet Mormonism teaches that Jesus and Lucifer, a fallen angel, are brothers:
     
    Milton R. Hunter (one of the LDS General Authorities) explains "The appointment of Jesus to be Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer…this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind" (The Gospel Through the Ages, p.15, 1945).
     
    "And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God" (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:17).
     
    The God of the Bible tells us that Jesus created all things (which would include Lucifer).  But Mormonism would teach us that the God of the Bible lied to us and that in reality Lucifer is Jesus’ brother.
     
  4.  Isaiah 43:11, “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no savior.”
     
    John 14:6,  Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
     
    Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
     
    Pretty clear.  The God of the Bible tells us there is NO savior apart from Him.
     
    But Mormonism tells us this:
     
    Brigham Young taught: "Sin is upon every earth that ever was created ... Consequently every earth has its redeemer, and every earth has its tempter" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, p.71).
     
    Bringham Young said, "From the day that the priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up things of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are -- I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent" (Journal of Discourses 7:238).
     
    The God of the Bible tells us He is the only Savior and that the only Name given by which a person can be saved is the Name of Jesus.  Yet Mormonism would make God out to be a liar by saying there are many saviors and for this world you must be saved by the certificate of Joseph Smith.
     
    There are many more instances where Mormon teachings are proven to not be progressive revelation, but in reality makes the God of the Scriptures out to be a liar.  It’s important to know the difference.  I would like to quote the verse I quoted earlier in this post:  Romans 16:25-27, “Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!  Amen.”
     
  5.  I would like to make one more point.  God has revealed His gospel to us through the prophetic writings (the Bible).  The Gospel means “Good News.”  Mormonism would teach that the God of the Bible lied when He said salvation from judgment was by grace alone through faith by saying that salvation from judgment is by works.  Read the following link and see whom you will believe:  The God of the Bible, or Mormonism that makes the God of the Bible look like a liar:
     

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Definition of Grace


There is a difference in the definition of grace between what the Scripture teaches  and what Mormonism teaches.  Let’s look first at what Mormonism teaches about grace and then do what the Holy Spirit says through Paul the Apostle in Galatians 4:30 and Romans 4:3 and discover for ourselves,  “What does the Scripture say?”

First, before we reveal Mormonism’s definition of grace, let’s consider something the Holy Spirit tells us through the Apostle Paul in Romans 3:21, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”  What does this Scripture verse tell us?  A true prophet of God will testify that there is a righteousness that does not originate with us, but is a gift from God.  As we look at Mormonism’s definition of grace, let us learn where they believe righteousness originates from and whether it lines up with what Scripture says.  Does Mormonism testify about the righteousness that originates with God and is apart from law or do they teach a righteousness that comes from the law.

In 2 Nephi 25:23 in the Book of Mormon we read about grace in this way, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”  And in Moroni 10:32 we read, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

And in the LDS Bible dictionary grace is defined as, “It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by His atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”

And at LDS.org we go to the following lesson and read the excerpt:

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1 Lesson 30: The Plan of Salvation

Have the young men read again Abraham 3:25.

•According to this scripture, why is earth life so important? (We are being tested to see if we will obey the Lord’s commandments.)

•If we obey the commandments, what will happen?

Emphasize that this is the way we obtain our return ticket home to our Heavenly Father.

So, according to Mormonism grace can be yours only under the following conditions:

1.You cannot be saved in your sins, (The Book of Mormon, Alma 11:37).

2.By grace you are saved, after all you can do, (2 Nephi 25:23).

3.You must give your best, (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.354.)

4.You must deny yourselves of all ungodliness, (Moroni 10:32).

5.Turn from all former sins and commit them no more, (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, pp.71-72).

6.If you commit any past sin again, the former sins return, (D&C 82:7).

7.Therefore, in order to remain forgiven you must never commit the sin again, (Mormon Missionary Discussion F, Uniform System for Teaching Families. 1981, p.36).

According to Mormonism you could say you are saved at this very moment if you are no longer in your sins, if you’ve done all you can do, if you’ve given your best, if you have denied yourself of ALL ungodliness, and if you’ve turned from your former sins and will never commit them again.

I don’t know about you, but I know this could never be true of me. 

So why don’t we find out what the Scripture says first about the law and works and see if it is possible to be saved by them, and then see what the Scripture says about grace.  Remember, the Scriptures, the Bible, is the Standard God has given us by which we can grade everything we read, hear and think.  The Bible God has given us is the final word on the matter.

Can a man be justified or declared righteous by observing the law?

Romans 3:20a, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law…”

Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified (declared righteous) by faith apart from observing the law.”

Romans 4:2, “If, in fact, Abraham was justified (declared righteous) by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.”

Romans 4:13a, “It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world…”

Galatians 3:10-11a, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  Clearly no one is justified (declared righteous) before God by the law…”

We see by the Scriptures that God will not declare anyone righteous by their observance of the law.

Is it possible to mix works and grace (grace after all we can do)?  The Holy Spirit says in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

If I were to offer you a gift with a value of one hundred dollars and then demanded payment for that gift, it would no longer be a gift would it?  So if God offers you the gift of eternal life and then demanded you earn it, it would no longer be a gift.

So let’s talk about real grace, unearned favor, unmerited love, the infinite love of God shown to us in what Jesus did on the cross and what that can mean for you:  Reconciliation to God, adoption as His child,  the guarantee of eternal life and never being afraid of God breaking His promise to you.  What was it the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.”

You can know right now that you have eternal life…not a life you have to earn, but a life freely given to you and guaranteed to you by a gracious God.

Let’s find out the Scriptural definition of grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace (unearned favor) you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

It is by grace (unearned favor) that a person is saved from judgment.  This happens through faith (believing).  And this ability to believe God doesn’t originate with us, but the ability to believe God comes from God.  And we are not saved by works.  No one will boast before God.

If we look at ourselves honestly we can agree with God that we are not righteous, but sinners.  Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But God demands righteousness:

Jesus says in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  And He says in Matthew 5:20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

But we’re not perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  Our righteousness does not exceed that of the Pharisees.  Where are we to get this righteousness?  Mormonism says we have to obtain this in order to be saved, but when we look honestly at ourselves we see this goal is unrealistic.

Romans 3:21-26, “But now a righteousness FROM GOD, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness FROM GOD comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified (declared righteous) FREELY by His grace through the redemption (the action of saving from sin, error, or evil) that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement (the reconciliation of God and humankind as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ), through faith in His blood.  He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies (declares righteous) those who have faith in Jesus.”

By God’s grace there is a righteousness that originates with Him and is imparted to us when we believe that Jesus went to the cross to satisfy the justice of God, save us from sin and evil by His suffering with the purpose of reconciling us to God. Our sins separate us from God, causing Him to hide his face from us and not hear us.

Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

Jesus paid the penalty for those sins, to take them out of the way.  Isaiah 53:11b, “…by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify (declare righteous) many, and He will bear their iniquities.”

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins and take them out of the way, and become the fulfillment of the law in you.  Romans 10:4, “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

This free gift of righteousness that originates with God comes through faith and is credited to those who believe Him.

Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified (declared righteous) by faith apart from observing the law.”

Romans 4:3, “WHAT DOES THE SCRIPTURE SAY?  ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:5, “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies (declares righteous) the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:9b, “We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:13, “It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.”

Romans 4:16a, “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring…”

Romans 4:23-25, “The words ‘it was credited to him (Abraham)’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (that we would be declared righteous).”

Isaiah 53:11b,  “…by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify (declare righteous) many…”

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified (declared righteous) through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we NOW stand.”

This sounds like a grace we can have now, not after all we can do.

It is through faith (believing that Jesus was delivered over to death to pay for your sins and was raised to life for your justification) that you are declared righteous and reconciled to God.  You don’t wait until after all you can do, but as a result you will stand in God’s grace NOW.

Romans 8:1-4, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that is was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.”

A person who is reconciled to God stands in His grace now, not after all he can do, and is no longer under ANY condemnation.  His sins are remembered no more.  And nothing in all of creation can separate him from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:7-8, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will NEVER count against him.”

Paul the Apostle asked the children of God in Galatia this question in Galatians 3:2, “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”

This is a rhetorical question he asks.  We know by reading the above Scriptures that the Galatian believers received the Spirit of God by faith (believing what they heard).

Will you today be reconciled to God and receive the Spirit of God by believing what you have read in His Word?  We have compared Mormonism’s definition of grace to the Biblical definition of grace and have seen they are different.  God has given you the Standard to test what you have heard.  Does what you have heard line up with Scripture, or does it contradict Scripture?

Romans 3:4, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

When testing a teaching, the Word of God is always the final say.  God’s grace can be yours now, it will never happen after all you can do.  Salvation from judgment doesn’t happen by works, but by the grace of God shown to you through the finished work of Christ on the Cross.  “He was delivered over to death for your sins and was raised to life for your justification.”

You have sinned, I have sinned, we have all fallen short of the glory of God.  And the wages of sin is death, both physically and spiritually (the lake of fire).  Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ask God today to apply what Jesus did at the cross to your life…to forgive you of your sin, to credit the righteousness of Christ to your account, to reconcile you to Himself and give you the free gift of eternal life, and He will do it.  Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  He will then adopt you as His child and seal you with His Holy Spirit and guarantee you eternal life with Him. 

Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit GUARANTEEING our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”

My hope and prayer is that today you asked yourself, “What does the Scripture say?”  I hope you understood that whenever you hear a teaching that is contrary to Scripture that the Scripture is always right.  I hope you made the decision to follow the Scriptural teaching on how to be reconciled to God and asked God to save you from judgement, not based on your merits, but on His grace shown to you.  Jesus understands you can’t do it and that the burden has been too heavy, that’s why He said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Let Jesus give you rest today.  Let Him forgive your sin, credit His righteousness to your account.  Let God reconcile you to Himself, adopt you as His child, seal you by the Holy Spirit and give you the sure hope of eternal life, and the promise that NOTHING will ever be able to separate you from Him.

Romans 8:37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God bless you.


For more information on what Mormonism really believes, watch the following two commentaries, each about an hour in length:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt9WJVsJL_Q


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57snXPKmoKo

Monday, January 26, 2015

Be Alert

In reading Ephesians 6:10-20 we find Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, describing the armor we must be wearing on the battlefield when under Satan's attacks.  I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life when I haven't been fully dressed, and as a result I've found myself laying on the battlefield, wounded, sometimes severely.


But praise God for His grace, mercy, compassion, longsuffering and patience.  Thank God He continues to uphold us with His righteous right hand.  And thank God He heals us.


What I wanted to focus on in this post is verse 18b in chapter 6, "With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."


What this verse says to me is that on the battlefield we will at times see some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who themselves haven't been fully dressed in the armor of God, and as a result have been wounded, sometimes severely, and are now laying on the ground.


God is telling us to be alert for this and to pray for them.  What is implied here also is that God will hear and answer those prayers.


I love to go and share the Gospel with those who are on the streets, and it is a joy to see someone make the decision for Jesus.  But what I'm finding is that about 90 percent of the men I'm talking to are those who have at one time given their lives to Christ.  Somewhere along the line they got mixed up in something they shouldn't have (haven't we all), and as a result of not wearing their full armor they have been wounded.  Most times they have been seriously wounded.  They have become addicted to drugs, alchohol and many other things.  Relationships have been wounded and marriages have been broken up.  They are desperate and in despair.  And the worst wound I've seen is the deception that God has walked away from them.  This is a violent wound to the soul that robs someone of their peace.


They need someone to come along side them and reassure them God hasn't walked away.  They need this.  This is what will bring back God's peace to them and heal their soul.


I was talking to a man on the street this weekend from Detroit, Michigan.  He's in his sixties.  He gave His life to Christ in 1971.  But he made the mistake of getting caught up in the partying of the late sixties and early seventies.


His life is full of failures, regrets, broken relationships and a broken marriage.  He's been trying for a long time to get his life back on track, but every time he gets close to accomplishing this, another failure comes along.


We talked for a few minutes and then I told him what I thought the problem was.  Satan was holding him to his past failures and convincing him God was ashamed of him and angry with him.  Although he didn't realize it was Satan doing this to him.


I told him that it was not God accusing him for these things, but that it is Satan who is the accuser of the brothers.  The fact is that God has forgiven him of all of his sins and has credited the righteousness of Christ to his account.  Satan wanted to convince him that God was displeased with him so that in fear he wouldn't go to God's throne of grace to receive help.


We talked about who he is in Christ, how his esteem is in Christ, that God is for him and not against him, that God was with him in his failures as well as in his successes.


He was very encouraged and I'm confident the Lord will use His relationship with him and His Word to help this brother in Christ.


My hope is that you will pray for him.  Undergird him with prayer because as with anyone who has fallen on the battlefield, the wounds are deep and there isn't much strength.  You don't have to pray for him everyday, but just this once or whenever God puts him on your heart.


Pray that God would help him to understand everyday that he is God's child and God will never leave.  That he would know God's joy that will give him strength.  And that God would help him out of this homeless situation he's in.  I believe that any child of God who understands and senses God's grace, peace and joy can come out of the worst of circumstances.


God bless you.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Just Passing Through

I met a man in Colorado today and I would like to pass on his story.


He was born in Frankfurt, Germany about thirty years ago as his dad was in the military.  When he was about six years old his dad and mom divorced.  His mom moved to Colorado and he was raised by her.  He has one older brother who lives in Missouri and has done well for himself.


His mom passed away awhile back and this was very devastating to him.  A good friend of his passed away recently.  They had had a falling out and had not had the chance to reconcile before this happened.  This was also devastating to him.


He likes music and is very involved in the industry.


He is a very honest man, and our conversation was pleasant.  We had the opportunity to talk about God and Jesus and talk about some issues he had with that subject.  He doesn't doubt creation.  He doesn't doubt that he (as well as all of us) are sinners.  What he was not sure of was that Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.  I told him I appreciated his honesty, as did God, and that Stephanie and I, as well as our Christian friends would pray that God would give him clarity on the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.


When I got home I mulled over our conversation.  It struct me that no matter where any of us are or what we're going through, we're all just passing through.  Whether we're going through a loss, some emotions, going from one career to another, one town to another or one day to another, we're just passing through.


It also struck me that for each one of us the day will come when we will arrive at our destination.  There is a stopping point for each one of us.  It's important to understand that there are only two destinations at which we can arrive.  No matter the journey, at some point it will be over.


Jesus said there were two roads, and everyone was on either one or the other:


Matthew 7:13-14,   “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.   But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."


With only two roads, there are only two destinations.  One destination is destruction and one destination is life.


He asked me if I believed in heaven.  I said I did.  He asked if I could tell him what it was like.  In so many words I told him it was where God's throne was.  Where there were peals of thunder and lightnings.  It's where the angels are and where Jesus is preparing homes for those who have been reconciled to God through Him.  It was a place where we would no longer suffer.  A place of peace and love and joy.  A place where no one could take anything away from us and where nothing would deteriorate.


But the other destination, hell, was a place that lacked all these things.  A place where a person is separate from the life of God.  A place for the people who refused to be reconciled to God.  A place of torment.


My hope is that he will make the decision to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  He was honest and said he didn't understand all of it.  So please pray for him that God would make all this clear to him, and that he would make the decision for Jesus.


Hebrew 11:13-14, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own."


Pray that though passing through, he would be on the right road and that his destination would be heaven, with our Lord.



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Blessings and Curses

Deuteronomy 28:1-2, "If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God..."


Deuteronomy 28:15, "However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you..."


I met a man on the streets of Texas today.  His life has been rough.   His mom bore him and his siblings at an early age...and then left them, though he will not fault her.  His grandparents on one side died when he was young.  The other grandparents raised him, though they were not emotionally there.  He has known a life of abandonment.


He spent some time in prison.  And this is where he met Jesus.  He responded to an alter call and went to several Bible services a week.  He grew a lot in the Lord and was on fire for the Lord.


When he got out of prison, to a certain degree he went back to the old way of life, and this has resulted in his ending up on the streets.


First I addressed the issue of abandonment.  God says He will never leave His children (Hebrews 13:5).  Never means never.  I know some like to say you can walk away from God, but if God never leaves, how is that possible.  Maybe it's possible for us to ignore Him at times, but we can never walk away from a God who never leaves us.


I quoted Ephesians 1:13-14 to him, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of His glory."


The above verses tell us that the guarantee that a child of God has an inheritance with the Lord is from the moment he first believes until the Lord comes back for him.  We find that the redemption is the time of the resurrection of the saints.  Romans 8:23, "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."


Not taking away personal responsibility, he said the devil and the powers of darkness had a part in luring him back into the world.  I quoted Romans 8:38-39 to him, "For I am convinced...neither angels nor demons...will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Not even the powers of darkness can separate him from God.


Abandonment by God is not something he will ever face.  He has been united with God through Jesus Christ and has the assurance of salvation.


Now there is the issue of the consequences of sin.  He has escaped the coming wrath, but that doesn't mean that God won't punish or discipline us for doing the wrong things...but He will do this for our good.  As a child of God, he will never be under God's curse.  We know the Scriptures above that list in Deuteronomy 27 and 28 the curses due for disobedience to God.  And God is just in announcing and carrying out these curses.  Since all of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, we are all justly deserving of these curses.


But as a child of God, when reading these chapters, it's important to read them through the lens of the Gospel.  Galatians 3:13, 'Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."'


God was just in decreeing curses for the disobedient (which includes all of us), we are deserving of those curses, but for the child of God, Jesus became a curse for you.  You are no longer under God's curse.


The man I met was very encouraged.  We prayed together.


Pray for him, that he would learn more of God everyday, what it means to belong to Christ, who he is in Christ, and that God would deliver him off of the streets.  In talking to him, I think it's okay to say as much as one can, that he belongs to the Lord, loves the Lord and is sincere in his faith.  He needs you prayers.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bread of Life

John 6:35, "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."


Three weeks ago I talked to a man on the streets of Texas who was born in an old bread truck at the gate posts of the Biloxi Airbase in Mississippi just when hurricane Camile was hitting the gulf.


He had a good life, raised with one sister.  As a child he had dreams of becoming a space explorer, but early in life, this dream was interrupted.  He got caught up in a serious domestic abuse situation and as a result served 28 years in prison.  I didn't ask him what the charges were, and he didn't volunteer the information.  Evidently, he could have appealed his sentence, but there's a limitation on how much time a person has to do that, and his time had run out.


But during that time in prison, he came to know the Lord, and spent a lot of his time in Bible studies, learning about the Lord and what difference that made in his life.


He is out of prison and on parole.  He has a job, and is working to rebuild his life.  Pray for him that the Lord will help him to stay the course and not give up.  I'm sure the journey for him is not easy.


Today I met a man named A J.   He was born and raised in northern Mississippi as a military brat.  Life was difficult.  There was really no church upbringing, and at the moment I met him, he had been somewhat following the meditations of Buddha and alchohol, trying to forget the phantoms of the past..  With a bad upbringing and having served in the Bosnia war, he had a lot he was trying to forget.


I asked him if he could tell what he knew about Jesus.  He said he tried following Him as well.


I explained that unlike Buddha and others, Jesus came to undo the works of the devil, i.e. the bad upbringing and the horrors of war.  I said that first of all, the most important thing for a person to deal with in their life was to be reconciled to God.  I explained that a lot of people don't understand what death really is.  Death isn't that something ceases to exist, but that something is separated from something.  A husband and wife divorce.  The husband continues to exist and goes his own way.  The wife continues to exist and goes her own way.  But the marriage is dead.  A person dies.  Their body is laid in the ground, yet their soul goes on into eternity.  They are merely separated from their body.  When Adam was in the Garden, he walked in union with the Lord.  When Adam sinned, his sin separated him from the God of Life, and Adam became spiritually dead...separated from the life of God.


I explained that Jesus came to undo the works of the devil and to reconcile him to God.  He did this by taking A J's sin, that which separated him from God, and pay the penalty for it at the cross and taking it out of the way.  Jesus was now offering to credit to his life His own perfection, thus making him acceptable to the Father, and that God would then adopt him, seal him by the Holy Spirit, and give him the gift of eternal life.  But he had to ask for it, "For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved."  Romans 10:13.  He said he would like to ask.  We prayed together and he received Jesus as his Savior. 


I then explained to him what had just happened.  Ephesians 1:13-14, "And you, A J, were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of His glory."


I explained to him that in this life he would continue to have troubles.  But one thing had just been settled in the court of heaven:  he was now a child of God and his inheritance with the Lord was guaranteed.  From the moment he first believed until the redemption of those who are God's possession.  Romans 8:23, "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."


Pray for A J, that every day he will learn more and more about what it means for him to be included in Christ, and for deliverance from the things that haunt him from his past.


Two men, two different lives.  Both called by God to obey the Gospel.  Both making the decision to take Jesus up on His offer.  Come to Him, the Bread of Life and the Water of Life, and be satisfied.


Praise God for His grace and mercy that He has shown to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who's doing the work?

Philippians 1:6, "...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."


I met a man from Pennsylvania on the streets of Texas today.  He was a man who had received Jesus as his Savior, but had made some wrong decisions in his life.  He did 5 years in prison as a result of several DWI's.  He has been fighting alchohol addiction for quite some time.  At the time I talked with him he had been dry for 13 days.


After discussing this with him, I found what I thought might be the problem.  He was trying to defeat alchoholism so that he would be accepted by God, not understanding that he was already accepted because he was in Christ.


Paul tells us in Romans chapter 7 about the struggle he had when as a child of God he sought to approach God through obedience to the law.  He found that by doing this that he would do what he didn't want to do, and not do what he wanted to do.  He found only frustration.


I told the brother in Christ that I was talking to that his approach was all wrong.  He was already accepted by God as a result of what Jesus did at the cross.  Jesus took all of his sins and nailed them to the cross and paid the penalty in full for all of them.  When he asked Jesus to save him from judgment, Jesus credited His righteousness to his account and made him acceptable to a just and righteous God.  God then adopted him as His child, sealed him by the Holy Spirit, and gave him a sure hope and future.  It was important for him now to discover what God's unfailing love was all about, and learn to walk as a child of God, not trying to become a child of God.


Paul tells us 3 very important truths in Philippians 1:6.  First, it is God who began a good work in us.  Second, God will complete what He started.  Third, what I had overlooked for a long time: it is God who carries on the work. 


That's what I encouraged this man with.  God had never left him, no matter the mistakes.  God would never leave.  God was with Him now, carrying on the work.


Pray for him, that he would discover more and more what it means to have God's unfailing love, and as a result find victory over the things he doesn't want in his life anymore.