Contend Earnestly: May 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006

Can't We All Just Get Along

Testing the Spirits

Since the beginning of the church we have been called to test the spirits, as described in 1 Jn 4:1. There have always been vain philosophies and false witnesses. The church has had periods where error was called heresy and the price was death! Although there may have been extreme examples of punishment for error it seems as though we have come full circle and a stand for biblical truth is considered divisive.

As the debates rage between the charismatic movement, the seeker friendly church, and now the emergent church we are faced with the challenge of discerning between the true church and the frauds.

Those who strive to defend the historical biblical Christian faith will be labeled as mean spirited and unloving or irrationally over reactive. Many local church members are caught in the cross fire as families and neighbors are divided between the battle of church philosophy.

Are these disagreements petty disputes of church philosophy or major doctrinal differences between what is true and what is heresy? In any case I keep hearing the statement that Rodney King made famous, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The idea is great, which is Christian unity but the debate is much deeper than that. The price for being wrong is not only death but an eternity in hell!

The bible is clear we are to “Contend Earnestly” for the faith. We are commanded by scripture to fight for truth. Defending the gospel should be our pleasure. Unfortunately the battle for truth is nothing new and we have been given fair warning of what is going to come our way.

Recently the assault on our faith has come in the form of pop culture and art. Through a book and a major motion picture the movie The DaVinci Code will create another blast on Christianity.

Some verses to meditate upon:

Spirits of Antichrist

I Jn 4:2-3 By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus is Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God and this is the spirit of antichrist.

3 Jn 9-10 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church.

Jer 29:8-9 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name, I have not sent them, declares the Lord.

Jer 14:14 The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name, I have neither sent the nor commanded them nor spoken to them, they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

2 Pt 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bring swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

I Jn 2:18-19 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.

Church Warnings

Rev 2:9 (Church of Smyrna) the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Rev 2:13-15 (Church of Pergamum) some of you there hold to teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. Some in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans

Rev 3:20 (Church of Thyatira) But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bondservants astray, so they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
A Call to Test the spirits

Rev 2:2 you cannot endure evil men, and you put to test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.

1 Thess 5:21 But examine everything carefully.

Titus 2:1;7 speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine, in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified...

1 Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith.

2 Tim 2:15-19 Be diligent as approved workmen, handling accurately the word of truth avoiding worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands.

2 Thess 2:2-3 … let no one in any way deceive you...

1 Pet 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence

Gal 1:8-9 Even though we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that, which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.…if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

Appointed for Battle

Phil 1:15-18 Some, preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.

1 Cor 12:10 to some a distinguishing of spirits.

Prv 4:5-6 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you

Ezra 7:10 Ezra set his heart to heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel.

2 Tim 2:2 the things which you have heard from me, in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Foolish World

1 Jn 4:4-6 …greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 Cor 1:18-21 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

1 Cor 2:5 your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.


The unfortunate truth is that scripture clearly shows us that the assault of Christianity will come from within and from the foolish philosophies of the world. We must learn to be more discerning if the Church is going to remain strong. We must be willing to engage in difficult conversations with family and friends for the defense of the gospel.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

God's Foreknowledge

Some, if not most, think that the argument on God’s foreknowledge and election started with James Arminius and John Calvin at the time of the reformation. Yet, it actually started way back between Augustine and Pelagius at the conclusion of the apostolic era of Christianity. This post is not to get into all the “he said, she said” or to exegete tons of passages, but I want to try and find out the meaning of what “foreknew, forknowledge or foreordain” means in the Bible. God’s election and/or foreknowledge is not the debate for these are biblical terms that are used many times over in the Bible, but the debate is what did God foreknow and why did he elect. Look at these passages that mention “foreknew, foreknowledge and foreordain:”

For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained (to be) conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Romans 8:29,30

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will;

Eph 1:4-5,11

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know; him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay:

Acts 2:22-23

Now the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord Jehovah! behold, I know not how to speak; for I am a child. But Jehovah said unto me, Say not, I am a child; for to whomsoever I shall send thee thou shalt go, and whatsoever I shall command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid because of them; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith Jehovah. Then Jehovah put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Jehovah said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth: see, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

Jer 1:4-10

You get the point and there are many other times where election and the “fore” words are used. Some believe, as James Arminius taught, that God seeing through the “portals of time” saw who would respond to Him and those are His elect and that is what it means to “foreknow;” He foreknew the person’s ACTION of belief. (By the way, both Pelagianism and Arminianism were both declared heresy by the early and reformed church leaders. You can read the whole history of the two by clicking here)

For one, this is never mentioned in Scripture. Does God know man’s action before we actually do them, of course we see that with David in Psalm 139. But my point is this, look at Jeremiah and Jesus. Did God elect Jeremiah to be a prophet because God knew Jeremiah would speak out against the great apostasy in Israel or did God choose Jeremiah to be a prophet first, to speak out against the people? What about Christ? Did God, because He saw that this man, Christ, was going to die on a cross, make or elect Him to be the Saviour of the world? No, absolutely not. He chose Christ, His Son to be the Saviour, and the way he foreordained that redemption was by the hanging on the cross. Just as God chose the elect, so that they would believe in His name, not the other way around.

But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep
John 10:26

It does not say you are not my sheep because you do not believe or you are My sheep because you believe. No, it plainly states that you do not because you are not of My sheep, and if you are one of My sheep, if I foreknew you, you would believe.

I hope this small post puts some clarity in the issue of the “fore” words of the Bible. Much more explanation of verb tenses in the original Greek can be sought and taught but even the simple look at Jeremiah and Christ helps us to understand that God foreknew the person and His call and did not base it on their action or response. How humble that should make us to know it was literally nothing in us but everything in Him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Monday, May 22, 2006


For the short version just read the text in this "yellow" font . The beginning couple paragraphs and the conclusion.

“The bow of God’s wrath is bent and the arrow made ready on the string. Justice directs the bow to your heart and strains at the bow. It is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much in the same way as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire; He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight. You are ten thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended Him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet, it is nothing but His hand that holds you from falling into fire every moment. It is ascribed to nothing else that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep; and there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given, while you have been reading this address, but His mercy; yea no other reason can be given why you do not this very moment drop into hell.

O sinner, consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of a God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell already. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it and ready every moment to singe it and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your won, nothing that you have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one more moment.” -Jonathan Edwards

How often do you contemplate hell? Do you ever? What is hell? Has Hollywood shaped your beliefs of hell?

I must admit that since it’s not a place I believe I will end up or intend on going I don’t give it much thought. I’ve often heard that if we set our minds on heaven that it would change our view and actions in this life. What if we were constantly meditating on the consequences of hell? Would it change our prayer life? Would we have a sense of urgency with our beloved family members and neighbors? Would we care about the souls of those who are not followers of Christ?

There was a time that a great preacher or Sunday message was known as “fire and brimstone.” Have you ever heard one? What happened to those messages? Are we too fragile or immature to handle having the fear of the living God presented to us?

My intention is to remind us of the great grace that God has freely given us. If we don’t understand what we are saved from then how can we be thankful for the greatest sacrifice ever known?

I also want us to think about a verse like Isa 30:27- which states, “The Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; His lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray…the Lord will cause men to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. The wrath of God is to be respected at all times.

Depictions of God’s Wrath

Blazing Fire

2 Thess 1:6-7 God is just, He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels

Burning Sulfur

Ps 11:6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.

Ezek 38:22 I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.

Consuming Fire

Lev 10:2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

Deut 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Ps 18:7 the earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry.

Ps 18:13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

Isa 30:27-29 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; His lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction.

Is 33:14 The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless. Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?

Destroying Fire

2 Pet 3:10 but the day of the lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Devouring Fire

Deut 9:3 But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; He will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.

Ps 50:3 Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people

Fiery Furnace

Ps 21:8-9 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes. At the time of your appearing you will make them like a fiery furnace. In his wrath the Lord will swallow them up, and his fire will consume them.

Mal 4:1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.”


Ps 89:46 How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?

Isa 47:14 Surely they are like stubble, the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame.

Lam 2:4 Like an enemy He has slain all who were pleasing to the eye, he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of the Daughter of Zion.

Nah 1:5-6 The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

Isa 66:15-16 See, The Lord is coming with fire, and His chariots are like a whirlwind; He will bring down His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with is sword the Lord will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the Lord.

Heb 10:26-27 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.


Heb 10:30-31 For we know Him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Descriptions of Hell


Rev 9:1-11 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke form the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth…They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (Destroyer in English)

Burning Sulfur

Rev 14:10 “… he, too, will not drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of holy angels and of the Lamb.”


Matt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of viper! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

John 5:29 “…and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

2 Pt 2:3 In their greed these teachers will exploit your with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them; and their destruction has not been sleeping.


Matt 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matt 22:13 then the king told the attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jude 4,13 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord… they are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame, wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.


Matt 7:13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Rom 9:22 What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power know, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath, prepared for destruction?

Phil 3:18-19 for, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

1 Thess 5:2-3 For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Eternal Fire & Punishment

Matt 18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or cripple than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matt 25:41 Then He will say to those on His left, “Depart from me, you who are curse, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Jude 7 in a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion, they serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment to eternal fire.

Matt 25:46 then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life

2 Thess 1:8-9 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…

Fiery Furnace

Matt 13:42 they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matt 3:10 the ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into fire.


Matt 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who say, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both should and body in hell.


1 Tim 5:24 the sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sin of others trail behind them

Jude 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home, those He kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

2 Pt 2:4-9 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven other; it he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard), If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

Lake of Burning Sulfur and Fire

Rev 19:20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 20:14-15 then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Luke 3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Nature of Hell

It’s Everlasting

Rev 14:11 and the smoke of their torment goes for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.

Rev 20:10 … They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Exclusion from God’s Presence

2 Thess 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power…

Matt 25:41-46 …then He will say to those on His left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…

Luke 13:24-28 Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading. Sir, open the door for us…. There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

It’s a Place of Suffering

Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather; be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Luke 16:23-24 in hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he call to him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because am in agony in this fire.

Matt 8:12 but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Rev 14:9-11 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice; “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand. He, too, will not drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of holy angels and of the Lamb.” And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.

It’s Separation from the Righteous

Matt 13:47-50 Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mat 25:31-33 When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, he will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

Mat 25:46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Occupants of Hell

The Beast and the False Prophet

Rev 19:20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Death and Hades

Rev 20:13-14 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. The death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Satan the Devil

Matt 25:41 then he will say to those on his left. Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The Lawless One

2 Thess 2:8 then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

Wicked Angels

Matt 25:41 then he will say to those on his left. Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.


Matt 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire…

Matt 13:38-41 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one… As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of man will send out His angels, and they will weed out His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

1 Cor 6:9-10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderer nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:19-21 the act of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Eph 5:5 For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person, such a man is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

2 Thess 2:9-12 … For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Rev 22:14-15 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.


Luke 8:11 this is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved

John 3:18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whomever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

Jude 5 though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered His people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

Heb 3:12-19 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. AS has just been said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of the unbelief.


“And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle-aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s Word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of great mercy to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts harden, and their guilt increase apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls. Never was there a period when so many means were employed for the salvation of souls, and if you entirely neglect them, you will eternally cruse the day of your birth. Now, undoubtedly, it is as it was in the days of John the Baptist; the axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree which brings not forth good fruit, many be hewn down and cast into the fire. Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and flee from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over every unregenerate sinner. Let every one flee out of Sodom; “Escape, for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.” - Jonathan Edwards

Hell is a real place of eternal torment, pain, and separation for all those who willingly reject the grace and mercy of the Almighty. In His love for humanity our Lord has provided the way of escape through the blood atoning perfect sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus the Christ. He, Himself bore our sin taking on the God’s wrath and granting us reconciliation for our unrighteousness.

As we have seen Our God is mighty and His anger and wrath come down hard on those who reject Him. Be wise; stand in fear and awe of His glory.

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Praying for Haters of God

This is going to sound like a cold post where I don't love the lost, which is actually completely the opposite. I pray continually that I would see the lost as God does and pray that I would seek and save the lost as Christ did. That I would spread the seed, that I would water, yet keep my mind on God's sovereignty to bring people to salvation and not myself.

So the question is when do I stop to pray for a sinner who refuses to repent and mocks God? Sound a little insane? Sound a little harsh? Look to 1 John 5:16;

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not {leading} to death, he shall ask and {God} will for him give life to those who commit sin not {leading} to death. There is a sin {leading} to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

I know that some won’t agree with what I believe is the “sin leading to death,” but I strongly believe it is the sin mentioned by Christ:

"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the {age} to come.”
Matthew 12:31,32

You also have God hardening Pharaoh’s heart in Romans 9; God turning the people over to their wants and desires in Romans 1; Paul handing over Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan; so are we to continue to do this today? Are we to actually stop praying for some individuals who profane and blaspheme the Spirit which I see as the sin leading to death; or was this something that God gave the apostles insight to?

We know that God gave some special privileges all through the Bible; Daniel and interpreting dreams, Elisha and his amazing miracles, Isaiah and his prophecies, John the Baptist with his zeal and preaching of the coming Messiah, the apostles in their miracles, healings and writing of the word. So, is this something that was just for the apostles to do: To stop praying for those who blaspheme the Spirit and to hand them over to Satan.

For me, it seems very hard for me to stop praying for those in which I don’t know God’s plan:

The secret things belong to the Lord
Deuteronomy 29:29

I do know that I will continue to pray and strive to pray like Paul prayed for people as a whole:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, {separated} from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
Romans 9:1-3

The question is when you see someone to continue to hate God and they love hating God should we pray for them or give them over to Satan? For Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 to “avoid such men as these.”

May we continue to proclaim the excellencies of Him who bought us with His blood and to not lose heart knowing that our toil is not in vain.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

When the World Was Flat

When the World Was Flat
Science and the Bible

It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t know the world was a sphere or that there was an America. In 1492 when Columbus set sail for America the world thought that the earth was flat and that he would fall over the side.

As difficult as it might be try to understand that man was much more limited in his understanding of science than what we know today. Automobiles, space travel, and the computer are so common that we don’t think twice that it wasn’t until the 1900’s that these things or events took place.

But there was a book that was speaking about science long before man was able to discover scientific truths. Although books and theories in science have changed over the years one source has remained true and has not been changed or found false. The Bible has stood the test of time geographically, historically, archaeologically, and scientifically.

Round Earth

Isaiah 40:21-22 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the vault of the earth…

The vault of the earth is an arch or a circle (King James), not a flat surface. About 2,000 years before Columbus the bible was speaking of the earth’s shape being circular not flat. The science of the day was wrong and the bible was right.

Job 26:7 He stretches out the north over empty space, And hangs the earth on nothing.

As crazy as it might seem Greek mythology taught that the earth was suspended on the shoulders of a Greek god. Atlas was a Titan condemned by Zeus to support the heavens upon his shoulders. This was the science of the time.

It wasn’t until 1957 when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth. This marked the first time that God’s word once again was proven right. The earth hangs on nothing in empty space.


Jeremiah 33:22 The host of heaven cannot be counted.

In the year 85 Greek astronomer Ptolemy was born and using the instruments of the time he counted 1056 stars. In 1546 Dutch born Tycho Brahe was born and he would later count 777 stars. And in 1571 German born Johannes Kepler counted 1,005 stars.

Today with the invention of the Hubble Telescope we know that the numbers of stars in the sky is at a hundred million, billion, billion and counting. Again the bible shinned as true.

1 Cor 15:41 there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

Not only are there an infinite amount of stars but they are all unique as we now know. Just like the bible stated.


Isaiah 55:10 for as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout.

Job 14:11 As water evaporates from the sea

Job 36:27 For He draws up the drops of water, They distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly, Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds

Ecc 1:6-7 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

The “science of water” or hydrology is an amazing example of how the bible gave us answers before it was humanly possible to use science to reveal it’s truth. The water cycle which is when water vapor is condensed and precipitated as rain or snow, then drained off through the groundwater and river system into the ocean, from which it is raised into the skies by evaporation and carried back over the continents by great atmospheric wind circulations. It’s amazing how Solomon gives us a clear example of the water cycle in Ecclesiastes. Once again there are no conflicts with the bible and modern hydrologic science.


Lev 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood

In 1616 William Harvey uncovered the circulation of the blood. Continuance of life is now known to depend upon the continued supply of oxygen, water, and food to the cells of the body. This essential function is accomplished in a marvelous manner by the blood as it circulates constantly throughout the body. The role of blood in combating disease producing organisms and in repairing injured tissues is one of the most significant discoveries of medical science. The use of blood transfusions as one of the most beneficial treatments for many medical needs testifies to the ultimate importance of the blood in the life of the flesh.

Blood is the lifeline of the human body and the bible spoke of this truth long before science understood it.

Basic Laws of Science

Hebrews 4:3 The works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Gen 2:1-2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he made.

The law of energy conservation states that in a closed system, in any transformation of energy from one form of energy into another, the total amount of energy in the system remains unchanged. No energy is either created or destroyed. Although matter may be changed in state, density, or form, its total mass is unchanged. In other words, no creation or destruction of matter or energy in now being accomplished anywhere in the physical universe. So everything that happens involves energy transformations. This law is also known as the first law of thermodynamics and is generally recognized as the most important and basic law of science. And in Genesis we see that God completed the creation of matter just as the first law states.

The second law of thermodynamics states the corollary principle of mss/energy deterioration. The law of entropy states that the physical universe is growing old and running down. (This “LAW” directly contradicts the “theory” of evolution which claims that we are in a constant state of getting better through survival of the fittest) The bible speaks about the wearing down of the earth like a piece of clothing.

Psalm 26:25-26 Of old Thou dist found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, they will be changed.

Romans 8:20-22 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Scripture not only details the deterioration of the earth but also a future hope for a new earth (Rev 21:1, Isa 65:17, 66:22, 2 Pt 3:13).

Jonah’s Whale

Although Jonah is a great example of God’s redemptive plan for more nations than just Israel we also see some great scientific truths revealed in this little book.

Jonah 1:17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

There have been many skeptics that claim Jonah could not have been swallowed and survived as the bible claims. It is now known that the sperm whale and a whale shark, which does inhabit the Mediterranean Sea, are capable of swallowing an object much larger than a man. As a matter of fact there have been in recent times a number of verified instances of whales and sharks swallowing men alive and some have survived these incidents.
According to a persistent story, exactly one hundred years ago a sailor named James Bartley was swallowed by a sperm whale off the Falkland Islands. About thirty-six hours later his fellow sailors found him, unconscious but alive, inside the belly of the animal.

The Ann Arbor Museum of Natural History has the skull of the largest dunkleosteus skull which stands four feet high. This great sea monster would easily be able to swallow a man whole. Once again the bible’s claim holds up to scientific discovery.

Jonah 2:3,6 For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Thy breakers and billows passed over me. I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever.

Another great jewel hidden in the book of Jonah is what he sees in the oceans water. Did you catch it? Jonah sees mountains in the ocean. Now how did Jonah know there were mountains in the great depths of the sea? What is common to us today with sonar and submarines was impossible to know for certain in Jonah’s time.

Job’s Dinosaurs

Job lived in the land of Uz, which was in or near the land of Edom. This area extended both southwest and southeast of the Dead Sea, in an area that is now mostly a desert today. Job gave us some great insight 2,000 years before the birth of Christ about dinosaurs. The term dinosaur was not invented until the mid 1800’s so don’t expect to see the word “dinosaur” in the bible.

Job 40:15 Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you He eats grass like an Ox. Behold now, his strength in his loins, And his power in the muscles of his belly. He bends his tail like cedar; The sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze; His limbs are like bars of iron.

The word "Behemoth" means "Giant, kingly beast". It is important to note that his tail is like a tree, not a thin stick like that of a modern day hippo or elephant, as some have tried to argue. Dinosaurs such as Diplodocus and Apatosaurus have tails like a cedar tree! The physical traits attributed to the Behemoth indicate it was reptilian, not mammalian. So whatever the Behemoth was, he was not a mammal. So he could not be an elephant or a hippo. This would also exclude any other animal such as the Rhino or giant sloth.

Job 41:1-34 paraphrased. Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Can you fill his skin with harpoons? Lay your hand on him; remember the battle; you will not do it again! No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him; Who can strip off his outer armor? His strong scales are his pride. Out of his mouth go burning torches; sparks of fire leap forth. The sword that reaches him cannot avail; not the spear, the dart or the javelin. He regards iron as straw, Bronze as rotten wood. Arrow cannot make him flee. Nothing on earth is like him.

The leviathan is an aquatic reptile (similar to dinosaurs). No living animal fits the physical description of the Leviathan. The Leviathan was a large sea creature that had the amazing ability to breathe fire. This does not sound like any sea creature we have living today. Because the book of Job refers to the Leviathan as a literal living breathing creature, it must be one that is now extinct but in any case the bible gives clear reference to different types of dinosaurs.

As a side note God destroys Leviathan as punishment (Ps 74:14, Isa 27:1).

Jeremiah 51:37 - "And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, astonishment and a hissing without an in habitant".

Dragon was the name given to the most terrible monsters of the ancient world. Dragons did not really exist, but most people believed in them. They “… were huge fire-breathing serpents with wings like those of a great bat, and they could swallow ships and men at one gulp. Maps of early times represent unknown parts of the world as being the homes of these mythical creatures. The dragons of legend are strangely like actual creatures that have lived in the past .They are much like the great reptiles which inhabited the earth long before man is supposed to have appeared on earth. This verse tells us of the habitation of dinosaurs. Often living deep in the woods, rarely seen by man. Such is the case with the allusive Apatosaurus Mokele-Mbembe often seen in Africa. Dragons are also mentioned in Job 40:15, Psalm 91:13, Jeremiah 51:34, Lam 4:3, Psalm 74:14, Isaiah 27:1.

Isaiah 30:6 The oracle concerning the beasts of the Negev. Through a land of distress and anguish, from where come lioness and lion, viper and flying serpent

This passage tells of a flying reptile like the pteranodon or Rhamphorhynchus (Sauropods and Plesiosaurs). What is a flying serpent? - The only known reptiles with the ability to fly are the Pterosaurs. In this verse we see them described as living alongside the other “real” animals. The flying serpents are used in the text with other animals we readily recognize. They are not set apart in any way as to conclude they are fictitious. In fact, the verse continues and speaks of men carrying their riches "upon the bunches of camels". This makes it clear that these flying dinosaurs lived alongside mammals, and man.

Biblical Record

Gen1-2 Creation

Gen 6-8 The Flood

There are two very notable exclusions from this list, which are the six-day creation and worldwide flood. We will discuss these two at a later time but it is important to state that the fossil record is totally supported by the biblical account of the flood and the order of the creation account does not contradict what we know about the scientific biological record. In both cases most secular scientist claims that neither event happened.


Job 38:4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

While the world was believing in a flat world and confused about where rain came from God had already declared His glory through His creation. He gave us the scientific answers so that we could come to have confidence in His spiritual claims. God tells us that we are without excuse because He has proclaimed His invisible attributes through creation (Rm 1:20), but so many are still skeptical. They profess to be wise yet they are fools (Rm 1:22). They exchange the truth of God for a lie (evolution, modern science) (Rm 1:25). The bible has clearly been the most accurate book ever written prior to the advantages of modern day technology.

Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

And I quote...

God takes away the world, that the heart may cleave more to Him in sincerity.
Thomas Watson

He that rides to be crowned, will not think much of a rainy day.
John Trapp

Chastisement is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod to the Allwise hand that wields it!
Arthur W. Pink

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Westminster Shorter Catechism

All the types, promises and prophecies were now fully accomplished in (Christ)…There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire-stone of Malachi which was not set in the breastplate of the True High Priest.
Charles H. Spurgeon

'I have in my congregation,' said a venerable minister of the gospel, 'a worthy, aged woman, who has for many years been so deaf as not to distinguish the loudest sound, and yet she is always one of the first in the meeting. On asking the reason of her constant attendance (as it was impossible for her to hear my voice), she answered, "Though I cannot hear you, I come to God's house because I love it, and would be found in His ways; and He gives me many a sweet thought upon the text when it is pointed out to me: another reason is, because there I am in the best company, in the more immediate presence of God, and among His saints, the honourable of the earth. I am not satisfied with serving God in private; it is my duty and privilege to honour Him regularly in public." What a reproof this is to those who have their hearing, and yet always come to a place of worship late, or not at all!
K. Arvine

It is the Word that prunes the Christian, it is the truth that purges him, the Scripture made living and powerful by the Holy Spirit--effectually cleanses the Christian. Affliction is the handle of the knife-- affliction is the grindstone that sharpens the Word--affliction is the dresser that removes our soft garments and lays bear the diseased flesh, so that the surgeon's knife may get at it-- affliction merely makes us ready to feel the Word--but the true pruner is the Word, in the hand of the Great Vinedresser.
Charles H. Spurgeon

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What Happened to Winnie The Pooh?

Tony, I logged onto our little corner of the web today, waiting expectantly for an inspired blog about Pooh Bear (I guess conversation and coffee between friends does not mean much any more).

But this truth, the truth of our impact, has been an encouraging and sobering reality that the Lord has taught me over the past year. I love listening to stories of how people in Christy's family were saved. I think of a Great Great Great Grandmother (the exact lineage would need to be clarified) who came to Christ as a teenager under the preaching of a faithful minister. As far as we can tell, that was the first conversion in the Goff family. But now that heritage has spread through 150 or so years of families being saved, missionaries being sent out, other preachers being raised up. Yet, did that preacher have any concept of the incredible impact one sermon of his could make? That was one sermon, from one man, affecting just one family! The Lord is mighty in His purposes. May we labor hard and contend earnestly though we do not always see the fruit (Heb 11).

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It's A Wonderful Life

If you haven’t ever watched It’s a Wonderful Life you’re missing out on a truly inspirational movie. As a believer I watch that movie with great hope that I could have but a small, unknown impact on people’s lives such as that of George Bailey.

The story is based on a man who is frustrated with his life as he battles contentment. Finally he decides that he is worth more dead than alive so in order to allow his family to collect on the insurance money he prepares to jump into a river to kill himself. Just before jumping he cries out to the Lord and the God responds by sending him an angel in training. In order to convince George that his life is worth living the angel shows George what the world would have been like without him.

George Bailey has an impact on individuals which extends throughout his local community and beyond:
1.As a child he saves his brothers life. The result is his brother goes on to save hundreds of men during the war. Without George all those me would have been killed.
2.George prevents his boss from prescribing the wrong pills to a child, which would have killed the kid. Instead George saves the child’s life and Mr. Gower’s life by saving him from prison.
3.His father’s business is saved because George takes it over. The Bailey Building and Loan provided loans to unqualified people who the bank would reject. The homes would make the town people better citizens and the town would have nicer places to live.
4.The town name of Bedford Falls was spared because of George’s quick wit during the depression and the bank runs. The entire landscape of the town was spared from becoming Pottersville, which would be filled with Saloons and other vice.

After taking a tour of his life George Bailey discovers that he had a wonderful life. A life filled with purpose and impact. George had focused so much on his own discontentment that he failed to see what he did for others.

What would the world be like without you? Are you so focused on yourself that you don’t impact others? What is your legacy? What would you like your legacy to be? What are you going to do about that?

What if Jesus had never been born? Programs like the YMCA, Red Cross, Hospitals, Schools, women’s rights, abolition of slavery, Salvation Army, Union Rescue Mission, Childrens Hunger Fund, Crisis Pregnancy Center and much more would never have taken place without the goal of glorifying God in these programs. Ordinary believers doing extroardinary things for the cause of Christ.

Keep in mind it is all for God's glory not our own. 1 Cor 3:7-8 states, "I planted (Paul), Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." I often wonder why we all think that it's the harvestor's that get all the fun. Everyone wants to reap the fruits of the harvest but how many are willing to do the hard work of seeding, weeding and debugging.

George Bailey spent his life as a planter and waterer and when he didn't see the growth or get credit for it he became discouraged. The struggle is the fun. The struggle is life. We are guaranteed to encounter trials. Praise God for them! James 1 encourages us to consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Be encouraged brothers! In God's infinite wisdom He has blessed you each with individual spiritual gifts to minister and serve others with. No ministry opportunity is too small. Take advantage and enjoy especially when it is difficult.

I often think of the "10th" commandment which states, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Ex 20:17 Did you catch that? Don't covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. That includes his library, his ministry, his job, or his life. Again George Bailey coveted the money of Mr. Potter, the world travel of his friend, other people's homes, lives and much more.

As followers of Christ let us "set our mind on thing above, not on the things that are on earth." Col 3:2 Let us be truly transformed by the renewing of our minds not conformed to this world. Rms 12:2

Even though we may not be exactly where we want to be in life I hope that we are living "A Wonderful Life", which is one that is Christ centered.

Our life should be like the ripples created in the water by a rock or a stone. The only question is how big of a stone will you cast and how many ripples will you have?

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Bear Fruit!

I have been doing a study on Colossians (and discussions with Tony) and came across a verse that really had/has me thinking about when our fruit should start as new Christians.

because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as {it has been doing} in you also since the day you heard {of it} and understood the grace of God in truth;

Colossians 1:5,6

Notice the verse says that the fruit from the gospel is proven and reiterated to the Colossians by referring to the fruit that was in their lives at the very moment of their conversion. As you can see in the latter part of verse 6 it says, “since the day you heard of it and understood.” So we can assume if they understood, and because we know Paul is writing to believers in Colosse, the “day” he is speaking of is the day of salvation for these saints.

We know in John 15:5 Christ says:

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Most will say that this means that at some point you will bear fruit if you are a true Christian. It doesn’t say how much or how often but it does say that you will bear fruit.

We can look not only at Colossians 1:5,6 but also 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Both seem to point to new things and fruit happening right away and not in the future at some point. Remember Paul is trying to encourage the Colossians because of the great heresies that are amongst them so he is trying to encourage, remind and strengthen their conviction by pointing to their own conversions. How strong could that conviction be if they are believers who have yet to bear fruit? They will look and say, “I believe I am a Christian, but I haven’t born any fruit yet” So how strong can their confidence in the gospel of truth be?

This has a lot of impact for us as leaders in the church to know when to baptize someone. In the Bible people were baptized right away after their confession, just look to the centurion and the eunuch that Philip preached to and converted. Are we supposed to be fruit inspectors before we baptize or are we to allow God to bring wrath upon someone’s head that has confessed and was baptized and then shows no fruit? I honestly have a real hard time with either. The bible states and shows clearly that if you believe you are baptized…immediately. But do we baptize a 6 year old that confesses Christ? What about an 8 year old? What about a 4 year old? The biblical example seems to point to confession, baptism and then fruit (or proof that the conversion was real). If it was real the fruit seems as though it should be immediate not some far off venture. I understand that we are in the process of sanctification so I can’t expect a new Christian to be an apple orchard, but can’t I expect them to at least be an apple tree?

How lenient should we be as leaders? I have this issue right now with people I know that confess Christ but little if any fruit is shown at all. How would Paul be able to comfort them in times of trouble or show them the power of the gospel? He couldn’t say “Remember your own conversion” to point to the power of the truth, there was no or little change in that person. Should I baptize those who confess but show no fruit or hardly any fruit whatsoever? Should I point to the future and just baptize or should I wait and baptize when I see fruit? The last thing I want to do is try and judge the heart and judge whether the confession was true and deny baptism for someone who is truly saved. I am just having a real hard time with this at this point and don’t want to disappoint my Saviour who bought this dead sinner with His blood. He had and still has patience and longsuffering for me and I don’t want to deny that to others. But I also don’t want to be separated from people who are under my instruction on the Day of Judgment because they had a false hope that they were saved.

A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven {will enter.} Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? 'And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

Matthew 7:18-23

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Friday, May 12, 2006

You are to be Holy

This Friday’s blog I more asking a question than anything else. We are told in Leviticus 19:2

You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am Holy

And in Matthew 5:48

You are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect

This is also reiterated in other parts of Scripture as well. But can we really be perfect? We, as Christians, now have the Spirit of God dwelling in us and interceding for us, so shouldn’t we be able to completely conquer sin?

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…
2 Peter 1:3

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him
1 John 3:6

Isn’t it true if we truly surrendered to our Lord Jehovah that we would never sin. After Peter explains that Christ committed no sin he describes “why” in the end of 1 Peter 2:23 by saying:

He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously

Jesus kept entrusting which literally in the Greek means to continually surrender. Is this my problem? Because I don’t focus on the continual surrender, is this the reason I sin?

Notice as well that John makes it sound almost like a rarity when a Christian sins in 1 John 2:1 when he says:

And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Notice is says “if” and not “when,” because for a Christian sinning is a rarity not commonplace.

What I am not trying to say is that if you sin you are not saved, but I am asking is this a command we can actually attain? Can we literally be perfect at some point after our conversion? Or is it the same as Christ telling unregenerate sinners to, “repent and believe,” when those who are not of the elect CAN’T and are not able to “repent and believe” without the drawing of Christ mentioned in John 6:44 (for a different discussion, but true)

So let’s hear it men, what do you think? Has God given us this power or is our flesh too weak to actually be perfect? Is this what Paul is stating in Romans 7 that he wants to be perfect but the flesh will not allow it? Just curious as I have gone back and forth on this one for the past two years.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

What Does the Lord Desire of Me?

A familiar text:

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

This has been the question that the Lord has put on my heart. What does the Lord desire of me? As I consider the future, and what I should be engaged in, what direction to move in, I have my own plans, but He is the one who ultimately decides.

Prov 16:9
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Ps 115:3
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

What a comfort that we serve a Sovereign Lord! We do make mistakes, and He disciplines us for that (Heb 12). But no one can resist His will of decree. The Scriptures teaches both:

Ps 37:18
The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever.

He knows our days! He knows all of our days; past, present and future. Yet we are still called to make decisions that are wise, and godly, and to seek His wisdom before we proceed (James 1:5-8).

And so we grapple with this tension. Wanting, in part, to honor Him. But, if we are honest, we usually have our own interests in mind as the majority of our concern. What will bring me the most pleasure? What will bring me the least amount of conflict, or the most comfort? Yet, Micah reminds us that the focus is not on what we receive. It is on our obedience and what we are to do. We are to 1) do justice 2) love kindness and 3) to walk humbly with our God. Obedience to the One who shed His blood for us should cause all of our man-centered tendencies to be cast away. Hack them to pieces, as Agag was (1Sam 15:33). Consider all things as rubbish, that we may gain Christ (Phil 3:8).

We need to daily ask this question; "What does the Lord desire of me?" The answer to this is found, in principle, in His word. In practical application we find it by being filled and led by His Spirit as in accordance with the Scriptures. Once we know what He desires, nothing else can matter, can it? "He has told (us)." With knowledge comes responsibility. Let us live in light of our allegiance to Him and Him alone.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

God's Sovereignty

Over the past couple of months I have been reading through Genesis with my wife. We thought that it would be interesting to go through the Old Testament in chronological order... It has been very rewarding. Any way, a few weeks ago we read through the account of Moses and the flood. (Got ya! It was Noah, not Moses. He, He, He) While reading through the account Hayley and I noticed something very intriguing...a miracle that is probably overlooked quite often but very impressive, at least to me.

We all know that God had Noah put 2 of every kind of unclean animal on the ark, and 7 of every clean animal on the ark. (Gen. 7) This means that every animal after unloading from the ark had no more than 6 of it's kind (one of every clean animal was sacrificed to God). Here is the miracle...What did the animals eat? I understand that the vegetarian animals ate the plants and what not, but what did the carnivorous eat? They could not start eating the other animals, otherwise that species would be extinct today. God somehow had to sustain them for a while, until the population was once again restored. For instance, the lions could not start hunting the antelope right away otherwise we would no longer have antelopes here on the earth, remember, there were no more than 6 of each kind that got off of the ark. God miraculously sustained and provided for his creation. For how long, I have no idea, but it is apparent that somehow God did work a miracle.

After realizing that, it made me stop and think about the every day worries that I have and how much I try to rely on myself rather than God. How much do I really take to God in prayer and how much do I really trust that God will provide? It reminds me of my favorite Psalm:

O Lord My God, You Are Very Great
104:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul!O Lord my God, you are very great!You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
2 covering yourself with light as with a garment,stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;he makes the clouds his chariot;he rides on the wings of the wind;
4 he makes his messengers winds,his ministers a flaming fire.
5 He set the earth on its foundations,so that it should never be moved.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled;at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank downto the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,so that they might not again cover the earth.
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestockand plants for man to cultivate,that he may bring forth food from the earth
15 and wine to gladden the heart of man,oil to make his face shineand bread to strengthen man's heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
[1]the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal awayand lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his workand to his labor until the evening.
24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!In wisdom have you made them all;the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,which teems with creatures innumerable,living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
27 These all look to you,to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;when you take away their breath, they dieand return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,
[3] they are created,and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,and let the wicked be no more!Bless the Lord, O my soul!Praise the Lord!

How awesome is our God! And to think, that I can have the Audacity to question Him and worry about my future. He cares and provides for every living creature in His creation, how much more does he care for me, a child of His, a creature made in His image? How is it that I can go on being anxious about my life when He has it already mapped out for me? All I need to do is "trust in Him and He will make my paths straight". This does not mean that He will provide all of my wants and desires, but that He will provide my needs and HIS desires in His perfect timing. All I need to do is seek after Him. Such a simple thing to say, but incredibly difficult to live out. The ones that truly have faith, though, will find peace and comfort rather than anxiety and worry. I hope that you all have a wonderful day, and if there is anything that is worrying you or nagging you, I encourage you to get on your knee's and give it to God. If He can provide for his creation, He can most definitely provide for you! Don't forget, He already has, by sending His only Son to die on our behalf. What a wonderful God we serve!

May We Always Look To Jesus and Him Crucified!

Phil. 4:6-7
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Good, Better, Best

Mr. Taecker was my seventh grade history teacher at Wilson Junior High School. I was fortunate enough to have his class a year before he retired. He seemed like a hundred years old to me back then. Mr. T wore the same type of flannel fisherman's outfit every day. He had the fisherman's vest, hat, pants and boots. He used to rig lures or follow his soy bean stock in the daily newspaper while we copied his notes from the chalkboard. Every morning he would arrive very early and write down the same notes he had been using for decades onto chalkboards, which surrounded our classroom. It would take us most of the class to copy down all that he had written.

There was one section on his chalkboard which was reserved for his little verse. His saying was circled and had "DO NOT ERASE!" over it. Once a week Mr. T's board would be cleaned by the custodian except for this little spot. He would use this verse to punish students who were misbehaving. Usually the penalty was to write it down ten times but if you were really bad he would have us do it up to a hundred times. To my shame not only did I write that verse over and over but to this day I have that saying memorized, some twenty years later.

Ironically when I used to substitute teach I would write it down on the board and use it for the same purpose as Mr. Taecker did. Fortunately I finally understood the wisdom of his verse many years later.

Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until your Good is Better and your Better is Best!

I love this little saying as I am able to use it in many areas of my life especially spiritually. When I think of my favorite Bible verses I think about how I can always improve and strive for excellence.

"For whether you eat or drink do it all for the glory of God"
1 Cor 10:31

I was thinking about our BLOG name and what it meant and it reminded me of Mr. Taecker's saying. The phrase "contend earnestly" is not used anymore. I looked up those two words and this is what I found: To strive against an opposition or against difficulties. To compete as in a race with deep sincerity, seriousness, and determination. That is what it means to "contend earnestly". We are called to fight the good fight.

Two days ago I was reading, Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper and I was reminded of 2 Tim 2:15 "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. Again I thought of Good, Better, Best.

There are so many other verses that I want to apply getting Good, Better and Best at:

Romans 12:1 Present your body as a living holy sacrifice acceptable to God

Matthew 16:24 Deny yourself, take up your daily cross, and follow Me

Philipians 1:27 Conduct yourself in the manner worthy of the calling

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind

1 Peter 1:15 Be holy yourselves aslo in all your behavior

James 1:25 Don't be a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer

Matthew 22:37-39 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind

Good, Better, Best is all about drive, passion, dedication and the pursuit of pressing on toward the prize which is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Vengeance is Mine!

I am writing today in confession of sin that has been a downfall since I was young. I feel sometimes like I am like the Sons of Thunder when the Samaritans refused to receive Christ, they asked:

“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
Luke 9:54

In my search for how to balance the reverence (a great book to read on this subject is, The Joy of Fearing God, by Jerry Bridges) for God and the love He has for me, I have been struck with almost hatred for those who don’t seem to care about the reverence of God.

I was channel surfing the other day and ran across a “pastor” named Jesse Duplantis. He and his wife were talking about when he was caught up to heaven. What? Are you kidding? In his sermon he went on to take the Lord’s name in vain many times over before I got so frustrated I had to turn the channel. He has also stated that when you become a Christian God gives you a “blank check,” all you have to do is put in the amount, by faith, and He will give it to you. When I went back to the channel (don’t ask why) there was a man named Danny Davis who was trying to get poor souls to donate money for “No Evil Oil” that he “prayed” over for 17 days!

And constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
1 Timothy 6:5

I can go on and on with this kind of nonsense, but that is not the reason for this post. The reason for this is to confront my sin with how I react to these types of situations.

I feel as though I am reacting like Asaph in the 73rd Psalm and Habakkuk did when they both asked “Why do the wicked prosper?” The difference between myself and these men of God is that they both repented and leaned on God’s power and his strength instead of their own powers. Read what Asaph says at the end of the 73rd Psalm:

For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

Or Paul’s response on how we should respond to the wicked:

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Romans 12:19

Or in Isaiah 66:24 when God says:

Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.

Or Nahum when he says about God:

Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire and the rocks are broken up by Him.
Nahum 1:6

I think you get the idea. For me, I am learning and growing to understand that I truly serve an awesome God that is all powerful and completely sovereign, but I feel when I react in sin, against such men as these, that I am showing I truly don’t trust God to defend Himself.

I am not saying that we should not speak out against such heresies, you can see many times that the apostles spoke out against men of strife (1Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 1:15, 3 John 1:9) but I think we need to respond how Peter spoke of when we give an account of our hope; with gentleness and fear.

May God be honored in our ministries and may we trust Him to take His vengeance against those who abhor His name.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Dying for His glory

Seth, it is interesting that you bring up Moses’ eulogy by the Lord. I recently read that passage as well, and another aspect of the same truth struck me. We know that because of Moses’ lack of faith, and unholy treatment of the Lord at Meribah (Deut 32:51) he was to die on Mt. Nebo before Israel was to enter the promised land of Canaan. Right before this act of capital punishment, we read these words from our Lord:

"Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel." (Deut 32:49-52)

I am curious to know what it must have been like knowing when you were going to die. What thoughts must have been going through Moses’ mind as he ascended the mountain. How did he die? How did the Lord bury him? (34:6). These are details the Scriptures do not give us, but my attention was gripped by Moses’ last words to the nation before he went to die. They were laced with praise for the greatness of God!

"Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death."

"Indeed, He loves the people…"

"There is none like the God of Jeshurun"

"The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms"

"Blessed are you, O Israel; Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, Who is the shield of your help And the sword of your majesty!"

May we ever praise Him, even when He afflicts (Job 2:10). May we always treat Him as Holy. And may we die well, to bring Him glory.

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