Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

This ought to make grandpas feel warm and fuzzy!

A six year old goes to the hospital with her grandmother to visit her Grandpa.
When they get to the hospital, she runs ahead of her Grandma and bursts into her Grandpa’s room ….
“Grandpa, Grandpa,” she says excitedly, “As soon as Grandma comes into the room, make a noise like a frog!”
“What?” said her Grandpa.
“Make a noise like a frog – because Grandma said that as soon as you croak, we’re all going to Disney Land !”
 

 

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June 25, 2011 Posted by | A Merry Heart | Comments Off on This ought to make grandpas feel warm and fuzzy!

# 8 Bankrupt

Paul has argued in Romans 2 that salvation does not come by attempting to keep moral or ceremonial Jewish Laws. The circumcision of Jewish or gentile  baby boys does not save them from sin;  rather it  was the sign of God’s covenant relationship with Israel, as taught in Genesis 17:9-14.  If salvation depends on our abililty to keep God’s Law perfectly, then there is no hope of salvation, whether we are Jews or Gentiles.  The outward surgery of circumcision is not the issue. Instead, it is the spiritual circumcision of the heart which causes us to deal with sin and bring us into right relationship with God. The Lord Jesus Christ applies  this circumcision to our hearts, both male and female, when He saves us.

WHAT THEN IS THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING A JEW?

 Paul asks that question in Romans 3:1.  Considering the history of the Jews, it is certain that they have had no advantage being Jews.  Their history is one of being  hated, abused and enslaved by the nations of the world: including Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.  In this past century they have endured great suffering at the hands of the Nazis and by the Muslims.

On the other hand down through the years the Jews have enjoyed some great advantages.   To them were given the privilege of writing the Word of God by inspiration of God.   The King James Version translates Romans 3:2   Because that unto them, the Jews, were committed the oracles of God.”    That would include, The Holy Scriptures.

Furthermore, God gave the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham, the father of the Jewish race.  Through that covenant was promised the coming of the Messiah who would save His people from their sins.   In the fullness of time, Jesus was the fulfillment of that covenant.

A list of advantages to the Jews is found in Romans 9:1-5.  It includes the truth that the Jews were adopted by God. 

It includes the Shekinah glory of the presence of God in their portable tabernacle through their wilderness journeys; and later, their temple in Jerusalem.  That bright cloud by day and pillar of fire by night led them on their journey.  

It includes God’s covenants with both Abraham in Genesis 12 & 17, and with David in II Samuel 7.

Moses also received the Law of God written by His hands on Mt. Sinai.

They also received many promises of their coming Messiah throughout the Old Testament.  All of these were fulfilled in detail by the coming  of the Lord Jesus Christ,  the Messiah,  promised to Israel.  That Messiah is the Saviour to the world.

THE JEW’S REJECTION OF CHRIST

We see the Jew’s rejecton of Christ throughout the New Testament Gospels, culminating in their demand for Jesus’ crucifixion.  As Gentiles who have come to Christ for salvation, we do not blame the Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion.  God was ultimately responsible, for John 3:16 states that He gave His Son, the Lamb of God,  as a blood sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Those who receive Christ as their sacrifice for sin are saved from their sins and given the Gift of Eternal Life. 

Throughout the Book of Acts we have the history of the early years of the Church.  Throughout we see the Jews opposing and persecuting and even killing the early preachers of the Gospel, including Stephen, the first Deacon. 

When Paul preached the Gospel to the Jews in Asia, we learn in  Acts 21:28 that the Jews charged the Apostle Paul with preaching against the Jews, against their Law, and against their temple.  None of that was true.  Paul was not against the Jews, nor against the Law of Moses nor aganst the temple. That’s the way enemies of Christ see Gospel preachers. 

Being a Jew does not save from sin any more than being a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran,  Roman Catholic, Mormon or Jehovah Witness or any other religious denomination or group or being non-denominational.   What matters is not the religious label, but the faithful proclamation of the Gospel.

WHERE DID THE JEWS GET THE IDEA THAT THEY WERE A SPECIAL PEOPLE?

They got it from the Bible, the inspired Word of God.  Read the following passages and it becomes very evident how special the Jews were and are today  to God.  Deuteronomy 10:14-15,  14:2,  Isaiah 5:1-7,  43:21,  and  Ezekiel 16:1-28.

ARE THE JEWS BETTER THAN THE GENTILES?

Romans 3:9-10 teaches that they are not;  nor are the Gentiles better than the Jews.  None of us are righteous.  We are all sinners, regardless of our religious labels.

THE DEFINITION OF SIN

Romans 3:9 mentions sin for the first time in this Epistle.  Sin is mentioned about fifty times in Romans. It is a major theme and it ought to be a major theme in our preaching as we warn of sin and its consequences.  About twelve different Hebrew and Greek words are used to refer to sin to help us gain a more complete understanding of it.  Here are four of them.

1. MISSING THE MARK

For example it means missing the mark, as an archer seeking to hit the bull’s eye.  That usage is found in Romans 3:23  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  I often explain this “coming short” in my illustration of attempting to jump the Grand Canyon from the south rim to the north rim, a distsance of eighteen miles.  If you had to jump that distance, you know you would fall 5,000 feet  to your death. Such a jump is totally impossible, just at it is utterly impossible for any of us to jump from our sinful state to God’s perfect, sinless state by our own effort. 

It takes faith in Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead three days later, to accomplish our salvation, which He does totally apart from any works of righteousness on our part. 

2. OVERSTEPPING THE BOUNDARY

Adam and Eve did that in the Garden of Eden when they ate fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a tree from which  God had forbidden them to eat.  They listened to the temptation of Satan, clothed in a talking serpent,  and ate the forbidden fruit, bringing the curse of sin on the entire world, including the entire human race which was to come.

This is the same sin we see in our chldren when they do that which we have forbidden them to do.  It continues throughout our lives as we over-step boundaries.

3. FALLING INSTEAD OF STANDING

Righteousness and  upright come from the same root word.  Man is born crooked morally and needs straightening, which God does when He saves us.  

4. BEING IGNORANT INSTEAD OF KNOWING

Ignorance is no excuse with God.  Read and think about Romans 1:20.  Ignorance is a matter of the will; not a lack of intelligence.  Sinners are ignorant of God’s standards and God’s way of salvation because they choose to be ignorant. It has nothing to do with a lack of intelligence.

TRUST CHRIST NOW

Jesus died  to pay the penalty for your sins and rose again for your justification. Trust Him now and receive God’s Gift of eternal life. Read John 3:16  and John 1:12 and claim those promises today.

June 24, 2011 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off on # 8 Bankrupt

Wisdom or Shrewdness

Have you ever noticed that everything Jesus taught was simple, direct and practical?  There is nothing mystical or spooky or weird about Christianity, as you find in false religions. Christianity is not about going into a trance or putting on a pious look or attempting to speak or preach or pray in supposed pious tones.  It’s not about losing control of our bodies and babbling in strange unknown sounds. It’s not about trying to imitate the latest rock stars or screwing up our faces as though we were in pain when we sing.  The true Christian, though far from perfect, is real.  He’s not even perpetually grinning; though a warm, genuine smile that begins in the heart and seeps out through the eyes and to the entire countenance  is a beautiful reflection of the indwelling Christ in a Christian.

 

Jesus came to reveal the Father to us; so the better we know Jesus through the study of His Word, the better acquainted we are with our Heavenly Father.

 

Everything Jesus teaches, touches our lives practically as we live each day.

 

Everything He teaches deals with moral issues, matters of right and wrong.  His teachings are going to convict us and often make us feel uncomfortable about ourselves.  As long as we face our sins honestly and confess them to Him, His blood shed onCalvary’s cross makes possible His forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness. That’s the teaching of I John 1.

 

So with this background, let’s turn to Luke 16 and read the first thirteen verses.  Here we will learn of an unjust steward. In this very interesting story we will learn about wisdom and shrewdness.  

 

It is estimated that Jesus used about 40 parables in His teaching and about 30% of them deal with money and material things. Why is money so dominant in His teachings?  Because money is so dominant in our lives.   Most of our waking hours is spent earning it, spending it,  investing it and thinking about how we can acquire more of it.

 

There is nothing wrong in being shrewd and wise in  planning ahead for eventualities, including our retirement. But as Christians, our primary concern in the use of our time, energy and money should be how we can invest for the maximum dividends in eternity.

 

We don’t buy our way into Heaven.  That is offered freely to guilty sinners who trust in God’s gracious Gift of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.  But as Christians, we ought to be considering how best we fit into Christ’s Great Commission to take the Gospel to the whole world.  As we invest in that heavenly enterprise, we are going to reap eternal dividends.

 

Now if you’ve read the story in Luke 16:1-13 let’s discuss it and learn the practical lessons Jesus taught.

 

A rich man had a steward.  A steward is one who manages money and  financial matters for another. That is a grave responsibility.  The most important qualification for a steward is that he can be trusted.

 

The steward in this story that Jesus told turned out to be irresponsible and untrustworthy. When the master learned of this, he called his steward in to give an account and gave him his notice of termination.

 

The steward, knowing he was too old to dig ditches and too proud to beg, began to consider what he should do.  Then an idea came to him.  He called in the debtors one by one.  Jesus mentions two of them.  To the first debtor he offered to cut his debt in half.  To the second debtor he offered to cut his debt by 20%.

 

Why did the steward do this?  He was a shrewd, though irresponsible and crooked manager of money. He knew one lesson of sales that every good salesman knows.  He knew his only way out of his mess was to work out a win/win situation for everyone involved.  By reducing the debts of the debtors, he won their friendship which he would need after he was terminated.  He worked out a plan where his master would at least recover part of the debts owed him.   After all,  50%  or 80% was better than nothing!  He also won for himself the approval of his master. 

 

Yes, Jesus tells us that the master commended him for his shrewdness. There are two Greek words that could have been used.   The Greek word translated wisely in the King James Version in verse 8 is more accurately  translated shrewdly in the New American Standard Bible. One means wise and the other means shrewd. This steward was probably not wise, but he was shrewd.

 

Then Jesus concluded His story with this factual statement in verse 8, “The children of this world, the unsaved, are in their generation shrewder than the children of light, Christians.” The Lord willing, we will examine this statement in more detail in our next article in this series.

 

Note verse 9. The New American Standard Bible makes it clearer, “And I say unto you, make friends for yourselves of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.”

 

One day our money is going to fail.  We are going to give it all up when we die.   The message of this story Jesus told is that if we invest our money in the spread of the Gospel and in building lives for Christ, one day when we arrive in Heaven we are going to be welcomed by a host of people whose lives we have personally touched for Christ as well as untold others whom we never met on this earth, but who through our sacrificial giving, came to know Christ through God’s servants who were helped financially through our gifts.  I am so excited to think about this. I cannot begin to grasp the influence of my life as I have preached the Gospel in small churches for over fifty years, as well as by radio for about twelve years and now through this web site on the internet.  From some reports I have received, I expect I am a spiritual great-grandfather to countless new Christians.   But more exciting, the good people who have supported me down through the years are all going to join with me in rejoicing when we arrive in Heaven and begin to learn the full extent of our ministries.  These Christians who have preceded us to Heaven are going to be there to welcome us when we arrive in Heaven!

 

If you are a “Lone Ranger” type of Christian, I encourage you to get involved in a sound Bible preaching church and help spread the Gospel by word and by your financial support to those who are faithfully preaching the Word here and around the world.  Get in on the action now and one day you too will be met by a host of people who came to Christ through your financial support.  If you are blessed by this web site, help spread the Gospel to others around the world by sharing this web site with others.

 

 

 

 

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Wisdom | Comments Off on Wisdom or Shrewdness

Bless me, Father

Genesis 24 records one of several beautiful  love stories in the Bible, the story of the courtship and marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac was the promised son of Abraham and Sarah; the son through whom the Abrahamic Covenant would continue; the lineage through whom one day the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, would come. Read in that chapter how Rebekah’s  hospitality to an elderly man would eventually lead her to her beloved husband, Isaac.  Genesis 24 concludes with their simple, but beautiful marriage. 

Genesis 25 records the birth of Isaac and Rebekah’s  twin sons, Esau and Jacob, in that order.  Their sad story of parental favoritism is told in Genesis 25-28 as a warning to all parents. Isaac favored Esau, while Rebekah favored Jacob.

But woven through their story which continues all the way through Genesis 33 is God’s story of His sovereignty in the lives of Esau and Jacob.   That’s the way it is in each of our personal stories. Psalm 139 presents the comforting  doctrine of God’s sovereignty and care in each of our lives. I encourage you to take time to read and meditate on that Psalm and trust Him for God’s good plan for your life.

In Genesis 25:21-34 we learn that the younger twin, Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel as he wrestled with a human manifestation of God. was the God-blessed son through whom the Abrahamic Covenant would pass; whereas Esau was rejected by God and he became the father of the Edomites, bitter enemies ofIsrael.

Actually, this rivalry of the twins had begun in Rebekah’s womb before they were born and God told Rebekah a secret which possibly she never shared with her husband.  In Genesis 25:22-23  the Lord told her that contrary to custom, the first born son, Esau,  would serve the second born son, Jacob.

In Genesis 27 we see Isaac, now an old man and losing his sight.  It’s time to pass on his blessing to his sons.  His concern is to pass on his major blessing to his oldest son, Esau, who is a hunter.  He asks Esau to find and kill a deer and make him his favorite venison stew. Afterwards he will bless him.

Rebekah overhears the conversation and she begins to scheme how she can make sure Jacob gets the blessing, rather than Esau. She remembers the message she had received from God years earlier while she was carrying the twins in her womb.  She knows it is God’s will that the younger son should receive the primary blessing. So with her scheming mind she plans how Jacob can inherit the blessing.  She instructs Jacob to kill a goat from their flock and bring it to her.  Rebekah prepares the goat to taste just like the venison stew Esau prepares and  Isaac enjoys so much.

Jacob is smooth skinned while Esau has a hairy body, including his neck and arms.  Knowing that Isaac will touch his son when he blessed him, Rebekah has a problem to solve. She solves that problem by fastening goat hair to Jacob’s arms and neck.  Then she instructs him to go in to his aged father and pretend he is Esau.  Read this account in Genesis 27 for all the interesting details.  

Though Isaac is confused by the sound of Jacob’s voice, he feels his hairy arms and neck and decides it must be Esau.   Then he pronounces Esau’s blessing on Jacob and eats the stew which Rebekah had prepared to taste just like Esau’s stew.  Basically he passed on the Abrahamic Covenant to Jacob instead of his elder twin brother, Esau.   Though it is trickery on the part of Jacob and his mother,  it is ultimately the sovereign will of God.

No sooner does he pronounce his blessing on Jacob and Jacob leaves the house, when Esau comes in from hunting with the venison stew he had made from the deer he killed. 

When he learns that his father has been tricked and Jacob has received the blessing reserved for him, Esau is furious with his brother. He  cries out in despair to his father to bless him also.  Isaac realizes the mistake he has made and is grief stricken.  Isaac in Genesis 27:39-40 gives Esau the best blessing he can, but the prominent blessing has already been given to Jacob and there is no way he can rescind that.  

As we conclude the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27, we learn that Esau hates his brother and is determined to kill him.  Rebekah works quickly to warn Jacob of his angry brother and she sends Jacob off to her brother Laban inHaranuntil Esau’s anger subsides. The events that follow through the rest of Genesis are more exciting than any mystery novel, as God leads and teaches and protects Jacob and his twelve sons.

FATHER’S BLESS YOUR CHILDREN! 

 

Father’s,  I share this story with you on Father’s Day so that you can realize your responsibility and privilege of  blessing your children.

Children want more from their father’s than mere material things.  Too many fathers think that the most important thing they can do for their children is to devote their lives to making lots of money by working overtime so they can buy material things for their children.   But boys and girls want more from their fathers  than mere stuff. 

A father has the ability to bless or curse his children, Our children desire and deserve much more than mere material things.  They deserve and need the following.

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR TIME AND ATTENTION.

 

Our children want and deserve our time and personal attention.  They want to experience and be assured of their father’s LOVE which is always  spelled, TIME AND PERSONAL ATTENTION!

Read a story in I Kings 20:39-42 of a man who was given the responsibility by his king to guard a prisoner with his life.   The prisoner escaped.

Later, the man made the excuse to the king  that  “As thy servants was busy here and there, he was gone!”

That’s the way it is with us fathers.  We have our children at home for about 18 to 20 years, and then they leave home for college or for work and marriage and they are gone.   How sad that we did not take the time to play with and pray with and talk with our children and show them our love and teach them the truths of God’s Word and introduce them to Christ.

Spend as much time as possible with your children.  Start early from the time they are born.  Cuddle your infant son or daughter.  Enjoy every stage of growth.  Be as involved as you can in their lives.  If your work schedule allows it, be with your family for meals, some play time, bed time rituals,  including a time of sharing Bible stories and truths and praying with your family. As your work schedule permits, be involved in their education, sports, musical activities, church activities, and family vacations and on your days off from work.

If your wife is constantly at home with her children, as God meant her to be, she will be more involved in their lives than you can possibly be.  But if the two of you during your courtship days, discussed and agreed on your Biblical philosophy of parenting, there will be no contradiction or arguments of parenting. You will be in perfect harmony and your children will see that they cannot play one parent against another to get their own will. For much more on this subject, go to category, FAMILY, on this web site.

Whether you are a pastor, elder or deacon and are active in your church, you will understand that no church activity is more important than the spiritual welfare of your children.  You will see to it that you always make time for your children and you will include them in your schedule whenever possible.   

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR INSTRUCTION AND GUIDANCE.

 

You will realistically have your children for about 16 years.  After that, they will be busy with school activities, after school activities and part time jobs.  That leaves you with only 5,840 days to personally impact their lives and teach them the important lessons of life. 

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-9 to learn your parental responsibilities. This involves teaching them about life and its pitfalls and eternal values.  It involves teaching them God’s Word concerning our relationship with God and with others.

Teach them, primarily by modeling it in your own life, such lessons as  to keeping their word, inter-personal relationships, sex-education,  how to keep themselves and their room clean,  how to drive a car safely, the responsibilities of faithfulness at work, financial matters, a Biblical political philosophy,  music appreciation,  home repairs and upkeep and  some mechanical know-how, if you have learned it from your father.

Listen to Solomon as he  instructs his children on every subject under the sun.  Read and discuss the book of  Proverbs with your children.  By all means, introduce them to Jesus who came into this world to save us by dying and rising again  for our sins.

Live your life consistently as a Christian, so you may be able to say, “My son, my daughter, give me your heart and let your eyes observe how I live my life. Proverbs 23:26  We earn the trust and respect of our children to make such a request of them by building a relationship with them through those first sixteen years of their lives.   Don’t blow your opportunity!  Live a life of integrity- that is, practice what you preach.  Proverbs 20:7

Not only do we take the responsibility to instruct our children,  but we guard them from false instruction and from wrong influences that come from  wrong friends,  the wrong school and even the wrong church. See Proverbs 19:27.   That’s why we removed our children from public school when our oldest son was in fifth grade and from then on our children were in Christian schools and we also home schooled them. That was back in the early 70’s when others looked at us as if we were crazy.

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR APPROVAL AND ENCOURAGEMENT.

 

We fathers are quick to express our disapproval when our children do wrong- and we should.  However, we must also express our approval when our children do right; even when it’s not popular.  Express it.  Tell them.  They need to hear it from you.

But beware of showing favoritism, as Isaac and Rebekah did with their twin sons, Esau and Jacob.   This character flaw passed on from generation to generation.  Jacob also showed favoritism among his twelve sons, by choosing Joseph and Benjamin as his favorites.  Continue reading the rest of Genesis to learn what harm that caused.

If our children are discouraged and depressed and angry in their home situation, it’s your responsibility to solve the problem by considering your own example, fathers.  According to Colossians 3:21   and Ephesians 6:4, the buck stops with you, Dad!

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR LOVE.

 

That love is going to be restored one day, Malachi 4:5-6 prophesies. But this loving relationship between parents and children can be restored in your home now, if you’ll take the leadership and set the example, Dad!  Let your children observe and feel your unconditional love.  They may need to earn your trust, but they must never need to earn your love.  They must understand that your love is unconditional.

A child who does not experience his father’s unconditional love will have difficulty in ever believing John 3:16  He may also have trouble loving his or her spouse and children. 

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR UNDERSTANDING.

 

Nothing provokes our children to wrath as much as our lack of understanding them.  Ephesians 6:4.  That comes from not listening to them. Listen to them and converse with them while they are young and you will develop a life-long relationship with them of understanding. Start while they are young. If we listen to them and make an effort to understand them, they will be more prone to incline their hearts to understand and obey His Word and to listen to and obey our instruction.

Understanding comes with wisdom as we spend time in the Word of God. Read Proverbs 2:1-11 and 3:1-5.

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR DISCIPLINE.

 

Yes, our children want and cry for our discipline. It helps them understand we love them.  Nothing is more comforting to a child than a spanking he deserved.  Hebrews 12:6.   Children crave a firm, loving hand from their father. Proverbs 13:24. They crave your attention.

Punishment must be consistent and fair and given in love.

Nothing is so cruel to a child  as a father or mother who allows children total freedom  and who never reprimands or punishes wrong doing.  Such parents scream at their children in frustration or roar in anger all day.  That’s not discipline.  That’s ignorance and lack of discipline on our part.

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR EXAMPLE.

 

Every pastor and every father ought to be able to say with the Apostle Paul,  in I Corinthians 4:15-16 “For though ye have  ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.  Wherefore, I beseech you,  be ye followers of me.”  

Speaking of Abraham in Genesis 18:19  we learn that God could bless Abraham  “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.”

Paul in I Corinthians 11:1 pleaded with the church, “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.”

How hypocritical it is of us as fathers and pastors when we do not set the right example to our family or flock.

WE BLESS OUR CHILDREN BY HAVING A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR MOTHER, OUR WIFE.

 

Children deserve and need to see their father love their mother.  A father can best love his children by loving their mother.   If that love is missing, the love you try to show your children will be empty and meaningless.  Your love for their mother gives them security and stability.   They can go to sleep at night knowing all is well with their home.  The word husband comes from two words,  House Band.  The husband is the one who holds the house, the home together.

WE BLESS THEM WITH OUR PRAYERS

 

We start praying for our children before they are born.   We pray; not simply public prayers, but we breathe prayers about everything in our lives without ceasing.  We pray about big and little problems. We pray with them, for their pet’s needs. For them as they study.  We pray with them for our testimonies as individuals and as a family.

Your children should be observing that prayer is a normal, consistent part of your life as eating and drinking and conversing with the family.

Long after they have grown up and left home, our prayers continue to follow them.

WE BLESS THEM WITH A FINANCIAL INHERITANCE

 

Of all the ways to bless our children, this is the least important, but it is important.

 

I Corinthians13:22 declares that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”  Although not all of us can leave a financial inheritance to our grand children,  all of us can leave a spiritual heritage to them if we are walking with the Lord.

If we miss leaving a spiritual inheritance,  the money we leave them will be squandered and wasted just like the Prodigal Son wasted his inheritance as in a few months he was living in a pig pen with the pigs, eating what they ate.

A CONCLUDING WARNING

 

Isaac blessed his twin sons the best he could after making the terrible mistake of  showing favoritism to one of the twins and showing rebellion to God  in this matter of God’s sovereignty.   Will you join me in asking wisdom and humility for the great responsibility of being a good father?

 

 

 

June 17, 2011 Posted by | Fathers | Comments Off on Bless me, Father

#7 Fig Leaf Religion

The theme of Romans is The Righteousness of God, the only righteousness that qualifies us for Heaven.

The first division of Romans is  1:16-3:20. It deals with man’s desperate need of God’s righteousness.  Under this division in earlier articles  we’ve already dealt with sinful, fallen man’s  degeneracy in Romans 1:18-32 and the certainty of his judgment under God in Romans 2:1-16

Within this division we are examining in this message a major group who need God’s Righteousness; the religious, but lost.  This group is described in Romans 2:17-29.

What is religion?  It is that upon which we rely to give us a favorable standing in the sight of God, save us from His judgment and punishment for sin, give us eternal life and make us fit to dwell with Him in  Heaven.

THE VAIN HOPE AND  BOAST OF FALSE RELIGION Romans 2:17-20

 

All the false religions of man are Satanic-inspired and all boast that their’s is the way to God.  Religion is associated with pride and self righteousness.  False religion leads man to be proud and feel good about himself.  

 

All those trapped in false religion are “of their father, the devil.”    That’s what Jesus told the Pharisees of his day in John 8:44 as He exposed the religious leaders who were holding the Jews in religious bondage.  It was this public exposure by Jesus that drove the Jewish leaders mad to the point of turning the crowds against Jesus and ultimately seeking His crucifixion.

THE SOURCE OF FALSE RELIGION

 

God created Adam and Eve and placed them in The Garden of Eden to have sweet fellowship with Him daily.  According to Genesis 2:15-17 His one and only prohibition was to avoid eating fruit from a certain tree in the midst of the Garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

Earlier, Lucifer had rebelled against God in Heaven.   That rebellion and its consequences are recorded in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. There we will find; not all we would like to know, but all we need to know about Satan’s origin and fall.  In Genesis 3 we have the story of how Lucifer, (whose name was changed to Satan after His rebellion against God) appeared to Eve as a beautiful talking serpent. There in Genesis 3:1-6  Satan beguiled her to listen to him and disobey God. She ate of the forbidden tree and gave some also to her husband who joined her in her rebellion towards God.  

Incidentally, but importantly, Eve was deceived by Satan.  Adam was not deceived, but walked into his sins with his eyes wide open, knowing he was deliberately disobeying God.

It is for this reason Paul instructs in I Timothy 2:9-14 that women should not preach to and pastor men.  That does not make women second-rate Christians. Women have a huge role in the church teaching both women and children, as well as in the home. I’ve repeated in several articles on this web site that women; both single and married have probably had a greater influence on my life growing up than men.  Mothers and single women can have a huge influence on the direction of the next generation as mothers, teachers and baby-sitters. How does that saying go?  “The hand that rocks the cradle,  moves the nation.”

Through  our early years as a family, we could have used more money just meeting the bare essentials of life; but never for one moment would we have considered my wife giving up her responsibilities of raising our children at home in order to get a job and make more money so we could have more than the essentials. My wife loved her responsibilities as a wife and mother and did an excellent job of raising our children. But you can read more about this under the categories VIRTUOUS WOMAN and FAMILY.   Now back to the story of the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden.

Immediately Adam and Eve  recognized that they had sinned against God and devised the first religion. They now recognized they were naked; not just physically naked, but morally naked and bankrupt before God.  That first religion was to make aprons of fig leaves to cover their nakedness.  Covered with those fig leaves,  they sought to hide themselves from the presence of God. That,  in essence, is the vanity of man-made religion.

Sinful man, knowing he is guilty of sin and deserving of death, vainly attempts to  rid himself of guilt and make himself presentable to God.  False religion comes in a vast variety of ways, but it’s all based on man attempting to atone for his sins and making himself presentable to God.  That, in essence, is a description of all false religion.

Throughout the Bible false religion is nearly always associated with empty formalism, ceremonialism and works of self-righteousness.  Satan, the source of all false religion, leads men and women to  take pride in their self-righteousness and uses religion to keep us from recognizing our need of Christ as our Saviour from sin.

THE BOAST OF FALSE RELIGION

 

BOASTS IN A NAME

 

False religion boasts, not in Christ; but in a name or label. That name may be Jew, Muslim or Roman Catholic. Or you may boast that you are Protestant and a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, or some other denomination. Or you may be a member of a cult, such as Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, Christian Science or Scientology. Cults are religious groups of people who believe that they are the only true Church. Or you may be as I am: independent and non-denominational.  Or you may be associated with some oriental Eastern religion.

Peter, preaching Jesus  to the Jews in Acts 4 announced in verse 12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved.”  

Throughout the world, man is incurably religious.  Only a fool  living on this earth in this amazing universe filled with evidence of intelligent design would claim to be an atheist, according to Psalm 14:1.

Christ died on the cross to save man from sin and religion. The most difficult condition from which to save a man is not his blatant sin; but from a false religious system.  The devil will do all in his power to keep a man trapped in a religion- anything to keep him from Christ.  It’s only by the grace, love and sovereignty of God that anyone of us can be delivered from our sins and from a false religious system.

BOASTS IN A KNOWLEDGE OF OLD TESTAMENT CEREMONIAL LAW AS A MEANS OF ATTAINING RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HEAVEN

 

That was the boast of the Pharisees whom Jesus confronted during His earthly ministry.  In Matthew 23 Jesus scathingly exposed their wicked hearts. In Romans 2:17-24, Paul, who had been a chief Pharisee before his conversion, exposed their wicked hypocrisy.

THE BLASPHEMY OF RELIGION WITHOUT CHRIST.

 

Religion that rejects salvation by the grace of God through faith in the blood sacrifice of Christ alone for our sins is blasphemous and leading people to Hell.  

Cain practiced such a religion, trying to impress God with the works of his own hands. Read about it in Genesis 4.  God rejected his bloodless sacrifice and accepted his younger brother, Abel’s blood sacrifice, which pictured the ultimate and final blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross.   Cain became jealous and furious over this and killed his brother Abel.  Down through the centuries this enmity has continued as God’s enemies have persecuted and killed Christians.

THE SIGN AND EVIDENCE OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY 

 

In Romans 2:15-29 Paul  concludes this matter of false religion with the issue of circumcision.  Circumcision of Jewish baby boys was the sign of God’s covenant relationship with Israel, as taught in Genesis 17:9-14.

But beyond the physical circumcision of baby boys, God has a much greater concern, the spiritual circumcision of hearts from the sin and defilement of this world.  See that concern in Deuteronomy 10:16,  30:6,  Jeremiah 6:10 and Colossians 2:8-11, 3:10-16.

After Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead, fulfilling all righteousness, Galatians 5:1-6 teaches us that circumcision was abolished as a spiritual requirement and evidence of true Christianity. Today circumcision of  baby boys is no longer a requirement to bring us into a relationship with God; nor is it the evidence of a genuine relationship with God.  Today, circumcision  of baby boys is simply a health decision for parents and their doctors; that and nothing more.

The true evidence of Christianity is a circumcised heart, a heart from which Christ is cutting away and decreasing  the evil influence of this sin-cursed world  and the influences of our carnal flesh nature and a heart that is increasingly growing in godliness as it is  being influenced by God’s Word.  

 

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off on #7 Fig Leaf Religion

Despising the Pleasant Land

Psalm 105 describes Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian captivity and God’s leading them into their promised land of Canaan.

Psalm 106 reminds us how Israel so soon forgot God and despised all He had done for them.

As Israel was led by God to their promised land, so  the Pilgrims and pioneers were led by God to the promised land of America;  and as Israel forgot and forsook God, so America over the years has followed Israel in despising the God who led, protected and provided for them.

We can say of Americans what the Psalmist said of Israel in Psalm 106. “They forgot God”  vs 21  “They despised the pleasant land.” Vs 24, They murmured in their tents and harkened not to the voice of God.” Vs 25.

AMERICA‘S GODLY HERITAGE

 

The Mayflower Compact

 

The Pilgrims came to America on the sailing ship, the Mayflower in 1620, just about 400 years ago.  Let by Governor Bradford aboard the Mayflower before landing at Plymouth Rock in what became Massachusetts,  he wrote The Mayflower Compact, a plan for the first self-determining self government ever put forth in America.  Here it is, minus some old English words and phrases. 

“In the name of God, Amen.”

We whose names are underwritten, loyal subjects of our dread sovereign, Lord King James by the grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of The Faith, and in honor of our King and country, we have undertaken this voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, (the winds had blown them north to Cape Cod) do by this document solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves into a civic body politic for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends foresaid, and by virtue of this document enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time as shall be thought right for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submissions and  obedience.

“In witness we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November in the 18th year of the reign of Sovereign Lord, King James,  1620 AD. ”

The United States Constitution

 

Let’s move ahead one hundred and fifty years later to 1770.  When the Continental Congress met to frame the Constitution of the United States of America, they had the difficult task of forming a single nation from the thirteen colonies: each with their own laws, their own money and with their own taxes and import duties.  They argued and worked for long weeks, seeking some plan on which they could agree.

At last Benjamin Franklin stood up, we are told and said, “I have lived sirs, a long time: and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of the truth that God governs in the affairs of men.

“If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

“We have been assured, sirs, in the Sacred Writings,  that except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it”

“I firmly believe this and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of The Tower of Babel.”

The delegates of the Continental Congress agreed and stopped for prayer. The difficulty seemed soon to dissolve and out of that prayer meeting grew the great historic Constitution of the United States, probably the most important historical document ever written.  So the colonies became one nation under God. 

It would be foolish and devilish to contend that America was not founded with the help of God, or that our founders did not claim that help.

The Senator from Massachusetts

 

Daniel Webster, a US Senator from Massachusetts 200 years ago said about our founding as a nation, “Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment.

‘Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor can any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits. Living under the heavenly light of Revelation (the Bible) they hoped to find all the social disposition and the duties which men owe each other and to society, enforced and performed. Whatever makes good Christians, makes them good citizens.”

Webster continued, “Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin.  Our Fathers were brought hither by their high veneration of the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civic, politic, or literary.

“Let us cherish these sentiments and extend their influence still more widely; in the full conviction this it the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree in the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity.”

These were the words from the senator from Massachusetts 150 years ago.

America was born a God-fearing nation.

And so today we have our God honoring Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our national songs, such as “God Bless America”,  “The Star Spangled Banner”  Listen to the third stanza, 

“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand between their loved homes and war’s desolation.  Blest with victory and peace May the Heaven’s rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,  And this be our motto, “In God is our trust.” And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

In our beloved national song, “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies”, God is mentioned in all four stanzas, “God shed His grace on Thee”.  “God mend thine every flaw”,  “May God thy gold refine”,  and again, “God shed His grace on thee.”

In another beloved national song, “My Country, Tis of Thee”  we address this hymn of praise to God, the source of our nation and our freedoms. Listen to the last stanza. “Our Father’s God, to Thee, Author of liberty, to Thee we sing, Long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light; Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!”

I wonder how long it will be before the liberals will ban these hymns of praise to God from public use.  Perhaps it has already happened in some places.

In addition to our founding documents and our national hymns of praise to God, nearly all our national buildings and monuments  are filled with inscriptions of Holy Scripture engraved in stone.  Not only in our capitol, but also in the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, in Liberty Hall in Philadelphia, in the Gettysburg battle field, and so many other places.

Our Bill of Rights forbids Congress from establishing a state religion and also protects us and guarantees that no one can prohibit anyone from the free exercise of their religion.

Back in 1836  a minister, Rev. McGuffey, wrote a set of readers for six grade levels from first through sixth grade. All these readers are filled with Bible stories and Bible verses to be memorized, teaching moral values to the children.  For decades following, America’s boys and girls grew up learning to read and learning these Scriptural values in America’s schools.

The dumbing down of America

With the banning of such literature and with the banning of the Bible from the public class room has come increased crime and immorality in our schools and in our nation and the dumbing down of America.

Listen to our late night television comedians go out on the streets and ask the general public simple questions concerning our nations history.  Recently one of them asked several  the meaning of July 4.  Most young people  who were asked had no idea that it commemorated  America’s freedom  from England.   At the same time, these young people have been taught in school, even in the elementary grades how to use condoms.  Our  Nanny State now attempts to protect children from the influence of their own parents.

I thank God that my wife and I back in the early 70’s became aware of the academic and moral bankruptcy of the public schools and began home schooling our children until we could establish a Christian school in our church.

Nearly all of our great statesmen, presidents, and military leaders have in their speeches spoken of their dependence on God and asked for the prayers of God’s people.  Every November our President honors God by calling on the nation to give Him thanks for His blessings on us.

Until recent years when we shut God out of our schools and out of our lives, America was a blessed nation from our founding. We believed and experienced the truth of Psalm 33:12 “Blessed in the nation whose God is The Lord and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.”  We Americans knew the God of the Bible was our God and we were His people.

As a result of that relationship with God, we were the most blessed nation on the face of the earth. We enjoyed freedom like no other nation. We were blessed materially beyond measure.

America in the Balance

Since the 60’s our nation has been swinging in the balance between liberalism’s rejection of the Bible and conservatism’s acceptance and dependence on the Bible and its moral values.  Unless we turn to a strong acceptance and reliance on the Bible, we will go the way of all nations that have forgotten and forsaken God and drown in the muck of depravity and poverty.

Many, perhaps most Americans today, have fallen for the devilish philosophy that the government owes us  a living and must meet all our needs from the cradle to the grave.

The Liberal’s 23rd Psalm

For the typical liberal-educated American the 23rd Psalm reads as follows.

The government is my shepherd, I shall not want.

It leads me by the still waters of complacency.

When I have financial needs it bails me out.

It leads me in the path of total government dependence.

In old age it gives me Social Security.

Yea though I walk through sickness and trouble, I will fear no evil for Medicare and Medicaid are there for me.

It prepares a table before me with Food stamps

and other government subsidies.

It doesn’t matter if there is fraud and waste, as long as I get my share.

Surely mounting taxes and increasing government controls will be with me all the days of my life and when I am gone, my children and grand children will be saddled with a mounting national debt for generations to come.

But who cares?

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS DEPRESSING STATE OF AFFAIRS?

Christian friend,  America’s future is in our hands as Christians. As goes the church so goes the nation. I Peter 4:17 warns us, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?”

Remember, human government is God’s provision to protect citizens and provide for them a safe and quiet peaceful atmosphere of freedom  so we can each live our lives in pursuit of God’s will which leads to happiness and success.

According to Romans 13:1-7, I Timothy 2:1-4  and I Peter 2:13-17 we are to honor and pray for our leaders, even if we don’t agree with them.

We are to pay our taxes, fair or unfair.

We are to work as citizens to elect good, God fearing leaders and change unbiblical laws.

We are to bring about justice in the criminal justice system by punishing law breakers and making sure that victims of crime are avenged.

Our alternative is found n Psalms 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all nations that forget God.” America is no exception.

My Solutions

 

My solution is not to immediately dismantle our welfare system, but to work on a plan that would over a generation allow individuals and families to set up their own investments and insurance programs without tax penalties on capital gains, so that within the next  thirty to fifty years we could gradually phase out Social Security and Medicaire and Medicade

As for our ability to compete in the market place with the nations of the world,  the whole idea of unions must be eliminated. Allow the free market place to do it’s thing. Let the businesses that do the best job succeed and flourish and let those business that  don’t produce excellent products and services and those who mistreat their employees fail.  There will always be a demand for excellent products and services.  The rest don’t deserve to exist.

May God raise up some Godly, principled men and women to run for public office on the local, state and federal level and may we see a return to old fashioned patriotic Americanism.  It’s not too late!

 

 

June 5, 2011 Posted by | America | Comments Off on Despising the Pleasant Land

# 6 No Excuses

The Bible speaks of three divine judgments yet to come.

1. The Bema Judgment Seat of Christ

2. The Judgment of Nations

3. The Great White Throne Judgment.

 THE BEMA JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

This is a judgment only for Christians and it takes place immediately following the Rapture. Read II Timothy 4:7-8.   A major passage on this topic is II Corinthians 5:9-10. The good and bad spoken of here has nothing to do with morality or sin. The sins of Christians are under the shed blood of Christ. They will never be held against us. The good or bad spoken of here refer to whether our works are worthwhile or worthless.  It has to do with Christ’s evaluation and reward for our testimony,  service and suffering for Him during our life as a Christian and according to II Timothy 2:12-13  it will determine our positions of authority in the Millennial Kingdom when Christ is King over all the earth.   The following Scriptures give us more information on this judgment.  I Corinthians 3:9-15,  I Corinthians 4:2-5,  Romans 14:10-12,   Colossians 3:23-24,  and  Revelation  22:12. 

THE JUDGMENT OF NATIONS

After Christ’s glorified Church has been caught up to meet Christ, this judgment takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation and determines who, among those left on earth, enters the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.    Matthew 25:31-46  reveals  the criteria by which people outside  Christ’s glorified Church  will be permitted to enter the Kingdom and those who  will not be permitted to enter.  This passage could be referring to how people outside Christ’s glorified Church cared for and treated God’s chosen people, the Jews,  or it could be referring to their treatment of the needy in general.

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

This judgment takes place at the end of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.  It is a judgment only for the lost.  Christians will never face it. It is terrifying beyond description and information about it is found in Revelation 20:11-15  and 21:8

This judgment is for all the lost of all ages who have rejected Christ as Saviour.  Someday, perhaps soon, all Christians living or dead will instantly be resurrected in glorified bodies when Christ returns in what is known as The Rapture at a time no one but God knows.  Those left behind will eventually die and join the rest of unsaved dead in their graves. 

After the Millennial reign of Christ, all the unsaved dead of all time will be raised from the dust of the earth or from the depths of the sea.  They will be brought before a great white throne out in the heavens upon which Jesus, the Judge of mankind will sit.  There will be only one issue for these sinners.   Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?   Because they had rejected Christ during their lifetime, they forfeited eternal life and  are condemned to eternity in the Lake of Fire, prepared for the devil and his demons.  Read again from Revelation 20:11-15 and  21:8 and consider the stark horror of facing Christ on His Great White Throne.  Listen to Him describe this terrifying event. 

“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great,  stand before God and the Books were open and another Book was opened, which is The Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:  and they were judged every man according to their works.

And death and hell were cast into  theLakeofFire. This is the Second Death.  AND WHOSOEVER  WAS NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE WAS CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable and murderers and whoremongers,  and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in theLakewhich burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” 

The issue for you is not how great a sinner or how good you are.  The only issue for you is, IS YOUR NAME WRITTEN IN THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE?

The judgment of Romans 2  is the Great White Throne Judgment which condemns the lost to the eternal Lake of Fire  Romans 2:5 identifies this judgment as  “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”  

We are warned of this day of judgment throughout the Bible.  Here are just a few examples.

“He hath prepared His throne for judgment.”  Psalm 9:7

In Psalm 96  the Psalmist is singing the praises of our righteous  Lord, “for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with His Truth.”

Read the entire 2nd chapter of II Peter.  It  warns of His coming judgment.

II Thessalonians 1:7-9 warns, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire  taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey  not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall be punished with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

FIVE PRINCIPLES OF HIS JUDGMENT AS LISTED IN ROMANS 2

1. Christ’s judgment will be according to Truth  Romans 2:1-2.

2. Christ’s judgment is inescapable. Romans 2:3

In my first pastorate among the cattle ranchers of Nebraska  I observed one day as the cattle truck had backed up to a corral where the steers headed for market were corralled. The cattlemen on their horses and with their prods and whips were  directing the cattle up the shoot into the truck. Though some cattle attempted to jump the fence and get away; not one of them escaped the rancher’s  sovereignty. They all ended up in the truck and on their way to market. 

So those who think they can escape God’s judgment are only fooling themselves.  Everyone not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will eventually reach his eternal destination in Hell.  God will see to that.

3.  Romans 2:6 tells us that those at the Great White Throne will be judged according to their deeds.  They will be judged for the way they lived while other sinners, as bad or worse than them will escape judgment to be with Christ in Heaven for eternity.  Why?  They had put their trust in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for their sins and God had written their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

4. Romans 2:11-12 assures us that there is no class system with God.  All races and classes of society without Christ will stand before God without excuse and without any privileges because of class. The high class, well educated socialite sinner will be classed with the drunken bum on the street.  There is no class system with God.  All stand before Him without excuse or privilege.

5. Romans 2:16shows us that sinners will be judged for their motives as well as for their actions.

NO EXCUSES THAT DAY

On that judgment day there will be no plea bargaining nor bribing the Judge. There will be no one too big or too famous to meet their Maker.

I remind you again that you are not judged because you are a sinner.   We are all sinners.  Some of us have been forgiven by the blood of Christ.  Others have rejected that blood sacrifice, too proud to receive it.

No, we are not judged because we are sinners.  Rather, we are judged because we reject the gift of God’s grace.  The shed blood of Christ for our sins.  That’s why some face God’s judgment and eternal damnation in Hell.

Acts 17:31-34 tells us of how The Apostle Paul preached this same message to the intellectuals of  Athens.  Some received the Good News of salvation.  Most rejected it and continued on their way to Hell.

What will you do with Jesus?  You cannot be neutral.  You either receive Him and His Gift of Eternal Life in Heaven or reject Him and face the eternal consequences in the Lake of  Fire.

 

 

 

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Romans | Comments Off on # 6 No Excuses