Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not saved?

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. 
- - - Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone - - - your summer and your harvest have past - - - and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you - - - will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you - - - the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection - - - what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in Hell. O bethink you of what that Hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!



Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. A brother's voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year's midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.
ESCAPE FOR THY LIFE;
LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE,
NEITHER STAY THOU
IN ALL THE PLAIN;
ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAIN,
LEST THOU BE CONSUMED.
- - - Genesis 19:17


- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Islamophobia?

Are you an "Islamophobe?"

I'm not, technically, because, as a Christian, I don't fear Mohammedans: the Bible says,  The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe (Proverbs 29:25).  Likewise, Psalm 118:6: The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? And, perhaps most salient: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). 

But I'm not naive.  Our Christian brethren in Mohammedan nations are being burned alive, crucified, and decapitated - - - including infants and children.  They are God's own martyrs, and they have a martyr's reward.  But, generally speaking, perhaps "Islamophobia" is not the foolish "prejudice" that the media and the "intellectuals" claim.  Watch the following video (it contains no graphic images), and judge for yourself.

video

Christian woman being stoned to death

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another Christian Warrior

From time to time, this blog has featured stories of people whose lives have been touched and transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  One of the most memorable of these was the lengthy testimony of boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. Today, we move up from the Middleweight to the Heavyweight division, and get a glimpse of the uncompromising witness of Tyson Fury.

Fury, 27, is a native of Ireland, and comes from a "Traveler" family, often called Gypsies.  On November 28 of this year, he defeated Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine, who had held the World Heavyweight Championship longer than anyone in history, other than Joe Louis: Klitschko was Champion for nine years.  Now, Tyson Fury (yes, he was named after Mike Tyson), has taken the title.

But, really, that's not the important thing about Fury.  The important thing is his Christian faith.  Earlier this year, he outraged the "politically correct" sporting press by making the following statement:

"There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia. So who would have thought in the 50s and early 60s that those first two would be legalised. … For me, people can say 'oh, you’re against abortions and you're against paedophilia, you're against homosexuality, you're against whatever' but my faith and my culture is all based on the Bible. The Bible was written a long time ago, wasn't it, from the beginning of time until now so if I follow that and that tells me it's wrong, then it's wrong for me."

As a result of these comments, despite his victory over Klitschko, Fury was denied the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.  But it's unlikely that such a thing will keep him awake at night.

Here's what's important to this young man: watch the entire video, especially the heartfelt interview in the second half.  His honesty about his spiritual struggles will sound familiar to every Christian:

video

Like anyone in the spotlight (or out of it), Tyson Fury isn't perfect, and as a young man, he'll make his share of mistakes in the future.  But in God's sight, he is perfectly righteous, because he has given his life to Christ, and received His righteousness.  His boxing career could end tomorrow, or in twenty years, but as is the case of all believers, he will spend his lifetime in spiritual warfare.  We rejoice in his testimony, and he deserves our prayers.


Klitschko ducks Fury

See also:
Manny Pacquiao: a Spiritual Awakening 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas greetings from Saeed

For three years, this blog has been following the case of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born American citizen, and Christian pastor, who has been incarcerated in two Iranian prisons under nearly Hellish circumstances.

Although Barack Obama met with Saeed's wife nearly a year ago, and promised Saeed's little boy that he'd try to have Daddy home soon, the current President has utterly betrayed him. In the recent deal with Iran, ratified last week by a Republican Congress in an "omnibus" bill, Saeed and three other American prisoners were not even mentioned.  But God has upheld our brother, and a year ago, the American Center for Law and Justice published Saeed's own Christmas greeting to those of us who are free.  He remains a captive, sick, injured, and persecuted for his faith, but we doubt that his sentiments have changed.

Pray for this man and this family; and, in the words of Shakespeare, "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now."

Saeed in happier times


Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

 Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ


See also:
ISIS Threatening Saeed's Life  
Greetings from Saeed
Saeed speaks 
Saeed in Danger; Trump Speaks Out  
Urgent Update: Saeed Abedini
Happy Birthday, Pastor Saeed 
Iranians Reject Saeed's Appeal 
Iran: 8 years in prison for American pastor

Friday, December 18, 2015

From strength to strength

They go from strength to strength.
Psalm 84:7
  
They go from strength to strength. There are various renderings of these words, but all of them contain the idea of progress. Our own good translation of the Authorized Version is enough for us. "They go from strength to strength." That is, they grow stronger and stronger. Usually, if we are walking, we go from strength to weakness; we start fresh and in good order for our journey, but by-and-by the road is rough, and the sun is hot, we sit down by the wayside, and then again painfully pursue our weary way. But the Christian pilgrim having obtained fresh supplies of grace, is as vigorous after years of toilsome travel and struggle as when he first set out. He may not be quite so elated and buoyant, nor perhaps quite so hot and hasty in his zeal as he once was, but he is much stronger in all that constitutes real power, and travels, if more slowly, far more surely. Some gray-haired veterans have been as firm in their grasp of truth, and as zealous in diffusing it, as they were in their younger days; but, alas, it must be confessed it is often otherwise, for the love of many waxes cold and iniquity abounds, but this is their own sin and not the fault of the promise which still holds good: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future. "Alas!" say they, "we go from affliction to affliction." Very true, O thou of little faith, but then thou goest from strength to strength also. Thou shalt never find a bundle of affliction which has not bound up in the midst of it sufficient grace. God will give the strength of ripe manhood with the burden allotted to full-grown shoulders.
 

- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Muslim fatwah: Death to handicapped children!

If it were possible to be happy in Hell, Muhammad would be smiling again.  His followers are imitating his zeal for atrocity and fell cruelty to the letter. The newest targets of ISIS, the most faithful and orthodox of all Muslim groups?  Babies born with Down Syndrome and other disabilities.

According to multiple sources, the fatwah, or death warrant, was issued by a Saudi Sharia judge, Abu Said Aljazrawi. (Please notice: this wasn't in Iraq or Syria, the lands claimed by ISIS: this was decreed by a "judge" in Saudi Arabia, the loyal ally of the Bush family and the Obama administration.) "Mosul Eye," an Arab site that chronicles the doings of ISIS, has reported that the "oral fatwah" has been codified by ISIS as a demand to "kill newborn babies with Down’s [sic] Syndrome and congenital deformities and disabled children." Many of these children are the offspring of foreign women who have come from Europe, North America, and Asia to "serve" ISIS, and been impregnated by the Muslim "warriors."  Others are the children of sex slaves and other women raped by the ISIS sub-humans. According to "Mosul Eye" and other sources, there have so far been "more than 38 confirmed cases of killing babies with congenital deformities and Down’s Syndrome, aged between one week to three months. They were killed by either lethal injection or suffocation."

 
  A child so far unharmed

As we have said before, this is the true face of Islam; it has no other.  It is the most evil religion in the history of this planet, and it cannot be reformed.  A "Muslim extremist" is a faithful follower of the Koran; a "moderate Muslim" is a follower who silently applauds the "militants," but pretends to be "peaceful."

ISIS, the spearpoint of  Islam, has claimed responsibility for the recent atrocities in Paris and San Bernardino, California.  Through unfettered immigration, ISIS is coming soon to a neighborhood near you, if it hasn't already arrived.  And our "leaders" tolerate it, and by their toleration, encourage it.

"The slaughter of the innocents" is no longer a Biblical term referring to Herod's murder of the Jewish children.  Today's Muslims are bringing the phrase up to date.

See also: 


ISIS orders killing of kids with Down's Syndrome in sick echo of Nazis (The Sun) 

ISIS order ALL kids with Down's Syndrome to be killed (KTBS.com) 

Islamic State Issues Fatwa Against Children with Down Syndrome, Murders 38 Disabled Infants (Breitbart)

How much more depraved can ISIS get? Group's Sharia judges order children with Down syndrome and other disabilities to be killed in chilling echo of the Nazis  (Daily Mail)

NOTE: A "debunking" site known as Snopes has questioned the veracity of these reports.  Snopes has devolved over the years into a leftist site, and is not reliable.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Should the Bible be easy to read?

About every six months for the last hundred years, a new version or revision or paraphrase of the New Testament, or the complete Bible, has been published.  That's no exaggeration: since 1901, nearly 300 such versions have been published in English: we're not talking about foreign translations.  Usually, the authors and publishers of these versions say that they're "easier to read" than the King James Bible.  Which raises two interesting questions:  Should the Bible be "easy to read," and, if so, why?

In a certain online forum in which I was participating, we were discussing the various versions of the Bible, and someone added the following comment.  My response, expanded somewhat, follows.

"Well for what's it worth. I picked up my KJB and dusted it off and started reading it again. It's not the easiest translation for me, but it does make me really think about what it's trying to say. Kind of enjoying it."


That is a very interesting comment, and one deserving of some thought. 

You say that you're enjoying the King James, even though it's not the "easiest." Well, if the KJB isn't the easiest for you, then it's not, that's all.

But you enjoy it anyway. That brings up a question that cuts through all the pseudo-scholarship and all the argumentation and all the rationalization, namely: Who said that reading the Bible is supposed to be easy?

Why should reading, or studying, God's word be "easy?" Where in the world did we ever get that idea? Well, I guess that question answers itself: we got it from the world, and, most assuredly, from our own flesh. But we did not get it from God.

What part of the Christian life is easy? Becoming a Christian is simple; although it often happens after long struggles, intellectual or emotional or experiential, the actual act of being born again is so simple that even a child can do it. But, once we've come to Christ, what gives us the right to expect the Christian experience to be "easy?"

The German theologian Dietrich  Bonhoeffer said: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." Christ has called us to take up our cross, and follow Him. Paul speaks of constant, daily self-crucifixion. If there is anything that God has not promised His children, it's an effortless, painless ride from conversion to death. The Christian life is depicted in scripture as a warfare, not a vacation.



And yet, when we come to this matter of the Bible, so many of our pastors and teachers begin talking about what's "easy." We're supposed to reject the King James Bible because it's "hard to read," or "archaic:" we might actually have to think, instead of just reading something written on the level of People magazine.

Is witnessing easy? Yes, in one sense: for a Christian who's filled with the Holy Spirit, and seeking to please Christ, witnessing is sometimes spontaneous and (to use exactly the wrong word) "natural." But it's not always that way: sometimes it's easier just to go along with the crowd, to blend in, to be popular. Sometimes witnessing costs us friendships and social standing and even jobs. Very often, it's just plain embarrassing ....  kind of like using an "old-fashioned" Bible. But we're expected to do it anyway.

Is prayer easy? Again, it is and it isn't: crying out to our Father comes easy to us in moments of crisis or need, and praise flows from us with delightful spontaneity when God moves in our lives. But on a day to day basis, prayer is hard work. It takes self-discipline, and concentration, and real effort. It's easy to spend 90 minutes watching television; but how easy is it to spend 90 minutes, or even nine, in uninterrupted prayer?

So, why should we expect reading the Bible (much less studying it) to be "easy?" Especially if we're maturing in Christ, being conformed to His Image, and learning more and more about walking by faith?

We claim to believe that: we acknowledge that we're in a battle, and that we're to be good soldiers for our Lord. But when it comes to this matter of Bibles, we suddenly become self-indulgent and almost comically immature. We simply refuse to apply our minds to anything that might be difficult or demanding; we want a Bible that's "easy to read." And the Christian publishers, who have a rather obvious interest in the matter, tell us that we have every right to expect this: and if last year's version wasn't easy enough, then we'll be able to get a new version this year!

I realize that "ease" isn't the only selling point of the new versions; the other one is "accuracy" or "faithfulness to the originals." Those are the only two notes that the professional translators and booksellers can play: "If it's easy to read, we'll make it more accurate. If it's already accurate, we'll make it easier to read." But, in any case and every case, they'll change it. They have to; that's what they do for a living.



There's no way of knowing this, until we get to Heaven, but I can envision conversations with Paul or Moses or Solomon or Jonah, in which they say, "You think that Book was hard to read? How easy do you think it was to write?"

And then we'll meet the Christians who were burned in the marketplace, like Tyndale, who might ask us, "And how easy do you think the Book was to preserve?"

I can imagine those questions ... but, for the life of me, I can't imagine how we'll answer.

I thank God, with every fiber of my being, that He has given us His perfect word in English, the Authorized King James Bible: whether it's "easy to read" or not.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"So what? Stab the Jews!"

"Every kiss, every hug, seems to act just like a drug
You're getting to be a habit with me...."
- - - Warren/Dubin, 1932

Well, that sounds nice. Unfortunately, these days, we are becoming habituated to other things, and they are not as pleasant as kisses and hugs.  Among these are the heartbreaking spectacle of Muslim/Palestinian children being carefully instructed in hatred, terrorism, and suicide killings.  Like all Mohammedans, the Palestinians (hitherto known as "Philistines") see children primarily as vehicles for murder, or (if they follow their "Prophet's" example) as sex objects.

The most recent wave of terror in Israel has come in the form of stabbings: perhaps the Philistines are replenishing their supplies of rockets and guns, probably with the indirect assistance of the administration in Washington (Bush or Obama; it makes no difference). Stabbings of Israelis are a daily occurrence, and, as this video makes clear, even the most innocent and precious children are learning the practice.  When you watch this brief video, please read the text at the very end: it will explain the use of the "So what?" chant.

video

It goes without saying that this is monstrous and truly anti-human; God did not create our race to behave this way.  But, in a world of hatred and bloodshed, it must grieve Him, and us, to see innocent children and toddlers exploited in such a manner.  Alas, it is not unusual: after all, we're dealing with the followers of the most evil "religion" in the history of this sin-sick planet.

See also:
 "Can I stab a Jew, Daddy?" 
Hey, kids! Let's kill some Jews! 
Of Mice and Muslims
The Children's Hour 
Studies in Islam: Teach Your Children Well 
"How to Stab a Jew" 

Monday, December 7, 2015

A personal note: This blog is not dead!

I want to bring the regular readers of this blog up to date on a few things.  If you're not a regular reader, this will be a very boring post, so I invite you to look at one of the others.

This blog is not dead, and I'm not dead, and I haven't abandoned or lost interest in it.  But, as I noted in a small footnote elsewhere, I've been having some physical .... "adventures" .... in the past few months, and it's restricted my time online, as well as my energy.

Very quickly: a few months ago, I had my gall bladder removed.  This is a routine operation, but the surgeon badly botched it, and God sent in another surgeon to clean up the mess he made.  So, there was that.

Last month, I had a part of one of my kidneys removed, which had a growth that could have been malignant.  This time, the surgeon did a great job, but the recuperation has been painful.

Anyway, scheduling the two surgeries so close together wasn't a good idea on my part.  My body didn't appreciate it at all.  But, by the grace of God, neither surgery revealed any malignancies, so cancer is not a threat at this time.  I praise God for all of this: the botched operation, the successful operation, and, most of all, the absence of cancer.  God's mercies are new every morning, and His care for His children is past finding out!

I will be having a third procedure in January, which, the doctor warns me, will be painful.  But it won't be as painful as Jesus' time on the cross, and I'm not complaining.


I have no illusion that I'm "suffering for Christ."  We live in a fallen world, and although our souls are saved, our bodies are still subject to the "thousand natural shocks" that Hamlet talked about. Everybody has problems as they get older, and I'm no exception. As they say, "I'm in great shape, considering the shape I'm in!"  And oh, the lessons that Jesus is teaching me: which is the purpose for our present light afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17).

But I wanted very much to let the regular readers of this blog know what's going on.  I'll put up some more devotionals by Spurgeon and others, and perhaps "rerun" some old posts, until I'm back in action.  I appreciate your prayers, and I apologize for my absence!

God bless you and Merry Christmas!  And remember:


JESUS WAS VICTOR
JESUS IS VICTOR
JESUS WILL BE VICTOR!



As ever,
William

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Real Issue: Final Authority

It may not seem to be the most important question in your life, or the one you think about the most .... but it's certainly one of the most inescapable.  In any area, whether family relations, or scientific measurement, or the councils of government and beyond, the issue that comes up constantly, and inevitably, is very basic: What's the final authority? Which brings up a second question, much more personal in nature: in your own life, do you have a final authority?

There's a family disagreement.  A father wants to move to a new town, to take a new job.  But his wife wants to stay where they are; she doesn't want to leave her own job, or her own friends.  A young man wants to skip college, and go straight into the workforce, but his parents disapprove - - - or, maybe, his parents disagree about what he should do.  Who makes the final decision?  Some families might be tempted to take a vote, but that doesn't always work.  So, how do they decide?  Who has the final authority?




Some of the officers of a corporation want to make a new acquisition, or sell off a non-performing subsidiary.  But there's no agreement among the Board of Directors. Who makes the final decision?  The company president?  The chairman of the board? The stockholders?  Who's the final authority?

 



The issue comes up again and again.  Sometimes, the stakes are a matter of life and death.  Do you remember the tragic case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who had fallen into a coma and was pronounced to be in a permanently "vegetative" state?  Her husband claimed that Terri would have wanted her feeding tube to be removed, ending her life, but she had left no "living will," to indicate this conclusively.  Her parents claimed that she would want to be kept alive.  Who would make the decision? Who was the final authority? The case went to the courts, both state and federal.  The courts disagreed. A Florida judge ruled that the feeding tube could be removed, and it was.  The Florida legislature stepped in, passing "Terri's Law," giving Gov. Jeb Bush the power to order the reinsertion of the tube. The courts ruled that the law was unconstitutional: back to square one. Bush called upon his brother, President George W. Bush, who kicked the case over to the United States Congress.  The question remained, as Ms. Schiavo slowly died: who had the final authority?  (It certainly wasn't her husband or her parents, although it should have been; they had reached a stalemate.) The Congress passed an emergency bill transferring authority in the case to the federal courts. Obviously, the final authority would become the Supreme Court of the United States. But the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. As Ms. Schiavo wasted away, the situation became so heated that, for awhile, it appeared that Florida sheriffs might have to face off against the National Guard for custody of the dying woman.  All because no one could agree who had final authority over her fate. Inevitably, it became obvious Who really had final authority, and Ms. Schiavo died. And this tragic, ludicrous political circus became one of the great historical examples of what happens when there's no final authority.

 


We simply can't live without authority; and the necessity of authority presupposes the need for a final authority.  I'm writing this at 2:45 PM on a Saturday.  But where you live, it might be 11:45 PM, or 8:45 AM on Sunday. Which time is correct?  Who's to say?  Well, that one's easy: we're all off! At the moment, it's 7:45 PM in Greenwich, England. Greenwich Mean Time is the standard for the entire world.  That's the final authority in establishing time zones. 

How long is a meter?  I mean, exactly how long? Obviously, it's 100 centimeters, or 1000 millimeters, but that begs the question: how do we know these things?  How do we get a final, accurate measurement?  For years, there was a platinum bar, kept in a vacuum chamber in Washington, D.C., that was the official standard for the length of a meter.  That was the final authority. 


In recent decades, the bar has been discarded in favor of more accurate measurements: now, a meter is considered to be the distance a ray of light travels in a certain fraction of a second, measured by a laser beam.  But there's a definite standard: a final authority.  Time and distance are not matters of opinion.  There are authorities by which they can be judged.  Subjective judgments are irrelevant.

For a student in school, the final authority is the teacher: he or she is the one who grades the papers.  The teacher may be wrong, or may contradict the textbook, but when grade time rolls around, the teacher is the final authority!

So, what's the final authority for the issues that count the most: the moral and personal and spiritual questions and decisions that we all face, every day?

 For Christians, who have been born again according to Jesus' instructions in John 3:3-8, the final authority is the word of God, the Bible.  There are nominally Christian groups who elevate other things to the level of final authority: the Roman Catholics, for example, who regard the teaching of the church as a final authority; or the Mormons, who rely on the writings of Joseph Smith, or the decrees of such church bodies as the Quorum of the Twelve.  But for those who have personally received Jesus Christ according to John 1:12, it's the Bible, and the Bible alone.  Teachers and preachers are good, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is always available: but the final authority is the Bible.  Even the Holy Spirit won't contradict that, because He wrote it!


But in the past century or so, Christians have been faced by a very unsettling question, which had never arisen before, outside of "scholarly" circles: "which Bible?"  Until the English Revised Version of 1881, and then the American Standard Version of 1901, the Body of Christ throughout the English-speaking world agreed that the Authorized Version of 1611, the King James Bible, was the "real thing."  But suddenly, as new translations in English started coming out, Christians had to start making some choices.  This was only aggravated as the proliferation of new English versions continued, from the Revised Standard Version of 1946 to the New American Standard Version of 1971, the New International Version of 1978, and the so-called "New King James Version" of 1982. These were only a few of the new versions: in fact, since 1881, over 300 English versions of the New Testament or the complete Bible have been published.

So, someone might ask, what's the problem?  If the Bible is the final authority, isn't it good to have as many editions of it as possible? The answer might be "yes," if the versions were basically the same, and said basically the same things: but they aren't, and they don't. For example, the New American Standard Version contradicts or changes the meaning of the King James Bible thousands and thousands of times - - - and I'm not just talking about "updated" language, but real changes in meaning.  The new Bibles say that Joseph was Jesus' father in Luke 2:33; the King James Bible doesn't.  The King James Bible says "Easter" in Acts 12:4; the new versions say "Passover."  The new Bibles include footnotes that say that part of John 8, the beloved story of the woman taken in adultery, probably shouldn't be in the Bible, and that 1 John 5:7 shouldn't be there.

So now the Christian is faced with two, three, or 300 "final authorities," with thousands of important contradictions between them.  How is he or she to settle the confusion?


 


(I'm not even mentioning the all-important issues of differing Greek translations and texts and editions: that's a basic component in the problem, too.  But it will have to be treated separately.) 

At this point, "higher education" comes into the picture.  Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, "scholars" in those languages say, "We're the only ones who know what it really means; we'll tell you which version is correct."  So, the Bible is no longer the final authority: the "scholars" are.  And what happens when the scholars disagree among themselves?  Well, then, the Christian is left with no final authority. Because the scholars, having robbed the Christian of any final authority, have none with which to replace it, except for their own "preferences."

 
And Christians get together for a Bible study, and each has his or her own favorite translation, and instead of any real, God-given authority, it quickly degenerates into a game of ring around the rosie: "Here's what my version says.  Now, Jack, what does your version say?  Okay, Louise, what does your version say?"  And if there are contradictions, the Christians brush them off, in the name of "Christian unity," saying, ultimately, "Well, as long as we can get along together, we won't pay any attention to what God really intended."

That is not what God had in mind when He gave His propositional revelation to man.

If a Christian is serious about following his or her Creator and  Saviour and Lord, he or she must have the Lord's words - - - His real words, not 300 differing versions of His words.


And the evidence of history, and the evidence of legitimate Greek scholarship, and the evidence of common sense, leads to one conclusion:  that the King James Bible, which was accepted as God's word for 300 of the 400 years of its existence, is exactly that. All other versions (in English) are counterfeits.


And believing that is what makes me a "renegade Christian."  But believing the truth has never been popular, and never will be.  Nevertheless, as Paul said, Let God be true, but every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

Thank God for giving us His pure, flawless, perfectly preserved word in our own language!  May He give us the grace and the courage to believe it, live by it, and, when necessary, die by it!


Friday, November 6, 2015

Pastor Suta: from violence to victory

As Christians are persecuted and martyred throughout the world, this blog has usually examined cruelties and atrocities committed by Mohammedans.  As bad as the Muslims are, however, there are many other groups and religions that hate Christianity and Christians, and will not tolerate them.  Some Hindus fall into this category. India, Pakistan, and other countries with large Hindu populations see daily persecution of Christians. But God is more powerful than His enemies, and, just as He can bring beauty from ashes, he can bring His enemies to Himself through the faithfulness of our suffering brethren.

Such is the case of Suta, a Christian living and serving Christ in a rural village in India.  When he became the focus of Hindu persecution, his enemies attacked.  But God has a way of turning things around, and the unexpected happened.

The following is a dramatization of Pastor Suta's story, provided by Voice of the Martyrs:


video


Please pray for Pastor Suta and his former tormentor, and praise our wonderful God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for His daily and limitless mercies!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Who's washing your feet?


He began to wash the disciples' feet. - - - John 13:5

 
The Lord Jesus loves His people so much, that every day He is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions He accepts; their deepest sorrow He feels; their slenderest wish He hears, and their every transgression He forgives. He is still their servant as well as their Friend and Master. He not only performs majestic deeds for them, as wearing the mitre on His brow, and the precious jewels glittering on His breastplate, and standing up to plead for them, but humbly, patiently, He yet goes about among His people with the basin and the towel. He does this when He puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins. Last night, when you bowed the knee, you mournfully confessed that much of your conduct was not worthy of your profession; and even tonight, you must mourn afresh that you have fallen again into the selfsame folly and sin from which special grace delivered you long ago; and yet Jesus will have great patience with you; He will hear your confession of sin; He will say, "I will, be thou clean"; He will again apply the blood of sprinkling, and speak peace to your conscience, and remove every spot. It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the Saviour with much long-suffering bears the oft recurring follies of His wayward disciple; day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of His erring but yet beloved child! To dry up a flood of rebellion is something marvellous, but to endure the constant dropping of repeated offences-to bear with a perpetual trying of patience, this is divine indeed! While we find comfort and peace in our Lord's daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?

- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Friday, October 23, 2015

Does God love everyone?

That's quite a question, isn't it?  (Of course, if you're an atheist, the question is moot: if there is no God,  then there's no point in worrying about it.  But this post is intended for intelligent people, not fools, and The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God [Psalm 14:1].)  Usually, the answer to this question is instant and automatic:  "Of course He does!  God loves everybody!"  But instead of going with our automatic, knee-jerk responses, let's consider the question for a minute, or an hour, or a few years.  After all, if there's any doubt at all that God loves everyone, then you and I have some serious thinking to do.  The best way to think about it, of course, is to go to God's propositional revelation, the Bible, and see what He says about it.  He's already given us the invitation: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD (Isaiah 1:18).  So, let's take Him up on it.

Most people in the Western world who have had the slightest exposure to Christianity have absorbed certain preconceptions, through no fault of their own.  They've heard the Gospel, or parts of the Gospel, or what somebody says is the Gospel, and they have certain ideas rooted deep in their minds: "We're all God's children.  God loves everyone.  Hey, 'God is love,' right?  God loves me, no matter who or what I am!"  Part of this is wishful thinking, but mostly it's the result of no thinking at all - - - and fuzzy, dishonest preaching by those who claim to be speaking for God.  It's a very popular concept: "God hates the sin, but loves the sinner!  We're all part of God's family!"  Various groups, like the homosexual community, even make up bumper stickers and signs proclaiming how much God loves them. 


But is that what God says, in the Bible?

We're going to throw away the popular preconceptions, and look at the facts, as revealed in the Bible.  And, without trying to sound clever, the Bible has good news, and bad news.  The Gospel, of course, is good news: that's what "gospel" means.  But the Gospel doesn't say that God loves everybody.

Someone says, "What about John 3:16?"  We'll get to that.  But even that verse doesn't say that God loves everybody.  Read it carefully; we'll be coming back to it.

Before getting into the scriptures themselves, we're going to answer the question, honestly and without apology.  This answer is bound to be controversial, but it is Biblically true, even though most Christian pastors and priests don't have the guts to say it.

If you've been born again, according to Jesus' words in John 3:3-7; if you've received Him as your personal Saviour, according to John 1:12; if you've come to Him honestly, by an act of the will, and asked Him to forgive you and save you, then you're a child of God, and God loves you with all His heart, and will never stop loving you.  You may have never been inside a church in your life before coming to Christ; you may have been a drunk or a sexual deviant or a glutton or a liar; that has nothing to do with it. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine; when you get to Heaven, you'll have a better idea of His great love, but even then you'll never understand it completely.  You have been given eternal life, and it's already begun.

If you have not received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and been born again in a moment of time, then God does not love you: in fact, you are God's enemy.  Never mind the stupid cliché about "Hate the sin, love the sinner;" if you've chosen, by your own free will, to reject salvation on God's terms, God does not love you.  You can be a member of a church or the pastor of a church or a Baptist or a Muslim or a Presbyterian; but if you haven't been born again, God does not love you. Never mind the Rosary or the confirmation or the perfect attendance record in Sunday School; those have nothing to do with it.  I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's better you hear it now, than at the Judgment. You, too, will have "eternal life," but it will be spent in Hell.


In 1741, Jonathan Edwards,  one of the most noted preachers in American history, delivered a message in Enfield, Connecticut.  It was called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," and is regarded as one of the greatest sermons ever preached; for decades, it was included in American literature textbooks, as an example of great writing.  But its real value is that it presents, with no sugar coating and no apologies, God's view of unsaved men and women.  It is not a pleasant reading experience, but if you're not a believer, and you have the guts, you should read it.  It's worth more than all the books ever written by Billy Graham or Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or any of the Popes.

"Never mind Jonathan Edwards," someone says.  "The Bible says God loves everybody, and that's what matters!"  But, unfortunately, that's not what the Bible says.  God actually hates some people.  The scriptures can speak for themselves:

And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them (Leviticus 20:23). He didn't "abhor" the abominations; He abhorred the people who committed the abominations.  That's clear.

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:4, 5).  "Hatest?"  Well, that's what the Bible says.

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).


The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth (Psalm 11:5).   "Trieth" means "tests," or "examines." Notice: those last three quotes weren't from some angry, long-bearded old prophet like Jeremiah or Ezekiel - - - not that they'd be any less true if they were.  Those were Psalms of David, the little shepherd boy who killed Goliath, the "sweet psalmist of Israel."  And he had no illusions about "God loving everybody."

What about Solomon?  He was the wisest man who ever lived, according to the Bible, apart from Jesus Christ.  What did he have to say about God loving everybody? These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).  It doesn't say God hates the acts; it says He hates the people who commit the acts.  Maybe your hands have never shed innocent blood (like an abortionist or a Muslim terrorist), but how about the rest of the list?  Have you ever displayed a proud look?  Told a lie?  Had a wicked fantasy or plan or imagination?  Hurried down to the "club" after work, or to that "special" motel?  And you think God loves you?

"But wait!  A few paragraphs back, you said it didn't matter if I was a sexual deviant or a liar or any of those things!"  No, I didn't.  I said that having done those things wouldn't stop God from loving and accepting you, if you received His Son as your Saviour.  If you don't do that, you're sunk: God doesn't love you at all.


In one of His prophecies through Hosea, God revealed that He was even capable of hating people whom He had previously loved: All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more (Hosea 9:15).  God is holy, and pure, and cannot abide evil - - - evil acts, or evil people.  But it's important to stress that, today, once God has saved us and made us part of His Body, He cannot and will not "back out" and let us be lost again. Those who receive Christ today are saved permanently and forever.

"But that's all Old Testament stuff," someone protests.  "That's that cruel old God of the Old Testament.  Jesus and the New Testament are all about love!"  Actually, God's fury is more awful in the New Testament than in the Old, but that's another subject.  If you want to talk about Jesus....

In the Gospel of Luke, people came to ask Jesus about a recent atrocity that had occurred.  They wanted to know if the victims were more "wicked" than anybody else: was God judging them?  Jesus, as always, was ready with an answer: and He saw their motivations.  They wanted to believe that God only judged really bad people.  They were self-righteous, like most modern people. ("Ted Bundy or those 9/11 guys might be in Hell, but I'm not that bad!")  And Jesus turned their question back on them:

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5).  Jesus was not a sucker or a fool.  People who object to "fire and brimstone preaching" are too ignorant to know that the first such preacher in Christian history was Jesus Himself: Mark 9:43-48, Luke 17:29.

The classic example of God's love vs. His hatred is that of the twins Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25), two of the progenitors of the Israelis and Palestinians (Philistines).  Because Esau had no respect for the spiritual blessings he had been given, God clearly stated - - - in the New Testament - - - how He felt about the boy: As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Romans 9:13). He had already made this clear in Malachi 1:3: And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. If you can read those verses and say that "God loves the sinner, but hates the sin," then you are either functionally illiterate, or willfully in denial of God's revelation.


If you have never received Jesus Christ, and found forgiveness and refuge in Him, then God doesn't view you as a "lovable" creature at all. He views you as a child of disobedience (Colossians 3:6), a child of wrath (Ephesians 5:6), and, for that matter, a child of the Devil himself (John 8:44, Jesus speaking). God is not your Father; God is your enemy (Romans 8:7).  

So, what about John 3:16, and all the wonderful, priceless declarations of God's love in the Bible?  Am I denying them, or saying they're not true?  Not at all!  God forbid!  But you need to read them carefully, and if you do, you'll notice something.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life John 3:16).  

 
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). 

 
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37). 

 
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not (1 John 3:1).

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).

I could easily list a score of others, but you can check the references for yourself.  Every time the Bible talks about God loving the world, all people ever born, it's in the past tense - - - for God so loved the world, etc.  He loved the world, everyone from you and your children to Osama Bin Laden, enough to send His Son to die for your salvation.  Now, that's not "my interpretation."  I quoted the actual verses.  The other verses about God's universal love say it the same way.

 
The love of God is found at Calvary, at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ, and nowhere else.  What more could God do, to demonstrate His love?  After allowing His Son to voluntarily come to earth and be tortured to death, so that you might be saved, what more does He owe you?  Are you so special, and so wonderful, that you deserve something more?

God loved everyone, and His love was so great that He he made the greatest sacrifice imaginable to make your salvation possible.  Even now, if you're still separated from God by sin and stubbornness and unbelief, God wants you to be saved, and He is willing and eager for you to come to Him, and find His love.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus Christ was crucified, not just so that a few "elect" people could be saved, but so that anyone who was willing could be saved: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).  

 
That includes me, and I received Jesus Christ, by an act of the will, simply crying out to Him for forgiveness and salvation, many years ago.  That's when the love of God saved me!  And you can be saved, too, and brought into Christ's family, and become a son of God, at this very moment - - - if you're willing.  

 
God loves everyone who has placed their faith in His Son.  He loves us with a love that is eternal, indescribable, and that cannot be taken away.  But we can't receive that love by clinging to our own traditions or superstitions of ego: we have to come to Jesus Christ.  He's the only Way - - - and He's available to everyone.

 
If you want to, you can meet Him today.  But if you'd rather continue in your own opinions, and what some preacher or professor has drummed into your head, then you're in a dangerous place.

 
God showed the human race His universal, all-encompassing love at Calvary, when His Son bore our sins.  But if you're not willing to believe that, then don't talk to the rest of us about the love of God, because you know absolutely nothing about it.

God paid the highest price imaginable to show His love for you.  But if that wasn't good enough .... take your chances. You'll eventually have an opportunity to explain your reasons to Him, but it will be far, far too late.