Categories
Spiritual Insights Uncategorized

A Matter of Pride

“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
(Proverbs 16:18 NKJV)

This bit of wisdom from the Hebrew Scriptures has been so popularized throughout the millennia since its initial composition that even secularists who reject the idea of God and His holy Word (the Bible) acknowledge its truth and validity. Furthermore, those who eschew the truth of this statement cannot disprove its reality, no matter how vehemently they oppose it. No amount of angry attempts at refutation can succeed. In fact, the very act of attempting to refute it results in the accomplishment of its warning, because arguing against the truth of reality serves only to prove one’s arrogance and foolishness.

Taking this warning a step further, devoting an entire month to the celebration of pride–and pride in something God has pronounced as abominable, at that–will only hasten the consequence of this truth. The steady slide of American and, indeed, global morality over the past 50+ years, at least, has demonstrated God’s divine judgment upon humanity in general, and the United States of America in particular. His prophecies about the Last Days before the culmination of His Plan of Salvation have been fulfilling right and left over these past few years, and everything is falling into place for the final seven years of human government, called the Seven Years of Tribulation, to commence. The time of Jesus’ return for His Church is close upon us, and the time when He will take up His rule over the entire earth will follow soon thereafter.

If you have not acknowledged who Jesus is and what He came into the world to do for you, then you need to understand that time is quickly running out for you to decide whether to accept His offer of salvation. The very first step you must take and, indeed, the only one you can take before you can be saved, is to humble yourself before God. Until you bow humbly before your Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot confess your sins or repent (i.e., turn away) from them, and until you confess and repent of your sinful lifestyle, you cannot be saved from its consequences. If reading these statements makes you angry and resistant to submission to God and His Word (the Bible), then you need to consider the end result of refusing to humble yourself before Him and accepting His offer of forgiveness. In case you are unaware of this result, you will be sentenced to eternal damnation in a fiery place called Hell. Refusing to believe in the existence of Hell does not change the fact of its existence or of your destiny to end up there by rejecting God’s offer of salvation. It’s like denying the existence of the Law of Gravity. Try jumping off a ten-story building and see whether denying the existence of the Law of Gravity prevents you from falling to your death!

If you have been deceived by Satan and one or more of his evil minions that constitute the horde of demons in the universe and have been convinced you were born homosexual, bisexual or a different gender than your physical genitalia obviously show, then consider why God would create you that way and then condemn you for being the way He created you. He simply doesn’t do that. Not only would it be unrighteous, which is impossible for God to be, but it would be illogical, which is just as impossible for God as being unrighteous. Moreover, if you are currently considering gender reassignment surgery, consider this, too: why did God assign your present gender at birth if He really meant for you to be the opposite gender? Does, or can, God make mistakes? Even if His divinity did not prevent Him from making a gender assignment mistake at your birth, can His divinity now prevent Him from correcting His previous mistake? Does He require the help of human sex-mutilation surgeons to correct His mistake? Once your sex organs have been surgically removed, they are gone forever. They cannot be reattached to you later if you change your mind and want to revert to your former gender.

Homosexual, bisexual and transgender ideologies are demonic lies devised by Satan to steer you away from the truth of God and His Plan of Salvation for your eternal soul. As long as you still have breath in your lungs, you can repent of these sins and receive God’s forgiveness for them so that you can spend eternity with Him in His Kingdom of Love, Joy and Peace. Repentance means abandonment of all sins, including idolatry, lying, stealing, blaspheming/profaning God and His name, adultery, and fornication, as well as those aforementioned perverted sexual ideologies, and then redirecting and living your life in accordance with the Word of God (the Bible). Don’t depend on letting someone else, like a pastor, evangelist, Bible teacher, or even me, tell you what the Bible says, but read it for yourself. There’s no better way for you to discover the truth about everything than by reading and contemplating what the Bible says. The final decision ultimately rests with you.

Cover of THE SALVATION OF THE LORD BY MICHAEL L. WHITE

For more information about God’s Plan of Salvation, I invite you to read my book The Salvation of the LORD. It’s available in e-Book from the Shop menu here on this blog. I’m working on the publication of its second edition right now and hope to release it in the coming months. Watch for the announcement here on this blog.

Categories
Biblical Prophecies Religion and Politics Spiritual Insights

When Lawlessness Abounds

When Lawlessness Abounds top image

Jesus warned His disciples that in the Last Days — meaning those days that occur just before His ultimate return to take charge of His Kingdom on earth — that lawlessness will abound (Matthew 24:12 NKJV). What, exactly, do you suppose He meant by that? To answer this, all we need to do is define the words “lawlessness” and “abound”. Lawlessness is the practice of being lawless. Lawless, by definition, can mean one of two things: 1) having no law in place, or 2) behaving as though no law is in place. That second definition means, essentially, ignoring whatever law is actually in force. If you have more confidence in Merriam-Webster’s definition of lawless, you can read it in their online dictionary.

The word “abound” is the root of the word “abundance”. So, having an abundance of anything is having more than enough of it. An abundance of lawlessness, then, means more than enough of it, which, in turn, means it’s basically everywhere you look. You can read Merriam-Webster’s definition of abound as well, if you like.

Truly, there has always been lawlessness among men since the fall of Adam — it evidently was the hallmark of the time which prompted God to send the Great Flood (Genesis 6:5-6) — but such an ethos of lawlessness has not existed globally on the earth since that time. Indeed, this sudden acceleration of lawlessness in our time appears to be one of the other key harbingers which Jesus has warned us to watch for: “. . . as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man . . .” (Luke 17:26 NKJV). By “the days of the Son of Man,” Jesus means the days of His return, His Second Coming.

In my humble opinion, the reason for this abundance of lawlessness is because Satan understands that he can accomplish so much more if he simply convinces his human minions to ignore all those laws — enacted by both God and men — that either hinder or outright bind him/them from accomplishing what they want to do, while simultaneously holding truly law-abiding humans to strict adherence to those same laws, even though their adversaries are obviously not obeying them. In the case of God’s laws, God wants our obedience to be voluntary, but He certainly wants us to understand the consequences of disobedience before we make our decision. I believe Satan was fully aware of this voluntary option for obedience or disobedience from the beginning, yet he chose disobedience. Furthermore, I believe it is because God created the angelic beings with near-unfettered access to His Presence and a full comprehension of His Divine Nature that He did not offer an opportunity for redemption to them as He has done for humanity. In fact, Jesus said this is precisely the reason that Hell was created (see Matthew 25:41).

The prophets Isaiah (14:3-27) and Ezekiel (28:1-19) both explain all about Satan’s rebellion and demise. Don’t be confused by the address of these biblical statements to the king of Babylon and the prince of Tyre. They all refer to one entity, the being we call Satan. The name/word “Satan” is actually the Hebrew word for adversary. When you read carefully the descriptions of these individuals by Isaiah and Ezekiel, you can easily see that they could not possibly refer to any mere human beings, because they possess super-human characteristics, including a wisdom that exceeds that of the great prophet Daniel. Ezekiel 28:3 states that “There is no secret that can be hidden from you.” Really? No secret? What mere mortal man possesses that ability? Ezekiel 28:13 states, “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. . . .” How was the prince of Tyre “perfect in beauty,” and when was he ever in the Garden of Eden? The Garden of Eden was most certainly destroyed from the earth at the time of the Great Flood, if not earlier, and the prince of Tyre lived a couple thousand years after that event. Furthermore, Ezekiel 28:14-15 makes the case complete when God says, “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.”

When was the human prince of Tyre ever an “anointed cherub who covers” anyone or anything? When we read what the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12, however, it is easy to understand that the king of Babylon and the prince of Tyre are descriptions of one and the same entity — a spirit principality we call Satan.

Now, back to Jesus’ warning that in the Last Days lawlessness will abound. Have you looked around at the world lately, especially here in the USA? Have you noticed that what started as a seemingly isolated incident in government when Barack Obama directed his attorney general, Eric Holder, to flatly refuse to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has now become a full-blown, open defiance of any and every law that is intended to restrict governmental control and over-reach? Time and again throughout the late-summer and early-autumn of 2020 leading up to the November 3, 2020, national election we saw federal officials, state officials, and city officials all around the nation flatly ignore the election laws that were in place to prevent election fraud. Why? It was for the express purpose of flaunting those laws and stealing a Presidential election right in front of the world! If you don’t believe the 2020 U. S. Presidential election was stolen, go to LindellTV and/or FrankSpeech and watch the archived video evidence there. If you don’t watch any others there, be sure to watch Absolutely 9-0 and China Puts Biden in the White House. Using the cover of the so-called COVID19 pandemic, they illegally amended election laws and suspended long-established election day practices, such as extending voting hours beyond the usual time frames and accepting absentee and/or mail-in ballots after the posted deadline for counting them. In fact, many of these bogus ballots did not even contain a signature or other means of proper voter validation, yet they were still accepted. Interestingly, all of these bogus ballots were cast for Biden, not Trump. What are the odds of that happening without intention? In the wake of all this apparent election fraud, we hear an increasing clamor to enact stricter election laws. Folks, we don’t really need stricter election laws; we just need to enforce the election laws we already have enacted!

Government isn’t the only arena where we are seeing this increase in lawlessness. Throughout 2020, we saw repeatedly where rioters were permitted to loot and burn businesses in presumed protest over supposed racial injustice. That was merely a pretext to create chaos and mayhem, otherwise known as lawlessness. Those rioters weren’t required to follow the same pandemic rules set forth for every other citizen. They weren’t arrested for theft or arson, despite being caught in the act on video. They weren’t even fined for organizing a protest without a permit. Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who wanted to protest were required to obtain a permit before they could hold a truly peaceful protest, and many times they were even denied those permits.

Unfortunately, the lawlessness doesn’t end with corrupt government officials or even with the hoodlums on the street. No, lawlessness is even rampant in the Church now. Pastors and lay leaders all around the globe have gone all-in for ignoring God’s Word not to “forsak[e] the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25 NKJV) and to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 NKJV) when it comes to a choice between submission/obedience to God and His Word or submission/obedience to governmental officials who couldn’t care less about God or obeying His Word. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said the kingdom of God “. . . is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Luke 13:20-21 NKJV). Folks, leaven doesn’t represent righteousness; it represents unrighteousness! This is partly why God commanded the Israelites to remove all leaven from their homes prior to the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15 NKJV).

I don’t know what you are thinking right now, but I am thinking we are at the threshold of Jesus’ rapture of the Church! I personally believe the rapture will occur on a future Yom Truim (or Day of Trumpets; read my blog post about this assertion a few years ago, where I cover it extensively). When is the next Day of Trumpets? It begins at sundown on September 6, 2021, and ends at sundown on September 7, 2021. However, with so much inaccuracy in calendars, including the Jewish calendar for observing their feast days, it’s entirely possible that the actual Day of Trumpets could be on another date which God knows but of which we have no idea! Perhaps this is just one more reason Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36 NKJV).

Are you ready for that day if it were to happen today? Do you know where you will spend eternity if you die in your sleep tonight or in some freak accident today or from some dreaded disease like cancer, heart failure or even COVID? You can be sure where you will spend eternity! You simply have to humble yourself so that you can confess and repent of (that means turn away from) your sins and call upon the name of Jesus Christ to be both your LORD and as well as your Savior. The Bible has promised in multiple places in both the Old and New Testaments that “. . . whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:13 NKJV). Making Jesus your LORD means you will submit to (that means obey to the best of your ability) His Word. The Apostle Paul — that same Apostle of Grace that everyone likes to quote from Ephesians 2:8-9, also wrote in Hebrews 12:14 that we are to “Pursue peace . . . and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord . . .” (NKJV). What is holiness? It is a sanctification, a distinction, a separateness, a differentiation between righteousness and unrighteousness. In other words, it is being set apart for eternal fellowship with the One True and Living God.

In order to receive this salvation, you must start by humbling yourself, because until you do that, there is simply no way you will ever acknowledge your sinfulness or personal need of divine forgiveness. Once you can kneel before God and confess your need of His mercy, you can then call upon Him for pardon and salvation. After you have accepted His mercy and grace, you should then rise to your feet with a fiery zeal to live a life that is pleasing unto Him — that is, a life of holiness, righteousness, love, kindness and gentleness.

Contrary to popular misbelief, this does not mean that you become a pacifist pansy who never fights back or defends yourself, your family or friends, or what is right and good. While a Christian will seek to avoid conflict with others insofar as it is possible (read Romans 12:18), he/she will not shrink from defending truth and righteousness according to the Word of God — the Bible.

If you’d like to read more about what this salvation is all about, why it is necessary and how you can obtain it and know you’ve obtained it, I invite you to read my book The Salvation of the LORD. It’s available here in the Parson Place News and Views Shop in both EPUB and Kindle eBook editions, or you may purchase the print edition from the publisher’s online store.

If you made a decision to call upon Jesus Christ for salvation after reading this article, would you please let me know? I would be absolutely elated to know that and will gladly offer you any mentoring or discipling you may request. Just send an email to at your convenience.

Categories
Spiritual Insights

How Should Christians Observe Halloween?

With the prominent celebration of Halloween at the end of this month, perhaps a good topic for discussion among Christian evangelists would be the appropriate Christian approach to this observance. How should individual Christians and local churches handle this cultural clash of death and evil with the biblical principles of life and goodness? That’s what I’d like to discuss in this article.

Given that Halloween (which is a compound contraction of “all hallowed evening”) has been redirected from an occasion to prepare for hallowing departed saints leading up to All Saints Day on November 1st to an occasion of celebrating death and evil (signified by skeletons, zombies, witches, and devils), how can we Christians reclaim this date for life and goodness? While many churches have countered the culture with “harvest festivals” (which I think is a step in the right direction), others have merely changed the venue for children trick-or-treating in costumes that continue to celebrate evil while going house-to-house to going to church parking lots in those same costumes and calling it “trunk-or-treating”. Although meeting at the local church certainly provides a much safer environment for children to load up on all sorts of sugary snacks and an occasional apple, if we fail to keep Christ at the forefront it doesn’t do much to train them up in the admonition of the Lord, not to mention sharing the Good News about Jesus and His salvation for the non-Christian community at large. If a church merely opens up its parking lot for trunk-or-treating without sharing the Hope of Christ’s Salvation with those who come, how does that benefit either the community or the Kingdom of Christ? Kids go home with lots of candy, but the really sweet news of how to be saved and live a godly life is completely ignored. For that matter, if a church hosts a “harvest festival” for its community without sharing the Gospel with those who come, how does that benefit either the community or the Kingdom of Christ? Is it really ministering to the community merely to offer a safe alternative venue for observing a day to celebrate evil without requiring and demonstrating a contrast between good and evil, between righteousness and unrighteousness, and between life and death? In my personal opinion, I don’t think it does.

I realize this is a sensitive subject for some, and the last thing I want to do is come across as judgmental (for God alone is the Righteous Judge), so let me hasten to say that I understand that this is a personal decision for every parent and a collective decision for every church congregation. Nevertheless, as children of light, I think we Christians ought to point to life and goodness rather than joining in with the world in the celebration of death and evil.

Refraining from blending in with the culture is partly what the Apostle James meant when he wrote, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27 NKJV). I think being “unspotted from the world” means not participating in or practicing the sins of the world, such as celebrating death and evil, no matter how innocuous it seems to let children dress up like goblins or witches and beg for candy from family, friends, and strangers alike.

It’s not easy to resist the temptation to join in with everyone else’s merriment in order to avoid being different, but being different is precisely what the word holiness implies. God has called His people to be different so that the world can see the difference and question us about it. I think this is actually what is behind the dress code and dietary restrictions for the people of Israel (long before they were called Jews) contained in the Mosaic Law. God wanted (and continues to want) His people to look and live differently from the rest of the world in order to demonstrate their separateness unto Him. While Christians are not under the restrictions of the Mosaic Law, we are called to be different nonetheless. Compare Exodus 19:6 with 1 Peter 2:9-10 and Leviticus 11:44 with 1 Peter 1:15-16; then, for good measure, read 1 Peter 4:17-18, too. Furthermore, whereas the people of Israel were called to spread the truth about God to the rest of the world (much like Christians have been called to do since the time of Christ), by the first coming of Jesus they had chosen instead to revel in the knowledge of being God’s Chosen People and became so focused on their separateness, generally speaking, that they refused to have any contact with non-Israelite people and even erected great religious and social barriers to prevent such contact. For the few proselytes that the Pharisees of Jesus’ time on earth did make, they completely skewed the truth about having a relationship with the living God and the salvation which He alone can provide. Jesus even addressed this when He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15 NKJV).

Unfortunately, many Christians throughout the centuries since Jesus’s earthly ministry have followed the Pharisees’ example of either separating themselves to the point of having no contact at all with so-called sinners or of teaching new converts a strict legalism which neither saved their souls nor made them true disciples of Jesus Christ. We have an opportunity now to finally make the difference God has called us to make, to distinguish ourselves from the world by godly living while sharing the hope of salvation with all who will listen. However, if we are indistinguishable from the rest of the world because we are participating in their sins, our message of holiness sounds hollow, and it becomes even harder for us to call people out of their sins if we’re participating in those sins with them. In that case, our call for a celebration of a true Halloween becomes a Holloween!

Whatever your plans for observing this Halloween, I challenge you to distinguish yourself from the world and be a beacon of light for Jesus Christ. Offer the sweetest treat of all – a relationship with Jesus and an everlasting citizenship in His Kingdom.

Categories
Religion and Politics Spiritual Insights

Happy Resurrection Day!

Jesus exiting tombResurrection Sunday is my favorite of all the Christian holy days of the year, because it commemorates Jesus’ victory over sin and the grave. Without Jesus’ resurrection from the dead the Christian faith is futile and meaningless. The Apostle Paul even said, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NKJV). That sounds to me like believing in Jesus’ resurrection is a requirement for salvation. Paul wrote similarly to the church in Rome “. . . that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NKJV). What does it mean to “believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead”? I believe it means to be absolutely convinced of it, just as we believe in our heart that the sun will rise again in the east tomorrow.

I pray that if you are a Christian you will observe this day in honor of Jesus and what He did for you. Don’t get caught up in the worldly observance of candy, bunnies, and coloring, hiding and hunting Easter eggs, neither of which has anything whatsoever to do with Jesus or His sacrifice and resurrection. I must admit that before I learned of the truly pagan origin of Easter, Easter bunnies, and Easter eggs I, too, was a big proponent of coloring, hiding and hunting Easter eggs. I no longer participate in that practice and I also now try to avoid calling the day of Jesus’ resurrection “Easter Sunday”, since the origin of the word Easter comes from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar on whom the whole pagan holiday is based. I urge you to focus instead on worshiping the risen Lord Jesus and honoring Him by attending corporate public worship and setting aside this day to rest and reflect on the goodness of God.

I pray that if you are not a Christian that you will consider what Jesus did for you by dying in your place on a cruel Roman cross so you wouldn’t have to be punished for your sins. Of course, if you don’t accept what Jesus did for you then His sacrifice won’t atone for your sins and you will have to pay for them yourself in an everlasting place of torment called Hell. If you want to escape the punishment of Hell and accept Jesus’ payment for your sins with His own atoning blood, then admit you are a sinner like everyone else who has ever lived on earth (except Jesus, of course), agree to leave behind your lifestyle of sin, and ask for His forgiveness and salvation. Then begin living for Him for the rest of your life. It really is just that simple.

If you’d like to know more about who Jesus is and what He did, I invite you to read the page “Who Is Jesus Christ?” on my Website. You may also contact me via email to express your questions or just leave a comment below. I wish you a most blessed and Happy Resurrection Day!

Categories
Religion and Politics Spiritual Insights

What’s So Holy About Holy Week?

jesus_descent_from_crossWhy is the week before Easter (better described as Resurrection Day) called Holy Week? In our so-called post-modern society where few people, including supposed Christians, know anything about Jesus Christ and the faith that worships Him (called Christianity), now is as good a time as any to explain this.

In order to explain Holy Week, however, we must first define the word holy. Essentially, it means something or someone set apart for a specific purpose and use. In the broadest sense, we could say that a woman’s fine china is holy because it is reserved for the most formal and/or special of dining occasions, but would that really be accurate? Actually, no, it wouldn’t, unless she used her fine china only for the service of God, because the truest meaning and use of the word holy is actually reserved for the pure worship of God. Therefore, in the truest sense, it is someone or something reserved for the service and worship of God (see Webster’s definition for further clarification). Of course, since other religions besides Christianity call their priests, instructional books, and other worship utensils holy, we are faced with the question of whether something can really be holy in the truest sense if it is devoted to the service and worship of anyone/anything other than the One True God. I want to go on the record right now and say that it can’t.

There are only two religions in the entire world that worship the same One True God, albeit with different understandings of Him, and those two religions are Judaism and Christianity. From the Christian perspective, because the Jews as a people have rejected Jesus as their Messiah (though more Jews are embracing Jesus as their Messiah every day), they worship God with a misunderstanding. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:1-2 NKJV). Therefore, based on the New Testament Scriptures and specifically on the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans in chapters nine, ten, and eleven, only those on the earth (whether Jew or Gentile) who understand, acknowledge, and accept that Jesus is the human incarnation of the One True God, that He entered the world as a sinless human being, lived His entire life as a sinless human, died as a perfect, sinless sacrifice in the place of all sinful humanity to atone for our sins, and resurrected to rule forever as King of kings and Lord of lords will be permitted to spend eternity with Him in the New Jerusalem, which is actually the New Heaven come down to the New Earth (see Revelation chapters 21 and 22). If Jesus did not really die on the cross for the sins of the world and if He did not really rise from the dead to rule over His Kingdom forever, then Christianity is an empty, meaningless, and hopeless faith.

So, what’s so holy about Holy Week? Well, because Holy Week focuses on the final week of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion and resurrection, it is a week unlike any other in the year. As wonderful as Christmas is (which is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ), it would be a meaningless celebration if there was no death and resurrection of Christ, for that is the holy purpose for which Jesus was born into the world (see John 18:37). Therefore, Holy Week is intended to be a time of both reflection upon Christ’s suffering and sacrifice and introspection upon our own relationship with Him (or lack thereof).

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday in commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where He was hailed as the King of the Jews by many of the Jewish populace, the people of Israel for whom He initially came. However, the chief priests and other religious leaders of that day rejected Jesus and His purpose of bringing reconciliation between God and His people, and they manipulated the judicial process to have Him executed by crucifixion, which ultimately fulfilled God’s Plan of Salvation not only for Israel but for the whole world. This is why Jesus prayed from the cross, “. . . Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. . . .” (Luke 23:34 KJV). The Apostle Paul further clarified this when he wrote, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8 NKJV; emphasis added).

jesus exiting tombAgain, I ask, “What’s so holy about Holy Week?” It is the remembrance of the most momentous event in world history, an event so momentous, in fact, that it changed the whole world. If Jesus had not died for the sins of all humanity and rose again from the dead, the entire universe would be without hope of ever being saved. As important as it is to believe that Jesus died for sinful humanity, however, it is equally as important to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. As the Apostle Paul also wrote, “. . . if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”(1 Corinthians 15:17 NKJV). Therefore, belief in Jesus’ deity, death, burial, and resurrection are all essential tenants of the Christian faith and for the salvation of one’s eternal soul, because belief in Jesus’ resurrection is inexplicable apart from His death on the cross, and Jesus’ death on the cross is useless without His resurrection and empty tomb. This is why Holy Week is so holy!

Do you have a relationship with Jesus the Christ (Messiah)? If not, Holy Week is an excellent occasion to initiate that relationship. It’s as simple and easy as accepting what Jesus did on the cross for you, turning away from your sins, and praying for Him to forgive you and become your Lord and Savior. If you’ve been a nominal (i.e., mostly uncommitted) believer in Jesus until now, Holy Week is an excellent occasion to develop and further deepen your relationship with Him. Remember that if you do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus (defined as one in which you truly believe He is God Who did all the Bible says He did and Who has a claim upon your soul and life), then you cannot be saved. Whether you are a Jew or Gentile, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior now and make this year’s Holy Week a truly holy week. If you’re still considering God’s proposition, however, I strongly encourage you to get my forthcoming book The Salvation of the LORD. It’s due out in late-spring or summer 2014, and it goes into great detail about what spiritual salvation is, why it’s necessary, how you can obtain it, and how you can know you’ve obtained it. Subscribe to or follow this blog to receive the announcement of its release.

If you make the commitment to accept Christ and become one of His disciples, will you also please leave a comment below letting me (and the whole world) know about your decision? I want to rejoice over and celebrate that joyous event with you! Happy Resurrection Day!

Categories
Spiritual Insights

Walking by Faith

What does it mean to “walk by faith” and how does it differ from the statement to “live by faith”? Where does this concept come from anyway?

Most Christians will quote the Apostle Paul’s writings to the churches in Rome (Romans 1:17) and Galatia (Galatians 3:11) as the source for these words, though it is also included in the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38, arguably also written by the Apostle Paul), but it is clear in each of these epistles that Paul is quoting from elsewhere. So, where did Paul get this? He got it from the prophet Habakkuk.

Interestingly, this statement in Habakkuk is actually a direct word from the Lord Who is speaking to Habakkuk when He contrasts the just (or righteous believer) with the proud. God says that the proud man’s “soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4 NKJV). Paul actually adds another aspect to this concept in his letter to the Corinthians when he writes, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV). It’s this additional aspect that I want to focus on now.

What does it mean to walk by faith, and how does it differ from living by faith? Furthermore, what does Paul’s phrasing “not by sight” mean? Actually, the word “walk” is intended as a metaphor for living, as in walking through our lives day by day until the end, so there really is no difference between the intent of the words “walk” and “live” in these two statements. As for the phrase “not by sight,” this means that we don’t allow visible circumstances to alter our faith’s invisible reality.

To walk or live by faith means multiple things, such as letting our faith in Christ direct our daily lives, which is what most believers understand this to mean, but there’s a deeper meaning here that too many Christian believers are ignorant of. This deeper meaning applies the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1 (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”) to the practice of overcoming negative circumstances in our lives.

For instance, if God has given us a miraculous healing from a sickness in our bodies and then the symptoms return sometime thereafter, we are faced with a crisis of faith as to whether we have lost our healing. The believer who lives by faith will choose to focus on the fact of the miraculous healing rather than on the apparently new symptoms of the disease and refuse to accept that the disease has returned. This is one of Satan’s cleverest tactics for stealing one’s healing (or anything else God has given us, for that matter).

To live by faith in this context then is to look not at the natural circumstances in which we find ourselves (what we see with our physical eyes) but rather to look at the spiritual reality (what we can see with our spiritual eyes) that exists beyond the physical reality. The spiritual reality is that we were healed, despite what the apparent physical reality may be trying to convince us to believe. The actual reality will therefore become whichever we choose to accept, whether the spiritual reality of the healing God gave us or the seeming physical reality which Satan is foisting upon us to deceive and dissuade us from believing in and retaining the spiritual reality.

I realize this sounds confusing, but try to look at it this way. The physical symptoms which seem to have returned are a mirage. They appear to be real, and maybe they even feel real, but they are not real. After all, were you previously healed of the disease or not? There’s where you need to focus your faith! If you know the healing was real when you received it, then continue to focus your faith on its reality, rather than on the mirage that Satan is using to attempt to steal your healing. If you give in and accept that because the symptoms have returned the disease has returned, then Satan wins and you lose your healing. The symptoms will remain and, for all intents and purposes, the disease has returned.

However, if you reject the symptoms as the satanic attack that they are and refuse to believe that the disease has returned by continually reminding yourself of the fact of your healing, the symptoms will eventually go away and you will keep your healing. You might even rephrase the Apostle Peter’s words at the end of 1 Peter 2:24 to apply directly to yourself by saying something like this: “Get away from me, Satan! By Jesus’ stripes I HAVE BEEN HEALED, and you can’t take that away from me!” This very exercise proves the truth of the words in Hebrews 11:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:7.

This same principle of exercising faith works with anything else God has given us from the spiritual realm to the physical realm, too. Remember, Jesus said Satan’s MO is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), and Satan has been a liar and a murderer from the start (John 8:44), so don’t believe his lies, NO MATTER WHAT!

 

Categories
Spiritual Insights

A Matter of Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).

***

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV).

Many Christians can quote these Bible verses with ease, but they tend to miss the meaning wrapped up in them. Because of Hebrews 11:1, faith is perceived as some nebulous, intangible idea that one must accept in order to be a believer, but it is so much more than that. It is true that one cannot be a true believer without putting one’s faith in God, but how do we really put our faith in God? Until you can answer that question satisfactorily, you will find yourself faithless, lost, and at the mercy of adversity in your life.

Basically, faith is having full confidence in someone or something. “Full confidence” means having no doubt that someone or something can do what is promised. We put full confidence in the furniture we sit on or lie on, in the machines we use to achieve our goals and desires, and sometimes in the people we respect as capable of doing what they say.

So, what does it mean to have “full confidence” in God? Well, it means that we take Him at His Word and do not doubt His capability to perform what He promises in His Word. There’s where the real rub comes in, because so many people claim to have faith or full confidence in God and His Word without even knowing what His Word promises or without giving His Word the respect it deserves. If you truly believe that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2), then when you read in God’s Word (The Holy Bible) that He will do a certain thing, you will have no doubt that He will do what He has said. There are times in God’s Word where He puts a contingency on a promise, such as in John 15:7, so if it appears God is not keeping His promise, we need to re-examine the circumstances to see what is preventing God’s promise from being fulfilled. It is certainly not God Who is faithless in such cases, but we are the faithless ones!

One of the biggest hurdles many people have to overcome, whether they are professing Christians or unbelievers who are seeking for truth, is whether to accept The Holy Bible as God’s written Word inspired by His Holy Spirit. It all comes down to a matter of faith. Since the Bible has never been disproved on even one point, but rather it has been proven time and again by people who start out to disprove something in it, only to become fully convinced of its truthfulness in the end, is it worthy of our full confidence? Granted, there are some translational vagaries that have crept into the various translations of the Bible over the centuries which have diluted its truth in some places, but a diligent search of the original languages in which the Bible was written will clarify any of these points. With such marvelous technological inventions as the computer, you don’t have to know Hebrew or Greek in order to search out these points. All you need is an electronic Bible with the words in your native language linked to the words in the original Bible language to compare meanings. One excellent electronic Bible that is also FREE is e-Sword by Rick Meyers.

Accepting the Bible as Personally-inspired by God’s Holy Spirit is the first step to securing your faith in God and His promises. After all, where are the promises of God found, other than in The Holy Bible? If you’ve been visited by some spirit being claiming something contrary to what the Bible says, then you know you are dealing with an evil spirit which is not to be believed. If you’ve listened to a preacher or teacher anywhere who is telling you something different from what the Bible says, you know you are dealing with an evil spirit which is using a human being as an instrument of evil. This does not necessarily mean that  such a preacher or teacher is evil or has evil intentions, because it is possible for preachers and teachers to be misled or to misinterpret Scriptural statements or to be ignorant of certain aspects in God’s Word (compare this idea with what happened in Matthew 16:13-23 and Acts 18:24-26). So, we need to be very cautious about either trusting a preacher or teacher blindly or condemning him or her as a false teacher based on one erroneous presentation. If after we’ve tried to correct them about something they still reject the truth, however, then we should distance ourselves from them.

The Bible even tells us how to discern when evil spirits are attempting to deceive us. John tells us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:3 NKJV).

Accepting The Holy Bible as the Personally-inspired Word of God is just the first step to securing your relationship with Jesus Christ and your place in His eternal Kingdom. The next step is trusting everything the Bible commands us to believe and do, including such fundamental truths as the creation story (no, God did not combine evolution with His created order and then leave everything to its own devices). Rejecting what the Bible says about anything is tantamount to calling God a liar. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “… Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar….” (Romans 3:3-4 NKJV). The Apostle John even goes so far as to say, “… he who does not believe God has made Him a liar….” (1 John 5:10 NKJV). While John is writing specifically about faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our sins, I think we can rightly extrapolate this truth and apply it to anything else God has said, including how the world was created and such supernatural events as Jonah being swallowed by a great fish for three days and the Red Sea parting for 2-3 million Israelites to cross over on dry land, and many other astounding facts from the Bible narrative. Whether or not to accept all this and put our full confidence in it as TRUTH really is a matter of faith.

Now, are you a true believer? Do you accept The Holy Bible as the inspired Word of God and believe everything it says happened exactly as it says? It’s one thing to have questions about how these things could have happened as the Bible depicts them, but it’s another matter entirely to discount them because they’re impossible in the natural. That’s the whole point! God is supernatural, so most of His wondrous deeds as described in the Bible are supernatural, too! If you can’t accept and put your full confidence in such things as this, how can you believe in a God you’ve never seen? Jesus asked Nicodemus this question: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12 NKJV). Good question!

God wants to be believed. The salvation of our very souls depends on whether we believe what God says. As Paul recounted the story of Abraham’s faith, he wrote, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS'” (Romans 4:3 NKJV). In fact, I recommend you read the entire Book of Romans in the Bible, but Romans 4:1-5:2 is particularly apropos to my point here. Put your trust in God by believing what God says in His Word, The Holy Bible. Not only is it a matter of faith, but it’s a matter of everlasting life and everlasting death!