Monday, February 28, 2011


The word "hypocrite" has its source from the Greek word ὑποκρίτης (hypokrites), "actor, pretender." One dictionary defines "hypocrite" as someone feigning high character; that is, someone who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise. The symbol for modern theater pictures two masks, one frowning, and the other smiling. The origin of the symbol is said to be from the ancient Greek theater, where actors played characters by placing masks over their faces.

The word "hypocrites" appears three times in the Old Testament. Job speaks of the "congregation of hypocrites" being made desolate, with fire consuming their "tabernacles of bribery" (Job 15:34). Elihu, one of Job's "friends" says, "But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath..." (Job 36:13). It is interesting that both Job and his accuser use the term and declare its unpleasant reward (fire and wrath). Isaiah speaks of "the sinners in Zion," calling them hypocrites who fear the certain fire that awaits their treachery (Isa. 33:14).

"Hypocrites" is a term used seventeen times in the New Testament and all come from the mouth of Jesus. Matthew records fourteen of them, two which are repeated in the other Synoptic Gospels. In Mark 7:6 and Matthew 15:7-8. Jesus criticizes those who pretend to honor God but do not love Him. In Luke 12:56 and Matthew 16:3, Jesus questions how the religious leaders can discern the weather from physical signs, but they cannot recognize Him by His works. There is one use of the term that is unique to Luke (11:44), where He calls the Scribes and Pharisees open graves into which the unsuspecting fall. This reminds me of the cults, which present a "safe path," but are traps leading to hell.

In those verses unique to Matthew's Gospel, Jesus calls hypocrites those people who make a show of giving alms to look spiritual (6:2); those who pray for all to hear and see (6:5); those who fast for attention (6:16); those who tried to tempt Him to sin in order to trap Him (22:18); those who steal from widows and who make long prayers (23:14); those who search to find converts to their hypocritical ways (23:15); those who are dogmatically strict about the law but fail to practice it (23:23); those who "clean up" for the public, but who remain sinners inwardly (23:25, 27); those who show great respect for the tombs of the righteous and speak against those who killed them, and yet they will do the very same thing (23:29-36); and finally, Jesus proclaimed that those who mistreat their brethren will suffer the same end as will the hypocrites: weeping and gnashing of teeth (24:48-51).

To sum it up, a hypocrite is a person who pretends to love the Lord, but in actuality, hates Him. I believe it is impossible for a born-again child of God to be a hypocrite (1 Jn. 4:19). When we sin, we grieve because we have hurt God (Eph. 4:30), while hypocrites are inwardly joyful when they "put one over on the public."

Sunday, February 27, 2011


As Christians, we know Jesus Christ is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, but did you know that the first person to formally present Him as Israel's King was Pilate? The wise men were seeking the King of the Jews, but when they found Him, instead of revealing Jesus as the long-awaited King, they "snuck out of town" (Matt. 2:1-12). John the Baptist presented Him as the sacrificial Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). His disciples preached the Kingdom but not in the presence of the King. However, the first person to announce His royalty was the very man that turned Him over to the mob to be crucified. Pilate not only presented Him as King (Matt. 27:17; Mk. 15:9; Jn. 18:39), he had a sign placed above His head on the cross declaring Jesus as their King in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (Matt. 27:37; Mk. 15:26; Lk. 23:38; Jn. 19:19).

Some have suggested that the Church is the Kingdom of God, because Jesus said He was going to give Peter the keys to His Kingdom (Matt. 16:17-19). What on earth does that mean? The answer is found in a few passages in the book of Acts. Jesus told His disciples they were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the rest of the world (Acts 1:8). This is extremely important, because there are only three kinds of people: Jews, Samaritans (part of Israel that differed from orthodox Jews), and Gentiles (everyone else). The Apostle Peter was present when each of these groups of people was accepted into the Church as followers of Christ (Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10). But the Church cannot be the Kingdom because Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36).

There are a couple of other major reasons the Church is not the Kingdom. One, the King is not physically present during the Church Age (the time between the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Rapture - Acts 2; 1Thes. 5:13-18), and all of the prophecies concerning the reign of the Messiah referred to His ruling in the Land of Promise. Two, there is to be a specific period of one thousand years known as the Kingdom Age, nicknamed "The Millennium" (Rev. 20:1-7). It is true that the Church will play a significant role during the Millennial Reign of Christ, but it will be composed of saved Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles in their glorified bodies; we are to rule and reign with Him during His earthly Kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10; 20:4, 6).

Had Israel heeded the call of John the Baptist to repent and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, the Kingdom could have begun. But they did not, and as a result, the Kingdom has been put on hold for almost two thousand years (Jn. 1:11-12). Where is the Kingdom today? It was among the Jews who rejected Him (Matt. 12:28; Lk. 10:9, 11; 11:20). It was at hand because He was there (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). But today, it is wherever the King is! For now, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting to come establish His Kingdom (Matt. 26:64; Lk. 22:69; Acts 7:55). All I can say is, "Come quickly Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20)!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I have heard that Christians were originally called "people of the way," so I checked the Internet to see what information I could find. I was amazed at the number of sites referenced; there were over 350,000,000! Needless to say, I did not avail myself of the vast resources available. The reason I felt inclined to delve into the subject was from something said in The Shack written by William P. Young. In it, Jesus tells Mack He did not come to start a religion, but that He came to reestablish a relationship between Himself and His creation. If that is true, and I certainly believe it is, then how did Christianity become a religion? To the world, Christianity is simply one of a myriad of human religions, and to most of its proponents, it has become "a religion" due to their ignorance of the Word of God.

"Christians," as a name for members of the Body of Christ, is found only three times in the New Testament. From the founding of the Church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1, it took approximately ten years before someone in Antioch first called the disciples of Jesus "Christians" (Acts 11:26). Obviously it caught on, because both Luke and Peter refer to believers as "Christians" (Acts 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). However, the same two authors later in their writings, refer to the Church as "the way" (Acts 16:17; 18:25-26; 24:14; 2 Pet. 2:2, 15, 21).

Today's definition of the term "Christianity," means "the religion of the followers of Jesus Christ." But genuine Christianity is not a religion. A religion is a system of rules to follow so that one will find favor with a god and avoid incurring his or her wrath. The Bible teaches that by faith in the finished work of Jesus on our behalf, we become God's children (Rom. 8:16). When Jesus was crucified, was buried, and rose again according to the prophetic Scriptures, He removed the enmity between God and mankind (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Jam. 4:4). We can do nothing of ourselves to change our relationship with God; our salvation is a free gift (Eph. 2:8-9).

Picture yourself as an orphan living in an orphanage. You can do nothing to cause someone to come adopt you. However, you can reject an offer and refuse to be adopted. That is the way it is with us. We are offered an opportunity to become a child of Almighty God, and all we have to do is accept. An orphan cannot produce love in the heart of prospective parents; it is either there or it is not. God is love, and He loves us (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:8, 16). He wants to fill us with His Spirit and make us His heirs (Rom. 8:14-17).

So, whether we call ourselves "Christians," "believers," "disciples," "followers," "the way," etc., it doesn't matter; a rose is a rose. What really matters is that we have accepted His offer to be our God. Hopefully, those who have accepted God's offer will live their lives dedicated to loving and serving others, and will be seen as becoming more and more like the One the book, the Song of Solomon, calls "the Rose of Sharon" (2:1).

Friday, February 25, 2011


The Rose, as a metaphor for life, can be seen in the saying, "With the Rose, comes the thorns." It is much like the saying, "You have to take the bitter with the sweet." The Bible refers to a similar contrast in the Song of Solomon, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters" (2:2). The word "thorns" appears forty-seven times in Scripture, and if you are like me, you haven't paid much attention to it. I have just assumed that thorns are bad things, something undesirable, and something to be avoided.

The existence of thorns in our world is the direct result of man's sin. God punished Adam's transgression by removing him from a perfect Utopia, placing him in a world requiring hard work, and filled with challenges (Gen. 3:17-19). One of those negative consequences was the creation of thorns (Gen. 3:18).

Another negative use of thorns in the Bible refers to those who oppose the people of God in the Land of Promise. God told Israel to drive all non-Jews from their land, warning them that if they failed to do so, they would continually be a "thorn in their sides" (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Jud. 2:3). Thorns are also viewed in a negative light when in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus uses thorns as a metaphor for the "care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches" (Matt. 13:7, 22).

The Apostle Paul experienced a "thorn in the flesh," given him by God to keep him from being proud (2 Cor. 12:1-10). No one knows for certain what the "thorn" was, but some have speculated it had to do with his eyesight (Acts 13:11; Gal. 4:13-15; 6:11, 17). Then there is the ultimate negative use of thorns having to do with our Lord's crucifixion. Matthew, Mark, and John all record the torture of Jesus with a crown of thorns being driven into His scalp (Matt. 27:29; Mk. 15:17; Jn. 19:2). I cannot explain why Luke, the physician (Col. 4:14), would omit such a traumatic physical event, but he did.

The Bible also speaks of thorns as serving man in a positive way. In Hosea 2:6, God told Hosea that He would use a hedge of thorns to prevent his wife, Gomer, from leaving to commit adultery. And while the hedge God placed around Job may not have been made of thorns, it certainly served to protect him from Satan's desire to afflict him (Job 1:10). Hedges, presumably made of thorn bushes were used as a form of fortification against the enemies of Israel (1 Chron. 4:23; Ezek. 13:5; 22:30; Matt. 21:33; etc.). Ironically, both Job and Jeremiah complain because they viewed the hedge around them as a negative thing (Job. 3:23; Lam. 3:7).

The view one has of thorns has much to do with the purpose they are serving. If they protect the Rose from wildlife, they are a good thing. If they are a fortification against our enemy, they are good. If they are serving as a punishment, or as an impediment, then they are still good, because God has them there for a reason (Rom. 8:28). It is easy to thank God for the Rose, but the mature Christian can also thank Him for the thorns.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday, I suggested that one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3-12 has to be Elijah. Before the Christ of Israel comes to establish His Kingdom, the Scriptures say Elijah will set the stage for Him (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 4:4-6; Matt. 17:10-13; Lk. 1:17).

First, Elijah did not die (2 Kg. 2:11), and the two witnesses will be martyred (Rev. 11:7). In light of Hebrews 9:27, the only two Old Testament characters who qualify are Elijah and Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5). Enoch represents the Gentiles, and Elijah represents the Jews. The Church will have already been "caught up" in the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:13-18).

Then there is the stoppage of rain by Elijah (1 Kg. 17:1; Lk. 4:25; Jam. 5:17); the two witnesses are able to stop the rain (Rev. 11:6). It is interesting that Elijah stopped the rain for three and a half years, the exact length of the second half of the Tribulation (Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6; 13:5). There is little doubt that one of the two must be Elijah.

The seven year Tribulation period precedes the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, and it is ended when Christ returns (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 19:11-21). Satan is temporarily bound for the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth (Rev. 20:1-7). The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven, and the Millennial Kingdom are the same thing; they are the seventh dispensation or stewardship.

The kingdom Israel still awaits, and for which His disciples longed in Acts 1:6, will have come at last. It is the kingdom of which the prophets spoke (Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 33:14-22; Ezek. 37:24-25; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 3:4-5; Amos 9:11; Zech. 14:4-9; etc.). In it, all of the yet unfulfilled prophecies regarding the land, the Jews, and the Christ, will be fulfilled. Christ will rule by delegating responsibility, or stewardship, just as He did for the first six dispensations. This time, He will Tabernacle with mankind.

The seventh dispensation, the Millennium, might be described as:

Man's responsibility or stewardship: Obey Christ (Rev. 20:1-7)
Man's diet: Plants (Isa. 65:21-25; 66:3)
God's Command: Obey Christ and His chosen leaders (Rev. 19:15; 20:6)
Man's Response: Rebellion when Satan released (Rev. 20:7-9)
God's Judgment: Physical death and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20: 9-15).

For a more in-depth look at dispensations, see my posts dated Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2010. God bless!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yesterday, I said that the emphasis on the Kingdom of God almost disappeared after the Synoptic Gospels were written. Today's post is entitled "The Kingdom of Heaven," because the Gospel of Matthew presents the Kingdom as such thirty-two times. Either title is accurate, as twelve of the thirty-two are quoted in Mark and Luke, where the writers wrote "Kingdom of God."

Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the Kingdom a total of eighty-six times (ninety-three if you count the Book of Acts which was also written by Luke), John only three times (one in Revelation), and the rest of the New Testament writers a total of ten times. Fourteen books do not even mention the kingdom. It is my understanding that Jesus offered Himself to Israel, and when they rejected Him as their king, the earthly reign of Christ was postponed "until further notice." The evidence I gave for this was found in John 1:11-12, where the Apostle informs us that Israel's rejection of their Messiah opened the door for the Gentiles. God, knowing what would happen, included the Church in His plan. Paul's teaching on this is found in Romans, Chapters Nine - Eleven.

The Old Testament prophet Malachi said the prophet Elijah would return to set the stage for the Lord's coming: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Mal. 4:1-5). "Elijah" is presented in Matthew 3:1-12. Jesus said that John (the Baptizer) came in the Spirit of Elijah: "And if ye will receive [Me], this is Elias (Greek for Elijah), which was for to come" (Matt. 11:14). Jesus had this to say about John's potential fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Elijah's setting the stage for Him: "But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them" (Matt.17:12).

Even today, two thousand years later, the Jewish religious experts still await the second coming of Elijah. And every year at the Passover meal, Jewish mothers, in a time honored tradition, still set an extra place at the table for Elijah hoping that this will be the year when he finally returns to join them.

Because Elijah has to precede the coming of Israel's Messiah, the Christ, I believe one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:3 must be Elijah. I believe the other is Enoch. Enoch and Elijah are seen as possibilities for the two witnesses, because they are the two individuals whom God has taken to heaven apart from experiencing death (Gen. 5:23; 2 Kg. 2:11). The fact that neither Enoch nor Elijah has experienced death seems to qualify them to experience death and resurrection, as the two witnesses experience (Rev. 11:7-12). Proponents of this view claim that Hebrews 9:27 (all men die once) disqualifies Moses from being one of the two witnesses, as Moses has died once already (Deut. 34:5).

More on this tomorrow, Lord willing. God bless.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The first king mentioned in the Bible was Nimrod, king over Babel (Gen. 10:10). Two chapters later, God chose Abraham to begin a nation that was to recognize God as its King (Gen. 12:2; 1 Sam. 8:7). Approximately one thousand years passed when Israel, which by then was governed by corrupt judges, complained to their prophet Samuel that they wanted to be ruled by a king like all of the other nations (1 Sam. 8:3-5). When Samuel approached God with their request, God told him that they were not rejecting him as their leader, they were rejecting Him, God (1 Sam. 8:7). The LORD warned them that a human king would cost them dearly (1 Sam. 8:9-17). They did not heed God's warning and Israel's kings proved to be "as advertised." They did not learn much, for nearly one thousand or so years later, they chose Barabbas over Jesus (Matt. 27:21). Israel rejected their One true King, again!

With the rejection of Jesus Christ, Israel opened the door for salvation to the Gentiles; prior to this, a Gentile had to become a Jew to be considered a child of Abraham (Jn. 1:11-12). Israel, who had long been waiting for their Messiah, their Christ, their King, having been without a king since Hoshea (who ruled until about 722 B.C. when the Assyrian Empire conquered them), failed to recognize Him when He came. As a result, their centuries of being without a king from the lineage of David continues until this day. It has been about twenty-seven hundred years, and they are still waiting for their king.

The good news is, their King will return to establish His one thousand year reign; the bad news is, they will have experienced persecution for at least two thousand years prior to His return, with the last seven years of persecution being the Tribulation [also know as the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jer. 30:7), and Daniel's Seventieth Week (Dan. 9:24-27)]. And while His Millennial Kingdom will be ruled with total righteousness (Rev. 19:2, 8, 11), His reign is described as being with an "iron rod" (Rev. 19:15).

Some have suggested that the idea of an earthly reign by Christ is a metaphor for the age of the Church. They believe the Church will eventually win the world to Christ. Since the Church has had twice the time specified, and has been losing ground in its mission to evangelize the world, it is clear that either God made a mistake, or their interpretation of Scripture is wrong. The main reason these folks misunderstand is because they do not recognize the distinction between Israel and the Church. I would suggest that since the Synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) mention the kingdom eighty-six times, and the rest of the New Testament only twenty times, the kingdom offered Israel is "on hold" until after the Church Age. In Acts 1:2-8, Jesus indicated the kingdom was yet future. All references after that also speak of it as a future reign. I hope to continue on this subject tomorrow. But until then, remember, He wins!

Revelation 11:15 - And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Yesterday, I shared some thoughts on what some (those who come to church as spectators) might call an oxymoron: the worship service. I don't want to "beat a dead horse," but the idea that the congregation is the audience watching performances of those called to serve on the sanctuary platform is repugnant to me. It is made even more disgusting by the fact that I am often guilty of it myself. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to picture the congregation holding up numbers at the end of a song or the sermon, just like judges rating the performance between one and ten. To find out what they thought of the message, one would only need to add the numbers and divide by the number voting. Ludicrous, right? Maybe so, but when we "discuss" our opinions of the performances, aren't we doing that very thing?

The main point I was attempting to get across was that the congregation is not really the audience; it is supposed to be "performing" worship. Perhaps the reason it is so easy to fall into Satan's scheme of spreading discord among the brethren is because of the way the auditorium is laid out. The congregation is seated in a semi-circle facing the platform in the same way a movie theater, a classroom, or an orchestra concert would be. I wonder what would happen if the seating were a complete circle, and those who normally participated in the service were scattered among the rest of those attending? The preacher would simply stand where he was seated, as would the singers and musicians, sort of like the Quaker's worship service. Of course, instead of the Holy Spirit moving in their hearts to express their gifts according to God's time-table, the person in charge of the order of worship would make sure everything happened "in a professional way."

I can see another problem with my "seating arrangement." People tend to sit in groups of people they feel close to, and therefore, when the "audience" put up their numbers at the end of each "performance," those sitting closest to the "performer" would be biased toward him or her, giving a higher number. That would be unfair, right?

The fact that much of what I have said in these last two posts is sarcasm, should indicate my disdain for how I, and many of my fellow church goers, act. Unfortunately, sarcasm is a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt. The word comes from the late Greek σαρκαζμόσ (sarkazmos) taken from the word σαρκάζειν meaning 'to tear flesh, gnash the teeth, speak bitterly. By using sarcasm, I am also guilty of being judgmental and being unloving. I am slowly but surely discovering that I am not a very good Christian. For that, I apologize to my readers. But the point I am making is valid, and it is this: the audience at every worship service consists of God Almighty, His angels, and Satan. I ask you to decide which of these is most pleased with how you behave in church. If you are like me, I am afraid you owe God an apology too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Have you ever given much thought to the concept of going to church to attend a worship service? There is a huge difference between attending a worship service, and going to worship the Lord. When we use the word "attend," we make it sound like we are going as spectators to watch others worship. Unfortunately, that is exactly what a very large percentage of church goers do. Instead of worshiping the Lord, most of us tend to act as critics, evaluating the performances of God's servants. We sit in our pews and observe the musicians, the singers, and the preacher. We say, "The music was too loud; they sang the wrong songs; the preacher went too long; they were asking for money again; etc." We evaluate their performances, and do not hesitate to tell others our opinions of our experience that day. We are supposed to be there to worship the Lord. God is supposed to be the audience! The worship of God does not just take place on the platform; every person there is supposed to be worshiping Him. You would think we were expecting to be entertained. We actually seem to think of ourselves as members of the "audience," and we have the right to expect quality music and preaching; after all, we do pay the salaries of our "employees," right?

Fortunately, there is a small percentage of folks who go to church to worship and praise Almighty God for His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His love, and His faithfulness toward us. They pray, sing, and show reverence for the One Who has proven His great love for us. They are thrilled to see volunteer musicians, and singers lead in praise to God, to see volunteers hand out bulletins, take up the offering, serve communion, take care of the young children, etc. They even look for opportunities to do their part in enabling others to worship the Lord.

The majority of church goers seem to view "worship" and "service," as an oxymoron. The term, "oxymoron," comes from the Greek ὀξύμωρον, meaning "sharp dull." It is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. Literary oxymorons are crafted to reveal a paradox. Some have jokingly viewed my Navy career in "Naval Intelligence" as an oxymoron. Another common example is "jumbo shrimp."

Webster's New World Dictionary defines "worship" as a religious homage, reverence, devotion, and veneration of one's God. The Bible states that worship is to be given to God, and to God alone (Ex. 20:2-5; Deut. 5:6-9; 6:12-15; Matt. 4:10; Lk. 4:8; Acts 10:26; 14:15; Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). Webster defines "service" as being the performance of work by a servant, whether a slave or a paid servant. Hence, a worship service is supposed to be working to honor God. If I am focusing upon God and worshiping Him, and if I am exercising my spiritual gifts within the Body of Christ, then it is a worship service. If I am evaluating the exercising of the spiritual gifts of others, I am neither worshiping nor am I serving.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


My last two posts have really taken their toll on me, both mentally and physically. I never realized how old age and being a "workman" (2 Tim. 2:15) could be so exhausting. One of the things that contributed to the fatigue was trying to discern what the word "God" meant in each passage I studied. "God" is such a generic term, and it being a title rather than a name, does not help. I have an idea that would simplify the process. There could be identifying letters placed after the words referring to "God" which would help the reader instantly understand the text. For instance, by placing (F) after the word, we would know the text was speaking of God the Father. On the occasions where "God" is referring to the Son of God, (J) could be used. And for the case of the Holy Spirit, (HS) would easily identify to Whom the writer was referring. When the Godhead, or the Trinity is meant, (T) could be used. Here are a few examples:

THE TRINITY: Matthew 28:19 - "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father (F), and of the Son (J), and of the Holy Spirit (HS)." This verse lists the three equal persons of the Trinity, also called the Godhead (T) in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9.

THE FATHER: Genesis 32:30 - "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God (J) face to face, and my life is preserved." This would immediately clarify an apparent contradiction with Exodus 33:20 which says, "And He said, Thou canst not see My (F) face: for there shall no man see Me (F), and live."

THE SON: Jesus is called God (J) in John 20:28 - "And Thomas answered and said unto Him (J), 'My Lord (J) and my God (J).'"

Another example is in Matthew 2:11 - "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child (J) with Mary His (J) mother, and fell down, and worshiped Him (J)...." When one compares this with Matthew 4:10 ("...Thou shalt worship the Lord (T) thy God (T), and Him (T) only shalt thou serve."), it is saying Jesus is God (J). See also Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; and 28:9.

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit is also called God (HS) in Acts 5:3-4 - "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit (HS), and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou has not lied unto men, but unto God (HS).'"

Being a realist, I sincerely doubt that anyone would consider using "my method" to simplify the understanding of God's (T) Word, but just in case someone does, you have my permission on one condition. You must give me a copy. God (T) bless all, especially the children of God (F)!

Friday, February 18, 2011


Yesterday's posting took me about five hours to write, and some time after I had finished it, I realized that I had not done a very good job of connecting my thoughts. I do not believe anything I wrote was incorrect, but the four paragraphs almost seem to form an outline rather than the presentation of a single idea. Hopefully, this post will "connect some of the dots."

My ultimate goal was to present the view that the Old Testament Hebrew הוה (YHVH), which appears 6823 times, and which is translated "LORD" in most Bibles, is a reference to the pre-incarnate the Son of God. Various attempts have been made to write the name (Yahweh, Yah, Yehovah, Jehovah), but today, no one really knows the correct spelling or pronunciation. הוה is defined as "I Am that I Am," or "I Am" in Exodus 3:14. As I pointed out yesterday, Jesus identifies with the name, "I Am" several times in the Gospel of John.

I also pointed out the Hebrew הוה was κύριος in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament translated in about 200 B.C. In the Greek New Testament, κύριος is used as a title for Jesus (Lord) over six hundred fifty times. The writers of the New Testament must have known that they were using the same Greek word for the title of Jesus as was used for the name of God, because all four writers of the Gospels and the Apostle Paul quoted from the Septuagint. Therefore, they clearly identified הוה as Jesus.

The main reason it is important to understand that "LORD" does not refer to God the Father, or to God as a Trinity, is because if it did, then the Bible contradicts itself, and that is impossible. There are two Old Testament references to men saying they had seen God with their eyes (Gen. 32:30; Jud. 13:22), and yet, the Bible teaches that no man has ever seen God face to face (Jn. 1:18; 1 Jn. 4:12). It also says that to look upon God's face would result in sudden death (Ex. 33:20).

Before Christ came to teach us about God, man was not aware that the God of Israel was a Trinity composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). So when Jacob wrestled with this very special "man," he somehow thought it was the one true God. The "man" with Whom Jacob wrestled was God, but God the Son, not the Father or the Trinity. The same is true of Manoah who, seeing the Angel of the Lord, thought it was God. Perhaps on another occasion, I will attempt to show that the "Angel of the Lord" is another manifestation of Jesus in the Old Testament.

To sum up, הוה, κύριος, LORD, YHVH, I Am, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, and Jesus are all one and the same Person. I sure hope that all makes sense to you. God bless you as you serve Christ Jesus, our Lord!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Depending upon which version of the Bible you have, when reading the Old Testament, you may have noticed that the word, "LORD," is written in all caps. This is true for the KJV, NRSV, ESV, LB, NIV, NEB, NCV, and The Promise, to list just a few. The Jerusalem Bible uses the word, "Yahweh," and The Message simply has "GOD" in all caps. The primary reason for the use of "LORD" in place of God's Hebrew name is because the Hebrew Bible was written prior to the use of vowels, and the Jews, fearing they might mispronounce or misspell God's name, did not used it.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the Tetragrammaton, YHVH (the Hebrew name God told Moses to use when speaking of Him to the Jews in Exodus 3:14), appears 6823 times in the Biblia Hebraica (the Hebrew Old Testament). With very few exceptions, YHVH is translated "LORD." Ironically, one of those exceptions is found in Exodus 3:14, where it is translated "I Am." Of the approximately 300 Old Testament quotes in the New Testament, about 2/3 of them came from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), where it is always translated Κυρίος (Lord). Κυρίος in the Greek New Testament is also translated "Lord," a title used for Jesus over six hundred and fifty times.

There are some very important reasons why the child of God needs to understand that Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. It explains why the Bible can say that "no man hath seen God and any time" (Jn. 1:18; 1 Jn. 4:12), and it also quotes two men as saying they had seen God (Gen. 32:30; Jud. 13:22). In the case of Jacob, he wrestled with "a man" (32:24), and in the case of Manoah, he had seen the Angel of the LORD (Jud. 13:23). Both men were mistaken.

Jesus said of himself:
"I AM the living bread that cometh down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (Jn. 6:51). "Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I AM the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12). "And He said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I AM from above; ye are of this world; I AM not of this world" (Jn. 8:23). "I said, therefore, unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I AM (He), ye shall die in your sins" (Jn.8:24). "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn. 8:58). "I AM the door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (Jn. 10:9). "I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" (Jn. 10:11). "Say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest because I said, I AM the Son of God?" (Jn. 10:36). "Jesus said unto her, I AM the resurrection and the life; He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (Jn. 11:25). "Jesus saith unto him, I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (Jn. 14:6). "I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser" (Jn 15:1). To be continued.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


A Theodicy is the epitome of attempting to answer the greatest "why." It is a theological or philosophical study which attempts to justify the conflict between God’s intrinsic nature of omni-benevolence (all loving), omniscience (all knowing) and omnipotence (all powerful), with the fact that evil exists, which would otherwise stand to refute God's attributes. Some define the term as an attempt to explain or justify God's behavior in general. Simply put, it is an attempt to explain why God allows evil when He is quite capable of preventing it.

One of my seminary professors gave us an assignment to write a paper defending the character of God. He suggested that there cannot be contradictory truths; that God, with all His "omni's," could not be good since Satan appears to have a free reign in this world. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I believed that he was "playing the devil's advocate" (puns intended), knowing we would face that question in our ministries.

After thinking and praying about the assignment, I went to my professor and told him that I believed a man attempting to justify God was not only impossible, it was blasphemy. I supported my position using Isaiah 55:9 which says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Also, Job 9:10 says, "Which (Who) doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number." I didn't think of it then, but an excellent passage defending my unwillingness to write such a paper would include the temptation of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-7). Satan suggested that God was not telling them the truth, and that He really wanted to prevent them from becoming His equal (v. 5). He was saying God is not good, nor does He need to be superior to man.

My professor accepted my recommendation that I be allowed to write a ten-page paper on the character of God instead of writing a theodicy. When I received my paper back, the grader had given me a "C" (he probably was told to do so by my professor), and he had written a scathing note saying he thought I was being foolish and immature, which was quite ironic since I was about twice his age at the time (I entered seminary at the age of forty-four).

As I mentioned yesterday, I detest "why" questions when they have to do with challenging the wisdom of those in authority. But for someone to suggest that God cannot be good because He allows evil to exist, is tantamount to denying the very existence of the God of the Bible. It seems absolutely ludicrous for Satan (or for man) to deny the superiority of God, when he so jealously covets His supremacy. When Darwinian "scientists," and the rest of the "great minds" of "so called science" (1 Tim. 6:20) challenge the authenticity of the Bible and the God presented therein, they are, perhaps unwittingly, serving Satan in his effort to bring God down to his level. After all, even when we as Christians become like Jesus (1 Jn. 3:2), He will still be God, and we will still be His creation. To God alone be the glory!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


There are very few things more frustrating to me than having one of my children respond to my instructions by asking, "Why?" Perhaps it is because I spent twenty years in the Navy where I learned the saying, "It is not for me to reason why; it is for me but to do or die (trying)." Then again, it could have been my parents who made it clear that I was being disrespectful when I did so. When someone questions a person in authority, it is as though he needs to see the reasoning behind the decision before he will comply. In the Navy, questioning the reasonableness of an order was considered insubordination. The answer should be, "Because I said so!"

One thing even more frustrating to me was when I had told one of my children to do something, only to have my wife challenge my decision in front of the child. However, as I am growing older and am now reviewing my life, I realize those situations did not have to happen. The Bible does say that the husband is in authority over the wife and the children (Eph. 5:22; 6:1), but a wise husband will listen to the counsel of his wife before making an important decision (Prov. 31:26). I can recall times when the decision I made was wrong, and had I discussed it with her first, I could have avoided provoking my children (Eph. 6:4). Because I was so sure I knew what was best, and didn't need her advice, her only recourse was to question my instructions at the time they were given.

And as a child of God, I am guilty of the same thing; I have questioned my Father about His decisions. Why did He allow six million Jews to perish? Why does He allow abortion, the murder of children, to continue? Why are Christian missionaries martyred? Why do I have to go to someone whom I have offended, and also have to go to a person who has offended me? Why, if the Holy Spirit lives within me, doesn't He take over my whole life so that I will always be obedient and pleasing to Him? God knows I have asked for that hundreds of times! By asking these questions, am I not challenging His authority, His wisdom, His love? Lord, forgive me!

A man died and went to heaven. After touring the place, he was surprised to see some of those he was sure would spend eternity in hell. Then he was even more surprised when he began noticing the absence of some of his fellow church members whose deaths had preceded his. But the greatest shock came when he was ushered into the presence of God, with His Son seated at His right hand. As he looked into the eyes of Jesus, the only question racing through his mind was "Why am I here?" Perhaps that is the only time we will ever be justified in asking God why. However, I suspect we will know why. We know that God loves us (Jn. 3:16). We know that by graciously saving those who deserve to go to hell, He has shown mercy (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). And we will realize that by His limiting those who are permitted to dwell in His presence to those who have accepted His free offer of salvation, it is He that deserves all the glory and praise (Isa. 43:7). Don't ask why; just trust that everything He does, and that He requires, is motivated by His love! Amen!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Yesterday, I mentioned that in church, I had a short discussion with a brother concerning his view that our citizens need to rise up "to take back our country." Many times over the forty years I have been a Christian, I have had mixed emotions about whether or not a Christian should participate in an armed revolt. My having spent twenty years in our military serving to protect this nation should be ample proof that I am not a pacifist, but there is a huge difference between fighting to protect what exists, and fighting to change it; one is loyalty, and the other is treason.

Through the years, some have asked me how I justified being in the military. My answer to them is based upon the verse that says, "...if any provide not for his own...he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8). A man's responsibility to his family includes their protection "from enemies foreign and domestic." When he asked me if I would defend myself, I told him I didn't believe a Christian should, but that we should "turn the other cheek" (Matt. 5:39). He made a valid point when he said, "If you do not protect yourself and you are killed, then who will protect your family?" To me, that seemed reasonable.

One of the comments he made had to do with the fact that America was founded by our revolution against British rule. He was suggesting that if it had not been for our founding fathers rising up in armed conflict, we would not exist as a free nation today. I cannot say how our history would have played out, but I know that there are several examples of independent nations today that peaceably gained their freedom from the British Empire: Canada, Australia, South Africa, and India, to name a few. Who knows whether or not God would have done the same for us?

He asked me if I would have fought for America's freedom. I told him that if I were a born-again, Bible-believing Christian back then, I would not have participated. He looked shocked. He asked me why. I told him that as a Christian, my allegiance was to the Lord, Who told His children to submit to the government (Matt. 22:17-21; Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). I do not know of any situation in which I would find it necessary to take up arms against my country. Jesus lived under the rule of Rome, and He did not advocate revolt. Gandhi lived under the British and he chose to "fight" for his nation's independence by means of a hunger strike. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood against racial segregation by peaceful marches. All of the Apostles were persecuted and except for John, all suffered a martyr's death under governmental authority. We cannot control what our government does, but in America we have a voice, and we have a vote. When politicians want to be re-elected, they listen. Christians need to let their voices be heard!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I have a difficult time praying. I am not exactly sure why, but perhaps it has something to do with not knowing the will of God. I have no trouble praying for the lost, because I know that God does not want any to perish, but that all should repent and be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to know who is lost and who is living as a carnal Christian (a born-again believer whose life resembles the lives of the lost).

There are three Old Testament verses that speak of carnality, and all three have to do with sexual sin (Lev. 18:20; 19:20; Num. 5:13). The New Testament uses the word "carnal" twelve times, and it refers to all manner of sinful behavior. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, Christians who walk after the flesh rather than in the Spirit are called "babes in Christ" (v. 1). Immature Christians are often guilty of envy, strife, and division within the Church (v. 3). Although carnality is not the only cause of division in the Church, apparently it is a major cause of denominationalism (v. 4). Perhaps in the future, I will be led to write about the unity of the Church, and sin within the camp. But today, I want to comment on my experience resulting from praying.

As I drove to church this morning, I felt led to pray to the Father, that is, to address Him as Father. Usually, I pray to God, but rarely do I personalize it by calling Him Father. I told Him how difficult it was for me to pray to someone Whom I could not comprehend; all that I know about the Father is limited to His relationship to His Son. I relate much better to Jesus because He lived as Man when He walked the earth. Even His disciples said, "Show us the Father" (Jn. 14:8). The Lord replied, "...he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father..." (v.9). I do not understand the Trinity, but the Word of God teaches it, so I believe it.

Anyway, I prayed that the Lord would show me if there was any sin in my life, and that He would cleanse me of it. Nothing came to mind that needed confessing, but I knew there was plenty of "garbage" in my life that did not belong there. Upon arriving at church, the first person I met was talking about the need for an uprising in America like the one in Egypt. He spoke of arming himself, and preparing to "take the government back if necessary." The first sin in me that God revealed was that I have a difficult time loving this brother. And although I held my tongue from blurting out my less than complimentary thoughts, inside, I wanted to tell him to grow up and live according to the Bible. Instead, I asked him to think about doing what Jesus did when He lived under Roman rule.

Then, I no sooner sat down for the worship service when the ladies behind me started criticizing the worship leader's choice of music. When I told them I liked praise and worship choruses, one said, "You know all liars go to hell." I told her I was serious. Her reply was, "Well, you see how attendance has dropped off lately." It was then that the Lord convicted me of being just like her on many occasions. I have complained about nearly everything going on in the church at one time or another, and God was showing me how I must have looked to others. I pray that I will have learned this lesson, once for all, but if past experience is an indicator, I will have to learn it over and over again. The good thing about being confronted by some of my sin is that at least I know God was listening to my prayer, and that His rebuke was both subtle and gentle, praise God! Friend, if you are not ready to face yourself in the mirror of God's Word, be careful when you pray.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


"Centuries ago," I went out for the U.S. Navy Goshawks football team. One of the stars of a previous Cotton Bowl, Terry Haddock, had seen me play touch and flag football, and he said that I was definitely good enough to play college level ball. His encouragement moved me to begin training two months before the tryouts, because I wanted to be ready. I spent hours lifting weights, doing calisthenics, and running. When the time came, I can honestly say that I thought I was ready. One day while working out, the team quarterback, Roger Staubach, and the center were working on snap drills. The center, John Cato, would snap the ball and then go out for a pass from Roger. Of course, after a couple of runs, he, being a center, was out of breath. I asked John and Roger if it would be alright if I took turns with John so that he could get a breather in between runs. John hugged me.

Although bruised from elbow to shoulder, and from hip to neck by the "bullets" Roger threw, I really did well, rarely missing a catch. Unfortunately, a pair of new cleats literally removed the flesh from both heels, and I was in agony. After taping on a pair of show shoes, I attempted to continue going out for passes. My erratic "running" was throwing off Roger's timing, so I asked if he would prefer I stopped. I will never forget his reply. He said, "What do you want to do?" He cared more about me than how bad my "handicap" made him look. I continued to give John a needed break.

When the tryouts began, I was a lock for the team. I was physically ready. I had impressed Roger and the coach. And, I do not feel like it is bragging to say I was a good player. However, by the time our first week of practices was over, I had walked off the field and quit. I lacked the mental toughness to persevere. I will always regret not having stuck it out, because I will never know how good of a player I was. On the other hand, that lesson has kept me in life's "game" many, many times when I wanted to give up. It was worth it.

Of all the names that have crossed my path in my life of sixty-eight years, Roger Staubach's is by far the most famous. When Dallas won the Super Bowl, and Roger gave the glory to the Lord, I realized why he was such a humble man; Roger was a Christian. They won it a year after I accepted Christ, and I wrote Roger to congratulate him, and to invite him to speak at our church. Unfortunately, he was swamped with requests, but he wrote me a couple of nice letters.

However, for the past forty years, the name that far surpasses Roger's in my life is Jesus. He has saved me. He has sustained me. He has provided assurance of a glorious future with Him and the Father. There is no name more special than that of the Son of God. It is His name that saves us (Jn. 20:31; Acts 4:12). We are to be baptized in His name (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48;19:5; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). And it is at His name, every knee shall bow (Phil. 2:10)! That is why I rarely speak about Roger, but my life is being spent proclaiming the glorious name of Jesus. His is the only name that really counts!

Friday, February 11, 2011


We often assign names to people based upon what they do for a living. The senior officer on a ship is called "Captain." Our nation's chief executive is often called "Mr. President." Today, we sometimes call the Apostle Paul "the Tent Maker" (Acts 18:3), and the Apostle Peter "the Big Fisherman" (Lk. 5:1-11). Jesus was known as "The Carpenter" (Mk. 6:3), and "the Carpenter's Son (Matt. 13:55).

People are also known by their relationship to a person. To my daughters, I am "Dad." To the members of Bethany Baptist Church where I was "Pastor," and to the faculty and students at Victory Christian Academy where I taught for nine years, I am "Brother Paul." At Bethany, the two year old daughter of my Youth Minister, being unable to say "brother," called me "Brudder Paul." When the youth group had tee-shirts made with their names on them, they gave me one with "Brudder Paul" on it. I cherished it.

We also know Jesus by many titles, all of which describe our relationship with Him. He is "God" (Jn. 1:1), "The Son of God" (Mk. 1:1), "Lord" (Jn. 13:13), "Master" (Matt. 8:19), "Savior" (Jn. 4:42), "Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:29), "Our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7), "The Word" (Jn. 1:1), and "The Messiah" (Jn. 4:25-26). He is called "Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, and The Prince of Peace" in Isaiah 9:6. Jesus is "Emmanuel" (Matt. 1:23), "Alpha and Omega" (Rev. 1:8), "Our Advocate" (1 Jn. 2:1), "The Mediator" (1 Tim. 2:5), "Our High Priest" (Heb. 2:17), "The Resurrection and The Life" (Jn. 11:25), "The Door" (Jn. 10:9), and "The Way, The Truth, and The Life" (Jn. 14:6). He is "The Light" (Jn. 9:5), "The Bread of Life" (Jn. 6:35), and "Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). This list of names for the One we worship is just the beginning; there are dozens more.

I mentioned yesterday that a man's name is only as good as his reputation. And one's reputation develops from those who observe his actions. Nearly all of the writers of the New Testament spent a great deal of time with Jesus. They saw that His life matched His words. None of His disciples challenged Him when He told them He was the "I Am" of Exodus (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 8:58), but the unbelieving Jews were ready to stone Him to death for blasphemy (Jn. 8:59). They would not have called Jesus "The Lamb of God" if He had not died on the cross for us. When we read the names His disciples called Him, in their eyes, it is clear that He had earned them. That is why they proclaimed the resurrected Lord to the whole world. Jesus said, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth" (Acts 1:8).

Do you honestly believe that they would willingly give their lives, rather than deny Him? We know Stephen did (Acts 7:59; 22:20), and James did (Acts 12:2). Let me ask you, "Do you believe what the Bible writers called Jesus? How much do you believe it? Do you believe it enough to willingly give up your life for Him?" Millions take the name "Christian" for themselves, but how many take the name Jesus to the lost world? If you are a child of God, "ye shall be witnesses unto Me!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011


When I hear a familiar name, there is an emotional and a cognitive response. If the person is not a friend, or God forbid, an enemy, all sorts of memories of past experiences and emotions flood my mind. Anger, fear, sadness, regret, etc. show my lack of forgiveness, as well as making me realize I need to reconcile with the person if possible. Their names sort of open a "negative file." If the person has been a blessing in my life, the opposite emotions and thoughts arise. Often there is even a smile that comes when thinking of family and friends. Their "files" are filled with good memories.

A person's name carries with it their reputation. There is an old saying that says "a man is only as good as his word." In other words, his name is associated with his integrity. We all know people who make promises and then, for some strange reason, repeatedly fail to keep them. Perhaps that is why James warned against making promises, because no one knows what their future holds: "For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." (Jam. 4:15). Failure to fulfill promises is one sure way of provoking one's children (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).

When the disciples of John came to Jesus asking if He was the promised Messiah, He told them to tell John what they saw Him do (Matt. 11:2-7). Many false Messiahs have come, and many more will in the future; the way one can tell the Genuine from the false is by their works (Matt. 7:16, 20). God told us that He values His Word above His name, because when it comes right down to it, His name is only as good as His Word (Ps. 138:2). It is impossible to separate one's name from one's works.

Israel was instructed to behave in such a way as to do no harm to the name of God. There are several verses in the Old Testament that speak of actions done for "His name's sake" (2 Chron. 6:32; Ps. 23:3; Isa. 48:11; etc.). The Jews and the Church are told to act in such a way that the Father's name is glorified (Matt. 5:16). There are also verses in the New Testament that have to do with living in such a way as to bring honor to the name of Christ; most of them have to do with how we are to react to persecution because we believe in Christ (Matt. 24:9; Lk. 21:12; Jn. 15:21; Acts 9:16; etc.).

There is power in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:16). There is authority in His name (Acts 9:27). There is healing in His name (Acts 3:6). Demons leave at the name of Jesus (Acts 16:18). Salvation is found only in His name (Acts 4:12). Most importantly, humility is produced to all who confess His name (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10). What's in a name? The name identifies us, our reputation is tied to it, and if we are born-again Christians, our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8). Praise God!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, names often carry meaning and while I do not believe God is at work when every child is named, it is clear from the names in the Bible that He often inspired parents to choose a specific name. I provided the examples of Adam, Joshua, David, and Jesus as evidence. On the other hand, it is unlikely that God would pre-ordain children who would turn out as complete opposites to have the same name For example, the actor, John Wayne, had the same name as the serial killer John Wayne Gacey. A biblical example of contrast is two of the women named Mary; Mary, out of whom Jesus was born, had the same name as Mary Magdalene, out of whom came seven demons (Matt. 1:16; Mark 16:9).

Methuselah (Hebrew: מְתוּשֶׁלַח / מְתוּשָׁלַח) means "when he dies, it shall be sent." If one did not know who he was, his name would be considered strange, if not bizarre, but his name was extremely providential. Extra-biblical tradition records that he died in 1656 (Anno Mundi, after Creation), at the age of 969, seven days before the beginning of the Great Flood. According to Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040 – 1105), better known by the acronym Rashi (RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki), Genesis 7:4 should be understood to mean "the Holy One delayed the Flood specifically because of the seven days of mourning in honor of the righteous Methuselah.

Melchizedek (Hebrew מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק malḵ-i ṣédeq) means "king of righteousness." In Genesis 14:18-20, he is introduced as the king of Salem ("King of Peace"), and priest of El Elyon ("God Most High"). He gave Abraham bread and wine, blessed him, and received tithes from him. The writer of Hebrews confirmed this in Hebrews 7:1-2, and he added that Melchizedek had neither a human father or mother (v. 7:3 - neither did Jesus until He was born of Mary about two thousand years later). He also wrote, "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made as high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20).

Peter was another example of a Bible character whose name had a special meaning. His birth name was Simon, son of Jona, but his nickname was Peter; Peter is from the Greek petros meaning a small stone, such as those used to stone someone (he was obviously very hard-headed - Matt. 16:22-23). In John 1:42, Jesus named him Cephas (again, a small stone). There is some confusion caused by Matthew 16:18, because the KJV appears to say that Peter (petros) is the rock (petra) upon whom He would build His Church. Petra means a boulder-sized rock, such as is recommended for the foundation for a man's home (Matt. 7:24-27). More on the importance of names tomorrow, Lord willing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


My wife and I have three wonderful daughters, and we love them very much. I had hoped we would have a son, but that was not to be. I picked out a name for him, but unfortunately, God did not bless us with a boy. I had chosen Ross Clayton; Ross was a good friend in Elementary school, and Clayton was my grandfather's name. One day, I called my mother to tell her I intended to name our first son after her father, and when she heard his name was to be Ross Clayton, she said, "Don't you mean after my mother and my father?" I had no clue what she meant. Then, she told me her mother's maiden name was Vena Ross Masters. I couldn't believe it; now I was sure God was going to give us a son. Perhaps the child we lost through a miscarriage was a boy, I don't know, but there had to be some purpose for the "coincidence." Perhaps it was simply to encourage my mother in her final years.

We eventually did have a "son," but we were not able to name him Ross Clayton. You see, he was actually our grandson, and by the time he came to live with us, he was twelve. Our daughter did not use the name we had picked for him, but she did name him Corey, after Vena and Clayton Cory. She never was very good at spelling (just kidding Dawn), but I love her for honoring my grandparents.

Names have meaning, and although we may not be aware of it, there seems to be some correlation between a person's name and his or her character. Our oldest daughter's name is Laurie, which means "Laurel-Crowned." She is a strong leader and very bright. Our second daughter's name is Dawn, which means "Dawn," surprisingly enough, but to me, it means a fresh new start, a new beginning. If you knew Dawn, you would immediately realize how important a new start was for her. Our third daughter's name, Cheryl, means "beloved." Although she doesn't like people knowing she is old enough to be a grandmother (so don't tell her I said that), she is still our "baby girl."

The Bible has numerous examples of names having a special meaning. "Adam" in Hebrew, אָדָם‎, ʼĀḏām, means "dust of the ground, man; mankind." "Joshua" in Hebrew, יהושע (sometimes יהושוע, "Yehoshua"), means "Yahveh is salvation." In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), all instances of the word "Yehoshua" are rendered as Ἰησοῦς" (Iēsoūs/Jesus), the closest Greek pronunciation of the Aramaic ישוע, "Yeshua." Hence, the name Jesus means "Savior" (Matt. 1:21). "Abraham" means “the father of a multitude" (Hebrew: ʼaḇ-hămôn goyim). "Samuel" in Hebrew, שְׁמוּאֵל, means "God has heard." "David" in Hebrew, דָּוִד, means "beloved." That is why God called him a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22).

Hebrew names for God include: YHVH - "I Am" (Ex. 3:14). Elohim - the most common of the original names of God is plural in form though commonly accompanied by a singular verb or adjective. El - a name of God, is used chiefly in poetry and prophetic discourse, rarely in prose, and then usually with some epithet attached, as "a jealous God." Other examples of its use with some attribute or epithet are: El 'Elyon ("most high God"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), El 'Olam ("everlasting God"), El Ḥai ("living God"), El Ro'i ("God of seeing"), El Elohe Israel ("God, the God of Israel"), El Gibbor ("Hero God"), etc. Adonai - is a name of God used by the Masorites as a substituted reading for YHVH, and always appears as LORD in the King James Version. It means,"my Lord," and is a plural for majesty. Ẓeba'ot - the names YHVH and Elohim frequently occur with the word Ẓeba'ot ("hosts"), as YHVH Elohe Ẓeba'ot ("YHVH God of Hosts"). To be continued.

Monday, February 7, 2011


In an article from Answers in Genesis entitled "The First Sin," Troy Lacey correctly points out that Adam's was not the first sin, but only the first by mankind (Rom. 5:12). I am not exactly sure when Satan sinned, but it is described in Ezekiel 28:14-15 and Isaiah 14:12-15). It is clear that Satan had already turned from God when he tempted Adam through Eve (Gen. 3:1-6). And while Christianity has chosen to call Satan's sin and Adam's sin "their fall," a much better description of it would be "their rebellion." When we call it "a fall," we make the same mistake Lacey did when he wrote of "the Devil's fall from grace." It is impossible to fall from grace if one has never sinned, because grace does not apply until one actually needs it. A perfect angel or a perfect man already is righteous, and therefore, has no need of grace or mercy. Remember, grace is unmerited favor given to a sinner by a merciful God.

For years, I have been taught that Satan's major malfunction was his pride. Webster defines pride as "an exaggerated self-esteem, arrogance, a false sense of superiority, etc." But the two references to Satan's sin seem to be the opposite of Webster's definition; Satan saw himself as inferior to God and wanted to be equal to Him. Today, we would not describe someone as prideful if they aspired to be "number one." In fact, we applaud athletes who work long hours to win the gold medal. It seems to me that Satan's sin was covetousness rather than pride. Satan wanted what God had.

The same can be said for Adam. He wanted to be like God (Gen. 3:6). One of the main teachings of the Mormon religion is that the God of the Bible was once a man, and He rose through the ranks of the angels until at last He became a god. Mormons are taught that if they are faithful, they too will become gods. Without going into the obvious reasons why their belief is blasphemy, I will just say that the God of the Bible is Eternal; He has always existed as God (Deut. 33:27; Rom. 1:20; Eph. 3:11; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 9:14).

The Bible does teach about the sin of pride, and if one really thinks about the verses, they seem to line up more with Webster's definition. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18). "When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom" (Prov. 11:2). "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility" (Prov. 18:12). "...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (Jam. 4:6). A person who deceives himself into believing he is good enough to get into heaven, does not seek God's mercy and grace. But the humble person who realizes he is undeserving, accepts God's offer of salvation. We are cautioned not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Rom. 12:3). Pride is nothing more than delusions of grandeur!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus warned His disciples to beware of "wolves" in "sheep's clothing," and based upon the context, it appears their disguise will be so effective, we will not be able to recognize them as Satan's prophets. Putting it in modern terms, He wants believers to become "Missourians." Those of us lucky enough to have been born in Missouri seem to have a built-in skepticism when it comes to listening to the "experts" on any matter. That is why Missouri is called the "Show Me State." Jesus wants God's children to observe the "fruit" produced, and then determine if they are authentic prophets of God.

There are two main ways to evaluate a fruit harvest: one is to count the amount of the fruit. I suggest that this is not a very accurate test of a prophet. Preachers who have "itching ears" tend to preach what is politically correct according to their audience (2 Tim. 4:3-4). It seems that people flock (pardon the pun) to churches that make them feel good, or which preach what they want to hear. If we are not careful, we may see the large mega-churches and come to the conclusion that the pastor is "anointed by God." On the other side of the coin, we may view a small church as being spiritual, when the actual reason it is small is because the Holy Spirit has opened the eyes of former members to see biblical error. Quantity does not appear to be a good test.

The other main way of evaluating the fruit of the prophet is to check the quality of his message. Does the preacher present the Gospel of grace, or a false gospel of works? The true Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe it (Rom. 1:16). The true Gospel presents the fact that even our belief in the Gospel is a work of God in us, and not something we are able to do ourselves (Eph. 2:8-9). The true Gospel teaches that the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is what we are to believe, and that we are to openly confess that we believe in Him (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 10:9-10). And while the true Gospel does not convert the majority of people who hear it, nevertheless, those converted produce the fruit of the Spirit in their lives (Matt. 7:14; Gal. 5:22-23).

Another test of the authenticity of the messenger is the maturity of his "sheep." Do they need to be fed the "milk of the Word," or do they mature and require "meat?" (1 Cor. 3:12; Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:2). Are the "sheep" producing other "sheep?" Some should be increasing the "flock" by thirty-fold, some by sixty-fold, and others by a hundred-fold (Matt. 13:23). Of course, there will always be those "sheep" who are afraid to the threats of the world, and do not reproduce (Matt. 13:20-21). And of course, there will always be those "sheep" who get distracted by the things of this life and produce nothing (Matt. 13:22). But the majority of those in the "flock" should be witnessing for Christ, and leading others to the Savior.

It is easy for a preacher to present himself as a man of God, to live his life above reproach, and to speak flowery words, especially if most of them are already written in the Bible. But one needs to ask, "What is the quality of his fruit?" Don't judge; just observe. The quality of the fruit is what counts.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I am not sure if sin has increased or if it just seems that way because it has become more openly displayed. I suspect the fact that it is constantly on the news, it is the central theme of most entertainment (music, comedy, and drama), and it is portrayed as the latest trend, people have been enticed to experiment for themselves. It is difficult to watch television without seeing immorality, corruption, and violence. And it is amazing how often the evening news programs feel the need to include scenes of pole-dancers, immodestly dressed celebrities, and run stories about same-sex couples who want to adopt a child.

This downward spiral in morality is not a new phenomenon. Adam went from being a sinless man, to bringing sin and death upon the whole human race in the time needed to take a bite (Gen. 3:6; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22). One of his sons killed his brother (Gen. 4:8). We are told nothing about the life and character of Seth, but we are told it wasn't until Seth's son Enos was born that men began to call upon the Lord (Gen. 4:26). That means Seth was one hundred and five years old before he could have been among those who called upon God (Gen. 5:6). By the tenth generation of man, sin had so permeated the hearts of men, that God decided to destroy man, beast, creeping thing, and bird (Gen. 6:7).

Apparently, God did not want to start creation over again, because he chose one family and at least two of every creature to survive the pending flood (Noah was to bring seven pairs of "clean beasts" - Gen. 7:2). Many have pointed out that the Bible says that Noah and his family were exceptions when it came to the wickedness of men, and that Noah (the tenth generation of man) was "a just man and perfect in his generations" (Gen. 6:9). Of course, that is true; the Bible does say that. However, if people would simply look at the previous verse, they would see that Noah found "grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8). The very definition of grace tells us that Noah was no different that the rest of mankind; grace is unmerited favor. It is not, nor can it be earned, or it would cease to be grace (Rom. 4:4). By the time that Noah built the ark, nine generations of his ancestors had all died (Gen. 5:6-31). Noah, a Gentile, and his family were saved by grace.

Ten generations later, God showed His grace in choosing another man for a special task; He chose Abraham to be the father of the Jewish people (Gen. 12:2). Again, a man who was not worthy to be singled out, was chosen. The Word of God tells us that Abraham was only considered righteous because he trusted God. He believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23). Abraham, a Jew, was saved by grace.

Born-again Christians are also saved by grace. The Gospel message is that Christ died, was buried, and was raised again according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4). When we exercise the faith God gives us to believe in Jesus, as Christians, we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9).

Friday, February 4, 2011


I. THE RAPTURE (UP TO HEAVEN): JN. 14:1-3; I COR. 15:51-52; I TH. 4:13-5:11; REV. 4:1.










Thursday, February 3, 2011


Dispensationalism is the systematic study of the Bible, whereby the Word of God is divided into periods of time, during which man is tested with respect to his obedience to specific revelation of the will of God. The word, "dispensation" appears four times in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2; Col. 1:25). However, the same root word is found in sixteen passages translated as "steward," "chamberlain," "stewardship," and "edifying." In all cases, it has to do with man's accountability to God. The Word of God is to be "rightly divided" (2 Tim. 2:15), and while not all view the divisions the same, most dispensationalists generally agree that there are seven divisions of God's revelation to man: Innocence (Gen. 1:1-3:7), Conscience (Gen. 3:7-9:6), Human Government (Gen. 9:6-11:9), The Land (Gen. 12:1-Ex. 19:2), The Law (Ex. 19:8-Rev. 19:11), The Church (a parenthetical period within The Law - Acts 2:2-Rev. 3:22), and The Kingdom (Rev. 20:1-6).

Dispensationalism appears to be the fulfillment of Daniel 12:4, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." The man given credit for the spread of dispensationalism, John Darby (1800-1882), began teaching his approach to Biblical study in his early thirties. "Coincidentally," the first widespread modern mode of land travel was the locomotive, the Liverpool & Manchester Railroad, in 1830. The 1830's also brought us the sewing machine, the reaper, electrolysis, the refrigerator, the mechanical calculator, the propeller, the telegraph, the steel plow, Morse code, rubber vulcanization, the bicycle, blueprints, etc. The first U.S. patent was recorded on July 31, 1790. By 1836, when a fire destroyed the patent office, ten thousand had been recorded. Travel, knowledge, and a new understanding of God's Word all occurred as prophesied.

The dispensational approach to Bible study has clarified the difference between Israel and the Church. It has also provided us with a clear picture of order of future events in the prophecies of Daniel, the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and Revelation. They are: the Rapture of the Church; the Judgment Seat of Christ; the Tribulation; the Marriage of the Lamb; Christ's Second Coming; the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; the Millennium; the Great White Throne Judgment; the New Heaven and New Earth; and Eternity. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will present the scriptural references for these events.

While much of God's Word can be understood without using the dispensational approach to Bible study, history has shown that without it, the many of the passages meant for the Jews have been applied to the Church. This has led to confusion, disharmony, and ultimately to division. Sadly, even though the dispensational approach has been around for nearly two hundred years, few schools of theology teach it, and consequently, very few pastors preach it. Even as I sit here typing this post, I feel like the prophet Elijah, wondering why I am the only voice crying out in the wilderness (1 Kgs. 19). But knowing God, and His Word, I know that there are thousands of God's servants attempting to teach this approach to Bible interpretation, and I rejoice!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Up until I was twenty-eight, I had very little knowledge of the Bible. I had been to church as a youngster, but I was only there because I had to go. Later, while in my middle teens, I went because that is where the girls were. After joining the Navy at seventeen, I do not recall having a great deal to do with church except for a brief period of time when I became a Catholic. Even then, I do not recall being encouraged to read the Bible, nor do I remember hearing the Gospel presented as I now understand it. Obviously, I was not a born-again Christian; I was a Christian in name only.

While attending college, I bought into the philosophy that religion was nothing more than superstition. As a result, I became an atheist, and not just an atheist, I became "superior" in my own mind to the "fools" who believed in God. Then, one day "out of the blue," I heard the Gospel and surrendered to Jesus Christ. At that very instant, I knew three things: my sins were forgiven, the Bible was the Word of God, and I would one day be a preacher (little did I know it would take twenty years). I cannot explain how I came to know those three things; perhaps it was the same way Adam knew how to name the animals. It has been forty years, and I still believe all three as much now as I did then.

Of course, as an atheist, I denied the Bible was the inspired Word of God. But following my salvation experience, I discovered that there are many ways to deny God's Word. The first, and most obvious way, is to live one's life without applying the instruction of the Word. When I sin, I have basically chosen to ignore what I know God wants of me.

A believer can also deny God's inspired revelation to His children by focusing upon parts of the Word, and ignoring the rest. The Bible says that "ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching), reproof, for correction, (and) for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). Accordingly, a believer should be reading it to learn what pleases his God, and what does not.

Still another way to deny God's Word is to take a verse out of context to support one's view on something. People love to tell Christians that the Bible says not to judge others (Matt. 7:1), but the Word does tell believers to judge the brethren righteously (Jn. 7:24; 1 Cor. 5:3; 6:4-5; 10:15; 14:29; etc.). And, you would be amazed at how often preachers miss-apply passages to prove their point. As a dispensationalist, I cringe when I hear people speak of current events as proof that the Lord is about to return to rule the world. There have always been floods, famines, wars, earthquakes, etc., but they pale in comparison to those which will occur during the Tribulation. I find it difficult to be silent when someone uses Matthew 24:40-41 as teaching the Rapture. If they read the passage in context, it shows the ones taken are destroyed, not the ones left behind (Noah and Lot remained alive on Earth). More on this topic tomorrow, Lord willing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I saw in the news today that a mother in Florida, who having had all she could take of the back-talk from her two teens, walked up to them and shot them in the face. The crime scene was said to be so horrible, that the police officers who responded to the 911 call, required counseling. The father was serving overseas in the military. My first response was to ask how a mother could do such a thing to her own kids, but after thinking about it for a while, I have a question. How did those teens, being raised in a military family, ever get to the point that they defied their mother? As I remember my time in the service, I don't recall a military family in which the children were not taught discipline. The thing that all the branches of the military have in common is discipline. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that all of the discipline was from the father, and the mother tried to be the "good cop." Once the "bad cop" had left, the kids had no respect for their mother. In order for parents to properly raise their children, they need to be in agreement. Amos 3:3 says it this way; "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Mixed messages lead only to confusion and rebellion.

This news story made me think of the Crucifixion of Jesus. Other than the obvious difference being that Jesus was innocent of any crime (Heb. 4:15), and the teens deserved some punishment, neither deserved to die in the manner in which they did. Ultimately, the teens like all who sin, do deserve death (Rom. 6:23), but certainly not at the hands of their mother.

The crime scene was apparently very bad, if the police needed counseling. I do not know what they saw, but it had to be worse than their usual call to a homicide. And yet, I wonder how those same officers would have responded to seeing a man nailed to a cross, having had a "crown" of thorns jammed into His scalp, and His body ripped to shreds? The Bible says that He was so badly beaten that He was unrecognizable (Isa. 52:14). When the spear jabbed into His side was removed, the water that surrounds the heart poured out with His blood, proving He was dead (Jn 19:33-37). It is true that He was not suffering any longer, but His disciples who witnessed His torturous death most definitely needed a comforting Counselor (Isa. 9:6). The resurrected Christ Himself was their Counselor!

The children's deaths served no purpose but to demonstrate the nature of their mother. The death of Christ, however, demonstrated the nature of God's love for us (Jn. 3:16). And because He was willing to shed His blood for the sin of all mankind, I am able to understand the love Christ had for me. The Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22). The reason His blood was poured out for us is that His life was in His blood (Lev. 17:11); it was the needed evidence He willingly offered His very life for us (Jn. 10:18).

While I am disgusted with the wave of crimes against children our country has experienced in the past few years, I am eternally thankful for the bloody crime scene that took place two thousand years ago. And I am also grateful that I have been given a Comforter/Counselor to help me through the hard times in my life (Jn. 14:16-17). God is so good!