Thursday, June 30, 2011


Although the word "prodigal" does not appear in the Bible, the Parable of the Prodigal Son is known by many who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. In fact, Buddhism has a similar teaching found in their sacred writings (Saddharmapundarika Sutra 4). The Chinese call their version of the prodigal son 敗家仔 (Mandarin: Pinyin; Cantonese: Bai ga jai), which means "Son Ruining the Family." The story has been the subject of movies, paintings, songs, and of course, many books.

Webster's New World Dictionary defines "prodigal" to mean "extremely wasteful." That definition partially describes the younger son in Luke's Gospel (15:11-32), but he apparently had many more flaws in his character than that. He was impatient, wanting his inheritance before his father died. He was morally bankrupt in that he spent his wealth on "riotous living" (v. 12), or more bluntly, on prostitutes (v. 30). He, himself, described his lifestyle as sin against heaven and in his father's sight (v. 21). In other words, I believe he recognized his disrespectful treatment of his father ("in thy sight"), as being, perhaps in his repentant condition, worse than the sins in a "far country" (v. 13).

Based upon Webster's definition, the natural tendency is to view the younger son as the subject of the tragic story, but I would suggest to you that his older brother may have been a greater prodigal. Notice his reaction to hearing of his brother's return and the response of his father (v. 27-30). He had been faithfully working in the field, and as he was returning home, he heard the celebration. He was angry, and would not go in, but notice what his father did. Unlike he had done when his younger son was not a part of the family, he went out to reason with his elder son (v. 28). The "faithful son" was upset that he had spent his life serving his father, and living a moral life, only to be taken for granted (v. 29). In his own mind, he saw himself as a prodigal in that he apparently had wasted his life for nothing.

Even though the meaning of this parable seems obvious, it should not be understood as an isolated teaching. It follows the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where the shepherd leaves 99% of his flock to focus upon locating the one which is lost (v. 3-7). In that parable, the shepherd goes after the lost sheep, but in the case of the prodigal, he waits for the lost one to return on his own. In the Parable of the Lost Coin, the woman frantically searches until she finds her lost coin (v. 8-10). From these three parables, I believe God reacts differently because the sheep, coins, and men picture different levels of understanding of their relationship to Him. The sheep know He is their Shepherd, but don't know how to get to Him. The coin doesn't know it is lost, so He takes it upon Himself to "find" it. The prodigal knows his Father loves him, but in his rebellion, he chooses to reject Him; it is up to him to find his way back home. In other words, God only does what is necessary for us to be with Him, but in every case, He does enough so that we are without excuse on the day of judgment (Creation - Rom. 1:20; Commandments - Gal. 3:24; Cross - Eph. 2:16). He is faithful; the question is, are we?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Believe it or not, there are many theories concerning the identity of the Bride of Christ. Without taking up time and space here, suffice it to say that they range from the logical to the ludicrous. My hope is, if I let the Word speak for itself, the truth will be obvious.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, the Apostle Paul uses the Lord's relationship to the Church as a pattern for how Christian marriages should work. Just as the Church should submit to the Lord, a wife should submit to her husband (v. 22, 24). Clearly, Paul is describing the Church as the Bride of Christ. He also describes the Lord's relationship to the Church as a mystery, and as a pattern for the oneness of the husband and wife (v. 32). When the two become one flesh, the husband is "the head of the wife", just as Christ is the head of the Church, His body (v. 23, 28-31). And finally, Paul admonishes husbands to have the same love for their wives as Christ has for the Church (v. 25-27).

Some have suggested that the Church cannot be the Bride of Christ, because the Old Testament declares Israel to be the Lord's wife. When Israel broke its covenant with God, He declared Israel to be adulterous (Ezek. 16:1-68). Because Israel broke its covenant with her Husband, God divorced her (Jer. 3:8). Jesus called Israel "an adulterous generation" (Matt. 12:39). But just as God's relationship to Israel is described in the Book of Hosea, when the covenant is renewed, it will be like a remarriage (Hosea 2:7). There is irony in the Ezekiel passage, because it is addressed to Jerusalem (v. 2); the new Jerusalem appears as a bride in Revelation 21:9-14:

"And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Isn't it neat how the apostles are in place first, and then the patriarchs are placed upon them? This suggests to me that the new Jerusalem begins with the apostles, representing the born again Jews and Gentiles who make up the Church, and then the nation of Israel is added when "the times of the Gentiles" is passed, and their eyes are opened to Jesus being their Messiah (Rom. 11:1-36). God is so awesome!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Hear the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-8, with18-23 inserted to explain its meaning).

"And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds (the word of the kingdom) fell by the way side (any one heareth, and understandeth it not), and the fowls (the wicked one) came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched (when tribulation or persecution ariseth); and because they had no root, they withered away (he is offended). And some fell among thorns (the deceitfulness of riches); and the thorns sprung up, and choked them (he becometh unfruitful). But other fell into good ground (he that heareth the word, and understandeth it), and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."

We can learn much from this parable:

The sower is not identified, so it applies to every person who wants to win souls.
The sower's character is not what wins souls, but the Gospel (the Word).
The sower's character, by desiring to reproduce, demonstrates faith in the Word.
The sower should spread the seed regardless of who is in the audience.
Three out of four people will express some receptiveness to the Gospel.
One will not allow it to take hold of his life (not allow it to take root).
One will not see the "good things of this world" are only temporary.
Only one will understand and want to share the truth with others.
One's faithfulness is not determined by the results.
Even "waterers" should still be planting (1 Cor. 3:6).

What we do not learn from this parable:

It is the Father Who prepares the soil ahead of time (Jn. 6:44).
It is the Son (the Word/Seed) Who dies to give life (Jn. 12:32).
It is the Holy Spirit Who tills the soil (Jn. 16:8-11).
In other words, we do not save souls, but it is God Who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7).

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise" (Prov. 11:30).

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matt. 28:19-20).

Monday, June 27, 2011


Yesterday, I said that there were only four verses in the entire Bible which used the word "eternal" in connection with God (Deut. 33:27; Rom. 1:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 9:14). It is important that we understand the difference between that which is "eternal," and that which is "everlasting." "Eternal," as I said yesterday, means "without beginning or end; always existing." "Everlasting," from the Greek αἰώνιος (aiōnios), is "something which had a beginning but will never cease."

Some commentators use terms such as "Alpha and Omega," "the First and the Last," and "the Beginning and the Ending" (Rev. 22:13) to support their argument that God is eternal. However, all three are referring to God's relationship to His creation, and in reality, God clearly existed before creation (Jn. 17:24; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20).

Another proof of God's eternal nature is the fact that He is "immutable." That is, He is always the same and never changes. Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the LORD, I change not...." Because God created all things (Eph. 3:9; Rev. 4:11), only an eternal God could have created things said to be immutable (Heb. 6:18).

"Eternal life" is found in the Bible 26 times, and "life eternal" 4 times, all in the New Testament. "Everlasting life" is found only once in the Old Testament (Dan. 12:2), but it appears 10 times in the New Testament, where "life everlasting" appears 4 times.

Often people use the two terms interchangeably, perhaps because born again believers are said to possess both eternal life, and everlasting life. However, even in the individual believer, the two terms are not interchangeable. Because all men are created beings and therefore had a beginning, we are not eternal beings. God designed man to exist forever, and the believer is said to possess "everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ will experience "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thes. 1:9).

Born again believers also are partakers of eternal life. That is because when we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). And, because Jesus Christ is eternal, born again believers possess eternal life because we are said to be in Him (1 Jn. 5:20).

I do not comprehend the implications of possessing eternal life, but thanks be to God I have life everlasting because I have placed my trust in the One He sent. The Apostle John wrote to proclaim the good news and the bad news. The good news: For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). The bad news: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jn. 3:36). Praise be to our eternal God!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This may surprise you, but there are not very many Bible verses which specifically say that God is eternal. In fact, the words "eternal God" appear only once in the Scriptures. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, 'Destroy them.'" Here, the Hebrew word translated "the eternal" is קֶ֔דֶם (ke·dem), which means "without beginning or end; always existing." The fact that the LORD's name is "I AM" (Ex. 3:14), makes it clear to me that there never was a time when God did not exist.

The only other time the word "eternal" appears in the Old Testament is in Isaiah 60:15, where it would be better translated as "everlasting," since it refers to the city of Jerusalem which obviously had a beginning. There, the Hebrew is עֹולָ֔ם (o·v·lam) which is translated "ever" 267 times, and everlasting 11 times in the Old Testament.

"Eternal" in the New Testament is most often used as an adjective for the word "life." Each of the three verses which describe God as being eternal comes from a different Greek word, and oddly enough, each appears to refer to an individual member of the Trinity. The Father is referred to in Romans 1:20; the Son in 1 Timothy 1:17; and the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 9:14.

Romans 1:20 says, "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." The Greek is ἀΐδιος (aïdios) which is translated "eternal" one time, and "everlasting" the only other time it is used.

1 Timothy 1:17 says, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." Here the word is αἰών (aiōn) which is translated "world" 32 times, "age" 2 times, and "eternal" twice, here and in Ephesians 3:11.

Hebrews 9:14 says, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" In this verse, the word translated "eternal" is αἰώνιος (aiōnios). It appears as "eternal" 42 times, "everlasting" 25 times, and "forever" once.

With so few references to God as being eternal, one might wonder why His eternal nature has been emphasized when discussing His attributes. The answer lies in the fact that, unlike His creation, there has never been a time when God did not exist. In fact, God existed before time started, and He will be in existence long after time is no more. To be continued, Lord willing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In today's devotion from Our Daily Bread, published by RBC Ministries, David McCasland used the Global Positioning System (GPS) to illustrate how God directs the steps of a Christian to heaven. For those like me who have little or no knowledge of GPS, it is a space-based global navigation satellite system which directs a driver to a specific destination. The systems are available on most of the newer vehicles. In order for a driver to use the system, he must know his exact destination. Once the information is entered, the system tracks the vehicle's position at all times, and a voice instructs the driver when and where to turn. Should the driver miss a turn, the system will "recalculate" in order to get the driver back on the right road.

Although Mr. McCasland did not mention that the destination for the born again believer is heaven, nor did he mention that the only way to get there is by faith in Jesus, Who is the Way, he did show how "2 Timothy 3:16 describes the Bible as a spiritual navigation system for our journey through life." He suggested that doctrine tells us the way, reproof tells us when we have left the right road, correction tells us how to get back onto the right road, and instruction in righteousness tells us how to prevent leaving the road again.

I agree with him in that doctrine is the Gospel, which when believed, gets us on the right road in the first place. But I see reproof as the alarm that sounds when we veer to the left or right of the right path (when we sin). And I would view correction as the chastisement of the Lord "driving us" to repent (turn around). And finally, I see instruction in righteousness as being like "traffic school" which is intended to remind us of our obligation to obey the "laws of the road."

However, Mr. McCasland has presented an illustration of the overall "trip," but there is no mention of the stops for fuel, food, sleep, sightseeing, etc. Sometimes we need to "take an exit" for the necessities of life. GPS does not know when the driver needs a "potty break," or when he has changed his mind about his destination.

The Christian life is filled with "detours" that do not show up on the "computerized map in the sky." Sometimes, the driver breaks the law (sins), and the road on which he was to travel becomes closed to him. For example, let's say you were on the road to becoming a missionary, when your wife divorces you for committing adultery. Missions would no longer be an option. However, as a child of God, you are expected to repent, and seek new instructions. That is where the Holy Spirit is different from a GPS. The GPS only knows one way for you to arrive at your destination. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is able to "recalculate" not only the entire journey, but He is able to direct each and every step along the way. Instead of thinking of the ultimate destination, He wants to direct us one step at a time. For the Christian, arrival at our ultimate destination is already guaranteed, but whether or not we have a successful journey involves being faithful where we are. We are to walk in the Spirit; He will never lead us astray.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Have you ever given much thought to the word "beast" in the Bible? Until today, I had not. After all, everyone knows what beasts are, right? Maybe not. I have found the term is used several ways in the Scriptures. First, when God created life forms on our planet, He created a special category of animal which differed from those dwelling in the waters, those flying about the ground, from cattle, and from creeping things (Gen. 1:20-25). "Beasts," seems to describe all land animals other than those which creepeth (crawled), and those which God called "cattle."

Secondly, some beasts were called "wild beasts" (non-domesticated) after leaving Noah's Ark (Gen. 9:2). Later, God warned Israel that if they would not obey Him, He would "send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your [high] ways shall be desolate" (Lev. 26:22). In the Apostle Peter's vision in Acts 10:12, he saw both four-footed beasts of the earth and wild beasts.

A third way the term "beasts" is used is to describe ungodly men. Nebuchadnezzar became a beast as punishment for his arrogant pride (Dan. 4:31-33; 5:17-21). Daniel also described the kings of four empires as "beasts" (Dan. 7:17). Apart from the Book of Revelation, there are at least four examples of ungodly men being called beasts in the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:32; Titus 1:12; 2 Pet. 2:12; Jude 1:10). Today, we get the term "cretin" from Paul's epistle to Titus; "cretin" is a derogatory term for a person who is a liar or one who behaves in a stupid manner.

In the Book of Revelation, the term is used to describe Seraphim, six-winged angelic beings (Isa. 6:1-6; Rev. 4:6-9; 5:6-14; 6:1-7; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4). It is also used to describe animals (Rev. 18:13). However, the most interesting way the term "beast" is used in Revelation is when it describes Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet. During the Tribulation (Rev. 6 - 18), these three "beasts" make every attempt to rule over mankind. Satan is called the beast "that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" (Rev. 11:7). It is Satan is the one who empowers the antichrist (2 Thes. 2:8-12; Rev. 13:3-4), also known as the "first beast" (Rev. 13:12). The right-hand man of the antichrist, the false prophet, often called "the second beast," is antichrist's "enforcer" (Rev. 13:11-18).

There is good news concerning the unholy trinity, however, in that their future is already planned by God. They will be cast into the eternal lake of fire! "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). Unfortunately, all those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord will also experience the same fate! "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19). Thank God He considers me His child, and not a beast!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Even though there are thousands of religions and hundreds of nations on our planet, there are only two kinds of funerals. The first are those funerals which are marked by religious ritual, those at which the attendees hope there is a merciful God living in a place called heaven, and they hope that their dearly departed will have done enough good works in his lifetime to earn the right to enter.

The second are those which are based upon the Father/child relationship between the departed and God. The attendees celebrate their loved one's passing because they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is merciful, that He resides in heaven, and that their dearly departed has entered because he is a child of God. That is, he accepted the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ at some point in his life.

There are two exceptions when it comes to celebrating the funeral of one who claimed to be a Christian. The first is obvious, in that not all family and friends understand that a born again child of God immediately enters the presence of God at the moment of his death (2 Cor. 5:8). That is why the Apostle Paul wrote,

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Phil. 1:21-23).

The other exception is when family and friends cannot tell the departed was a child of God. The way he lived his life causes real doubt as to whether or not he was saved. The Word says,

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:15-21).

Today, I attended the funeral of Phelps Parsons, and because of his gentle, quiet, loving, and Lord-praising life, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is in the very presence of God Almighty! Although I do not come close to being the spiritual giant that Phelps was, I sincerely hope I have lived my life in such a way that my friends and family will able to celebrate, knowing I am with the Lord when my time comes!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It seems that the closer we get to the Lord's return for His Church, the more desperate the "legalizers" get in their effort to silence those who teach salvation is a gift from God to all who will accept it (Eph. 2:8-9). And while their concern is based upon human logic, their words and deeds betray their ignorance of a couple of important facts: all born again believers still sin, and because God has said His children are His responsibility; He is changing His imperfect kids through the working of the Holy Spirit in those whom He has indwelt (Rom. 7 (all); 8:28-29; 12:1-2; I Jn. 1:8-10). In their understanding (or better misunderstanding), they see sin in others as evidence they are deceived about their salvation, and also see those same people's sin as hindering the acceptance of the Gospel by the lost. It is as though they are totally unaware that they themselves are guilty of sin everyday (Matt. 7:1-5).

The Apostle Paul addressed Christian liberty in his epistle to the Galatians. He wrote: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:13-25).

Children of God have been freed from the Old Testament laws, all 613 of them. For instance, the early Church met on the first day of the week to honor Christ's Resurrection and the birth of the Church at Pentecost (Mk. 16:9; Acts 2:1; 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). Tithing is another. The only time it is mentioned after Acts 2:1 is in Hebrews 7:1-12, where verse 12 says, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Christians are told, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). And perhaps the best example is the law of circumcision. Jews who convert to Christianity are already circumcised; Gentiles do not need to be circumcised (Acts 15:1-29). .However, because the Law was our "school master" to show us our need for a Savior (Gal. 3:24-25), those which have not been superseded by the New Testament, still serve to guide us in a life that is pleasing to our Father.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Louisville, Kentucky has been discussing building a new bridge across the Ohio River for as long as I can remember. Everyone agrees that at least one needs to be built, but the astronomical cost has prevented it from becoming more that just a dream. All bridges cost something, and the greater the gulf, the greater the cost. So the big question is: who is going to pay for our bridge?"

Yesterday, I wrote about the enmity sin causes between the lost person and Almighty God. Enmity reminds me of the impassible gulf between the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:26). I gather from what Jesus said, once a lost person dies, there is no more hope of ever reconciling with God. And that is so sad because God has already provided the "Bridge" across the huge gulf caused by our sin; all the lost have to do, while they are still living, is "walk across" Jesus, the one and only "Bridge" (Jn. 14:6).

As I said earlier, bridges cost, and there has never been a bridge so costly as the one required to reconcile man to God. The Word says that the payment for our sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The Bible, in Leviticus 17:11, says, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."
(Lev. 17:11). In other words, when one's blood has been shed, it means that his life has been taken. God has said in His Word that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (no payment, no satisfaction) of the debt caused by sin (Heb. 9:22).

But I have wonderful news! God has accepted the death of Jesus in our place as the propitiation of our debt. "Propitiation" in the Greek is ἱλασμός (hilasmos), meaning "an appeasing; a satisfaction of a requirement." It is used three times in the New Testament:

1) "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Rom. 3:25).
2) "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2).
3) "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn. 4:10).

Within these three verses, we see that God loves all mankind, that He sent Jesus to shed His blood for all, and that by simply applying the gift of faith we have received (Eph. 2:8), He declares us to be righteous! God has done everything required for us to "enter His presence." He has "built the Bridge." All we have to do is believe it, and walk across to our Father Who waits for us with open arms!" Praise God!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011


The Amityville Horror: A True Story is a book by Jay Anson. It is also the basis for a series of films. The book is said to be based on the real life paranormal experiences of the Lutz family, who moved into the home where six murders had occurred. Without spending time describing the "events" that are reported to have taken place, suffice it to say that if true, what the author attributes to ghosts, the Bible describes as the work of demons.

For you who have enjoyed reading the book or seeing the movies about the "true story," I have a suggestion: try reading the Bible. It contains a far more serious "horror story," and, God forbid, you may be one of the characters it describes. I am speaking of the horror of living in the "village of enmity." Actually, it is more a world than a village, or better yet, the population of that world. According to Genesis 3:15, there are basically two families which populate our planet: the children of God, and the children of the serpent (a.k.a. the great dragon, that old serpent, the Devil, and Satan - Rev. 12:9). The children of God have believed Him, and He has declared them righteous (Jn. 1:12: Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23), and those who do not believe Him are the children of the devil (Jn. 8:44). "Enmity" is defined as the attitude one enemy has for the other, and since God loves those who hate Him, that which divides man from God is totally found in the heart of man.

Some might say, "I don't hate God," but the Word says otherwise (Lk. 16:13; Jn. 15:18, 23-24; 1 Jn. 4:20). They may say, "I believe in God, so I am obviously a child of God." I wish that that was all it took, but if it was, then the devil would be a child of God (Jam. 2:19). No, we either love God or we hate Him; there is a huge difference between acknowledging that God exists, and believing He loved us enough to sacrifice His only begotten Son for our sin (Jn. 3:16; 6:29). There is a difference between believing He exists, and believing what He has said (Ps. 138:2; Jn. 1:1, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:18-23; etc.).

The horror is two-fold. First, those who go through life without faith in Jesus Christ, miss out on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, do not experience His fruit (love, joy, peace, etc. - Gal. 5:22-23). They spend their lives separated from the abundant life Jesus promised His followers (Jn. 10:10). What they do experience is a lifetime of difficulties sent by God in order to bring them to Himself; God does not want any to perish (2 Pet 3:9). It is His love that uses life's circumstances to bring man to salvation.

The other horror is that, should a man fail to accept the free gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8-9), he faces an eternity of torment. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:10, 14-15). Chose your reading material wisely.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7).

"For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind..." (Hos. 8:7).

"Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked" (Jer. 23:19).

What does the Bible mean by the term "whirlwind?" By watching the weather experts on television, I have learned that a "bow-echo" showing on radar, means there is a high probability that a tornado could form. It seems that severe thunderstorms form when a warm front collides with a cold front. Tornadoes occur when the collision produces a counterclockwise swirling of air. Believe it or not, the Book of Job, possibly the oldest book in the Bible, explained the phenomena a few thousand years ago. "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north" (Job 37:9).

The most tornadoes in one entire year occurred in 2003, when 1,376 tornadoes were reported. As of June 16 of this year, there have been 1,501 tornadoes reported in the U.S. There are still eight months left in 2011. 2003 also brought the highest number of tornadoes in a ten-day period (May 1st - 10th): 412. This year, in the month of April alone, the U.S. recorded 875. The April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak may have broken the Super Outbreak's record. N.O.A.A. reports that the outbreak produced approximately 305 tornadoes, with 190 of those in a single 24-hour period. Do you think God might be trying to tell us something?

What has caused the Lord to chastise America (I say "chastise" because if it were God's judgment, there would be no America.) so harshly? Well, let's look at a few possibilities:

1) America has insisted Israel surrender land in an effort to make peace with those who intend to destroy them.
2) America has systematically destroyed approximately one and a half million unborn children a year over the past thirty-eight years.
3) America has accepted homosexuality as normal, while God calls it an abomination.
4) Many churches have fallen so far from following the Bible that there is a move to create a new religion called "Chrislam."

There are hundreds more, but those four ought to be sufficient to explain America's recent weather catastrophes. God will not be mocked without responding as a good father always does when his children become rebellious (Heb. 12:5-15). Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


In continuing my summary on the Feasts of Israel, I will now transition from the four feasts which have already been fulfilled; that is, by the Lord's coming as the Lamb of God, and by the mysterious gap in Daniel's Seventy Week prophecy known as the Church Age. As I mentioned earlier in this study, the events pictured by the last three feasts have not occurred yet, and therefore we should be less dogmatic as to their interpretation. But because the first four were fulfilled literally, it is safe to trust the last three will be fulfilled literally as well. What follows is merely what I believe will take place.

TRUMPETS - One calling the Church to heaven, and the other calling the Jews to Israel

Significance to Israel: The antichrist will make a seven year peace covenant with Israel, and for the first half of that period, the safest place on earth is in the "Promised Land" (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:4-15; Rev. 6:1 - 12:5).
Significance to Christians: The Rapture of the Church signals the end of the Church Age; genuine born again believers are caught up into heaven, and shall ever be with the Lord (Jn. 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:47-53; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; Rev. 4:1).

ATONEMENT - The Tribulation

Significance to Israel: When the antichrist commits the "abomination of desolation," Israel's eyes are opened and they realize that Jesus was their Messiah. They no longer deny Him, even to the point of death (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15-28; Rev. 12:6 - 18:24).
Significance to Christians: While the Tribulation is occurring on earth, Christians are standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven, receiving rewards for faithful service (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:8-15; 2 Cor 5:1-10; Rev. 4:1-11).

TABERNACLES - The Millennium - Jesus as King of kings, and Lord of lords

Significance to Israel: The Jews, having accepted Christ, dwell in "the Land of Promise" (Gen. 15:18; Ezek. 40 - 48; Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 11:25-29; Rev. 5:5).
Significance to Christians: During the Millennium, Christians will rule and reign with Christ for the one thousand years (Jn. 14:1-6; 1 Thes. 4:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6).

When one thinks about it, the entire Bible is a description of Jesus as Creator, LORD to Israel, the Suffering Servant raised from the dead, and Eternal God. Like John, I have to say "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen" (Jn. 21:25). God bless you in your study of His Word.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Although I have barely scratched the surface of the treasure of knowledge Christians can gather by studying the Feasts of Israel, I hope I have whet your appetite to continue mining.

PASSOVER - Jesus as the Lamb

Significance to Israel: A memorial feast celebrating Israel's protection from the LORD's judgment on the firstborn, the tenth plague that resulted in Egypt freeing them from bondage (Ex. 12:1-14; Lev. 23:4-5).
Significance to Christians: Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7; Jn. 1:29, 36). His blood satisfies the God's requirement of death for our sin (Lev. 17:11; Rom. 3:25; 6:23; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10).

UNLEAVENED BREAD - Jesus as the Lamb

Significance to Israel: All leaven was to be avoided for the Passover and the week to follow (Ex. 12:15-20). Leaven was a symbol of sin and corruption and therefore an unholy thing (Lev. 6:17; 10:12; Hos. 7:4).
Significance to Christians: Leaven is a symbol of sin and corruption (Matt. 16:11-12; 1 Cor. 5:6-8).
The bread represents the Lord's body (Matt. 26:26; Jn. 6:35; 1 Cor. 10:16). Jesus did not sin (Heb. 4:15).
The Father would not allow His Son to see corruption (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27).

FIRST FRUITS - Jesus as the Lamb

Significance to Israel: The sheaths of grain represented new life from the ground in the "promised land" (Ex. 22:29-30). It was not to be baked into bread and eaten (Lev. 23:14).
Significance to Christians: It represents the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the ground (Matt. 12:40; 28:1; Jn. 11:25; 20:1-31). "But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20).

WAVE LOAVES (WEEKS, PENTECOST) - Jesus as our Mediator

Significance to Israel: Celebrated fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits, with two loaves of leavened bread (Lev. 23:15-22). Jewish theologians believe it is the day Moses brought the Law down from Mt. Sinai when three thousand rebellious Israelites died (Ex. 32:28).
Significance to Christians: It marks the day the Holy Spirit indwelt the disciples, and the birthday of the Church (Acts 2:1-4). It was on that same day that three thousand Israelites believed the Gospel message and received eternal life (Acts 2:41). To be continued tomorrow, Lord willing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The fourth feast of Israel is the Feast of Wave Loaves, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Pentecost. As I have already said, it is totally unique from the other feasts. Basically, the only thing it has in common with the others is that the Jews were instructed by God to celebrate it when they arrived in the "Promised Land" (Lev. 23:15-22). The first three feasts, celebrated in Israel's first month, represent Christ's First Advent, and the last three, celebrated in Israel's seventh month, picture His Second Advent which is yet to occur. The fourth feast stands by itself in the six month gap between the two "clusters."

Christians recognize that Christ came in the flesh two thousand years ago, and we know He intends to return to take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords, but why do the Jews not understand? There are two reasons. The first is that Christ's coming twice, once as the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), and the second time as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5), is still a mystery to the Jews (Mk. 4:11; Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; etc.). Perhaps the clearest and most concise statement regarding the gap between Christ's two appearances is Ephesians 5:32 which says, "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

The second reason is related to the first, in that it is also said to be a mystery. God has hidden the truth from Israel for a season. Romans 11:25 says, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." The gap between Christ's two appearances is focused upon the Gentiles, as is known as the Church Age, the period of time between Acts 2:1 and Revelation 4:1.

The word, "Church," comes from the Greek word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), which means, "a gathering of citizens called out to some public place, an assembly." Christians are called out of the lost world to be God's "peculiar people" (Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9). The Church is also known as the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), and Christ, although He is not physically present, is the Head of the Body of Christ (Col. 1:18).

The Feast of Wave Loaves is celebrated by the priest waving two loaves of leavened bread before the Lord. As I said before, leaven represents sin and corruption. Because there are two loaves, and because this particular feast pictures the Church Age, most theologians believe the two loaves represent the Church which is made up of Jews and Gentiles. The leaven is present because members of the Church still sin (Rom. 7; 1 Jn. 1). Christians are counted as righteous in the eyes of God because we have believed in His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23).

Tomorrow, a summary, Lord willing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The Feast of Pentecost is unique in so many ways from the three Spring feasts and the three Fall feasts. It is nearly two months (fifty days) after the Feast of First Fruits, and unlike the other six feasts, it does not picture Jesus Christ as being physically present upon the earth. What it does represent is what occurs in between Christ's First and Second Advents. The Word says that Jesus spent forty days following His Resurrection teaching the disciples before His Ascension (Acts 1:2-9). He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the "...promise of the Father...the Holy Spirit..." (Acts 1:4-5).

Ten days passed between the Ascension and Pentecost, the day Christians celebrate as the birth of the Church. Ironically, Jewish theologians view the day of Pentecost as the day God gave the Law to Moses, thus beginning the Dispensation of the Law. On that day, three thousand Israelites died (Ex. 32.28). On the Day of Pentecost following the Ascension, the Bible tells us that three thousand Israelites were born again (Acts 2:41). The Apostle Paul described the difference between the Dispensation of the Law and the Dispensation of Grace when he wrote: "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter (Law), but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life" (2 Cor. 3:6). The Gospel of John says, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (Jn. 1:17).

As I mentioned in Part One, this feast does not represent Jesus because the two loaves waved by the priest were leavened (Lev. 23:17). Leaven always represents sin and corruption in the Word of God (Matt. 16:11-12; 1 Cor. 5:7-8). Since Jesus was without sin (Heb. 4:15), and the Father would not allow His body to "see corruption" (Ps. 16:10; 49:9; Acts 2:27, 31; 13:35, 37), the loaves must represent something else.

In order to leaven bread, one must either use a "starter" (leavened dough saved for the purpose of leavening another loaf), which represents a connection to the past, or add yeast, knead it, and wait for the dough to rise. Bread is leavened using yeast, a kind of fungus having only a single cell. The yeast used to leaven bread is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is the same species used to brew alcoholic beverages (one more reason I believe the wine Jesus made was grape juice). The yeast will ferment carbohydrates in the flour and any sugar, thereby leading to carbon dioxide.

The final product, being filled with small pockets of gas, appears a great deal larger than it would without it being "corrupted." In His parables describing the Church Age (Matt. 13), Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Matt. 13:33). From this short parable, I gather that the actual bread (the true Body of Christ) would be much smaller if it wasn't permeated by gas (professing believers). To be continued, Lord willing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, the first three Feasts of Israel represent the First Advent of Jesus Christ. They picture His death (Passover), His burial (Unleavened Bread), and His Resurrection (First Fruits). Since the last three Feasts picture His Second Advent, and it has not occurred yet, interpreting them dogmatically would be a mistake. However, it is possible to make an educated guess as to their meaning.

The Feast of Trumpets could represent two events since the word “Trumpets” is plural. One Trumpet could be the “last trump” the Church will hear at the time of the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16). Another Trumpet could be God’s call for His people to assemble. Following the covenant between Antichrist and Israel (Dan. 9:27), Israel will be gathered in the Land of Promise where they have been “guaranteed” safety for seven years. I do not believe the “last trump” refers to the seventh trumpet of Revelation (10:7; 11:15), because it would have to sound in the middle of the Tribulation (Rev. Ch. 6-18), the period known as the Wrath of God (Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1). The Church must hear the “last trump” before the Tribulation begins, for the Church has not been “appointed to wrath” (1 Thes. 1:9-10; 5:2-11).

I believe the Feast of Atonement represents the Tribulation itself. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “atone” as “making amends or reparation for wrongdoing, to become reconciled to those one has offended.” It is the only Feast which involves a fast (afflicting one’s soul - Lev. 23:26-32; Ps. 35:13) following a trumpet call (Isa. 58:1-14). Romans 11 speaks of a time of partial blindness for God’s people until the “fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (v. 25). Israel is reconciled to God through “the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (v. 26-27). Based upon the finished work of His First Advent, Jesus will declare Israel’s sins “paid in full.” Jesus atoned for all of mankind (Rom. 5:8-21).

The Feast of Tabernacles is a picture of the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus. The word, “tabernacle” in the verb form means “to dwell with.” It has the same meaning as “Immanuel” which Matthew’s Gospel interprets as “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). From Isaiah 7:14, we know that “God” refers to Jesus Christ. The return of Jesus will mark the end of the Tribulation, and the beginning of Christ’s reign of a thousand years (Rev. 19:11 – 20:15).

Thanks to the prophet Daniel, we know that the First Advent of Christ would occur “sixty-nine weeks” (“seven and three score and two weeks” or 483 years) from the command to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25). We know the “weeks” (sevens) are periods of seven years because the last week is the seven year Tribulation. We know they are literal years because half of the seven year Tribulation is described as being forty-two months (Rev. 11:2; 13:5); 1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6); and a time, times, and half a time (Rev. 12:14). The first sixty-nine weeks ended with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Dan. 9:26), and the seventieth week is yet future. That means there is a gap of about two thousand years between His First Advent and His Second. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will once again address the Feast of Pentecost, the picture of the Church.

Monday, June 13, 2011


The Feasts of Israel were to be celebrated every year according to the Law. They are listed in Leviticus 23:1-44. They are: Passover (v. 4-5); Unleavened Bread (v. 6-8); First Fruits (v. 9-14); Wave Loaves or Pentecost (v. 15-22); Trumpets (v. 23-25); Atonement (v. 26-32); and Tabernacles (v. 33-44).

Much has been written on the Feasts of Israel over the past twenty centuries, but ironically, there is very little mention of them in the New Testament following the founding of the Church (Acts 2:1). In Acts 18:21, the Apostle Paul left Ephesus with the intention of attending a feast in Jerusalem. Commentaries vary on which feast it was, but based upon Acts 20:16 and 1 Corinthians 16:8, I believe the feast in question is the Feast of Pentecost. Paul used the Feasts of Israel as opportunities to witness for Christ, rather than as a religious obligation. He made it quite clear that the Church was not required to keep the Law (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18; etc.). The other three times feasts are mentioned in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:27; 2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 1:12), all have to do with an elaborate meal rather than with the Feasts of Israel. "Passover" is mentioned one additional time in Hebrews 11:28, where it refers to the first Passover in Egypt.

So why all of the fascination with Israel's Feasts? Simply put, although the Feasts of Israel were originally meant to celebrate significant events in Israel's calendar, they also represent the events of Christ's First Advent, the Church Age, and His Second Advent. The first three feasts occur in the first month of the Hebrew calendar; they are a picture of Christ as the Lamb of God and His death, burial, and resurrection (Jn. 1:29, 36; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). The last three feasts occur in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar; they picture Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the events of His Second Coming, which I shall discuss later (Rev. 5:5; 19:11-21).

The middle feast, known as the Feast of Wave Loaves, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Pentecost, represents the first harvest as did the Feast of First Fruits, but there are several differences. The Feast of First Fruits pictures the Resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:20, 23), and because leaven represents sin (Matt. 16:11; 1 Cor. 5:7-8) and corruption (Acts 2:27; 13:35) in the Bible, the wave offering of freshly harvest grain did not contain leaven (Lev. 23:9-14). Since the two loaves of bread waved by the priest contained leaven, they cannot picture Jesus.

The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 indicates that there would be seventy sevens before the "consummation." Webster's New World Dictionary defines "consummation" as: "a consummating or being consummated; completion; fulfillment; an end; or a conclusion." Based upon the rest of Scripture, all of the definitions apply to Israel's future. This is especially clear in Luke 21:24 which says, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

To be continued, Lord willing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The words, "our righteousness" appear together only six times in the Bible, and all of them are found in the Old Testament (Deut. 6:25; Isa. 64:6; Jer. 23:6; 33:16; 51:10; Dan. 9:18). But amazingly, these six set the stage for what is coming in the New Testament.

First, we learn that we will have our own righteousness (the right to stand confidently before God) IF we obey ALL the commandments of God. "And it shall be our righteousness, IF we observe to do ALL these commandments before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us (Deut. 6:25). Because we cannot always obey God, the Apostle Paul states that ALL of us are sinners needing salvation (Rom. 3:23).

Secondly, because we do not always obey God, "...we are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we ALL do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isa.64:6). In other words, because our efforts to be holy are doomed to failure, we face the inevitable: death (Rom. 6:23a).

Thirdly, since we are incapable of living a holy life before our Creator, and therefore have no righteousness of our own, God has offered us the free gift of His righteousness. Jeremiah tells us that those who will believe and accept His gift, will call God, "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jer. 23:6; 33:16). Paul said it this way: "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him 2 Cor. 5:21). Yes, "The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God (Jer. 51:10).

Finally, when we believe that the Father sent His Son to take our sin and give us His own righteousness, we, being aware that there is nothing we can do to become righteous, no longer live out of fear of God's judgment, but we are totally motivated by our gratitude for what He has done for us.

Daniel wrote, "O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies" (Dan. 9:18).

Paul, after presenting the "Romans Road" (Rom. 3:23; 6:23a; 5:8; 6:23b; 10:9-10), says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Having no righteousness of our own, we show our gratitude to Him for He is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Having spent most of my entire forty years as a Christian using only the King James Version of the Bible, I am amazed at how quickly I spot differences in the text of other versions. Now I understand why law enforcement officers study authentic currency so closely; it is so counterfeit currency is easier to spot. That is not to say that other translations are as worthless as counterfeit money, but whenever they differ from the KJV, they stand out "like a sore thumb."

Today, while reading from the devotional Our Daily Bread which uses the New King James Version, I spotted a very significant difference in the text. In Revelation 19:8, the translators had chosen to interpret δικαίωμα (dikaiōma) as "righteous acts," while the KJV has it, "righteousness." To many of you, that may not appear to be a big deal, but when you really think about it, there is a monumental difference between the two.

If the garment we are wearing represents our good works, our righteous acts, then we are definitely in trouble. Isaiah 64:6 says, "...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...." The reason is because they are rendered worthless by our other acts which are unrighteous. Ezekiel 33:13 says, "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it." In other words, unless all of our deeds are righteous, none of what we do is considered righteous.

Since all Christians sin, for us to trust in good works is ludicrous. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:3; "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." If we fail to accept God's gift of salvation by counting on our own "good works" rather than His good work (His death upon the cross), we are going to spend eternity apart from God. However, if we trust in the righteous act of Jesus on our behalf, we are made righteous in Him. Paul wrote, " And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9). The prophet Isaiah understood this. He wrote: "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness..." (Isa. 61:10).

Again, I am not saying Christians should only use the KJV. I am saying that whenever there is a difference between the KJV and another version, the difference needs to be examined. Both the context and what the rest of the Word says about the subject, need to be considered in discerning which version is the best. One little word can change the truth of the Word into a lie. A good example is the difference between the KJV and the New World Translation (Jehovah's Witness): "The Word was God" or "The Word was a god" (Jn. 1:1). God bless you as you "study to shew thyself approved."

Friday, June 10, 2011


We have all heard the saying, "When one door closes, another door opens," and we may have quoted it to someone to encourage them. In other words, we are saying, "Don't give up; keep looking." The person credited with being its originator is Alexander Graham Bell. As is often the case, famous quotes are taken out of context, or are misquoted in some way. Bell's is no exception. His original statement was, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Bell was not simply trying to discourage others from giving up; he was warning that by focusing upon the loss, they will be blinded to the many opportunities that await them.

Christians usually change the quote by saying, "When God closes one door, He always opens another." This is not only meant to encourage, but it is stating that everything that happens is controlled by God. Since we know we can trust Him (22 times in Psalms alone), and we know it is His will to provide for His children (Matt. 6:25-32), it is logical to believe He is making a change in our circumstances which is for our own good (Rom. 8:28-29). In other words, our Christian journey is constantly taking us through doors; it is God that determines if the door in front of us is an exit or an entrance.

Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where God closes one door, and there are no other doors. In Genesis 7:16, God shut the one and only door there was, and a world filled with living, breathing creatures died. There was no second door. There was no other Ark. Time had run out.

Another example of God closing a door on an entire population is found in Genesis 19. The angels pulled Lot into the house and shut the door before striking the entire city with blindness. Perhaps that could be said for the population in Noah's day, as well as for the population left behind at the time of the Rapture; God strikes those who rejected Him with blindness. He has used the infirmity before, and He has caused His people, Israel, to experience temporary blindness today (Rom. 11:25). It is not difficult to see that God's plan includes Satan's ability to blind mankind for His own purposes (Jn. 12:40; Rom. 11:7; 2 Cor. 314; 4:4).

According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan, "...the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." Just as in the case where the angels blinded the eyes of lost men so they could not see the door of Lot's house, the fallen angel blinds the eyes of lost men so they can not see The Door. Jesus said, "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). With the definite article, "The," it is clear that there is only one Door. And as in the case of the Ark, one must enter in through the only Door, Jesus. There is no other way (Jn. 14:6)! When the one Door closes, that's it; there are not other doors!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Have you ever felt like giving up when it comes to comforting someone who is mourning, or brethren who are in a state of anxiety over what lies in their future? Well, that's exactly how I feel when it comes to reassuring my brothers and sisters that the Church will not go through any part of the Tribulation. I have shared Scripture showing that the Tribulation is the judgment of God on His people, Israel. That is why the seven year period is also known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jer. 30:7), and Daniel's Seventieth Week (Dan. 9:24). God has promised the Church that He has not appointed it to experience His wrath, the description of the Tribulation (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9). I have explained that John 14:1-6, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 clearly speak of believers rising to meet Jesus. After all of that, and more, I still have people challenge the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position, some even saying they are "concerned that the pre-trib position is being presented as derived from Scripture when it isn't." If there is one good thing about it, it is totally based upon Scripture. My pastor encouraged the adult Sunday School class to read it for that very reason.

Some have accused those who hold the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position as "escapists who jumped upon the bandwagon of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)." Darby, although not the originator of the dispensational approach to interpreting the Scripture, is known as its "Father" because it was he who popularized the method of interpretation in the mid-1800's. His belief in applying a literal interpretation of the Word of God except in the case of metaphor, simile, parable, etc., and his insistence that the Church and Israel are two separate entities, led to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

However, there is clear precedent in the Word for the belief in God's removal of the faithful before sending His judgment. Here are four examples:

Enoch "was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Heb. 11:5).

Noah, along with his family, was lifted up in the ark before the world was destroyed the flood below (Gen. 7:17).

Lot and some of his family were told to leave the city, and the angels took them up into a mountain above the destruction below (Gen. 19:17).

Elijah's experience was similar to that of Enoch, in that he did not die. 2 Kings 2:11 says, "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

If God would do that for these four, why is it so hard to believe He will do it for His children?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My wife occasionally enjoys working on a puzzle to relax. Occasionally, I will stop for a minute as I am passing by "to help." I am not sure if my participation is welcomed, as there seems to be a little tension during those times. Perhaps, it is something like passing an artist's easel and adding a couple of dabs of paint.

Last night, I had a weird dream that I had called upon fifty or so brothers and sisters to meet me at a nearby warehouse. I apparently told them to bring all of the stuff they no longer used. It was amazing how many books, small appliances, clothes, etc. there was; they filled the entire warehouse. People were milling around talking and seemed to be waiting for someone to tell them what to do next. One lady was crying because I was not counseling one of her friends. Another insisted that I approve of his unscriptural life-style. Still another was angry because I had failed to organize the group. So, I called for everyone to gather around, and explained that I was not a leader. I was not a counselor. I was a teacher. My purpose for the gathering was for the leader to take charge, for the counselor to address those needing counseling, etc. But because no one stepped forward to lead, people began leaving. Because no one approached those who were hurting, they drifted off. Eventually, I was alone.

The Body of Christ is very much like a puzzle. No individual piece has much value in and of itself, but when it is rightly connected to all of the other pieces, a masterpiece is revealed. I have noticed that "professional puzzle-putter-togetherers" begin by putting together the outside pieces, and then fill in middle. The problem with that is, they limit the size the puzzle. What if the puzzle is meant to grow? What if the puzzle is supposed to be connected to another puzzle? It is as though the worker sees his puzzle as the only legitimate work of art. You know, like those in Corinth who believed their teacher was superior to the ones around whom others gathered (1 Cor. 1:9-17; 3:1-11).

The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of time trying to teach us that every one of us has a part to play, and that unless we are faithful in playing it, the rest of the "puzzle" is incomplete. God gave the Church leaders to lead (Eph. 4:11-16). He provided every part of the Body for the purpose of meeting the needs of the rest of the Body (1 Cor. 12:1-31). If one part is missing, the whole Body suffers. Today, the biggest problem with the Body of Christ may be that all of the "kidneys" gather together in one place, all of the "feet" refuse to acknowledge the "hands" as important, and as a result, the Body of Christ appears more like a corpse that has been disarticulated by the "murderer" (Satan).

Until every member of the Body of Christ serves every other member, the world will look at the incomplete puzzle and be unable to recognize the Masterpiece. By doing our small part, we will be in harmony with the Lord's prayer for unity (Jn. 17:11, 21-23). So find your place in the Body and happily serve in the place of your calling until He returns for us. In so doing, you will serve your brethren, and together, we will show forth the Masterpiece to a lost world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I hardly ever hear Christians using the word "repent" anymore. In fact, I cannot remember the last time someone mentioned it. That is really a shame. Without repentance, a person cannot be saved. I can almost hear my few readers gasping at what must sound like heresy to you. How could I say such a thing when for over two years, I have insisted that saving faith is a gift from God, and therefore, genuine salvation cannot involve man's works. Before you remove me from your "bookmarks," please hear me out.

Luke 24:45-47 says, "Then (He opened) their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and (He) said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The context of these verses is the Lord's last instructions to His disciples before He ascended into heaven (v. 51). Notice two very important facts revealed in the text.

The first is that repentance and remission are two sides of the "Gospel coin." That is, both are to be preached. By comparing this passage with Christ's instructions to His disciples to preach the Gospel (Mk. 16:15), it is clear that Gospel includes both. Acts 5:31 says, "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance...and forgiveness of sins. Just as faith is a gift from God, so is repentance.

The second is that repentance is not a form of works. The Greek word translated "repentance" is μετάνοια (metanoia), and most concordances define it as "a change of mind." A better definition would be, "to have one's mind changed." When a person is truly persuaded that his sin has been remitted, that is, paid for and thereby forgiven, his mind is changed. Jesus "opened their understanding" that He had died to pay for their sin. The result was "they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (v. 52).

I like to use an illustration of what occurs when salvation takes place. A man is walking down a path with his back toward God. At some point in his journey, he hears God's loving voice calling his name, and turning around, he begins walking toward Him. It is like Saul of Tarsus. He was on his way to destroy Christians, and when Jesus revealed Himself to him, his first reaction was to ask, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). Saul's response to Jesus clearly reveals that Saul not only knew the truth about Him, but he had also accepted Him as his Lord.

Have you received the gifts of faith and repentance? The devil believes, but he certainly hasn't repented (Jam. 2:19). I feel it is safe to say that if your life has not been surrendered to the will of God (repentance), you may have "half of the Gospel," but you definitely are not saved. Turn to His Lordship today!

Monday, June 6, 2011


" And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved; and (He) hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:1-10).

The Greek word translated "faith" is πίστις (pistis), meaning "a conviction of the truth." The Greek word translated "gift" is δῶρον (dōron), meaning "a gift or a present." From the text quoted above, it is clear that our salvation is the work of God, and not that of our own works. He has made us alive (born again). He has raised us up and placed us with Christ in the heavens. He has shown us His grace (unmerited favor), and His kindness. He has given us the faith to believe in His Son. He describes us as His "workmanship." He has begun a good work in us, and He will complete it (Phil. 1:6). He works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). He empowers us to do His will (Acts 1:8).

He provides us with the "armor" necessary to defend ourselves from Satan (Eph. 6:10-17).

" strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God...with truth...the breastplate of righteousness...the gospel of peace...the shield of faith...the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Notice that every one of the items mentioned are from God; we have no truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, or sword apart from those given us by Him. God saved me, and as a result, all these things have been added unto me.

Because even the necessary faith that is required for us to believe and to place our trust in the finished work of Jesus on our behalf is a gift, we have nothing of which to boast. We are His workmanship! God is therefore " receive glory and honour and power: for (He) hast created all things, and for (His) pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). Yes, "worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:12). Amen, and amen!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


One man tells me I am insane. Another man tells me I am judging the spirituality of his friend. Another man tells me that I am not needed as a teacher of a Sunday School class although I had prepared lesson plans to do so. And still another is angry with me for telling him the truth about how he treats others. What do all these things have in common? Fortunately for me, they are all men; I would hate to have to deal with the "he's a bully toward women" thing. And, they also involve me. Poor me! "Nobody loves me; everybody hates me; I'm just going to go out and eat worms." I don't get that one either, but my wife likes to say it.

My natural tendency is to get really depressed when someone is upset with me. I suppose one never gets over being told as a child that their mother did not love them, and as a teenager that their dad and step-mother wanted them out of their house. Rejection, even the thought that someone does not like me, devastates me. I know, that is pretty pathetic, and I need to grow up, but it is a part of me and probably will be until I am with the Lord. Unfortunately, it is much of who I am as a person.

Here is how I deal with it. First, I remind myself that even Jesus had those who did not like Him. I am not one of them, by the way. In fact, it is just the opposite; I love Him because He first loved me (1 Jn. 4:19). Second, it could be much worse; I could be in a situation like Job. I could be living in a place where I constantly had to fear for my life. I could be in a place where no one ever said a kind word or thanked me for being a blessing to them. Compared to the vast majority of the world's population, I pretty much "have it made."

Facing criticism and rejection have some positive benefits, as well. They cause me to evaluate myself; am I failing as a Christian? Did I say or act in such a way as to warrant such a response? If so, how should I have acted? I have to ask myself, "Am I just being paranoid?" It certainly never hurts us to do a little soul-searching; who knows, I could even become a better person as the result.

Another benefit to being in negative situations is that they cause us to pray more earnestly. I can honestly say that I have prayed more for these four men as a result of the "coincidental convergence" of negativity. In fact, because I know that "...we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12), and my enemy is not man, but Satan, all I have to do is allow Jesus to deal with him. (I find it humorous, and strangely ironic, that 6/12 is the name of a mosquito repellent.) By praying and turning these kinds of situations over to the Lord, we sort of become "spiritual counter-punchers! And best of all, we know how the fight turns out; we win! Praise the Lord!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


The other day, someone accused me of having my "rules set in stone." He was angry with me for insisting our verbal agreement be carried out as we had discussed. At about the same time, a Christian brother sent me an e-mail (or three), saying I had made disparaging comments about the author of an article he had sent me. While the first accusation is true, I do see agreements as equal to contracts and therefore "set in stone," the second is symptomatic of faulty thinking.

I have always believed that if I said I was going to do something, people ought to be able to take me at my word. Years ago, long before the law schools turned out a sea of greedy opportunists, a man's handshake was his bond. Today, many folks use legal "loopholes" to escape responsibility. Many contracts are written using "legalese" to cloud the agreement or to hide "escape clauses." And as for my "rules being set in stone," there is a great precedent for it in Exodus 31:18. My advice is to remember that our testimony is only as good as our reputation; if people cannot trust what we say, they certainly will not trust what we "preach." Because of this, I suggest Christians pay attention to the Apostle James' admonition:

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (Jam. 4:13-15).

As for the accusation that I wrote disparaging comments about another Christian, I did not. What I said was:
1). The Word of God is 100% truth and therefore cannot contradict itself.
2). The Holy Spirit cannot teach two Christians contradictory "truths."
3). Since the author's understanding of a doctrine is diametrically opposed to my understanding, there are only three possible conclusions to be made: he is right, I am right, or neither of us is right.
4). Therefore, because I believe my understanding is correct, it stands to reason that I believe his is incorrect. That does not mean I am, in any way, criticizing him. I am simply saying I believe he is wrong.
5). Finally, in response to the statement that no Christian is right about everything, and therefore I should not be dogmatic, I agree. However, it is quite possible to be correct on a given doctrine and I feel absolutely certain I am correct on the subject in question.

I have always heard it said, "We can agree to disagree" and still be in fellowship with one another. That is true, but it does not mean we should compromise on doctrine. There are no gray areas when it comes to truth.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Every born again believer knows that he or she is supposed to love the brethren. There is a lot at stake. Jesus told His disciples that Christian unity was the evidence that God loves mankind, and not with just any old love, but with the same love He has for Jesus, His Son (Jn. 17:21-23). Here are just a few of the verses telling believers to love one another:

Rom. 12:10 "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another."
Rom. 13:8 "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."
Gal. 5:13-14 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
1 Thes. 3:12 "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you."
1 Thes. 4:9 "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."
Heb. 10:24 "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."
1 Jn. 4:11 "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
1 Pet. 4:8 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."

On the other side of the coin, God knows that we will have difficulty loving and obeying Him (Rom. 7:14-25), let alone loving the brethren who are as flawed as we are. That is why He had the Apostle Paul write, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:1-3).

Christians, because we are still in the process of becoming like Christ (1 Jn. 3:2), find it difficult, if not impossible, to continually love each other. Paul used the word, "endeavoring" to show that loving one another takes hard work. It requires perseverance. It requires forgiveness. It requires a mirror. For when we look "into the mirror" of God's Word, and we see how flawed we are, it is easier to love those who are a lot like us (Jam. 1:22-25).

God is omniscient, not naive. He knows our spiritual condition, and He knows how two of His children, both being flawed, will inevitably clash. That is why He had Paul write, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Rom. 12:18). Some Christians might see this as an opportunity for to "write off" those they do not like. However, God has made it clear what He expects of us (Matt. 5:23-24;18:15-17). In other words, do your very best at getting along with your brethren, but regardless of the friction between you, love him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


There will be three kinds of people living in our world when the Lord returns for His Church: those who long for the Rapture of the Church (1 Jn. 3:2-3); those who are ignorant concerning the Rapture of the Church (1 Thes. 4:13-18); and those who scoff at the idea of the Rapture of the Church (2 Pet. 3:3-4). For those of us who eagerly await Christ's return for us, we see the "signs of the times" and we know it could happen at any moment (Matt. 16:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-52). For those who are born again but have not been taught the Word rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15), they are in for a wonderful surprise. For those who deny the Bible as God's revelation to man, and therefore are not saved (Rom. 10:17), who mock us for our hopeful anticipation of His return for us (Jude 1:11-19), and who fail to heed our warning, they are destined for tribulation such as the world has never known (Matt. 24:21).

The key passage concerning the Rapture of the Church is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which says,

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Some students of the Bible confuse this passage with the Second Coming of Christ to establish His Millennial Kingdom. But notice that in the Rapture, the Lord returns for His Church and we will rise to meet Him in the air. At His Second Coming, the Lord will descend upon the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). At the Rapture, believers are removed, while at His Second Coming, unbelievers are removed (Matt. 25:13-46). At the Rapture, His removal of the Church will happen so quickly that no one will know it happened (1 Cor. 15:52), while at His Second Coming, the whole world will see it (Matt. 24:27). The reason for the Rapture is for Christ to receive His Bride, the Church (Jn. 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:2). The reason for His Second Coming is to fulfill the prophecies that He will rule forever on the throne of His father David (Isa. 9:6-7; Lk. 1:31-33).

We must study God's Word in order to understand what He wants us to know, and in so doing, please Him (2 Tim. 2:15). "I would not have you to be ignorant brethren" (Rom. 1:13; 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:1; 12:1; 2 Cor. 1:8; 1 Thes. 4:13; 2 Pet. 3:8). God bless you as you study, believe, and obey His Holy Word!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


To summarize, here are ten reasons why the Church will be removed by the Rapture prior to the Tribulation.

1. The Seventieth Week of Daniel refers to a judgment on Israel (Dan. 9:24). This period is described as the Wrath of God: Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 1 Thes. 1:9-10; 5:9; Zeph. 1:15, 18. The Church is "not appointed to wrath" (1 Thes. 1:9-10; 5:2-11).

2. Since the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel's prophecy had to do with God's judgment on Israel, it is logical that the Seventieth Week also has to do with Israel, and not the church; the Church did not even exist when the first sixty-nine weeks occurred.

3. The Doctrine of Imminence states that no prophetic event need occur before the Rapture of the Church. In fact, if any event was necessary, then we would know that the Lord could not return yet; something would have to come first. However, we are told to anticipate His coming for the Church: (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4; 1 Thes. 1:10; 1 Tim. 6:14; Jam. 5:8).

4. The work of the Restrainer (2 Th. 2:7-8) prevents Satan from beginning his diabolical work. It cannot be proven that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit indwelling the Church, but God's people are the "salt" He uses to preserve the world from total decay (Matt. 5:13).

5. The message of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:3-12 is to Israel. Their dress and ability to work miracles is typical of Old Testament prophets.

6. There is a difference between the messages to the Church at Philadelphia and to the Church at Laodicea. One, possessors of Christ, will be spared the wrath to come, while the other, professing Christians, will not be spared (Rev. 3:7-22).

7. The Lord’s dealing with Israel will begin at the end of the “times of the Gentiles.” In Luke 21:24, we are told that Israel's total control of Jerusalem is a key to when God will finish fulfilling Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27).

8. The 144,000 of Israel, sealed by God during the Tribulation, are saved, but are not described as being a part of the Church (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5).

9. The chronology of the Book of Revelation speaks of the Church in chapters two and three, but not in chapters six through eighteen, which describe the events of the Tribulation.

10. The Church Age is described as the Age of GRACE. Because of Christ's finished work on the cross, He suffered the judgment we deserve. Thanks be to God!