Friday, September 30, 2011


Moses asked God what His name was, so that when the Jews asked him about which God he was speaking, he would be able to tell them. This request implies that the Jews believed there was more than one God. They had been slaves in Egypt for four hundred years, and had given up hope that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would save them from bondage. In fact, any who had heard the stories of how they arrived where they were, knew that it was He that had delivered them into bondage in the first place. God, knowing how useless it would be to tell them it was the God of the patriarchs, told Moses His name was YHVH. That is, "I AM THAT I AM," or "I AM" (Ex. 3:14).

When asked who I am, I usually respond by giving a biographical sketch varying in length depending upon the time allotted for a reply. There is no short answer. I have had a life of sixty-nine years which has defined who I am. I am a son, a sinner, a high school drop-out, a sailor, religious, a husband, a father, an atheist, a Christian, retired military, a college and seminary graduate, a grandfather, an ex-pastor, an ex-teacher, an ex-principal, a great grandfather, and a blogger (in chronological order). I am an American nicknamed "Skip" from before I was born. But mostly, today, I am tired! I long for the day when I can say, "I am like Him" (1 Jn. 3:2). And the sooner, the better.

Whenever I have been asked to give my testimony, I am not really sure what I should include. God has been working in my life in so many ways over the years, that I feel somewhat like John must have felt when writing about Jesus (Jn. 21:25). Frankly, my life has had few mountain-tops and a whole lot of very wide valleys. And yet, it is in those valleys that I have been closest to the Lord. You might think that strange, but when on the mountain-top, I am loving Him; it is in the valleys that I am aware that He is loving me.

I have heard Him speak to me at least five times, and every one of them was when I was in despair. When I had been begging Him to help me love more, He took me to a widow with three children and no insurance or income. I fell to the floor sobbing. That is when I heard Him say, "You wanted to love as I love; you are unable to handle it. I am working in you. Be patient." On another occasion, while reading Our Daily Bread, He said, "Turn to September second." There I found exactly what I needed. It was "Jesus wept." when I was ashamed at my emotional response to a situation. It was "As much as possible, get along with all men." when I encountered a real jerk. And the last time I heard Him, He said, "You go, and let her come on the weekends." speaking of my accepting a call to pastor. I know, you are thinking I am one of those weird guys who hears voices, but five times in forty years is not exactly a daily conversation with an imaginary friend. In fact, on none of the five occasions did I reply. I was silent, and in total peace. Not only did I know He was there, I knew He knew me as only God can know someone. He knew my thoughts. He knew my emotions. He knew my need. I knew I was loved! May all those who read this know that God feels the same way about them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The Feast of Trumpets, sometimes called Rosh HaShanah, or the Jewish New Year, is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri), which occurs sometime in our September–October. Just as with the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost, Jews would go to Jerusalem. There would be a great blowing of the Shofar, the ram’s horn, by the priests on the wall of the Temple, and they would gather in Jerusalem to prepare for the important days ahead. It was a great convocation, a great coming together in Jerusalem.

Rosh HaShana, is the beginning of the Days of Awe, the ten days leading up to the Day of Atonement. In Rabbinic theology, it is during these ten days that God weighs every man in the balance — his good deeds versus his evil deeds. Then God determines whether or not the person will be permitted to live another year. Like all of the Seven Feasts of Israel, the Feast of Trumpets has a dual fulfillment. To the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, it has great prophetic significance. We are told in I Thessalonians 4:16, 17: "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who 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." This event is known as the Rapture. It is the time when the Lord will come for His own. It is imminent, it might happen at any moment; it could happen today.

The Feast of Trumpets not only has reference to the Rapture of the Church, but also has a prophetic reference to Israel. In Isaiah 27:12 -13, the Lord promised Israel: "Ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel, and it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem."

There will be a time in the future when the Lord will blow a trumpet for Israel to be regathered back in the land, and so the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets will have to do with not only the calling of the Church to its home in glory, but also calling the Jewish people back to their home in the Land of Israel. We are seeing the beginnings of this even now. When the Lord blows the trumpet, the migrations back to Israel will be on an even greater scale than they are now, and will be complete.

The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShana, New Year), then, both looks back to the ancient days of Israel’s past, and looks ahead to our Redeemer’s return. The blowing of the trumpets signify the Rapture of the Church (composed of believing Jews and Gentiles of this age) to its home in Heaven, and the calling of Israel back to its home in the Promised Land. Are you listening?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Today, I would like to summarize the first six "installments" of this series, and make a couple of observations. First, Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. Today, it is extremely rare to hear believers actually presenting the Good News to folks who have yet to accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The subjects of most conversations involving Christians are: the weather, the economy, politics, social events, sports, health issues, and unfortunately, the flaws in other Christians. Believers have come to expect the preacher to present soul-winning messages, week after week, and apparently think they have done their part by supporting him financially. Unfortunately, many pastors fall into the trap of preaching soul-winning messages every service. As a result, their congregations are fed only "milk" and they remain babes in Christ, instead of growing into productive, mature believers (Heb. 5:12-14). Church services should be focused upon worshiping God, and "growing His kids" (Eph. 4:12-16).

Second, believers are to baptize those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Today, it is not uncommon for a new convert to go for years without being baptized. There are probably many reasons for this, but ultimately, it boils down to a hesitation on the part of those leading people to Christ to assert themselves as spiritual mentors. Most pastors are also guilty of worrying about "offending a convert" by telling them what they need to do. I would ask you one question: When you accepted Jesus as Lord of your life, didn't you want to know what He wanted you to do? The first thing a new believer wants to know is, "Now what am I to do?" Tell them! Be baptized!

Third, expect the newly baptized believer to show up in church to feed on God's Word. If he or she is reluctant to attend church services, ask them why? Commitment to Christ is a life-time of submission and learning. If they do not particularly like the church you attend, go with them every Sunday to different churches until they find one they feel they can commit themselves to as members. As soon as they are established in a Bible-centered church, return to your church and continue to pray for those who responded to your witness.

All Christians are to preach the Gospel. The word for "preach" is κηρύσσω (kēryssō), which means "to be a herald, to proclaim openly." Somehow, we have come to believe pastors preach, and we witness. Pastors are to shepherd a flock of believers; soul-winners are to preach Christ.

And that brings me to the point of this series. Preach the whole truth; do not take bits and pieces of God's Word. Proclaim it in context, and make sure you present all that the Bible has to say on a subject. Do not tell others things that God addressed to individuals, to Israel, etc. as though those things apply to you. Rightly divide the Word of God, and apply only those things God desires of you. God bless.

Monday, September 26, 2011


From the time of Christ's Resurrection until today, there have been Gentiles (non-Jewish unbelievers in Jesus), Jews (Jewish unbelievers in Jesus), and born again members of the Body of Christ known as Christians (NOTE: Not all who profess to be Christians are legitimate children of God - Heb. 12:6-8). During the Dispensation of Grace, or the Church Age, the Church is not required to circumcise males, to eat a kosher diet (Acts 15:5-24), or to celebrate the Sabbath (Col. 2:16).

You will note that nearly all of the material in the Gospels of the New Testament presents the life of Jesus, and that the Gospels end with His death, burial, and resurrection. Because of Daniel 9:24-27, we know that the material addressing His life to the time He was crucified, fits within the first sixty-nine weeks (actually periods of seven yrs. each, or 483 yrs.). Christ offered Himself as their Messiah (Dan. 9:24; Jn. 1:11), and they rejected Him. Therefore, the Gospels were written primarily to the Jews.

And while the Gospels are filled with references to the Law of Moses, the Book of Acts through the first three chapters of Revelation consistently speak of salvation being a gift of Grace through faith in Christ. That material applies to the mysterious parenthetical period between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy, which we know as the Church Age (Eph. 5:32). Daniel's Seventieth Week is also known as The Tribulation, and The time of Jacob's Trouble, (Dan. 9:27; Jer. 30:7; Matt. 24:3-29; Rev. 4 - 18).

I have said all that to point out the fact that a believer should not view the entire Bible as being applicable to his or her walk with the Lord. Promises made to Abraham do not necessarily apply to the Church. The attitudes of the Old Testament writers often fail to harmonize with that of Jesus. Christians don't pray for fire to come down from heaven to destroy our enemies, or for bears to eat their children. We are commanded to love our enemies, and pray for them.

Yes, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3;16). But a faithful workman who is led to preach, must rightly divide the Word of God. He needs to ask: 1) To whom is the passage written? 2) Did the passage address a specific time and situation? 3) Was there a principle given that applies to all believers throughout time? 4) Does my interpretation of the passage fit into the overall teaching of God's Word? The whole counsel of God is to be preached throughout the world, but it needs to be preached correctly. There is enough confusion and division already. God bless you as you "study to shew thyself approved."


The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to be a faithful leader by laboring over the Scriptures; he called it "Rightly dividing the Word of God" (2 Tim. 2:15). "Rightly dividing" is the KJV translation of the Greek ὀρθοτομοῦντα (orthotomounta) which means "to cut straight." Paul, as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3), used this word because it was exactly what he wanted Timothy to do: "cut up the Word of God" into precise, usable pieces. Why would he say that? And how does one cut apart the Word of God?

In order to understand a particular passage of Scripture, one needs to know to whom does it apply? Did God intend for it to apply to a specific situation, or did He want believers throughout the generations to recognize it as being His will for our lives, as well? For instance, does God want you to abstain from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Does He want me to build a huge ship and call it the Ark? Will He command you to offer your child on an altar to Him? Of course not; those instructions were given to Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and never repeated again.

The understanding that much of God's Word describes God's will for a specific individual, a generation, a nation, etc., and not for everyone, gave birth to the matrix of studying the Bible called Dispensationalism. Throughout the history of the Bible, there have been specific periods, or ages, where God has held man responsible as stewards of His Truth. A simple way of dividing time, as recorded in the Bible, would be into three periods: 1) when there were only Gentiles; 2) when there were both Gentiles and Jews; 3) when there are Gentiles, Jews, and Christians. Each of these three, from Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to Jesus, and from Jesus until now, covers about two thousand years.

In this theological approach to studying the Word, most scholars recognize seven dispensations. But for the sake of this study, I want to simplify things in order to demonstrate how it works. In the first two thousand years, God dealt with the entire population of the world as a whole. In order for individuals to be "in good standing" (righteous in the eyes of God), he or she needed only to trust Him, and live according to His will for his or her life.

During the two thousand years between Abraham and the Resurrection of Jesus, God's focus was upon His chosen people, Israel. Over time, He gave them specific instructions called the Law, which included male circumcision, unique dietary laws, and they were to set apart the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. In their obedience to His instructions, they demonstrated that they trusted God. Their obedience, coupled with animal sacrifice for when they failed to obey, allowed Righteous God to declare them righteous as well.

To be continued, Lord willing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Denominations always focus upon the doctrine or doctrines which set them apart from the rest of professing Christians. My observation of the phenomena is that if there is a doctrine that isolates your group from "the rest of the herd," there is high possibility that you are either looking for something that will "set you apart" from "the less enlightened," or you have failed to understand that the Body of Christ is made up of individual members, all differing, and yet all necessary "organs" to keep the whole alive. It is as thought the "stomachs" want everyone to be hungry for the Word; the "legs" want everyone to be missionaries; the "hands" want everyone to feed the poor; the "mouths" want everyone to listen to them; etc. My question is, since each group claims to be the authority when it comes to teaching the truth, how is it that every single one of them has failed to apply 1 Corinthians Chapter Twelve? How is it that Christ's prayer to His Father for the unity of the Body of Christ has been ignored in the effort to maintain "theological purity?"

Previously, I mentioned that some denominations focus upon their unique interpretation of the Scriptures. I suggested that figurative language, when taken literally, at face value, may be a source of misunderstanding. For instance, the Roman Catholics insist on the doctrine of the Transubstantiation, which they say teaches that when their priests pray over the bread and the wine, the elements literally becomes the flesh and the blood of Jesus.

Another error causing division within the Body of Christ is simply the result of misunderstanding the Word of God. This usually occurs when a verse is somehow taken out of context. For example, some believe that Jesus told His disciples to purposely "take up" snakes as evidence of being a child of God. They site Mark 16:18 which says, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The previous verse says, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues" (v. 17). Notice that these verses do not indicate a saved person will do all of these things, or Mark would not have said "if" when referring to drinking something poisonous. There is only one reference to someone being bitten by a poisonous snake in the New Testament, and those around Paul, seeing he did not die, accepted his preaching as being from God; in fact, they actually though he was a god (Acts 28:3-6).

Perhaps the most common error made by those who see themselves as "protectors of the truth," is their failure to rightly divide the Word of God. With these, the problem is not that they fail to preach the whole truth, it is that they preach it as though it is all applicable to them. They literally believe the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, presents God's will for them. Don't get me wrong; all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for each of us (2 Tim. 3:16). But notice that the verse does not say we are to obey all of it; it says we are to learn from it. The same author also wrote, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I hope to show how failure to rightly divide the Word of God has contributed to the splintering of the Body of Christ.

Friday, September 23, 2011


The point I have been attempting to make is that when denominations focus so much on a specific doctrine, they tend to require members to agree in order to be recognized as saved. If you have not spoken in tongues, you are not saved. If you haven't been baptized by immersion, you are not saved. If you worship on Sunday, you are not saved. The list is as long as there are denominations. And while they say they will be satisfied to "agree to disagree," they, in reality, either think their "opponent" is spiritually inferior, or worse, that he is lost. One of their favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?" The very fact that this verse is used by them to justify breaking fellowship, shows they see themselves as the stronger of the two; no one ever sees themselves as the weaker of the two. Let me introduce you to our modern day Pharisees.

Perhaps one source of the problem lies in the different approaches to interpreting the Word of God. If a group tends to view the Scripture as figurative, they will be less concerned by the details, and see the material as teaching or illustrating a principle. On the other side of the coin, if they take everything at face value, focusing upon the smallest details, they tend to miss the general application of the Lord's Word. Figurative language is almost always obvious, and should be interpreted in the same way one would interpret the grammatical form in any other writing.
*Metaphors - A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing, is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison. Examples: “He was an ox of a man.” “I Am the Bread of life…."
*Similes - A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, using words such as “like” or “as.” Examples: “The devil’s words were like music to Eve’s ears.” “And (He) was transfigured before them and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.”
*Parables - A simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson. Jesus taught in parables so that those believing in Him could learn, while those opposed to Him would not understand His teaching (Matt. 13:10-17).
*Estimations - A statement intended to give an approximate amount. While it is possible, it us unlikely that there are exactly the same number of stars in the universe, of grains of sand in the sea, and of Abraham's descendants.
*Limited human understanding - We all say “sunrise and sunset” to mean the beginning and end of daylight, but in actuality, the Sun does not rise or set; the Earth is spinning in its orbit around the sun. The Bible also uses the heart (and the bowels) to describe the seat of love and emotions, and yet, it accurately describes a person as having a body, soul, and spirit.

To be continued.


Yesterday, we looked at the first two parts of a three part Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. They were: 1) Preach the Gospel to the lost, for only the Gospel has the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16); and 2) Baptize those who turn to Christ (repent), and believe in His payment for their sins (remission) (Lk. 24:47).

3) The third part of the Great Commission, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," is a little more difficult to explain. It involves Christ's teaching on how His followers are to live in relationship:

a) with God. We are to love God with our whole being (Matt.22:37; 1 Jn. 4:19).

b) with others. We are to love other Christians (1 Jn. 3:14). We are to love the lost who are enemies of God, and therefore, our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48; Rom. 5:10; Jn. 15:18-23).

c) with ourselves. For the Christian, this is the most difficult command of the Lord for His disciples to follow. For one thing, in order for a lost person to be saved, he must realize he is unworthy (Rom. 3:23). We are saved totally by the mercy and grace of God (Eph. 2:8-10). Even after we are born again, we constantly struggle with sin (Rom. 7:14-25). In order for a believer to love himself, he must see himself as God sees him. He loves us just as much as He loves Jesus (Jn. 17:23). God, knowing that we will one day be like Jesus (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 1:6; 1 Jn. 3:2), already recognizes us as being seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 1:3-8). We need to see ourselves as God sees us.

Still, it seems impossible to love ourselves. But when we think about it, the fact that we want to be saved, we want to be pleasing to the Lord, we want to be Christ-like, means we want what is best for ourselves. In other words, there is a delicate balance between self love and self loathing. It is called humility. All of these admonitions are summed up in a single verse, written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians; it says, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'" (5:14).

But what has all this to do with preaching the whole truth? I pointed out yesterday that the Church has fragmented to such an extent that the last word one would use to describe it is love. Each and every split that has produced a division in the Body of Christ has been the result of a group of believers insisting that one or more doctrines are being distorted or ignored by those with whom they have chosen to break fellowship. As a result, one can almost define the different denominations by their emphasis on one or two areas of disagreement. The Baptists are known for their belief in the eternal security of the believer. The Church of Christ is known for their teaching that one must be baptized in order to be saved. The Pentecostals are known for believing salvation is evidenced by the speaking in tongues.
To be continued. Lord willing.

To be continued.


The true Church, the Body of Christ, is composed of all born again believers. However, the Lord's parables clearly teach that there is a visible church that consists of both believers and non-believers (Matt. 13). For the purposes of this study, the Parable of the Mustard Seed best illustrates the church today:
"Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof'" (Matt. 13:31-32).

The tree begins with a single seed, and in time, it grows large and spreads out its branches. As each branch continues to produce more branches, and they branch out into even more branches, and so on. Eventually, they become so weak that they can barely support a leaf. In fact, the bark on the little branches hardly resembles the bark on the trunk of the tree. In this parable, Jesus told of birds dwelling in the branches. Birds, in the parables, represent the agents of Satan (Matt.13:19). So it is with Christianity; in its endless division into denominations. They, having compromised on doctrine, or having emphasized some doctrines while ignoring the others, have become a home for folks who are Christians in name only. .

I believe this has been the result of our failure to focus upon Christ's Great Commission for the Church (Matt. 28:19-20), which consists of three parts: 1) Teach all nations; 2) Baptize those who believe; 3) Teach the new believers Christ's will for their lives.

1) The only message that the lost world needs to hear is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It begins with the fact that God loves each one of us. He demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die for us (Jn. 3:16), to be buried, and to rise again, all according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-8). At the moment a person accepts Christ's love for him, a change of attitude occurs called repentance, and he is born again (2 Cor. 7:10).

2) The first step in obedience to Christ involves being baptized. The Church began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the first believers in Christ (Acts 2:1-3). Peter preached the Gospel to the crowd, three thousand accepted Christ, and they were immediately baptized (Acts 2:41). The Ethiopian Eunuch was presented the Gospel and immediately was baptized (Acts 8:35-38). Notice baptism follows Salvation. Belief in Christ results in Salvation (Jn. 1:11-13), and all who believed were baptized.

Lord willing, I will continue this study tomorrow. God bless.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The Greek word metanoeo, the verb form of the noun metanoia, translated "repentance," means "to perceive afterwards." It always has to do with a person realizing their perspective was wrong, resulting in a humble change of mind. Repenting, or having a change of mind, is an extremely important part of a person's salvation experience. When Jesus was giving His disciples instructions on what they were to preach, He listed repentance first and remission of sins last (Lk. 24:47). Just to show how important repentance is, "remission of sin" is the finished work of Jesus on our behalf, and is based upon His death, burial, and resurrection; it is the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Because the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, having listed repentance first means it is obviously of extreme importance (Rom. 1:16).

When I think of what it means to truly repent, I like to picture a man walking away from God, with his eyes focused upon the world, and having no concern for a relationship with the Father. God calls out his name, trying to get him to turn and come to Him (Jn. 6:44). Repentance is when he realizes his mistake and turns around with a desire to submit. The salvation experiences in the Bible show how men had changed their minds about letting God be their God (Acts 9:1-6; 16:27-34). In fact, Paul heard the voice of Jesus and immediately had a change of heart and mind. In the case of the Philippian jailer, he went from being suicidal, to being hospitable.

It is unfortunate that the word "repent" is so misunderstood. The vast majority of people think of it in religious terms meaning to "turn over a new leaf," or to stop speaking and acting improperly. Even the lost have a conscience, and if they haven't seared it so badly that it does not function, they feel guilt and remorse (1 Tim. 4:2). While a conscience tends to cause man to agree with religious teachings, and often make a commitment to change his ways, it is neither permanent, nor necessarily associated with a life of submission to the will of God. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, two kinds of repentance are presented: one is the repentance of the lost world, which produces sorrow but no submission, and the other which produces the change of heart and mind necessary for salvation.

Genuine repentance that leads to salvation always produces a change in a person's lifestyle. We become a new person (2 Cor. 5:17). We have works that demonstrate our allegiance to God (Acts 26:20; Eph. 2:10). Our works are described as "fruit," the evidence by which others can identify us as children of God, just as the "fruits" of the lost identify them (Matt. 7:20; 13:23; Jn. 15:1-8). According to John 15:8, it is our "fruit" that produces glory for the Father. So, what is the "fruit" which results from repentance and salvation? It is the fruit of the Spirit of God Who produces it in us (Gal. 5:22-23). Truly born-again Christians, when they are walking in the Spirit, produce the fruit that wins the lost and glorifies the Father. When they are not, they need to read 1 John 1:9 and repent!

It is simply common sense that when one hears about how much he is loved of God, and understands that he is totally lost without having a relationship with the Father by trusting in the finished work of Jesus on his behalf, that he want more than anything to please Him. That is repentance!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


As members of the Body of Christ, we have already received an immeasurable amount of grace (unmerited favor) from God. And like the Creation Week of Genesis One, God works on us for "six days," and His work is finished; the seventh day, He rested:

1) We were drawn to Christ by the Father (Jn. 6:44).
2) We were convicted of our need of a Savior by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:7-11).
3) We were given the ability to believe the Gospel by God (Eph. 2:8-9).
4) We were born again by the will of God by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:13; 3:5-8).
5) We have become new creatures, and reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:13-19).
6) We are being changed into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 1:6).
7) HE will finish the task (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 1:8; 15:49; Eph. 2:10; 1 Jn. 3:2).

On top of all that, He has allowed us to understand the mystery that Christ would make two appearances on earth, rather than one (Mk. 4:11; Rom. 11:25; 16:25; Eph. 3:9). We know what the Old Testament prophets and the angels of God did not know (1 Pet. 1:10-12). In His first appearance, Jesus was called the "Lamb of God Who takest away the sin of the world" by John the Baptist (Jn. 1:29), and Paul called Him "our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7). Because we are able to understand the mysteries of God, we recognize that the first three feasts of Israel represent the First Coming of Christ, that is, His death, His burial, and His resurrection. We also see the last three feasts point to His Second Coming, with His gathering of Israel, His atonement being applied to Israel, and His dwelling with them for a thousand years. And, we understand that the middle feast, the Wave Offering using two loaves of leavened bread, represents the Church made up of sinners saved from the Jews and the Gentiles. We are so blessed!

Jesus truly was the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the world," because what God ordains will happen, is as good as if it has already been done (Rev.13:8). The same is true for those things yet to occur; they will be fulfilled literally. In describing Christ at His Second Coming, God chose to use a different metaphor. God wants us to know that He will not come as a gentle Lamb, but as "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah" (Rev. 5:5). It not only identifies Him with the nation of Israel and the tribe of Judah, it also signifies His royalty and Kingship. But Christ being the humble servant of God that He is, chose to be called by this name once in all of Scripture. He referred to Himself as "the Lamb" twenty-seven times in Revelation alone.

It is because we have been blessed with the Word of God in its entirety that we know these things. We don't have to hope these things are true, we actually know they are! Thank God we can understand just how wonderful and loving He is, and can spend the rest of our days on this earth worshiping Him and sharing Him with others. I pray that this blog will serve that purpose, and that all who read it will tell others about it. The more readers, the merrier!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I do not want to take anymore time discussing one's "prayer language," singing "in the Spirit," and the "tongues of angels" (1 Cor. 14:14-15; 13:1). I have already addressed the "unknown" insertion in Part Six, and apart from 1 Corinthians 13:1, there is nothing within the Scriptures to support the view that angels had their own language. In every instance where God's messengers communicated with mankind, they did so in the language of those to whom they were speaking. I am not sure if there is a difference between "singing in the spirit," and what Paul called "spiritual songs" (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), but one's "prayer language" is described as requiring an interpreter for the speaker to understand his own prayer (1 Cor. 14:14). However, Paul made some things absolutely clear when he told his readers "...forbid not to speak with tongues" (1 Cor. 14:39), limited the manifestation of tongues to three (1 Cor. 14:27), and that all were to keep silent if there were no interpreter present (1 Cor. 14:28).

Instead, I want to conclude this series by discussing whether or not three of the gifts of the Spirit ceased. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul began by mentioning tongues, prophecy, and knowledge as being useless without being motivated by love (v. 1-2). He continued by saying, "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Cor. 13:8-10)

There are two different Greek words which are translated "fail," "cease," "vanish away," "done away."
1) "fail," "vanish away," "done away" - - καταργέω (katargeō) meaning "to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative; to cause to cease."
2) "cease" - παύω (pauō) meaning "to make to cease or desist."

In other words, they mean basically the same thing. The question is, when will they cease? The answer is given in verse ten: "when that which is perfect is come." The word, "perfect," τέλειος, (teleios) means "complete," ended," "perfect." One theory is that when the Bible, which is perfect in its original text, was completed, there would be no need for the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues, or knowledge.

The other, which seems to be reasonable is that when an individual believer becomes perfect, that is, Christ-like, then they will cease (see the context (1 Cor. 13:11-13). However, this theory is a little shaky in that we, as believers, will not be "perfect" until we are in His presence (1 Jn. 3:2). Since all interpreted tongues, prophecies, and knowledge must be verified by Scripture, it is my view that the Bible is that perfect thing which was to come.

Friday, September 16, 2011


In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul continued his correction of the errant church which was primarily made up of Gentile believers. He made it clear that not all born again believers spoke in tongues. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:30, "Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" The obvious answer is no, since some have other gifts. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:5, "I would that ye all spake with tongues...." 1 Corinthians 14:26 says, "How is it then, brethren, when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation? Let all things be done unto edifying." In other words, since the gift of tongues is given to those God wanted to have it, why is it that every one of them had a tongue?

In addition, tongues was listed last of the gifts for good reason. It was the only gift that required someone with another gift to partner in sharing God's Word. At Pentecost, there were folks present from other lands, who heard and understood the things spoken in tongues. They did not need an interpreter. But in the church at Corinth, people were speaking and no one was being edified (v. 14:2, 4). Paul stated over and over again, that if they wanted to covet the greatest gift, it would be the gift of prophecy (v. 14:1, 3-5, 19, 24; etc.). However, it is quite possible that when tongues are interpreted, the result is equal to the gift of prophecy.

Then there is the question of what kind of gatherings did the church in Corinth have? We think of a church meeting as being a gathering of believers to learn, share, and worship the Lord. But just like our churches today, there were those who showed up to find out what was going on. Paul wrote, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?" (1 Cor. 14:22-23). Tongues were a tool to reach the unsaved, and as we noted earlier, they were primarily for the Jewish unbeliever who needed a sign to believe (1 Cor. 1:22).

So this is how I understand the problem at Corinth. Being composed predominately of Gentile believers, tongues weren't needed because: 1) the members were already saved and tongues were for unbelievers; 2) unbelieving visitors who did not hear the message in their own language, would get absolutely nothing out of what would appear as chaos; 3) unbelieving visitors who were Gentiles sought wisdom and not signs; 4) the local assembly was not built up by tongues unless someone interpreted them; 5) it was clear that many members were faking the gift to gain prestige. It seems that, just as today, many within the local assembly professed to be believers, but like the Pharisees, they were displaying fruit that proved they were wolves and not sheep at all.

If I haven't offended you with my observations, praise God. If He will let me, I will continue tomorrow.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


We will begin by analyzing what the Apostle Paul said about the gifts of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, he wrote:
"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

1) There are different gifts; there are nine listed here.
2) There are different ministries where they are to be exercised (the word translated "administrations" is the same root word from which we get "deacon," or "the place one is assigned to serve."
3) There are different levels of ability in exercising the gifts. The word translated "operations" is from the Greek energēma, from which we get "energy" or "power."
4) "All in all" has often been mistakenly understood to mean all believers have all of the gifts. There are three obvious reasons this text should not be interpreted that way: first, not everyone has the same ministry or the same power, so why believe everyone has the same nine gifts; second, the context of the next sentence clearly indicates that different gifts are given to different believers; and third, Paul specifically says so in 1 Corinthians 12:14-31:
"For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, 'Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body'; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, 'Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body'; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, 'I have no need of thee': nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you'. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 'Are all apostles?' 'Are all prophets?' 'Are all teachers?' 'Are all workers of miracles?' 'Have all the gifts of healing?' 'Do all speak with tongues?' 'Do all interpret?' But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
To be continued tomorrow, should the Lord should tarry, and will permit this study to continue.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The Apostle Paul wrote about half of the New Testament, and his writings might well be summed up by a single verse: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). For instance, the Book of Romans is perhaps the most concise and yet thorough presentation of Bible doctrine found anywhere in Scripture. Galatians is clearly Paul's reproof of those who had turned away from believing in the Gospel he had preached to them. His letters to Timothy and Titus reveal his fatherly instruction to men he had recognized as church leaders. And when one thinks of Paul's correction of a congregation for multiple errors, he immediately thinks of the Church at Corinth.

In his first epistle to Corinth, Paul addressed doctrinal questions, divisions, contentions, and their failure to discipline a case of incest of one of its members. But it was their errors concerning spiritual gifts that concerned him enough to motivate him to write three chapters of correction. He began by writing, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant" (v. 12:1). By the end of the third chapter dedicated to correcting their errors, he wrote, "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant" (v. 14:38). In other words, if a man chose to remain ignorant concerning Paul's instructions, so be it. Nevertheless, he was to submit to the church leadership and to maintain order (v. 14:40).

Before I present Paul's instructions on how the gift of tongues was to be used, I need to say that the Bible translators did not help by adding the adjective "unknown" to describe tongues in chapter fourteen. In fact, it has had the opposite effect on our understanding of tongues. And why add it in chapter fourteen but not in twelve and thirteen? Had it not been inserted in 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 19, and 27, there would be no reason to suppose that there are two different kinds of tongues. The same Greek word translated "tongues" is used in Acts and in 1 Corinthians; if it meant "unlearned languages" in Acts, why would anyone suppose it to mean something else in this epistle? Had Paul wanted the word inserted, he would have done so himself, as he clearly knew the Greek word for "unknown" (2 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 1:22).

That being said, for the purpose of this study, I would like for us to evaluate Paul's guidelines for the use of tongues as though they were real languages. Let's see what Paul had to say about their use. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, he wrote:
"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

To be continued tomorrow, God permitting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The first problem concerning the speaking in tongues is the result of misinterpreting the only passage in the Gospels that mentions it. The final six verses of Mark's Gospel have been debated among Christians, probably more than any other passage, much to the delight of Satan. Mark wrote in 16:17: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues."

The first word of the Lord's last instructions to the eleven (v.14), is the subject of the sentence, "You" (v. 15). In Greek, as in English, the subject of a command, order, or suggestion, "you," that is the person or persons being directed, is usually left out of the sentence and is said to be the "understood subject." They were to go proclaim the Gospel to "every creature," including Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. And, they would observe the evidence of salvation. As I mentioned in an earlier part of this series, they obviously failed to listen carefully.

Jesus listed five signs that converts would exhibit as evidence of a genuine conversion (Mk. 16:17-18), but our focus here is that they would speak in new tongues; (the other signs may be topics for a future study). Just as an aside, it amazes me that so few insist that the other signs be required to verify the salvation of a believer.

The word, "tongues," is translated from the Greek γλῶσσα (glōssa), a feminine noun, meaning "the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations" in this context. The word, "new" (Mk. 16:15), when describing tongues in Acts (2:4, 11; 10:46; 19:6), means "new to the speaker." It could not be referring to the hearers, because they obviously heard what was being said in their native language. In their effort to "clarify," English translators inserted the word "unknown" as an adjective describing tongues in one of Paul's epistles (1 Cor. 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 19, 27). Paul knew and used the Greek word for "unknown" in 2 Corinthians 6:9 and Galatians 1:22, so if he thought it was necessary to use it, he would have. And, if they were going to "help Paul in his writing," a much more descriptive word would have been "unlearned."

As I wrote earlier in this series, the signs were for the Jews (1 Cor. 1:22). In Acts, the Apostles Peter and Paul were the Jews observing the sign of speaking in tongues by Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. However, by the time Paul wrote his corrective first epistle to the Corinthians, he had quit his focus on converting Jews to Christ, and had moved on to focusing upon the Gentiles (Acts 13:46). It appears that the main problem lies in the exercising of speaking in tongues by Gentile believers in a congregation composed of other Gentiles.

To be continued, God permitting.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Peter was witness to the initial manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Christians who had formerly been Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. As a result, it was Peter who convinced the leaders of the Church that the Gospel message was for all of humanity, not just for the Jews. This required a total gestalt switch in the thinking of the Lord's disciples. They had anticipated the arrival of the King who would defeat Israel's enemies, and with whom Israel would rule the world (Acts 1:6). Instead, Jesus came and was crucified. On top of that, He was now understood to be Lord of "whosoever." How could this be? After all, the Church was originally made up of Jewish believers in Christ. The entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, was written by either those born Jews or by converts to Judaism. Even today, the prophecies describing the Messiah as Israel's King have yet to be fulfilled. They await Christ's Second Coming, at which time He will establish His Kingdom of one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7). You can say what you will about the Apostle Peter, but when it came to his handling of the keys to the kingdom, he completed his assignment (Matt. 16:18-19).

There is one more instance in the Book of Acts where believers spoke in tongues, and on that occasion, Peter was not present. In Acts 19, Luke wrote of Paul leading twelve disciples of John the Baptist to Christ (v. 1-8). Speaking in tongues in the first three instances in the Book of Acts had opened the way for the entire population of the world to be saved. So why did Luke record this particular event?

To be quite honest, I am not totally sure. Paul had led Priscilla and Aquila to the Lord (Acts 18:2-18). Priscilla and Aquila then led Apollos to the Lord (Acts 18:24-26). Apollos preached the Gospel, and then left Ephesus for Achaia and Corinth (Acts 18:27 - 19:1). When Paul arrived in Ephesus, where Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos had preached the Gospel, there is no indication that he encountered anyone who had been saved under their preaching. In fact, there is evidence that no one had believed them.

Paul, in writing to the Church at Corinth, where he had earlier preached the Gospel, stated that Apollos had "watered" the "seed" he had planted (1 Cor. 3:6). The same is true of Ephesus. Paul preached there (Acts 18:19), Apollos preached there (Acts 18:26-27), and when Paul returned, God saved twelve men who were still disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-8). Since these twelve were most likely the first Jews saved in that city, it is quite possible they manifested tongues as a sign to the rest of the Jews, because Paul immediately entered the synagogue (Acts 19:8).

Other than these four positive examples of the manifestation of tongues, practically all of the rest of the New Testament references to tongues are negative. Tomorrow, I hope to begin looking at the "problem with tongues," and what Paul had to say concerning how they were to be used, Lord willing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


So far, we have looked at Peter, who being the one who determined who would be accepted in God's kingdom, was clearly willing that the Jews believe in Jesus (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 2:1-41). Next, we looked as how the Church sent Peter to see what the Lord had been doing among the Samaritans, and how the Spirit did not fill them until Peter could be there to verify it (Acts 8:1-19). Remember, the preaching of the Gospel was to progress from the Jews, to the Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles (Acts 1:8).

The Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים‎ Shomronim), were the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claimed their worship was the true religion of the ancient Israelites, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel. They believed that Judaism was a related, but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile. Ancestrally, they claimed to be descents of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi. The Samaritans derive their name from the Hebrew term שַמֶרִים (Shamerim), "Keepers of the Law." They were mentioned eight times in the Gospels (Matt. 10:5; Lk. 9:52; 10:33; 17:16; Jn. 4:9, 39-40; 8:48).

Unlike the Samaritans, whom Peter apparently had little problem accepting into the Church because they were technically Jews, the Gentiles were another story. When Jesus told them to go "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8), Peter must have though He meant to the Jews all over the world. The Lord went to a lot of trouble to correct Peter, and He showed great patience with Peter's prejudice against the Gentiles. In Acts 10:1-48, God leads Cornelius, a Roman centurion, to send for Peter (v. 1-8). In verses 9-29, Peter sees a vision, which the Lord explained to him, and he went to meet Cornelius. After they discussed how God had brought them together, Peter preached the Gospel message, Cornelius believed and was saved, the Holy Ghost was manifested in the speaking of tongues, and Peter had him baptized.

In Acts 11:1-18, Peter convinced the Apostles in Jerusalem that the Gentiles had received Jesus Christ as Lord, were filled with the Holy Ghost, had spoken in tongues, and he had had them baptized. Peter had opened the "door/gate to heaven" for Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. The Church recognized the "keys" had opened the door to "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." To say they were a little slow would be an understatement; Peter had preached those very words in Acts 2:21! It took until the Apostle Paul came to Jerusalem to debate them over their insisting converts become Jews (be circumcised) before they could be saved (Acts 15:1-29). And just in case some might think Peter was in charge (the first Pope), notice who it is that makes the decision concerning the matter: James (v. 13-21)!

To be continued, if it be God's will.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Yesterday, I said the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, as described in Acts 2:4-11, was given for a sign to the Jews in Jerusalem. It was a sign to Peter, and to the rest of the Jewish disciples, that confirmed what Jesus had said would happen "not many days hence" (Mk. 16:17; Jn. 14:17; Acts 1:4-5). It was also an authenticating sign to the visiting Jews, who were witnesses to the miracle of hearing those same disciples speak to them in their own native languages (Acts 2:4-11).

I am sure you who are reading this are curious as to why I highlighted Peter's name above. It is because of two passages of Scripture that are directly connected to the manifestations of tongues in the Book of Acts. In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I am saying Peter was the "rock," or that he was the first Pope, let me explain. [I will not take the time to explain the similarity between Peter's name and the "rock," but I will state emphatically that the "rock" is the foundation of the Church: faith in Christ.] Peter was clearly the leader of the twelve who accompanied Jesus during His ministry; he is listed first in every list of their names (Matt. 10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19; Lk. 6:12-16). Note: For an interesting look at the three divisions of four disciples each, go to

The "keys of the kingdom" was a metaphor for saying Peter would be the one to determine who would be allowed to enter and who would not. When coupled with Acts 1:8, we have a prophetic look at what was about to happen. It says, "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 Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." In other words, it would be Peter who would witness the salvation of Jews, of Samaritans, and of Gentiles. All three occurred within the first ten chapters of Acts.

As we have already seen, Jews manifested evidence that they were saved on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4-11). And who dominated the stage? Peter (2:14-41). In Acts 8, Philip preached the Gospel and baptized the first Samaritans who believed. However, it was not until Peter came that the Samaritans gave evidence that they were saved (8:14-17). And although this passage does not specifically say the Samaritan Christians spoke in tongues, Simon saw the evidence that the Holy Ghost had been given, and he wanted to be like Peter and John (8:18-19).

To be continued, Lord willing.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Yesterday, I ended by saying "we probably need to define some of the Scriptural terms." But after looking at this topic, the definitions alone would take several pages. So, I have decided that rather than trying to discuss the topic of tongues about which the books written could fill most libraries, and which has been debated ad nauseum, I will limit my study to the Bible's restrictions on the speaking in tongues.

According to the Apostle Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthian Church, every believer receives at least one of nine spiritual gifts (12:11). The nine are: Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Workers of Miracles, Workers of Healings, Helpers, Governments (Leaders), Tongues, and the Interpreters of Tongues (12:28, 30). The gift of tongues, like all of the spiritual gifts, is given by the Holy Spirit to some of the members of the Body of Christ (12:4-30).

The purpose of the gift of tongues is as a sign to unbelievers: "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (14:22). And although it is not specifically stated as such, that would mean tongues were for witnessing to unbelieving Jews; "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom" (1:22). The first instance where speaking in tongues is mentioned is on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4-11:
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."

Notice that those listening, Jews from all over the known world, heard the disciples speaking about "the wonderful works of God" in their native languages. These Jews responded with great interest in what the disciples had to say. As a result, 3000 were "added to the Church" (Acts 2:41). To be continued.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Almost from the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was encouraged to seek the baptism in the Holy Ghost, which was said to be evidenced by the speaking in tongues. I am not exactly sure why, but over the forty years since becoming a child of God, such conversations have become so infrequent that I cannot remember the last time someone was concerned enough to mention it. Perhaps the word has spread that I am hard-headed and unteachable. Perhaps I am so spiritual that they assume I have already received "the gift." No, there is no way that is the reason; most people who know me, know that I struggle every day with the old sin nature. Like with my namesake, the battle rages on (Rom. 7).

Perhaps folks are intimidated by the fact that I attended a conservative Bible College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I was Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. After all, Baptists don't speak in tongues, right? If that is the reason, they could not know me very well. I was ordained into the ministry by Graceland Baptist Church, a charismatic Southern Baptist Church, where I had been a member for over ten years. The church that called me was in danger of splitting over the issue of tongues. They actually called me because the pulpit committee, which was made up of half charismatics and half non-charismatics, knew of Graceland by reputation, and both sides felt I would lead the church according to their way of thinking.

It did not take long for both factions to realize they had made a mistake. My first sermon consisted of three points: 1) 1 Corinthians 14:39: "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." 2) Romans 14:13: "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." 3) The importance of Christian unity as expressed by Jesus in His prayer just before He was to be crucified (Jn. 17:11, 21-23). It took over two years before unity was achieved enough to vote me out as Pastor. Ironically, we had been doing a verse-by-verse study of First Corinthians and chapters twelve through fourteen loomed large on the horizon. I wonder why they decided that was the time to remove me? Perhaps both factions were afraid I would choose the others side. Only God knows.

To begin this study, we probably need to define some of the Scriptural terms such as: the baptism in the Holy Ghost, spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Due to a lack of space in today's posting, I do not think it would make sense to do so now. Lord willing, that is where we will begin tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011



The BAPTISM in the Spirit is that work of God whereby the believer is immersed into Jesus Christ and into His body, the Church (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27).

The FILLING of the Spirit is that work of God whereby He enables the yielded believer to participate in carrying out His will (Acts 2:4; 4:8; Eph. 5:18).


The BAPTISM is presented as a fact to be believed (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27).
The FILLING is presented as a command to be obeyed (Eph. 5:18).

Every believer has had this BAPTISM (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-27).
Not every believer is FILLED with the Spirit although he should be (Eph. 5:17).

The believer is never commanded to be BAPTIZED in the Spirit.
The believer is commanded to be FILLED with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16).

PAST TENSE: "For by one Spirit WERE we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13).
PRESENT TENSE: "BE FILLED with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18).

The BAPTISM is a once for all work of God never to be repeated.
The FILLING needs to be repeated for us to be useful to the Lord.

The BAPTISM places one into Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; Acts 2:47).
The FILLING empowers one to be a witness and servant for Christ (Acts 1:8).

The BAPTISM requires faith in Christ (Acts 16:31; Gal. 3:26-27).
The FILLING requires repentance and confession of sin (1 Jn. 1:9).

The BAPTISM involves POSITION: "IN CHRIST" (2 Cor. 5:17 and Rom. 8:1).
The FILLING involves POSITION: "IN FELLOWSHIP" (Acts 1:8; 4:31, 33).

The BAPTISM will never be "undone" (Eph. 1:13; 4:30; 5:25-32).
The FILLED will become "unfilled" by sin (Gal. 5:16, 23; Eph. 4:30; 1 Thes. 5:19).

God alone does the BAPTIZING into Christ.
The believer plays a key role in being FILLED with the Spirit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Do I see myself, apart from Christ, as a guilty sinner condemned before a holy and righteous God (Rom. 3:10-19, 23)? Do I see myself, apart from Christ, as deserving of death and hell (Rom. 6:23)? Do I realize, apart from Christ, that God, the Righteous One, would be forced to give me what I deserve, and repay me for the way I have lived; that I would be sentenced to eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15)?

Do I recognize that I can not trust my own heart because it is deceitfully wicked (Mk. 7:21-23; Jer. 17:9)? Do I recognize that I can not trust my own efforts to save myself (Titus 3:5)? Do I realize that there is absolutely no religious system that can save my soul (Jer. 17:5)? Do I recognize that my righteousness and my goodness fall far short of the righteousness that God requires and demands (Rom. 3:10-12; 1 Cor. 6:9-10)? Do I realize that, apart from Christ, I can never be acceptable to God (Isa. 64:6)?

Do I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s solution to my sin problem (Acts 4:12)? Do I recognize Him as the only way to God (Jn. 14:6), the only Door to salvation (Jn. 10:9), the only Savior for me as a sinner (Matt. 1:21), and the only One who can give me eternal life (Jn. 10:28; 17:3)? Do I understand that Jesus Christ is God (Jn. 1:1-3), and that He came as a man in order to save me (Jn. 1:14; 3:17; Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Tim. 1:15)? Am I convinced that He loved me even when I was a sinner (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8), and that He died and rose again to save my soul (Rom. 4:25)? Am I totally persuaded that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that, out of love for me, He died in my place, paying the full penalty for my sins (Isa. 53:6; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18)?

Am I trusting in Him, and in Him alone, to save me (Acts 16:31)? Have I come to Him in simple, child-like faith (Matt. 11:28; Jn. 6:35, 37)? Have I, by faith, personally received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior (Jn. 1:12)? Am I entirely resting on Him (Jn. 8:24), on what He has done (1 Cor. 15:3-4), and on what He has said (John 6:47)? Do I believe that He is able to completely save all those who come unto God through Him, including me (Heb. 7:25)? Do I believe the statement of Christ found in John 5:24? Is John 3:16 true of me? Have I ever shared with others that Jesus Christ is my Savior (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10)? Am I able to say from my heart: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand—all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand!” [Edward Mote]?

Another helpful question that I can ask myself is this: If I were to die today and stand before God and He should ask me, “Why should I allow you to enter My holy heaven?” Could I honestly say to God, "You shouldn't, but I believe what Your Word says about Your love for me expressed in Your Son's death, burial and resurrection. You have made me acceptable in Him."?


Monday, September 5, 2011


Why should we study the topic? It is an extremely important topic, because this sin results in eternal damnation. Do not all sins result in damnation? If a man fails to accept Jesus Christ, the answer is yes. But his rejection of Jesus and His payment for his sin IS the unpardonable sin! All sins can be forgiven, except this one. Jesus said that anyone who commits this sin shall NOT be forgiven, neither in this age, nor in the age to come (Matt. 12:32). This is the most solemn warning Jesus ever uttered. Another reason for studying the unpardonable sin is to be able to help people who are worried that they have committed this sin, and that forgiveness is no longer possible for them. We need to have solid answers for those who think that there is no hope of ever being saved.

If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, that He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures, you have been given that faith by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8-13; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Eph. 2:8). In other words, the Holy Spirit is still working to bring you to Jesus; you have NOT committed the unpardonable sin. Remember, He is God, and as God, He knows when your rejection of Jesus is final (Acts 5:3-4). If He is still convicting you, then the last time you said no, He knew that it was "not your final answer."

What about a Christian; can he commit the unpardonable sin? The answer to this question is clearly “NO.”
"...whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE. 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. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn. 3:15-18).

Notice that the verb, "believeth," is present tense. The believer need only ask himself, "Do I believe (place my complete trust) in Jesus?" If the answer is yes, he has not committed the unpardonable sin; he is saved. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:3, "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the rejection of His gift of faith in Christ, is rooted in the heart of man (Matt. 12:35). Our words reflect the inner condition of our heart. On the Day of Judgment, man will give an account of every word (Matt. 12:36). Our words give evidence of our true spiritual state. “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant” (Lk.19:22). Just as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit indicates a hardened heart to the Gospel, the believer’s speech should bear witness to his new life in Christ (Col. 4:6). Let every believer use his voice to bring glory and honor and praise to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Can the unpardonable sin happen today? The answer is both NO and YES. The reason your answer is correct if you answered "NO," is that it cannot be exactly duplicated today, because Jesus Christ is not standing in our midst performing spectacular miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, which unmistakably confirmed that He was Israel's long-awaited Messiah.

There is also a reason you would be correct if you said "YES." The convicting work of the Holy Spirit has not changed; He still provides the lost individual with the faith necessary to accept Jesus as both Lord and Savior. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul wrote that we are given faith to believe. Since it is the Holy Spirit who "visits us" when He chooses, and since He is the Agent whereby a lost person has the opportunity to become born again, it is quite clear that "His visit" is to offer the gift of faith. John wrote:
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:3-8).

In the Greek, the word translated "wind" in verse eight is πνεῦμα (pneuma), and in the same verse, the word translated "Spirit" is πνεὐματος (pneumatos). They are the same word. In addition, pneuma is also translated "breath." Most Bible students believe it was the Spirit of God who breathed into Adam "the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7).

It is my opinion that the Holy Spirit, from time to time, convicts the lost individual that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He gives man the faith required to believe, and when he accepts the Gospel message as truth, the Holy Spirit breathes into him spiritual life: he was born of water (natural birth), and he is now born again (spiritual birth). To deny the convicting work of the Spirit is to call Him a liar. And that is unpardonable!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


This series is written with permission, and is based upon materials offered online by Middletown Bible Church (

There is only one sin that cannot be forgiven, and that is the rejection of Jesus Christ as one's Savior. If a person continues to reject the only Person who can save him, then how can he be saved? If a person, drowning in the ocean, refuses to grab the lifeline, then how can he be saved? If a person is in a doomed plane and is given a parachute, but refuses to use it, how can he be saved? If a sinner rejects God’s only remedy for sin, how can he hope to be saved? There is salvation in no other Person (Acts 4:12).

The unpardonable sin is described as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (rejecting His testimony concerning Christ - Matt. 12:31-32). Remember, the Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself (Jn.16:13); His ministry is to point to Jesus Christ and to glorify Him (Jn. 16:13). In John 16:8-11 we learn that the Spirit’s ministry is to reprove the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. In other words, the Spirit of God’s ministry is to convince men that they are sinners in need of salvation. Sinners deserve God’s judgment and they need God’s righteousness. The Spirit’s ministry is to convince men that Jesus Christ is man's only source of that righteousness.

In Matthew 12, the Spirit of God was doing a great work. He was working through the Son of God, performing an amazing healing miracle, defeating the powers of darkness and demonstrating to the Jewish people that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the King of Israel. The general populace got the message (Matt. 12:23), but the heart-hardened religious leaders rejected the light they were given. Instead of receiving the Spirit’s testimony, they spoke against Him and said, “He (Jesus Christ) hath an unclean spirit” (Mk. 3:29). Christ was possessed by the Spirit of God, but they accused Him of being possessed by a demon. The One who was filled with the Spirit was accused of being a tool of the devil.

Why is this sin unpardonable? This sin is unpardonable because the person is unwilling to follow the path that leads to pardon. This sin cannot be forgiven because the person persistently refuses God’s way of forgiveness. If a person refuses the only remedy, then it is impossible for him to be cured.

The key to understanding this involves recognizing the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation. It is His job is to bring people to Christ. A person who blasphemes the Spirit is slandering and rejecting the only One who can lead him to a place of saving faith. It is impossible to be saved if a person persists in saying “NO” to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, September 2, 2011


It should be clear by now that believing in God is not enough. Satan knows He exists, and billions in our world religiously acknowledge there is a God. But the problem is, the vast majority do not know who He is, and of those who do, the vast majority of them do not have a Father-child relationship with Him. In other words, they are not born again. Obviously, what one believes about God matters. Today, I want to share with you the doctrinal statement of the church I attend. I pray you attend a church that is in agreement with us.

WE BELIEVE that the Bible is the perfect and complete Word of God; that every word of it is inspired by God, all of it was written down without any errors by its original writers, and that God has preserved it in its entirety for every generation including ours today.
WE BELIEVE that the LORD is the one true God, the creator of all that is, eternally existing in three persons: the Deity or Godhead consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, fully divine, and the virgin born son of man, fully human; that He existed uncreated with the Father before time began, was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and died, shedding His blood on the cross as the sacrifice for human sin, to ransom us to God; that He was buried but rose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He ever lives to make intercession for us.
WE BELIEVE in the Holy Spirit, Who convicts sinners of their sin and Who lives inside all Christians, empowering them, as they yield to Him, to live lives pleasing to Christ, to confess and forsake their sins, and to tell the lost of God’s saving love.
WE BELIEVE that man was created by God in His own image, but that because of Adam’s sin, all people have become sinners, condemned in the eyes of a Holy God, and separated from Him.
WE BELIEVE that a person is saved from the condemnation of sin, and born into the family of God, when he, repentant of his sin, believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, calling on Him to be his Savior.
WE BELIEVE in The Church, made up of all who have been saved by faith in Christ; and that God has established local churches to preach the gospel, make disciples of all nations, and encourage each other to obey Christ’s commandments; that everyone who is saved, and only those who are saved, should be baptized by immersion as a testimony to what Christ has done in their lives; and that believers should celebrate the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him until He comes.
WE BELIEVE in created spiritual beings: good angels, who do God’s will; and Satan, the author of all sin, who, with his demons, opposes God.
WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ will come again for His saints; the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive and remain shall meet Him with them in the clouds to be ever with the Lord; we believe that the lost will be raised from the dead in the Last Day; that everyone’s work will be judged by Jesus Christ; that those who have rejected Christ will suffer eternal punishment, with the devil and his angels, in the lake of fire; and that the elect, those saved by God’s grace, will live forever with Him in Heaven.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


When a person says, "I believe in God," what exactly does that mean? Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Masons, etc. believe in God. In fact, even Satan and his minions believe there is a God (Jam. 2:19). Obviously, not all of those who believe in God will spend eternity with Him. But why not? Abraham believed God, and God declared him to be righteous because of it (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23). Doesn't that mean that all one has to do is believe, and they are thereby made righteous? The answer to that is a resounding "No!"

Man has devised thousands of religions throughout history, and just as when he has made graven images and idols to worship, he has chosen to worship a god of his own making. He has reversed the process, and instead of man being created in God's image and likeness, he has imagined a god in his likeness. The Apostle Paul wrote:
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom. 1:22-25).

So, in other words, righteousness comes from worshiping the real God, the only God, Whom the New Testament reveals is manifested in three Persons (Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; Jn. 14:16, 26; Acts 2:33; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; etc.). When Abraham believed God, He was not aware that God was a Trinity, because that revelation came with the Advent of Jesus Christ.

But what about those religions that believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Does that mean those folks are saved? Not necessarily. For it is one thing to believe that God exists, and quite a different thing to believe what He says. Abraham didn't just believe God exists, he believed what God said. I would remind you that the Jews and Satan's fallen angels believe He exists. But the difference is, they do not believe in Him; they do not believe His Word. I am from Missouri, and like James, I will believe you believe when I see your fruit; he wrote:
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (Jam. 2:17-20).