Friday, December 21, 2012

The Wise Will Shine

Those who are wise shall shine

"Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever." Dan 12:3

"At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! "My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."Matt 11:25-30(NLT)

1. Then a great mysterious sight appeared in the sky.

"Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars." Rev 12:1

In this vision, the woman is symbolic of God’s people in both the Old and New testaments. (Church in the wilderness. Acts 8:37) At the right time, Jesus was born of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law (Gal. 4.4). There is a continuity between the Jewish church and the church of Christ (see Heb. 9:15).

In Rev. 12, verses 1-6 form one central idea - God‘s act in history! The sun: the New Testament [the Christian system]. The moon: The Old Testament [the Law]. Twelve stars: the twelve apostles. To give birth: The Incarnation [Christ taking human form]. Another mysterious sight appeared in the sky. In this vision, the huge red dragon is Satan, The seven heads, ten horns, and the crowns are a lot like those of the beast in Rev. 17. These can be understood as symbolic of the Roman Empire, but Satan uses all the governments of the world against Christ and His church.

"For we have to struggle not with blood and flesh but with the angelic Rulers, the angelic Authorities, the potentates of the dark present, the spirit-forces of evil in the heavenly sphere. So take God's armour, that you may be able to make a stand upon the evil day and hold your ground by overcoming all the foe."    Eph 6:12-13 (MOFF)

2. Yet God is in control. Satan’s plans are frustrated by God. Even before Creation God had planned for the Eternal Word to come in flesh & blood among the sons and daughters of Adam.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love..." Eph 1:3-4

a) Satan cast out of heaven.

"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." Rev 12:10-12

b) The woman is protected.

"But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." Rev 12:14

"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself." Exodus 19:4

"The church needs to know that its present struggles and sufferings are not a sign that God has gone to sleep on the job. They are the sign that a great, cosmic drama is being staged, in which they are being given a vital though terrible role to play."  Wright

c) Satan desperately tries but fails.

"So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth." Rev 12:15-16

"The decisive battle has been won, and the devil knows it; but his basic nature of ‘accuser’ is now driving him, more and more frantically, to the attack, to accuse where it’s justified and where it isn’t, to drag down, to slander, to vilify, to deny the truth of what the creator God and His Son, the Lamb, have accomplished and are accomplishing. This is the ongoing battle in which all Christians are engaged, whether they know it or not." Wright

Thursday, December 13, 2012



This is an outline for study. Simplicity in 2 Corinthians 1:12 KJV translates haplotes. Frank or frankness is one possible translation. Free, forthright, honest, sincere, godly sincerity, plain unembellished truth, holiness. Simplicity is the opposite of duplicity. Paul conducted himself with frankness and godly purity as he preached Christ to the Corinthians.

Christ has made us FREE! [Romans 5:1; Galatians 5:1]. I propose using the word FRANK to describe the Christian Freedom seen in the life of Paul and the other apostles. I propose that this freedom is the Mind of Christ [John 8:28-29,34-36; Romans 8:1-4].

Note that Jesus spoke of the Judgment in terms of love, sharing, relationships, concern for others, things which are not usually on the rigorist agenda [Matt. 25:31ff].

Christian "frankness" is the type of attitude which set Paul free from the old restraints of Jewish doctrine and legalism. Frankness made Martin Luther strike out for the liberty he found in God's Word. This Christian frankness makes people more spiritual rather than less. It grows out of the expansion of Christian life. It is emphasis on positive convictions rather than negative denials. It points us to great aims to live for, great convictions to live by, great faith undergirding life, and great hope ahead! Christian frankness is sacrificially in earnest about establishing God's will in all the earth.

If one cares about the future of mankind, there is no cause on earth for which one could better pray and work for than spiritual renewal and the spread of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Fundamentalism: As the word is used in the news, it means rigorism, the quality of being inflexible, unyielding; harshness, severity - all in a bad sense. Such as Islamic Fundamentalists. The world has been suddenly shocked by the actions of Islamic Fundamentalists.

Religious rigoristic people were the most intense enemies of Jesus. Jesus respected and obeyed God's law. He stressed Spirit in contrast to letter. [Note 2 Cor. 3:6-18.] Jesus touched dead bodies, repealed the dietary laws, didn't punish the woman taken in adultery, etc. He valued human need above law keeping: "the Sabbath was made for man, etc." Since He did not sin - what He did was right! Just what God had intended.

1. Christ was frank in relation to the Law of Moses. It was Jesus who really took the Law seriously. "I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" [Matt. 5:17-19].

2. Frank is usually safer. The rigorist wants to keep it Just Like It Was. God calls us to be renewed day by day [2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16-18].

3. Frank is the logical consequence of convictions. Paul speaks of simplicity in 2Corinthians 1:12 KJV. Simplicity translates as frankness, openness, liberality [in the Bible sense], freedom. "For freedom did Christ set us free" [Gal. 5:1 ASV]. God calls us to love others and serve others just as Jesus did, by the power of the same Holy Spirit and in the same gracious freedom.

4. History bolsters the belief of the frank. Attacks upon the Christian faith often come from those who wish to impose their standards of rigorism on others. The history of the church since Pentecost shows this to be true. Note the Jerusalem conference in Acts15.

5. The frank understands that Satan is intent on diverting attention from the real issues. The rigorist, with good intentions, may "tithe mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith" [Matthew 23:23]. Jesus said: "If you have done it to one of the least important brothers, you have done it to Me." Salvation and abundant life are God's priorities. [John 3:16-17; 10:10].

6. Frank Christianity provides the future with a needed option. Christian grandparents want their grandchildren to know Jesus Christ. The frank Christian elevates and honors Jesus. The rigorist often elevates forms and ritual and even the local church, but neglects Jesus. Children will read in our lives the importance which we place on Jesus Christ.

7. Being a frank Christian tends to distance oneself from rigorism's "white hot but loveless zeal" toward those with whom they disagree. A frank Christian can disagree without being disagreeable. Note the warning to the church at Ephesus [Revelation 2]. They had left their first love: they no longer loved Jesus as they did at first. Zeal cannot substitute for love and faithfulness [Romans 10:1-4].

8. The frank Christian welcomes the freedom which Christ brings. He accepts the search to know Christ Jesus and to follow the Golden Rule in relating to others "For the commandments.. are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" [Romans 13:9]. Contrast this with the yoke which the ancestors could not bear [Acts 15:10-11].

9. The frank Christian believes God has acted to reveal His will in Jesus Christ. God has spoken in Jesus Christ [Hebrews 1:2]. Thus anything man does in principle to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, he does to God the Father. Man cannot love God without first loving his brother/sister [1 John 4:19-21]. God has frozen in time His Will demonstrated in Jesus Christ. We look to His example in the four Gospels - which were written so that we might know the certainty of Jesus (Luke 1:1-4.]

10. Three tests of faith. These are, I think, the three tests of effective Christian frankness:

1) this frankness springs from the growth and deepening of the spiritual life;

2) this frankness integrates in the centers of positive faith and affirmation;

3) this frankness results in a more devoted, efficient, constructive builder of the Christian Kingdom and civilization.

"But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ..." [Ephesians 4:15].

There are some tests of faith and relationship in the New Testament:

1. Jesus is the WORD who "incarnated" and actually came into our world. HE came with the water of His baptism and the blood of His death - actually experiencing these things. HE was tempted in every way that we are. But HE did not sin! [note 1 John 4:1-3; 5:5-13; 2 John 7; 1 Cor. 12:3; Hebrews 4:14-16]

2. HE did not "wear a disguise" but actually participated in human life on our level. HE "emptied Himself" to do this (but did not cease to be God). [Phil. 2:5-11]

3. We worship ONE GOD who is a TRINITY. Father-Son-Spirit. This is a great mystery - yet we ourselves are body-soul-spirit [1 Thess. 5:23]. We must take the Triune God in His Fullness: HE is a "package deal." [Note 1John 2:22-23; John 5:23; 15:23.]

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Let Earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing. (song #376)

At this season of the year the Babe of Bethlehem is lifted up in many ways. The voices of controversy cannot drown out the shout of angels: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11 (NKJV)

"According to Rassmusen Reports, 78 percent of Americans believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins; 79 percent of Americans say religious holidays should be celebrated in public schools, and 70 percent prefer "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays" on store signs."

1. The Church took notice of the Birth of Jesus the Christ.

a) To know the certainty of what we believe.

"Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." Luke 1:1-4 (NKJV)

b) God acted through Mary.

"And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35 (NKJV)

c) God’s Angels spoke of a Savior.

"Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11 (NKJV)

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:13-14 (NKJV)

2. The Eternal Word became flesh & blood.

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"  Gal 4:4-6 (NKJV)

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (NKJV)

"For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." John 1:17-18 (NKJV)

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NKJV)

a) Son of God - the Human One.

"When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Matt 3:16-17 (NKJV)

b) Savior of the world.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-18 (NKJV)

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." John 12:31-32 (NKJV)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012




Today the Christian Ledger is interviewing Brother Levi Sandals.  We have had serious differences with him in the past.  But we want to give him a fair chance to explain.  Jesus said to go first to your brother.


Ledger:  Thank you for speaking with us.  We thought it important to hear from you personally.  Things have a way of being distorted when passed on from one mouth to another.  We want to continue with things you said in our former interview.


Sandals:  I am always happy to talk about Jesus!  He is so important to me.


L: You said something about people wearing blinders when they read the Bible.


S: Yes.  Paul spoke of this.  “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.”  2 Cor 3:14 (NKJV)


“But when we turn our lives back towards the Boss, the mask is taken off. The Boss is the Spirit of God, and wherever God’s Spirit is, there’s freedom. We’ve got our masks off and God’s brilliance is bouncing off our faces; it’s changing us – our features are evolving; we’re looking more and more attractive as God’s Spirit puts plastic surgeons out of work by the thousands. Only our Boss makes us truly beautiful.”  2 Cor 3:16-18  Lacey


I like the way Lacey worded Jesus and the Pharisees in John 5:39-40.  “You got your degrees in the sacred books, PhD’s in books about the sacred books, and you’re convinced they’ll get you into heaven. But for all the points you score – you miss the Point: it’s all about ME! It’s jam-packed with huge stomping clues about ME. But you can’t admit it, ’cos then you’d have to ask ME for the limitless life you want.”


L: We note you are using the NKJV.  What is your reasoning?


S: We fault the Catholics for Latin.  But we have done the same with the ancient language of King James.  The NKJV is a good balance of traditional language and accuracy.  I use many translations and also languages in my study.  But I mostly use the NKJV in the pulpit.  And Paul did say: “he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,”  1 Tim 6:4 (NKJV)


L: And who is Lacey?  You quote him.


S: Lacey was British and had an interesting way of saying things.  He was dying of cancer when he wrote “The Word On The Street.”  This is a commentary on the Bible. He offers a unique insight at times into the original text.


L: Does that conflict with inerrancy?


S: Not at all.  Those inspired writers used the languages spoken on the street in their day.  Surely they wrote just what God wanted them to write.  God speaks all languages and we read them to understand.  Paul said: “There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning.  But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me.”  1 Cor 14:10-11 (NLT)


We need a “poetic soul” to understand the Bible.  Books like Revelation use figures familiar to the Jewish readers of the First Century.  Babylon” was the Roman Empire, but also the “world that is passing away” (1 John 2:15-17).  I like the way the NLT words this.   “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.”


Lacey uses this poetic soul.  “I only pull you up and back into line ’cos I love you. So get serious. Turn your life back round to God. I’m waiting here outside your front door. I’m pressing the buzzer. If you hear my voice on your intercom and press the ‘Enter’ button, I’ll come in with a full-on takeaway and we’ll have a great meal together and put our world to rights.” Rev 3:19-20


Rich Little, an Australian, wrote of this.  “In the months preceding the death of my dear friend, mentor and “American” mum, Barby Smith, she spoke from her heart to a well-known faculty member with whom she differed on many things. She said, “You know, when you’re dying, the things you once thought were most important are not as important anymore, and I’ve wasted a lot of time.” The vision of Christ her King was fixed in her eyes. May He be so in ours as we unite around a common love and service for Him for all who will come and for all to whom we go.” 


L. On a different subject, some are saying science has driven a stake into the heart of the "god delusion."  We watched a video of the science of Dr. Who.  Science is amazing.  Our grandson is learning to program welding robots.  Do you consider this a Bible subject?


S. You must consider everything the Bible does say.  Some “proof-text” the Bible and ignore many things.  Or they do not think through the implications of the Bible.  God created people in His own image.  Anything that science finds is something which God already placed there.  God has given us almost unlimited creativity.  God has given us a mind that can leap ahead to a conclusion that has not followed a complete process of logical development.


L. How do you arrive at this?  What is your reasoning?


S.  The tower of Babel.  Genesis 11.  The NLT brings this out.  “But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!  Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”  Gen 11:5-7 (NLT) 


I believe God gave all the variety of physical characteristics that divide us.  But there is a default value which stabilizes humanity.  Paul said: “From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.”  Acts 17:26 (NLT)


And Paul mentions this to the Corinthians.  “For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” 1 Cor 11:19 (NKJV)


L. Factions, you say.  How do you understand this?


S.  Paul the Apostle said to the Corinthians: “for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? 1 Cor 3:3-4 (NLT)   Some seek to justify their factitious actions as “Standing For The Old Paths.”  Jesus warned about the “leaven of the Pharisees.”   But we demonstrate by our actions our true love for God and for one another.  1 John 3:23-24.


We are actually workers on the same team.  Paul said: “Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.  I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.”  1 Cor 3:5-6 (NLT)


L. This has certainly been interesting.  Let’s get together again soon and continue our interview.






Tuesday, November 27, 2012


PAPER POPE – An Interview


Today the Christian Ledger is interviewing Brother Levi Sandals.  We have had serious differences with him in the past.  But we want to give him a fair chance to explain.  Jesus said to go first to your brother.


Ledger:  Thank you for speaking with us.  We thought it important to hear from you personally.  Things have a way of being distorted when passed on from one mouth to another.


Sandals:  I certainly have been misunderstood in some things I now regret having done.  It did cause me problems.


L: Did you do it?  What we heard, that is.  We were in Christian College at the time.  We were all properly scandalized!  And shocked!


S: Yes.  To my regret I did.  In a fit of emotion I got carried away.  Perhaps you have done this too. 


L: You actually threw your Bible on the floor and said: “I will not be bound by a paper pope.”


S:  In my defense I ask you to listen to what Jesus said.  “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.”  That is what I intended to do. 


L:  Then you do accept the Bible?


S:  I believe that holy men of God wrote just exactly what God intended.  My problem is with some who READ INTO IT things that are not there.  That is what I intended to protest.


L:  But you spoke of a “paper pope.”


S:  Paul wrote: “The letter kills but the Spirit gives life.”  I believe Paul was speaking about the way in which some use the Bible.


L:  But isn’t what Paul said a contrast between Law and Gospel?


S:  Listen to Paul.  “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.”  2 Cor 3:14 (NKJV)   Again, Listen to Christ Himself.  “You search the Scriptures, for in them you THINK you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”  John 5:39-40 (NKJV)


L:  So you are saying with Jesus: “Take heed how you hear.”


S:  That’s what I intended to say.  But you know preachers.  Sometimes we get too involved in what we are trying to communicate.


L:  We remember when a young preacher was trying to emphasize how Naaman had to dip seven times.  “If Naaman had dipped only six and a half times he would not have been saved.”


S:  No, he would have drowned.  That is just my point exactly.  We use the laws of language when we read the newspaper.  We should read the Bible using these same laws of language.


L:  Alexander Campbell said he tried to approach the Bible each day as if he had never seen it before.


S:  Certainly this is impossible.  But we do want to let the Bible speak for itself.  That is, to use the laws of language and context to deduce what the Bible is actually teaching.


S:  This is how Karl Barth describes the shift towards Biblicism that took place in much of Protestantism after the Reformation: The Bible was now grounded upon itself apart from the mystery of Christ and the Holy Ghost. It became a "paper Pope," and unlike the living Pope in Rome it was wholly given up into the hands of its interpreters. It was no longer a free and spiritual force, but an instrument of human power.” (CD I.2, p 525)

Here is where Barth finds the great sin of Biblicism. Rather than submitting to the Word made flesh revealed in the Bible (i.e. Jesus), we have all-to-often submitted simply to the book, to the Bible. Which ultimately takes the authority away from Christ and places it into the hands of the interpreter of Scripture.  And Peter the Apostle said some had twisted the words of Paul the Apostle.


L:  We hear you saying that some by their actions seem to say: “We have the Bible – we have no need for Christ anymore.”


S:  Yes.  And some deny the Holy Spirit as did some Jews in Christ’s day.  They said Jesus did miracles by the power of the devil.


L:  What then do you see as the power of the Bible?


S:  I Think Luke said it in the first verses of his Gospel.  “…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”  Luke 1:4 (NKJV)   As eye-witnesses of JESUS the disciples saw and heard the things which He did and taught.  And Paul (Luke’s mentor) was given these things by inspiration.


L: We sing: “The Light of the World is Jesus!”  Red letter editions emphasize the words Jesus spoke.  And Jesus said we would be judged by the words He has spoken.


S:  I liked the way Rob Lacey emphasized Isaiah 9:6.  “It’s a boy! And He’s ours! He’ll grow up to carry the government on His shoulders. His titles will include Wonderful Wise One, Awesome God, Father Who Stays, Peace Prince. His tranquil rule will just keep on spreading. He’ll sit on David’s throne and run a kingdom full of justice and goodness right into eternity. God’s burning enthusiasm will see this is done.”


L: And we say Amen!  We are pleased to be able to join you as brothers in Christ to proclaim the everlasting Gospel!





Sunday, November 18, 2012




I grew up in Depression years.  On our small farm we had apples and pears and lots of berries.  Grandmother canned some things and dried others.  We had little money but lots of good things to eat.  At Christmas time the small church we attended gave candy and things to the children.  My prize gift to receive was an orange – one solitary orange.  But to this small child, it was a priceless gift.  Nothing tasted so delicious as that orange!  The context is that there were no supermarkets yet and fresh fruit in the winter was almost impossible to find.


Later, working in an office, gifts were exchanged at Christmas time.  Good cheer and good times.  But one gift that always showed up was a desiccated orange.  It was an old orange that had dried up and mummified.  It was supposed to be funny.  Wrapped in beautiful paper with silver seals, but when you opened it!  Good for a laugh but nothing else.  It was now just a hard dry skin, useless.


It was a real orange from a tree.  It once had tasty juice and pulp.  But it gradually dried up and died.  It still looked like an orange, pale color, round, and we called it our orange.  But it was desiccated, worthless, only a gag gift.


Congregations can go through the process like that orange.  Paul the apostle wrote: “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Tim 3:5 (NKJV).  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Power cannot be separated from form.  Just as faith without works is a form without substance (James 2:26), so is religion (pattern) without power.  You may have the most expensive car, but if you remove the battery, I won’t run.  You need the power.


Some lose their first love of Christ and wither.  Some preachers listen to harsh preaching on tapes and then repeat those things word for word.  A woman at a tiny congregation came to the preacher in the parking lot.  “Don’t you like anything about us?  What could we do to please you?”  He had preached harshly about how you must sing even if you have a sore throat.  A congregation about to call a new preacher said: “But he preaches such wonderfully harsh sermons!”  Then in a month they put him out of the pulpit.


Congregations can go through a process that leaves them like that old orange.   Jesus warned: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1 (NKJV).   Paul spoke of “will worship.”  “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Col 2:23 (NKJV).   Some champion “old paths” but we ask: Whose old paths are they???  The New Testament church was filled with life and spiritual vigor.  We read: “praising God and having favor with all the people."  Acts 2:47 (NKJV).

Walter Scott wrote a booklet “The Holy Ghost.”  .  It was bound with Campbell’s The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 2 (1831).   “CHRISTIANITY, as developed in the Sacred Oracle, is sustained by three divine missions--the mission of Jesus, the mission of the Apostles, and the mission of the Holy Spirit.”  And: “Here, then, we have the descent of the great spiritual missionary into the body of Christ, the church; from which moment he has never left it, and never can leave it; for while the personal mission of Jesus to the Jews, and that of the Apostles to the world, were only temporary, the mission of the Spirit into the body of Christ is an eternal matter--even death cannot annul it.  "For if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you," says Paul, "he that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." "He shall abide with you forever."


God is more generous than we are.  Even when we focus intently on form, power is there also.  Picture a man sitting, always looking down at the dust and debris at his feet, searching for something of value.  And above his head is a gold crown.  He needs just to reach up and take it.  The Psalmist wrote: “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.”  Psalms 130:3-4 (NKJV).


The message of the Gospel is the GOD who loves us and calls us through Jesus Christ – the Eternal Word who came in flesh & blood, skin & bones – the Lamb who takes away sins.  “Law” sells well.  “Obedience” is necessary – but notice John the Apostle.  “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”  1 John 3:22-23 (NKJV).


PS: Moses Lard, was an old preacher who sometimes seemed very harsh.  Shortly before his death he said something like this.  “If I had my life to live over, I would still preach the same gospel.  But I would preach it more with a sense of: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”








Saturday, November 10, 2012

God's Power Never Fails

God's Power Never Fails!

   "Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep.  And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps.  Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."  So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?"  Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."  So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the Lord of hosts."  Zech 4:1-6 (NKJV)  [compare Rev. 11:1-6  Two olive trees: Moses & Elijah.]


   1. Think of the church as being on life support.

   "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  Acts 1:8

   "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness..... And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all."  Acts 4:31,33

   "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.  We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit."  Eph 2:19-22 (NLT)


   2. Speaking to be understood

   Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:"  Acts 17:22-23

   Paul the Apostle looked out on a world which would be won for Christ.  To those who had no Bible background, Paul preached the gospel using their frame of reference.

   a) GOD is Creator of all.

   b) GOD is the giver of life.

   c) GOD wants everyone to seek Him.

   d) Repent - change your heart and life.

   e) GOD will judge the World.

   f) GOD raised Christ Jesus from the dead.

   "It makes a difference whether you see the body of flesh as a prison-house of the soul, or as the temple of the Holy Spirit."  Brinsmead


   3. God has a plan for each of us.

   "But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.  Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord God, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"  Ezek 18:21-23

   "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  John 3:16-17

   "God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.  Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; For You render to each one according to his work."  Psalms 62:11-12

   a) By His power He can show both mercy and justice.

   "If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared."  Psalms 130:3-4

   "Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins." Heb 9:14 (NLT)

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Thinking Straight

"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown." Rev 3:10-11

"The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call on the Lord?" Psalms 14:2-4

"Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Cor 6:11 (NLT)

Idolatry. Few of us know anyone who worships birds or snakes. Forms of idolatry may have changed, but human hearts have not. Some claim science has driven a stake into the heart of the "god delusion." But blindness to the knowledge of God leaves mankind in the dark about himself.

Foolishness. Without the light of God, we could not answer the basic questions of life. Where have I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? How can I find happiness? Is there life after death?

He made them male and female. Eve was a companion- counterpart of Adam. The male/female principle extends throughout Creation. Having suppressed the truth of God revealed in Creation, man now suppresses the truth about himself. Male and female is meant to be fruitful and life-giving team of a man and a woman.

Approving of sin. "The rejection of God is not the end result of a clear, logical, innocent, pursuit of truth or the end result of human progress, It is a decision of the human will; it is voluntary blindness." Herbeck

Wake! "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." Eph 5:14

Man is free to choose God or to reject Him. Man is free to "create" his own worldview and way of life. But, man is not free to avoid the consequences of his own decisions.

The Mind of Christ! In the face of Jesus, Paul saw for the first time, the truth about his own life. In the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5) Paul came to see the "secret and hidden wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 2:6-7). God's mercy was a gift (Eph. 3:1-7)!

New beginnings.

"I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself." Eph 1:19-23 (NLT)

Honor and praise.

When the church is being the church, we will find a spirit among people that honors and praises the Christ of the Gospel. If honor and praise is not present, something is wrong. Also, we should find character that is Christ-like.

"If you want a happy life and good days,

keep your tongue from speaking evil,

and keep your lips from telling lies.

Turn away from evil and do good.

Work hard at living in peace with others.

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,

and His ears are open to their prayers.

But the Lord turns His face

against those who do evil."

1 Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Be Filled With The Spirit

Be Filled With The Holy Spirit

As the world thinks of ghost & goblins, remember the ONE who is HOLY. "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." [1 John 4:4]

"For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection--and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both." Acts 23:8 (NKJV)

"Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Eph 5:18-20 (NLT)

The goal is not to abandon the world, but to keep ourselves IN CHRIST and salvage as much as possible from this evil world. Christians do renounce the falseness of the world, but do not reject Creation itself.

Following repentance (change your heart and life), a surge of Holy Joy springs up! But a kind of joy can spring up from darkness also. The temporary joy of wine will ruin your life. For Christians the Holy Spirit gives true HOLY JOY. This JOY is the New Testament worship of GOD who is Father, Son, Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). In the Lord's Supper we give thanks to the Father through the Son. Wine will ruin your life. But he who is filled with the Holy Spirit is rooted in Christ and is gloriously sober. Quoting Scripture and singing hymns would not be spiritual if there if not also humility, submission and the fear (reverence) for God.

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will." Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

Helps. "He greatly assists or aids us."

Our weakness. Assists us in our infirmities, or aids us to bear them. The weaknesses to which we are subject, and to our various trials in this life. The Spirit helps us in this,

(1.) by giving us strength to bear them;

(2.) by encouraging us to make efforts to sustain them;

(3.) by showing us power, and truth, and our Christian blessings, which help us to endure our trials.

For we know not. This tells us of the aid which the Holy Spirit gives us. The reasons why Christians do not know what to pray for may be -

(1.) that we do not know what would be really best for us. (2.) we do not know what God might be willing to grant us. (3.) we are to a great extent ignorant of the character of God, the reason of His dealings, the principles of His government, and our own real needs.

(4.) we are often in real, deep perplexity. We are encompassed with trials, exposed to temptations, feeble by disease, and subject to calamities. In these circumstances, if left alone, we would neither be able to bear the trials, nor know what to ask at the hand of God.

Strength in weakness.

Mr. Christmas Evans (in the 1800s) now made a solemn promise to God, made, as he says, "under a deep sense of the evil of his heart, and in dependence upon the infinite grace and merit of the Redeemer." Some of this renewed determination can be seen in the following. [I have revised the language.]

1. "I give my soul and body to You, Jesus, true God and eternal life. Deliver me from sin, and from eternal death, and bring me into life everlasting. Amen."

2. "I call on the day, the sun, the earth, the trees, the stones, the bed, the table, and the books, to witness that I come to You, Redeemer of sinners, that I may obtain rest for my soul from the thunders of guilt and the dread of eternity."

3. "I do, through confidence in Your power, ask You to give me a circumcised heart of love for You, and create in me a right spirit, that I may seek Your glory. Grant me that strength which You will confess in the day of judgment, that I may hear You speak my name. Grant me this, for the sake of Your Most Precious Blood. Amen."

4. "I plead with You, Jesus, Son of God, in Your power, grant me, by Your agonizing death, a covenant-interest in Your blood, which cleanses; in Your righteousness, which justifies; and in Your redemption, which delivers. As You have tasted death for all men, grant me eternal life. Amen."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012





      ”Shouldn’t there be a standard church for your Bible?”  “When you visit a church in a distant city, shouldn’t it be a clone of your home church?”  “What happened to the Church I remember from my childhood?”


      This from some Sci-Fi things I borrowed and rewrote.  Note this is a parody but also a parable. 


      What might a standard church be like?  Would there be a three-ring manual giving exact details of all the services down to the smallest detail?  Would all the churches (buildings) be clones of the pattern?  Sci-Fi writers ask what if a brotherhood of churches were set up as a franchise, much like the Fast Food Industry does.


      The entrance room of First Church is, of course, just like all the others in the franchise.  A picture of Evangelist Brother Billy-Bob is placed so you will see it as you enter.  A stylized picture of Jesus receives the emphasis.  A counter sits to one side, done up in fake wood so it looks like something from an old church. Behind the counter, an elderly lady sits, a flimsy sort of choir robe thrown over her shoulders.


       There's a little rack along the front of the counter bearing gospel tracts, free for the taking, donation requested. The lady types some stuff into the computer. The worshiper snaps her Visa © card down on the fake wood counter top; it sounds like a rifle shot. The lady pries the card up, then she swipes the card through its electromagnetic slot with a carefully modulated sweep of the arm, as though tearing back a veil, hands over the slip, mumbling that she needs a signature and daytime phone number.  Since cash and checks are no longer used, the collection must be taken up before the service.  (We are in a cashless society.  We are to “lay by in store.”)


Then it just remains for the “Word from On High.” But computers and communications are awfully good these days, and it usually doesn't take longer than a couple of seconds to perform a charge-card verification. The little machine beeps out its approval code. "Thank you for your donation," the lady says, slurring the words together into a single syllable.


       The worshipper hurried toward the double doors. The song leader had already walked to his place to convene the service. The interior of the church is weirdly colored.  Fluorescent fixtures are wedged into the ceiling.  Large colored light boxes simulate stained-glass windows. The largest of these, shaped like a fattened Gothic arch, is bolted to the back wall, above the pulpit, and features a waterfall pouring into a river basin.  The baptistery is placed beneath this.  The song leader announces the first number and the singing begins.


       Again, this is both a parody and a parable.  It is the worshipper who is being served and involved.  We NEED fellowship (koinonia), sharing and intimacy, in whatever form we choose.  “Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24 Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.”  Heb 10:23-25 (TEV)


        See “Time For A Standard Church.”



Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Silver Threads Among The Gold

If we knew Armageddon was just around the corner, would it change the way we live now? If we knew we were going to die tomorrow, would this make a difference?

"Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it."  Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 (NLT)

"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life." Proverbs 16:31 (NLT)

1. We all grow older in our world of time.

"The world needs to do more to prepare for the impact of a rapidly aging population, the UN has warned - particularly in developing countries. Within 10 years the number of people aged over 60 will pass one billion, a report by the UN Population Fund said." BBC News

"China's population is aging. By 2050 more than a quarter of the population will be over 65 years old and younger generations face an unprecedented burden of care." BBC News

By 2030 about 1 in 3 West Virginians will be 60 or over. The US will average about 1 in 4 over 60.

The number of centenarians (age 100+) in the world is projected to increase from fewer than 316,600 in 2011 to 3.2 million in 2050.

a) "Population control" adds to the problem.

Many babies are not allowed to be born. And gender selection is being practiced by some.

Lianyungang, a booming port city, has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. Asia now has 163 million females "missing" from its population. Gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia. The world, therefore, is becoming increasingly male, and this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval.

b) Many are living longer.

"This rising proportion of older people is a consequence of success - improved nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, education and economic well-being are contributing factors, the report says." BBC News

"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people." Matt 4:23

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities." 1 Tim 5:23

c) As the flower of the field.

King David breathed pure air, drank unpolluted water, ate unprocessed organically grown food, yet died at age 70.

But Moses: "Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever." Deut 34:7 (NLT)

"The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Psalms 90:10

"As the Scriptures say, "People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever." And that word is the Good News [Gospel] that was preached to you."
1 Peter 1:24-25 (NLT) [Isaiah 40:6-8] Gospel is an old word that means Good News.

"I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God."  Ecclesiastes 3:10-13

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Holy Fire in the Fireplace

Holy Fire In The Fireplace

The One Spiritual Church is the FIREPLACE in which the Holy Fire of The Holy Spirit burns. Compare the Burning Bush. Exodus 3:2-6; Mount Horeb, Deuteronomy 4:15.

"We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat." Heb 13:10

"And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" Luke 24:32

1. God must be in some sense like man if the two are to relate. In biblical language, man is made in the image of God.

"For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:

"What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor,

And set him over the works of Your hands." Hebrews 2:5-7

a) Of course, that image has been distorted by sin, but we should be able to understand something of God from our knowledge of man. The characteristics of man necessary for relationship include abilities to love and hate, moral consciousness, emotion and language, and all of these are seen as reflections of corresponding characteristics of God. The Christian God is a personal God.

2. The essence of God includes relationship. How can this be, if God is one, and yet existed before He had created anyone to relate to? The answer is that from eternity God has related to Himself, loved Himself, communicated with Himself. Remember: He is GOD. This is certainly a mystery, which the Christian describes in terms of the Trinity.

The Bible speaks of Jesus Christ as one with God, as existing from eternity, and as active in creation; and it speaks of the Holy Spirit as existing with and being of one nature with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. To say that the three are one accurately summarizes the biblical material, but brings problems in itself. Other writers have discussed these: here, we note only the insight it gives to the eternal love, communication and relationship in God. Note 2 Cor. 13:14.

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."

3. God is the One who is revealed in history. Thus we can see what God is like from what He has done. He is more often described as the God of Israel or the Father of Jesus Christ than in terms of His characteristics, so we can expect to understand Him best through accounts of His actions and through personal experience of His actions towards us. Thus it will often be more appropriate to describe God as One who
DOES something rather than One who IS something. Supremely, God is a God who Creates, who Loves, and who Saves. He is also a God who judges and destroys wickedness.

a) The supreme revelation of God in history is in Jesus Christ. ‘No man has ever seen God; the Only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known’ (Jn. 1: 18).

"And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

b) The question, ‘What is God like?’ is ultimately to be answered through a study of the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament records.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." Col 1:15-16

"...who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," Heb 1:3

"Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor 3:17-18

"The victory is ours, and the battle is the Lord’
s. He packs a stronger punch then you ever could. One of my favorite expressions is, "The victory is ours, and the battle is the Lord’s." There have been many trials in my life, as there are in all of our lives. Jesus said that in the world we would have tribulation, but His exhortation was to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. James tells us to count it all joy when we have trials because these trials will form patience and other character traits of God in us." Linda Sommer