Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mindful Wanderings

Hello to all my readers who have stayed with me through this blog's journey. I must say, I've learned a great deal from this experience, putting my thoughts out into the public, and seeing how so many people can be reached through a single blog. It's been an exciting little journey for me, and I am thankful that you all supported me by reading these things.

But, I nearly fell off the face of the Earth. As you know, I haven't kept up with my blogging, and so this site more or less died off. That was definitely my fault for letting things get in the way of my writing, and as such I am sorry.

Now I am back in the blogging sphere, where I hope to stay. In an effort to make a more permanent and personal blog, I've just started Mindful Wanderings. This blog will be a bit more broad in the topics that it discusses, such as art, philosophy, biology, theology, and even some possibly random topics.

I hope that you all will decide to come along with me on my search for knowledge and wisdom (i.e. please follow my new blog!!!!).

God Bless.

Monday, September 8, 2014

So kind, I'm sharing

A short while ago this post was written on a certain blog I follow, and I thought I'd share. I found it interesting because of how it pertains to what I would call "intellectual Christianity" - handling Christian doctrine merely as another intellectual endeavor, often seemingly void of any kind of, you know, brokenness or humility, or other similar minor details. It's as if Christianity is just a select flavor of philosophy, and is something to be played with by the mentally elite. The root? Faith in intellect, not God's word. However, in this case, faith in intellect results in saying that faith in God's word is good. That is, after all, the right thing to believe. Long story short, such a mindset can be quite subtle. 1 Timothy addresses this subject, particularly in 1:3-7, 6:3-5, and 6:20-21. For what it's worth, I find it interesting that 1 Corinthians 1:21b says "God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." not "God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who intellectually convinced."
Maybe I'll write a post making mention of how intellectually disappointing the gospel is. Oh wait, I think I did.
In case you missed the (first) link above, here it is in plain language: blog post
Until next time,

Monday, August 25, 2014

Modern Phariseeism

Hey all!
Although I need to take the time to actually write a post of my own, that time is not today. However, I do feel that I should at least post something. So, I have something I would like to share with you all.

In my Bible studying recently, I've been looking at the Pharisees more in depth. So today as I was surfing the web for relevant information, I came across this article on modern day Phariseeism. I was surprised by the insight the author had, and his ability to show me one of the many areas where I have fallen short of God's will for my own life. I hope you all will take the time to read though it, and that it will challenge you just as it has challenged me.

God Bless.                                    

Modern Day Pharisee

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Foolish Wisdom

In our culture, being a Christian is a shameful thing. Actually believing the words on the pages of the Bible the way they were written and submitting to and teaching them is…weird. It is not a popular trend to acknowledge God as Creator and Savior, and it is not the majority who would believe the cross itself in what it really was. This makes Christianity a shameful belief. It doesn’t help that there are a myriad of pseudo-Christian flavors plaguing this generation, with a reputation for corny, shallow beliefs and the songs to match, designed for the emotionally unstable who need a crutch. “Weak ” and “shallow” describe this common form of Christianity well. One good example is the Charismatic movement, which was accurately described by one individual as “the professional wrestling of Christianity”.
                              But moving right along, from the unsaved world’s point of view, believing the cross is a strange thing. How odd to believe in a crucified Jew, and that He was raised from the dead. It doesn’t have intellectual significance or special super-natural signs. It’s just…silly.     
                              But I want to remind us today that this is by design. The cross in and of itself was designed to appear a foolish thing to the world. It is repulsive to those who acknowledge only what their mind can comprehend. It isn’t accepted by those who put faith in their intellect, faith in what makes sense to them. In summary, it is foolishness.
                              Why is this? Why has God designed the cross of Jesus to be void of human wisdom? Why doesn’t it ‘make sense’ to the unbeliever? Don’t we want to win people here?
                              Simple: it was designed to be a shame not to those who believe, but to those who don’t believe. We must know that it is God’s wisdom seen in the cross, not man’s. God cannot be accessed by human intellect. Truth cannot be obtained by human cognition  or brain-power. Given that, God has designed to shame those trusting in their own ability by saving not them, but the weak, the foolish of this world by a seemingly ridiculous message. Further, those saved ‘foolish’ people now become ambassadors of their ‘foolish’ message. The world’s wisdom, knowledge and reason we now see benefit it none, as they contribute nothing to their salvation.
                              Perhaps we might find it tempting, when explaining the gospel, to adjust it to make sense. We are, after all, trying to win this person, and we don’t want to come across as strange to him or her, thus losing credibility in their eyes. So, we capitalize on certain aspects of the gospel to make it less embarrassing. We attempt to make the gospel more palatable by implementing reason and try  to make the gospel fit for our audience.
                              However, when we try to make the message of the cross acceptable by means of our cleverness of speech, we actually make the cross void, empty, and useless. We have just compromised the very power of the message, and replaced it with our own. The cross itself is the wisdom of God – it doesn’t need our help. You should expect it to come across odd; expect to be seen as strange - but don’t tamper with the message. It’s not yours anyway. You, as a Christian have been entrusted with the gospel to simply preach it, not manipulate results. Let God do His work with His word, and don’t replace it with yours.
                              This is what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 1:17ff. When Paul preached the gospel to the Corinthians, he purposefully left out his own “cleverness of speech” in order to fully expose the cross.  Why? Because it was and is by this foolish message that God has chosen to save his children. Verses 23 and 24 of the same chapter read “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
                              Once you tamper with the gospel to make it more appealing, you have done two things: 1) compromised the power of the message, and 2) exchanged the target audience of the message. If you preach something that makes sense to the world, they’ll hear that. However, they won’t be saved by it. Further, don’t forget that, as Paul said, it is those who are the called who will believe this message and are  saved by it. This is the only message by which they will be saved. They are your target audience – preach their message so that they might be saved . (I am obviously not saying that those who will be saved own the gospel, but merely associating it with them in that it is only by the gospel that they are saved.) You don’t know who the called are. Your job is simply to preach and let God be concerned with who believe and those who don’t. Your faithfulness to the Word of God will result in the hardening of some. You can’t help that. Their death sentence is their intellect, because it excludes them from believing in the foolish message of the gospel, which is also the only message that rescues sinners from eternal judgment. This is not a trite thing, and I do not want to come across as heartless. But this is reality. The unloving, cold, heartless, and downright hateful thing to do would be to not explain the actual gospel to them, remembering that you have no idea as to whether or not God will use it to save them or harden them. This is not an arrogant in-your-face approach, as that itself compromises the gospel by introducing pride. You want you to get out of the way and simply be a mouthpiece for the Word of God. The example we have of this is Christ Himself, Who was gentle, humble in heart, giving rest to those who came to Him – not a burden. And, it was for the sake of those whom would receive that rest that He aggressively attacked the Jewish religious leaders, refuting them and their teaching as publicly as they had asserted themselves and their teaching (Matthew 23).
                              So I challenge you, fellow Christian; do you understand the gospel well enough to teach it clearly so that the gospel, and only the gospel, may be the content of your evangelism? Are you tempted to assist the gospel, making mention of only certain parts of it, leaving the more ‘embarrassing’ and ‘strange’ aspects out for later? If you do so, I ask this: what are you really preaching? Is it the gospel anymore? Be faithful, knowing that it is not your message you have been entrusted with. Follow Paul’s example in Acts 20:26-27, and do not “shrink from declaring…the whole purpose of God ”.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

“In dying you will die”… or will you?

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die.
~ Genesis 2: 15-17

Most recently, I have revived my studies in Biblical Hebrew, to the point that I am probably studying it more now than I really ever have in the past. One of my favorite resources for doing so is the website - a site I would highly recommend to any serious Bible student. It is hosted by the Master’s Seminary, and on it are recordings of several seminary classes – including Biblical Hebrew.
 So, the course I have been watching is taught by a gentleman by the name of Dr. William Barrick (a.k.a. Bill Barrick). Dr. Barrick is very accomplished linguist and translator in many different areas and languages. (From what I understand, he is fluent in at least 17 languages. I heard 21 too, but I’ll be conservative.)
            So then, the other day we were looking at Hebrew infinitives. (If you can’t recall exactly what an infinitive is, it’s okay. Just know that it’s a kind of verb.) In his discussion on infinitives, Dr.Barrick used a specific example that caught my attention. You see, he was discussing two specific different kinds of infinitives; one that means something is continually happening (i.e. I keep on eating), and one that simply emphasizes what is happening (i.e. I am surely eating).  The text Dr. Barrick utilized to exemplify this to us was Genesis 2:17, which I have typed out at the top of this post for convenience. When we come to the part of this verse in which God says  “…in the day that you eat of it (i.e. the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), you will surely die”, we find that God used our friend the infinitive to speak of dying. The NASB translates this “you shall surely die”.
            However, there has also been some thought amongst various people that this should actually be translated something like “dying you will die”, indicating maybe a process of death, or perhaps two deaths. Maybe this is how we explain that Adam didn’t physically die within a 24-hour period of ingesting the forbidden fruit? Perhaps God is here referencing both a physical and spiritual death?

Option D: none of the above. In other words wrong, wrong, and wrong.

In fact, Dr. Barrick was fairly emphatic about it. This phrase is written not in a continuative sense, but an emphatic sense – “you shall surely die”.  (To be specific, if you’re curious, the infinitive verb was written before, or ‘prepositive’, to a cognate verb of the same meaning  -‘die’ -, not after it.) Hence the NASB translation.
            This was a correction for me, since the thoughts I had given to that text were sympathetic to the ‘continuative’ view, although I wasn’t 100% convinced of it yet. In fact, I had recently taught it that way when the subject was brought up in a Hebrew class I am privileged to teach. However, as I looked at the information, it was apparent that Dr.Barrick was right.  He’s still is right, in fact. Since it was also something my dad had taught, I brought it up to him to see what he thought. Intrigued, he looked into it himself. And?

Dr. Barrick wins again.

So then, does this mean that, post-fall, we won’t or don’t go through a process of dying, and then ultimately die?
Well, no. I believe we may consider that hypothesis tried and proven by now.
Does it mean, then, that mankind is spiritually preserved in his pre-fall state?
No. Were that so, Paul wouldn’t have needed to write Ephesians 2:1, which says “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins… ”. Given that we know Paul was writing to people who were actually physically alive at the time, and that they were also physically alive before their salvation, we may safely conclude that Paul is not referring to merely a physical death here. Paul must be referring to the Ephesian’s past lives submersed in sins, just like the rest of the world, mimicking the Devil.

What it means is that this text isn’t saying those things. In this text, we have God addressing His creation, Adam, emphasizing the fact the if Adam were to violate the divine prohibition against the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there would be a very certain death awaiting him –it was an unavoidable, decreed fact. This makes it more intriguing when Satan, in his deception, tells Eve “You surely shall not die!” This was deliberate, outright contradiction of God’s very words, with the same basic infinitive construction that we talked about earlier, which means Satan was mirroring God’s emphasis in His instruction, except applying it to error. Further, he used a specific form of the Hebrew word for ‘not’ that means ‘never, at any time’. There would be no death now or later for a disobedient Eve, Satan says. God isn’t actually being honest with you.
However, given Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:1, it is reasonable to believe that death certainly was experienced by our first parents when they believed Satan instead of God. And, ultimately, over 900 years later, their physical bodies which were created to live forever as God’s own image and likeness on this earth, returned to the dust they were taken from. This death was passed on to all born to Adam and Eve, and then to their children, and so on. The wages of sin is, after all, death.
But God doesn’t leave us there. In the midst of His curse He embeds the promise that One would come from the woman to crush the head of the serpent, who instigated this death. There would be an end to his work. And, as we look at the text, we are forced to see that Adam must have believed this, because only after this point does Adam name his wife “Eve” – which means ‘life’. Perhaps it would seem to us that “mote”, which means “death”, might have been a more fitting name. But, besides its lack of romantic ‘ring’, it would not have been an accurate description of who she was, given the work of life God would do through her. 

Well, there you have my discovery as of late. My basic premise is that Genesis 2:17 is not to be taken in the sense of ‘in dying you will die’, but just as your English Bible most likely reads: “you shall surely die.”
 Accuracy is quite important, because it is the difference between understanding the truth, and wasting your time with something that misrepresents reality.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Seven Things the Lord Hates", Love Your Enemies Part 3

"There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that run rapidly to evil,
false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers."
(Proverbs 6:16-19)

Good day to you all.

Since I have been speaking about loving your enemies lately, I want to speak about something which many persons get stuck on. That is the hatred of God.

How can God love and hate at the same time? When we look at the Bible, we can see that there at least seems to be a God of hatred and of love. Like Proverbs 6:16-19 states, there are many things which Yahweh hates. From that set of verses alone, it even sounds like God hates people, and not just their sins. If we look further in the Bible, this idea of God's hatred for individuals is further confirmed.

"The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face." (Psalm 11:4-7)

An especially relevant passage gives us a long list of sins which the pre-Israeli inhabitants of the Promised Land committed continuously. This list included child sacrifice, adultery, witchcraft, cursing one's parents, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest. All of these abominable actions made the Lord exceedingly furious. As He declared,

 "You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out. Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them (the peoples committing sin)." (Leviticus 20:22)

Furthermore, if we take the Bible at its word, then we will see that God is always furious. Yet, this is not just God being angry at sin, rather He is angry with sinners. In fact, this anger is one of violent (not to be confused with murderous) hatred.

"Arise, O Lord, in Your anger;
Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You,
And over them return on high.
The Lord judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.

"My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart. 
God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day. 

"If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.

"Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made. 
His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate." (Psalm 7:6-16)

Looking at just these few verses, we find that God is a God of righteous, pure, and even violent hatred (I do not know what is more violent than God sharpening Hist sword to cut down those who do not repent). This fact makes many nervous, since these verses seem to say that God is unloving. Thus, they come up with relatively complicated, or at least nice sounding explanations.

The most well-known explanation that I have found is that God only hates the sin, but not the sinner. However, if we look at the above verses, we find that this simply cannot be the case. If God "hates... a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers" (which are both people, not actions), hates "one who loves violence", and abhorred the Canaanites, then God must apparently hate sinners and not just their sins.

A second well-known explanation is that the Old Testament (and the parts of the New Testament that say the same) is not inspired by God. I am not even going to argue about this. However, if one believes this, please do not claim to be a follower of God for you are calling God a liar. 

So, if we wish to take God at His word, we must believe that God does hate sinners. 

Now, what does all of this have to do with loving your enemies? It determines our message of pleading for them to repent and obey God. As I said before, we love all men and long for the wicked to turn from his ways and live. However, if we do not tell them why they must do so, why do we think they will repent? 

In Psalm 2, we find a good summary of the content of our pleas to the unsaved.

"Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?

The kings of the earth take their stand

And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

'Let us tear their fetters apart

And cast away their cords from us!'
 "He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.

Then He will speak to them in His anger

And terrify them in His fury, saying,

'But as for Me, I have installed My King

Upon Zion, My holy mountain.'

"'I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:

He said to Me, "You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.

"Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,

And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
 "You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware."'
 "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
 Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.

Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,

For His wrath may soon be kindled. 
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" 
This is our message: God is a God of vengeance. He cannot allow evil to stand in His presence, because it offends His holy nature. Yet, not only does He hate evil actions, He hates those who do evil. Because all men are evil (Rom. 3:10-18), all men are under God's wrath and hatred. We are His enemies, and He is preparing His weaponry in order to wipe us all out. Once we have been killed and brought before His judgement seat, He will cast all who are wicked into the lake of eternal fire, being tortured under His righteous hatred forever.

However, God declared to His Son, Jesus Christ, that He would have a Kingdom filled with sons of God as an inheritance forever. Since in Adam, all men are now sinners (Rom. 5:12), all men must be sentenced to Hell, for the wages of sin is eternal death in the lake of fire. Yet, if all men are sentenced to Hell, how can there be an inheritance of men for Christ?

In order to fulfill His promise to Christ, the Father decreed that His Son would pay the penalty of enduring the eternal wrath and hatred of God poured out upon Him for all those whom the Lord has chosen to save. Therefore, the Son came to Earth as a man, lived a perfect life and was crucified by the Father as a perfect sacrifice. As a result, God's wrath for those whom He would save was satisfied eternally.

Yet, how will this substitution be granted to us? How can we escape the wrath of God? We must repent from our wickedness and worship Yahweh in fear. This is impossible for us, because repentance requires that we be born from God. Being born of God means that your soul is crucified with Christ, placed into the grave with Him, and then being resurrected with Christ unto a new soul (Rom. 6:1-11, cf. baptism of the spirit in John 3:5-8). As with one's natural birth, you have no power over this birth (John 3:8). Nevertheless, if you call upon the Name of the Lord, lay down your sins, surrender your life to the King, and fall upon your face in fear before your Heavenly Judge and Executor, He will save you (Rom. 10:13, Psalm 2, Matt. 4:17, Mark 1:15, 6:12, Luke 3:3, Acts 8:22, Jude 1, Acts 16:31, Rom. 10:9). Turn from your evil, for the wrath of God is at hand.

That is our message, the message of the Gospel. It comes forth in great measure from the wrath of God. Therefore, if one does not understand the hatred that God has for sinners, how can one understand fully the Gospel and its magnificence? If we wish to know how to love the unsaved, we must understand the hatred and love of God. If one throws aside the doctrine of God's hatred and judgement for sinners, then one finds an impotent, lackluster "gospel" devoid of any salvific or sanctifying power. Moreover, the holy and glorious God is thrown under the bus in exchange for some foofy, impotent, worthless excuse for a god. However, if all one speaks of is the hatred of God, then one causes a kind of demonic fear and belief (James 2:19) which cannot bring salvation. Also, the greatest attribute of the Trinitarian Lord, which attribute is love, is hidden and thus a demonic, sadistic god is put in God's place.

Therefore, I urge all of you to think about these things. Read the Word of the Lord, and understand who He is. Moreover, I beg of you to ponder the fearful majesty of our God. Do not take His love nor His hatred lightly. Instead, rejoice with trembling, glory in His grace, and serve Him with fear (Deut. 10:12, 1 Samuel 12:24).

God Bless.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Love Your Enemies, Part 2

 Hello Brethren, after hearing feedback from some of you about my last post, and personally thinking through the topic of loving one's enemies, I feel the need to possibly clarify what loving your enemies looks like. Because of the time I have today, I will have to elaborate on some things in the next post.

When most people hear the word, "love", they instantly conjure up innumerable, often unbiblical ideals of what love is. Some will say that love never judges, is never offended, never confronts sin, "embraces" everybody (i.e. compromises with regards to righteousness), and loves everybody in the same exact way. Is this true?

In my last post (Love Your Enemies), I wrote that in order to love properly, we must love like God loves. Why? Matthew 5 establishes that we are to love our enemies (and our friends) so that we may be the children of our Father, acting in the way Christ acted (Rom. 8:28-30), and Christ only does what He sees His Father doing (John 5:19). Therefore, we must love in like manner as the Father loves.

Now that is established, we must now determine how exactly God does love. For the purposes of this post, I will be focusing on how God does (and thus how Christians must) love the unsaved.

Let us turn to the words of the Lord in order to determine some specifics about loving one's enemies.

 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:27-36)

In this passage, we see the Lord explaining what it means to "love your enemies". [Note: This also extends to all who are not Christians. How so? Well, a disciple is not greater than his Master, is he? Therefore, if they hated Christ, how much more will they hate us (Mat. 10:25)! This does not mean that they will actively attack you, but they will ultimately hate you because of your message.] 

Because of the rather self-explanatory way in which the Lord explains love here, I will make as few comments as possible. 

So, in this passage, we find that the Lord brings up certain realities about loving an enemy. Firstly, we must do good to those who hate you. The meaning of this is very basic. To those who do evil to you, or who merely hate you in their hearts, you must do good to them. This encompasses any kind of good: if your enemy is in physical need, give them what they need (Rom. 12:20); if they are in physical danger, sacrifice your own life for them (Use wisdom regarding the circumstances though, e.g. don't take the death penalty for a murderer, or pay the fine for a thief. Nevertheless, we must follow our Lord's example by sacrificing ourselves for the ungodly, Rom. 5:6-10); and preaching to them the Gospel and Truth (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Ultimately, doing good to someone is not dependent upon what they have done to you or to anyone else. If it were, then we who are now saved would have been justly damned to Hell for our utter hatred of God and all the love which He has shown to us (John 3:14-20). 

Secondly, we must bless those who curse us. For example, if someone slanders you, speak good of and to them in return.

Thirdly, pray for those who mistreat us. This is one of the hardest things to do. One can "pray to God" for your enemy without actually meaning it. However, what is called for here is true worship of God through praying to Him on their behalf (as it were). It is a prayer for His blessing, mercy, and love to be showered upon them. The greatest example of this is when Christ hung on the cross, beating, mocked, spat upon, reviled by godless men. Did He revile in return? When He was about to be executed, did He call forth legions of angels to wipe out His attackers? When the merciful, loving, compassionate, good, kind, patient, selfless Lamb of God was brought to be slaughtered, did He call upon His Father to damn them all to eternal torment? No. Instead, He begged,

"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) (Note: the proper translation of this verse says, "Jesus was saying". If I remember correctly, this probably means in the Greek that Jesus was repeatedly saying this as they went to kill Him.) 

You, dear Christian, are just as sadistic, unloving, murderous, idolatrous, hateful, wretched and depraved as those men who nailed Christ to the cross. Did Christ curse you and damn you to Hell? If not, then why are you doing the same to others?! It is the height of hypocrisy to say that Jesus has blessed us (we who were enemies of God) and then turn around and curse your enemy!

I am going to be very honest with you all (and with myself), even though this will hurt. If it is still hard for you to love those who have harmed you, hard to bless them and do good to them, you apparently have no clue about the depths of your own sickening, awful, vile depravity. If you did, you would not hate them or be angry with them since you see that what they are doing is inside yourself. Every single act of sin, be it hatred, idolatry, murder, lust, homosexuality, drug abuse, or any other sin, it is found in your own self (Titus 3:1-8). Therefore, do not hate them or be angry with them, for it is love which produces the righteousness that God requires, not anger (James 1:20).

Since time is flying by, I will let you all finish the section in your own Bible time. It is rather self-evident what these verses mean, the only issue that we will encounter is when we try to actually abide by what is found therein. However, we must abide by them, no matter how we feel.

My next post will focus on how God can hate and love the sinner (yes, hate the sinner), and whether (and how) we should judge the unsaved. Until then, may you all be blessed. 


Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Serpent and the Cross: Rethinking John 3:16

Hello brethren. As some of you know, my pastor (the author) and I (the editor) have been working for a couple of months on one of his book projects. Well, I want to let you all know that we are now finished and the book is available on Amazon.

The book is called, "The Serpent and the Cross: Rethinking John 3:16". In it, one of the most beloved, yet most often misunderstood verses in the Bible is given a close examination. I think you will be as surprised as I was with what the verse truly teaches about the love of God, and its consequences for we who follow Christ.

Here is the official description of the book:

"John 3:16 is the most popular verse in all the Bible. Many quote it assuming to understand its meaning. Sermons are preached from it. Businesses use it as their slogan. It has even made its way into professional sports! Yet, the meaning and import of this profound verse is still as dark to many as its truth was to Nicodemus. Jesus brings the truth of His kingdom into the mind and heart of Nicodemus in an unexpected comparison between the serpent on the pole deep in Israel's history, and the Son of Man on the cross yet future to Nicodemus. The parallels are striking. More importantly, a proper understanding of the serpent on the pole leads to a proper understanding of the Son of Man on the cross."

As I worked on this book, I must admit that there is so much to be found within John 3:16 that, as a result of our modern mushy-minds, we do not quickly see. However, as Pastor Charlie explains, a proper interpretation of this verse grants the Lord far more glory than the fluffy "God is in love with you" gospel so often preached today.

Currently, the book is available in paperback from Amazon, and the Kindle version is currently being processed (but will be out soon). Here is a link to it:

I hope you all have a blessed week!

Edit: The Kindle version is now available here:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Love Your Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Good day to you all, Brethren. For quite some time, I have wanted to write upon one of the most important subjects of all time. This subject lies at the foundation of Christianity, being not only the  summation of the way in which the Children of God must walk, not only the breath and life of believers, but it is also the foundational element of God and the great gravity which binds together the Holy Trinity. Love is the basis of all that God does, has done, and will do. Therefore, we can rightly say that love is not merely a description of God, but rather that God is love (1 John 4:7-8). 

This reality is arguably the most important reality for us to grasp, and a full discussion of love would last for an eternity, since our God is eternal and unfathomable. However, in this post, I wish to discuss a specific aspect of love, one which is beyond us: love of our enemies.

Out of all types of love, this is probably the most difficult of all. Honestly, it is difficult to love someone who is always attempting to put you down or undermine your faith, or even kill you for believing Christ and obeying Him. It is difficult (to say the least) to do good to those who do evil to you (Romans 12:17-21, cf. 1 Peter 3:8-12). Nevertheless, it is commanded.

So, if we are to understand how we are to treat our enemies, the first question we must ask is: what is love?

Well, I can tell you that love is not a wonderful fluttering in one's heart over, or an infatuation with, someone, although those can be outward signs of love under certain circumstances. How do I know this? God, who is in a very real sense the essence of love itself, does not love in this manner.

"God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.

If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.
His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate." (Psalm 7:11-16)

Therefore, God’s love for man does not necessitate giddy infatuation over them. Now, one may look at this passage and say that it shows a god of hate, not love. However, we in the modern church have been emphasizing the word love for so long that it has actually lost its original meaning and power. God is not giddy over sinners (or even us who are saved), nor is He romantically in love with anyone (the Song of Solomon was not a picture of the love Christ has for His Church, quite frankly that idea is absolutely revolting and blasphemous on so many levels). Nevertheless, God does love all men, even those whom He has righteously decreed to be created as hell-bound vessels of wrath. 

How is it that the Lord still loves those whom He is sharpening His sword against to slay? How is it possible to be absolutely furious with those who refuse to repent (Psalm 2:4-6), so furious that you command your Son to dash them to pieces with an iron rod (Psalm 2:9) and ultimately cast them into untold, eternal torment and yet love them? Honestly, I do not know. I firmly believe that this is a reality too deep for mortal man to understand, but it is true nonetheless.     

However, I will admit that this still does not seem like love to our modern minds. Honestly, few will look at these truths and see love behind them. Nevertheless, love is there. First of all, the Father does this out of love for the Son (since it was love that motivated Him to give all things into the hand of Christ) (John 5:20-23) and the Son then obeys the Father out of love (John 14:31), destroying the unrighteous and then giving the Kingdom back to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Thus, all this is done in an ultimate sense as a result of the love within the Trinity.

Secondly, God also does this in spite of the love He has for the perishing ones.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

This passage is found in the well-known Sermon on the Mount. Here we find a powerful declaration of God’s love even for those who hate Him. Firstly, Christ repeats a statement popular among the unsaved-yet-super-spiritual persons of all time: namely, love those that love you and hate everyone else. However, Christ declared that this idea is completely false. In fact, one must love not only his brothers, but also those who are enemies of yourself and God. Why? Because God does the same thing. In spite of the hatred of unbelievers, God showers innumerable blessings upon them. He grants them rain, sun, snow, food and happiness (Acts 14:17), and all other blessings (such as the sending of Grace and Truth incarnate, Christ Jesus, to proclaim the truth).

Yet, is this love, or is this mere concern for them? Well, we must look at this passage in further detail to determine this.

First, Christ states that we must be perfect just as our Father is perfect. Moreover, we are to be sons of our Father, and sons are called to become images of the Son (Romans 8:29), and Christ merely does what His Father does (John 5:19). Therefore, whatever we are commanded in this passage to do is what our Trinitarian God does.  

So, what are we commanded to do? Agape our enemies. In this text, Christ uses the word agape (ἀγαπᾶτε specifically) to denote what kind of love we must have for our enemies (those who hate us and thus hate God). This is not merely being nice to the other person, rather it is true love.

Yet, what is this love? Well, I would argue that the best summation of agape love is found in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

This love, agape love, is the love which we must have for all men, not merely fellow believers. This is not to say that we love those outside of the Church in the same exact way as we love those inside the body, for we are commanded to give especial love to the Church (Galatians 6:10). Nevertheless, we must be patient, kind, selfless, humble, gentle, enduring, hopeful, unfailing, never keeping a record of how they have wronged us. 

This has huge implications for us. For example, this is one of the reasons why we Christian workers are called to do good to our unsaved masters (Eph. 6:5, 1 Peter 2:18, Titus 2:9-10). In all of this, we are to work hard, as for the Lord (Colossians 3:22-24). Why would we do so? Well, we love both God and man, and we long for all men to escape the wrath to come. Like our Lord, we do not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but rather long for them to turn from their evil ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23). We realize that living a holy life will make an impression upon those who are outside of the faith, and thus our hard work may lead to the repentance of our unsaved bosses. This is love, and this is what motivates us in all our dealings with the unsaved, even those who hate us.

Again, we are called to love those outside of the Church. This is key, since if we love only those inside the Church, what reward do we have? It is easy to love those in the Church, because they will love you back. However, it is so much harder to truly love those outside of the Church because they will often hate us in return. Nevertheless, it is still commanded of us, and is a demonstration that our love for God and man is far greater than the “love” which the unsaved have for one another.

Now, does love always bring peace? No, for Christ came to bring a sword, not peace (Matthew 10:34-36), and our love will inevitably stir up hatred, even possibly amongst those closest to us. This is not because we are unloving, rather our patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control, etc., is of the Spirit, and God is light. As I have said before, men love darkness and hate light (John 3:19-21), and therefore will hate our love. Moreover, they will really hate the message which we lovingly preach (Eph. 4:15), which is Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 1:23), and this reveals their sins, which is something they fear (John 3:20). Therefore, it is the very love we have for them and the message it compels us to preach that will both draw some and repel others. As wise men have said, love hurts.

Because of what we originally declared about this passage (from Matthew 5) being based upon a command to be like our Heavenly Father, loving whom He loves and in the same way, we must also conclude that God has this same required love for those who hate Him and will hate Him eternally. God must love all men with agape love, otherwise He would be no better than the unsaved. It is this love for all, coupled with His justice, fury, holiness, faithfulness, kindness, mercy, gentleness, goodness, and all of His other attributes that sets Him above all men. Moreover, the degree to which we imitate this love is the degree to which we are set apart (sanctified) from those who hate the Lord.

God’s love for all men is the type of love described in 1 Cor. 13. Look throughout the Bible (especially in the life of Christ), and we see God’s patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, lack of swift provocation, forgiveness and passing over the times of ignorance, not retaliating against those who spat on Him, hatred and sadness over evil but joy over truth, bearing all things, full of hope, and enduring even the worst of trials unscathed. Overall, His love never failed, and never will fail. What love is this!

One could go for an eternity about this subject, but I must close sometime. So, let me close with this. We must love all men, even those that would kill us. We must never cease to do good to all men (Galatians 6:10), not only through teaching them the truth, but also through doing general good things for them (Romans 12:19-21). We must be like the Good Samaritan, showing mercy to and loving your neighbors, even those who are of a nation which collectively hates you, in our case, those who are citizens of the kingdom of Satan (Luke 10:25-37). Ultimately, it is not enough to love those within the Church. We must also love those who hate us, for that is a love beyond humanity: the agape of God.

Grace and peace to you all.