No Apologies Round Two

"Few if any recent generations could sit with a Bible in one hand and their newspapers in the other and see the fulfillment of prophecy, but for us it’s almost routine." Jack Kelly

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Who Do You Say I Am?

Jesus asks an important question in Matthew 16:15 which every person must answer. "Who do you say I am?" Some day soon, Jesus will be coming back to gather His own. What will He find when He comes? Will you be one of those who go with Him? Do you even know?

I am writing this to all Christians. Recent polls show some very disturbing numbers on some very core and central beliefs of the Christian faith, and tells a sad story about the state of Christianity as a whole body. The fact that many professing Christians no longer believe that Jesus is the only way or that there are many "paths" to heaven, don't believe in hell, and don't believe that Jesus was sinless, is disturbing enough. More so, many of those graduating from Theological seminaries can not place the Gospels in the correct order, if they even know the Gospel authors shows even in our places of religious learning, they are not really learning the Gospel truth. Our churches are full of men and women who claim to be Christian, and are led by men and women who claim to be Christian. I have to wonder. Are they truly followers of Christ? Are you?

Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

That verse used to scare me. It still does sometimes. The worst thing I could think of is to stand before Christ some day and hear Him say those words to me. It should be a reminder every now and then to all Christians, no matter what denomination we come from or belong to. This message is not for any denomination, as the body of Christ is His church, no matter the denomination.

What makes someone a Christian anyway? Is it that your parents were Christian, so that means you are? Is it because you go to Church? Do you say you are a Christian because you believe in Jesus?
If any of those are your answers, I have some bad news for you. You are not a Christian. I've heard it said, that sitting in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage would make you a car. Saying you believe in Christ does not make you a Christian any more than it makes Satan and demons Christians because they believe in Jesus as well. And your parent's faith in Christ does not make you a Christian either.

So, how can we know if we are truly Christian? Well, one more question has a lot to do with the answer. How often, if ever, do you read your Bible? You see, one can not understand what being a follower of Christ means, if one doesn't know His Word. His Word is the Holy Scriptures- the Bible. And not only the red letters either. How you see the Bible is a big indicator of your being in a discipleship of Christ. For instance, some people view the Bible as a book of good moral sense, but not much having to do with our modern society. It's quaint, and helpful, gives some good teaching, but pretty much out of date. Some people choose to focus only on the red letters, which were the quoted words of Jesus, but they don't necessarily take the rest as "Gospel truth". Some folks apply the parts they like, but disregard the rest, as if it doesn't apply to our so called enlightened society and they find it offensive.

Do you know that Jesus quoted scripture? Jesus quoted scripture time and again, and since what we call the New Testament was not written during the time of Jesus' earthly life. All of what He quoted was from the Old- most of it written over one thousand years before He came to earth. If He found scripture applicable to society in His time, when things were radically different than when it was written thousands of years before, how is it we can believe that it is not relevant to our society now? The Truth is, the Bible is as important now as it was when it was written. Not only is it important, but it is the Word of God.

Mat 4:4 But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The Gospel of John, in the very first verses of the first chapter, tells us that Jesus IS the Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. The verse continues to describe the Word, which is Jesus, In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-6)

Jesus is the Word of God. Scriptures are God's Word to us. Jesus says, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matt35) Which means, His Word will always be true, always be applicable, and always for all.

His Word makes us wise in His ways as we continue to read it every day. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2Ti 3:15) His Word is for our lives to know how to behave, to learn about Him, and to show by teaching others about Him. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2Ti 3:16) His Word shines like a light into our lives to guide us. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105)

If we say we believe in Jesus, wouldn't that mean also we believe everything He says to be true? And remember, I'm not saying only the red letters. Scriptures make it clear that His Word is the Whole Word, and all the scriptures are His Word. How can we know His Words are true? By listening and studying His Word, we know His Word and believe on it. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

If we don't accept His whole Word, we take the risk of having to face Him in Judgement. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48) The Word reject, is taken from the Greek, atheteo, meaning to set aside, violate, cast off and despise. Many people who consider themselves Christians do this as they dismiss scriptures they don't agree with or feel that it doesn't relate to them. His Word is the Whole, and we, if we are true followers of Christ, can not take parts only.

Too many churches and people today focus on the "feelings" of the language of God. That is, love. Somehow the word Love, has come to mean acceptance, peace, and blessings only. Too many people have been taught by prosperity and touchy feely pastors that Jesus loves all, He wants us to have everything, and no mention of sin, except to say God loves all his children, and don't mention discipline. Many believe we are all, no matter the beliefs, God's children and He loves us unconditionally. They believe that if God really loves all his kids, we can choose whatever path which feels right for us to come to Him. While it is true that God loves us, we need to learn what His Word says about these ideas.

Jesus does love the sinner, or He would not have come from His place in Heaven to put Himself on the cross for our sins. Does that mean we can continue in our sin? Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. He continues in John 8:12, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Jesus is the Light of the world. Darkness can not exist in light, and we as followers of Christ can not remain in the darkness of sin if we truly follow Him. This isn't to say we will never ever sin again, we will. But the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin that we may repent- or turn away from our sin.

Does Jesus want us to have everything or want us to "live our best lives now"? It all depends on Biblical perspective. What we may think is best, may not be what Jesus knows as best. In fact, if one is a true follower of Christ, we should expect to suffer the same as Christ did when He was on earth. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Mat 5:11

Did you catch that? Jesus counts it Blessings to be treated harshly and being persecuted for His sake. Now, I don't necessarily want to be made fun of, be called all sorts of names, be hated and despised, be beaten, imprisoned or tortured and killed- but if it comes to that because of my faith, I will gladly take it and as Jesus said, count it as a huge Blessing. You see, the world hated Him when He was in it. The world Hates Him now. If we are true followers, we will also be hated because of Him. The message of the cross, sin and repentance was, is and will be offensive to most- even many who claim to be Christian.

No one wants to know the way they live is sinful. Whether it be adultery, lying, stealing, coveting, homosexuality, lusting, or idolatry, people will be offended by the message that these are sinful things. When Christians speak about such things, it is considered hateful because people are offended.

Remember the word that said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (John 15:20) Did you catch that? We are considered servants. We either are servants to the Lord, or servants to sin. Never believe that because you choose to follow Christ, you will not suffer, and things will be wonderful from here on out. His Word shows us otherwise.

Does Jesus love us all? Are we all, no matter who we are, God's children? Again, it depends. Are you listening to the world's version of love or the Word of God? First off, the Bible says God loves the world. John 3:16, that famous, oft quoted verse tells us that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Yes, God loves the world, but you must believe in the Son in order to have everlasting life. Those who do not, will perish. Most people can quote that verse, as it's the most visible. However, rarely can anyone quote what comes next.
John 3:17,18,19 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. These three verses are clear. God does love us, doesn't want any of us to perish, but if we dismiss the gift of Grace through the Son, we are condemned. Again, Jesus is the Light, and darkness can not come into the light. Those who love evil, will not have everlasting life. Evil, is what God says is evil. 1Co 6:9, 10 says, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived:neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Seems like a long list, but considering that God is absolute Holiness, and can not tolerate sin, it kind of makes one think. Now, is there no hope for people who practice such things? Read on, 1Co 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

So, once we were all such as these- but those who are true believers in Christ, we are washed of these sins, and in His Word, shall sin no more. That is to knowingly continue in such sin. One more thing here. Notice that the above verses do not say, we are justified by Jesus or Mohammad, or Buddha, or any other- we are justified by Christ, and by the Spirit (I will talk about Him more later!) We are washed by Christ, the only thing that can wash sin away is the Blood of Christ. Jesus says, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 The book of Acts tells us, Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. It is clear, by the Word of God, that Jesus is the only way, the only name in which everlasting life is gained. By dismissing Jesus, not believing, one is looking at eternity in hell.

Next post we will look at what the Bible says about all people being His Children, hell, Satan and what to do to be saved.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Bill of Rights- The first of the First Amendment

“ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel”
Benjamin Franklin, Constitutional Convention of 1787

If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon and to perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments; this is not a permissible objective. Stone v. Gramm, 1980, challenging the right of students to "see" the 10 Commandments on the wall of a school. The Court defined the posting of the document as a "passive" display, meaning someone would have to stop and look on their own volition.
Stone v. Gramm, 1980.

"I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests--and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning--and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution--and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"
Alexis de Tocqueville.

In the past 5 parts of this series, we've learned a little about the foundation of America, the men who fought and formed the new country's government and law. Although most revisionist histories tell of a group of white men who formed the government, were deists at the most, who believed in separation of church and state. They tell us that the pursuit of happiness as described in the Declaration of Independence means that government shall provide for people's happiness. Now, that may seem like a stretch, but given many people's perspective of government these days, whether they were taught this way or not, shows it's what a large percentage of the population believes.

Over the last century, mainly in the last 50 or so years, we've seen decisions and actions by all three legislative bodies which have drastically moved our society away from the Founder's intents and arguably away from the core idealogies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

In the mythical belief in a wall of separation between church and state, we have now, no one allowed to preach, pray or name the name of Christ if a person is percieved to be a part of a government institution. People who do not believe in the Christian faith have been duped into believing that America has never been or will be a Christian nation. Many people beleive that the "separation" idea is in fact a part of the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights, even many Christians have heard it so much that they believe it too.

Where did it come from? The phrase, "wall of separation between Church & State" was not mentioned in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution as some would believe. It was a phrase by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, wanting to assure them that the government would have no direct influence on religious practices. Jefferson's letter stated, "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government."

People who knew how religion had been tied to the British Monarchy, and therefore, were forced to pay taxes for church affairs, even if one were not Anglican. The people did not want the government to meddle in the pulpit or in the affairs of the church. Thomas Jefferson, while supporting a separation of church and state, clearly by his actions showed that he meant this separation was for the benefit of the church, not the government. Jefferson authorized the government to provide money to evangelize Indian tribes with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, as president, Jefferson was also head of the Department of Education for the Washington DC public school system. He ordered the government to provide monies to publish and distribute Bibles and hymn books to the public school children of Washington DC to further the students’ education.

The 1st Amendment states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
From the founders own beliefs,words and actions, we know that they meant that there would be no State run church. This did not mean that no government official could not pray, ask others to pray, or talk about Jesus Christ. We have seen by the written and recorded documents of the founding of this country that the sole purpose of settling the colonies, and later, in forming a separate Country, that Biblical Judeo/Christian beleifs were and were to remain the foundation of our society.

The removal of prayer in public schools by three seperate suits, including the most famous, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and the twisted logic of the Supreme Court to agree with the decision was all it took to do what the 1st amendment explicitly states. They ordered the government to establish an secular religion. Because of the slow and steady erosion of the Founder's intents, America has lost her Biblical roots, and has been replaced by a secular church.

For those who believe that America would become a theocracy if we allowed Christian prayers and other Christian ideals and symbols reinstated, I have to ask- Was America a theocracy under the Founding Fathers? No. America and the majority of her people believed in Jesus Christ, and yes, Christian morals and values were even tought in public schools, our early Government officials prayed out loud- in the Name of Jesus, and even held Christian services in Congress. Did this mean other faith groups felt left out or uncomfortable? Maybe, but it did not stop them from immigrating here, to a known Christian nation. In Patrick Henry's own words, “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

Only in America, because of her faith and foundation on Christianity, can others be welcome here to express their own beliefs or non beleifs. It would behoove anyone who doesn't agree, to look at any other country with a majority religious belief, and see how welcoming or charitable those of differing beliefs are treated.

I'm not only picking on the Muslim religion here, but because of some major things happening in our country today, I am going to point out that in Muslim nations, Christianity and Judaism are either illegal to practice, or they are quietly tolerated unless one attempts to spread their belief through church outreach, missions or church planting. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal to even own a Bible. If you arrive in that country with a Bible, it will be confiscated. In all Middle Eastern Muslim countries, there are no synagogues, and no new churches allowed to be built.
I bring this up for my last point. Not only has America become a government of secularism, but any and most references to religion is an all inclusive one. What is fine for all, where all can be included. So much so, that now, we have a group wanting to build an Islamic Mosque at Ground Zero in New York City.

I've heard the main argument, citing the 1st Amendment, for the case to allow this mosque to be built. Personally, I have no problem if someone wished to build a place of worship to something other than to Christ. I will pray for them to know the Truth of Jesus, and hope for their salvation in Christ. However, make no mistake. This mosque is nothing more than a sign of conquest of Islam in America. The only reason they have picked this hallowed place is because it is the place where thier jihad was successful in killing over 3000 people. They are using the very amendment against us, citing America's great liberty of the freedom of religion. The fact that this same amendment has been used against Christians for the past 50 years, twisting it to mean freedom from religion, is not lost on me or many others.

If Islam is such a peaceful, tolerant religion, tell me, can we build a church in Mecca?
It shows how far removed we are from the Foundation of America, when in places such as Deerborn, Michigan, Christians are arrested for speaking about Christ, government officials, teachers, principals are being fired, fined or face jail time for professing Christ, but yet, Islam is afforded, among athiests, wiccans, agnostics and other religions, the freedom of religion, spreading and preaching their religion. On the false sense of what tolerance is, America is no longer allowed to be a Christian Nation, unless it is practiced in church on Sundays only. A far way away from the ideals of our Founders.

“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” George Washington[speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

“ Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, (furture SCOTUS)

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Thomas Jefferson

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

“ I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.”
Joseph Story (SCOTUS)[Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States p. 593]

Next, the other freedoms given in the 1st amendment- that of the press, and of the people to gather, to redress government. Until then, Read the Preambles of the States of America. Count how many refer to God or Jesus Christ. You may be surprised.